No, Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart do not just switch lines. But, I'm not going to lie - a lot of the book is copied andShort and Sweet Version
No, Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart do not just switch lines. But, I'm not going to lie - a lot of the book is copied and pasted. Little details are different like Beau opening the door for Edythe and Edythe smiling all the time. Seriously, why is she smiling all the time? You got something stuck in your teeth, Edythe? A dead boyfriend maybe? Kidding. She doesn't eat Beau.
Beau makes a few moves on Edythe that Freaks. Her. Out. And totally made me laugh. Edythe doesn't come across as dangerous making it lose a lot of the tension that Twilight is known for. Still, I got sucked in enough to finish it then promptly flip it over and read Twilight again. Life and Death is like sugary, waxy American chocolate and Twilight is like fine, Belgian chocolate that melts as soon as you eat it. I mean, it's all chocolate and I'll eat it all, thank you. But Twilight is just better.
There are 40 extra pages of content that Twilight fans will want to read at least once. If you want to know all the changes but don't want to read the whole thing, check out the Jessica Thinks Too Much Version!
Jessica Thinks Too Much Version
(view spoiler)[ What's different in Life and Death: Twilight Reimagined?
Want to know all the juicy details of what's the same and what's different? Did Beau (male version of Bella) take ballet as a kid? Does he go dress shopping before he gets attacked by a gang?? If you're curious about that and more then you've come to the right place.
First things first. They go corsage shopping in Port Angeles instead of dress shopping. After that, they go to the movies. Beau is late for the movie, of course, because he's being attacked by a gang. The gang seems to be doing illegal drugs when he walks by and they think he's a cop. This new element of thinking he is a cop is so briefly foreshadowed that I totally missed it and found it confusing. The gang thinks Beau is a cop because they have a brief encounter at the airport and they see him with his dad, Charlie, who's in uniform (I had to go back a few chapters to read that again and wondered why it had to be in there at all). The gang pulls a gun on him until a sexy girl vampire shows up in a silver Volvo to save the day. Beau jumps in the car. Edythe (female version of Edward) steps out of the car and I was like, "Oh! Oh! They are going down!!" I wanted bullets flying everywhere and body throwing...I'm not sure where that came from. I'm not a violent person. But sadly she doesn't kick their butt. She just gets back in the car. *cue anti-climatic trumpet*
As for the ballet studio, the "huntress" still lures Beau there. The ballet studio is where his mom would teach lessons and he would go with her so it still has a personal connection to him. LET'S DISCUSS THE END SHALL WE You'll have to click this spoiler link, of course. Beau gets beat up much worse at the ballet studio. He's trying not to scream, but he ends up vomiting from the pain. He gets more broken bones and has a hard time breathing. It was kind of intense to read.
I can't believe she changed the ending! It was a total surprise. Basically, Edythe gets there too late to save Beau. Edythe will either kill him trying to suck out the vampire venom or he'll survive as a vampire. Edythe asks him to choose and he chooses vampire. As he's changing into a vampire, we get a huge info dump of all the background stories and vampire rules that we learn in the other 3 books of the series. The big difference is the background stories we all known are still gender swapped - even the Volturi. And it was pretty cool.
I liked the way the opening quote from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea tied into the end. Beau is kind of forced into a destiny as a vampire. He doesn't mind after a while because it's everything he ever wanted. That's the same thing that happens in 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. The main character is a prisoner and can't leave but after a while he wouldn't leave even if he could because seeing the ocean in a secret submarine is like a dream come true.
The best moment in the new ending is when Beau and Edythe discuss how things could have been different. Beau talks about how he wishes he could have had a better goodbye with his parents. Unlike Bella, he has to live with the last thing he told Charlie which was cruel. Beau fantasizes how they could have graduated high school together and had a big wedding before he left his parents for good. Edythe jokes about how that just wasn't possible. I enjoyed the irony of that. It also made me realize that as much criticism as Bella gets for being "passive," she worked hard to get everything she wanted despite Edward telling her it wouldn't work. Maybe Bella fought for what she wanted in a passive, introverted way, but she still fought. And won.
And ohmygosh if you've read this book you have to tell me what you thought of the end!! I'm dying to hear other opinions! It was so interesting to read. Different. Unexpected. AH! Call Me Beaufort
Beau's full name is actually Beaufort. Beaufort is the only name I can think of that is worse than Beau. Beau didn't change a lot from Bella. He faints at blood but justifies it medically to reduce his embarrassment.
"I have a weak vasovagal system," I muttered. "It's just a neurally medicated syncope."
- pg 77
He royally sucks at sports. My reaction to that surprised me. I read this book to see how it challenges my gender bias. Do I have a gender bias? Turns out, a little bit. Girls wouldn't stage a snowball fight! Beau shouldn't suck so bad at sports! Honestly, his crappy sports skills came across as pathetic. Like all guys should be good at sports? It's definitely not true and I was surprised that I assumed that. Bella gets a lot of judgement for cooking for her dad. But when Beau does it? It's kind of endearing. Beau also cleans a lot, but it's kind of an OCD thing because he puts all the cleaning supplies in alphabetical order.
Little details changed and it made more of a difference than I thought it would. Beau is a gentleman. He opens the door for Edythe and carries her books. He doesn't let it bother him that she's stronger. I kind of liked Beau. Beau is more of a physical being than Bella, if you know what I mean ;). He flat out asks about sex instead of skirting around it. He tries to kiss Edythe a few times and she cringes and puts her hand up. I know she was reacting to trying not to eat him, but it came across as him having deathly bad breath or something. It made me laugh a little. That's How You Spell Edythe?
Edythe felt like she changed the most. Edythe responds a little more to people's thoughts than Edward did. Edythe never came across as dangerous to me. Even when she stops the van, I only saw her as interesting and mysterious - not dangerous. Removing the feeling of constant danger reduced the sexual tension that Twilight is known for. But that's partly my fault, too. Apparently I'm biased that women aren't dangerous. Another reason I didn't think of Edythe as dangerous was because she seemed to smile a lot. Seriously, why is she smiling all the time? You got something stuck in your teeth, Edythe? A dead boyfriend maybe? Kidding. She doesn't eat Beau. While Edward does smile, it came across as condescending while Edythe smiling came across as sweet. The one change that did make Edythe seem scary was the description of her during the dream Beau has right after he finds out she's a vampire. She has pointed teeth, sharp nails and a menacing vibe.
Edythe by far has the best line in the book. She buys Beau dinner and when he protests she says:
"Try not to get caught up in antiquated gender roles."
- pg 135
I know not everyone sucks at keeping characters straight like I do, but just in case, here's the gender swapped names for reference.
Alice - Archie Jasper - Jessamine Rosalie - Royal Carlisle - Carine Esme - Earnest Emmett - Eleanor Edward - Edythe Bella - Beaufort
Aspen Everlasting is a funparanormal romance. This is the perfect fit for young teens as well as adults who want a clean romance that is entertaining
Aspen Everlasting is a fun paranormal romance. This is the perfect fit for young teens as well as adults who want a clean romance that is entertaining to read.
I'm not always a fan of romances because they feel cheesy sometimes, but there was plenty of humor and teasing that kept the cheesiness at bay. This quote is from the beginning where the main character, Aspen, and the childhood friend she is developing a crush on named Nate almost drown. He comes over and hugs her like friends do and he's obviously concerned for her. They're embracing and ... it doesn't go quite the way she imagined.
Was this the moment I had waited for? Nate was going to kiss me. I could tell by his eyes that his gratitude for my survival would bring his lips to mine. My heartbeat sped up with . . .
“You look terrible,” he said.
Okay. Moment gone.
-Kindle Locations 160-162
Ha ha! Makes me laugh every time I read it.
I've known the author, Kathryn, for a couple of years now. She was a book blogger before she became an author and that's how I met her. Among book bloggers the line, "The breath I DIDN'T know I was holding" is a well known cliche that they love to point out because how can you not know something like that? So when I read the following line in Aspen Everlasting, I could see her experience as a book blogger shining through.
The breath I was holding released through my mouth.
-Kindle location 11
Thank you for not using cliches!
My curiosity was peaked as the hidden paranormal world started to unfold. It reminded me of the King Arthur type of fairies that hide in the woods and capture men. They live forever, are dangerous, and can't always be trusted. I loved the way Kathryn made the fairy world her own by having good fairies that had given up the immortality as well as the more traditional evil fairies.
One of the most unique things about Aspen Everlasting is the relationship Aspen has with her siblings. Her siblings - Ash and Willow - are an important part in the story line and they are good friends. It was nice to read about functional family relationships. There's some tension with the parents that was realistic. I liked how much the parents were involved in the story. It was nice to see that even though they loved each other and got along, they still had to work through things with each other.
A fun, quick must-read for Once Upon a Time fans. The art is gorgeous. The stories are all new and set in the Enchanted Forrest which Idon't get to seA fun, quick must-read for Once Upon a Time fans. The art is gorgeous. The stories are all new and set in the Enchanted Forrest which I don't get to see as much of on the TV show as I would like. Loved it!
This is my first graphic novel that I've ever reviewed. It might possibly be the first I've ever read. So I can say, as a graphic novel novice, that it was really fun to read this. I didn't finish the first book in the Once Upon a Time book series because it was a novelization of Season 1 and not a very good one at that. It was boring to re-read stories I already knew from the TV show. I'm happy to say that all of these stories are new. They are background stories for five of the characters - Belle, Rumplestiltskin, Captain Hook, The Mad Hatter, and the Evil Queen. All of these stories are set in the Enchanted Forrest. Of all the characters, we didn't see much about them in the Enchanted Forrest and I loved getting to see more stories about them there. It was a lot of fun.
There are two authors and four artists. Each story has it's own artistic style and none of the stories have the same style as the cover. I kind of wish they had showcased the different art on the cover instead of having something completely different. It gave me the expectation that it would have highly realistic illustrations inside but instead the art was more stylized or cartoonish. I loved the art, don't get me wrong, but I think the cover should at least match.
I was also surprised by how thin and tall this book was. It almost felt like a picture book.
The first story is about Captain Hook. It's about an adventure he has as a pirate and it shows some of his sarcasm and bravery. This story was good. Maybe not amazing, but still good. It reminded me that Captain Hook had a bad boy side to him that he's lost a little of in the TV show. The art for this story was my least favorite from the book. It's very sharp and undetailed. I should admit right now that part of my motivation to read this book was to stare at some hot pirate pictures. Sadly, not as much hot pirate as I was hoping for. However, the art matches the adventure plot of this story and works really well. *stares at hot pirate on cover some more*
The story about Belle and Rumple is so fun and romantic. I think it might be my favorite. It showed a stage in their relationship from the Enchanted Forrest that we didn't get to see much. They aren't in love but they had moved past the cruel stage at the beginning of their relationship. The art is amazing. It is colorful and beautiful. The watercolors gave it a romantic fantasy style that matched the story. The great plot twist at the end shows off Belle's cleverness and adds a little romance, too. The artist did a good job being true to the characters and how they look on TV.
The least interesting story has to be the one about the Evil Queen. Not much happens in the plot and the art is very dark and a little boring. The end of this story increases the Evil Queen's resolve to get revenge on Snow White. Wow, that's new! (Not.) That story line is already very emphasized in the TV show. If anything, it's a little too emphasized.
I think the story that went into the most detailed background was for the Mad Hatter. It was his entire backstory and it helped me understand his character in a whole new way. The cartoony look of this story was perfect for the Wonderland setting. Even though it's the longest story in the book, it kept my attention the whole time. What an emotional, sad story. I like the Mad Hatter even more after reading this.
I loved the sarcastic writing. Theauthorexperiments with formatting words on the page which I thought was cool. The world was fShort and Sweet Version
I loved the sarcastic writing. The author experiments with formatting words on the page which I thought was cool. The world was fascinating and felt new, but the plot slowed down in the middle because the world building kind of took over at that point. It has a lovely ending and wonderful characters. This book is perfect for fans of unique and creative fantasy worlds.
Magonia has such wonderful, sarcastic writing. It's dripping sarcasm like an ice cream cone on a hot day that oozes it's fattening sarcastic goodness all over your fingers. Most of the sarcasm comes from the main character, Aza. Aza is understandably jaded about an incurable disease she's had since birth that makes it extremely difficult for her to breath. She hates when people are trying to "fix" her life like she hasn't tried everything. In this quote, she's describing one of the things that people are sometimes saying to her.
Sometimes also what-about-faith-healers-what-about-herbs-what-about-crystals-what-about-yoga? Have you tried yoga, Aza, I mean have you, because it helped this friend of a friend who was supposedly dying but didn't, due to downward dog?
The sarcasm worked so well because it was balanced out with reality. Since Aza is always on the verge of dying, the family copes with the constant threat of her death by having pre-written apologies to each other so they can all be on the same page in case she does actually die. What she labeled these apologies is beyond hilarious.
My mom has a written apology from me for the entire category of brutal sarcasm. [My brother] has one entitled Excessive Bitchiness, Hogging of Parental Attention by Repeatedly Being Sick Unto Death but Not Actually Dying, and Variant Category: Theft of Clothing.
The one to my dad runs more along the lines of Things I Wasn't Very Interested In, Parts 1-36
I love how funny but real this is at the same time. I loved that she would be sorry for how sarcastic she was to her mom, for the neglect she unintentionally caused her brother, and for ignoring her dad about at least 36 things. SO funny! But also very touching as well.
The strong voice that Magonia is written in also made it a little difficult to read. Maybe an audiobook would help with that. Aza had a very disjointed thought process at the beginning. She seemed to jump randomly from one thought to the next. In real life, most people have thought processes that jump around a lot, too. The problem about reading someone else's jumpy thought process is that it doesn't make sense to me. On just one page she talked about how she got her name, the alphabet, E.T., bullets, and how her day sucked. Like WOW. Maybe they connect in her mind, but they did not connect at all in my mind. I had to slow down and re-read a lot just to get a handle on what she was even saying.
Despite the flaws, I really, really loved the writing. Maybe it's because Aza's voice sounds disturbingly like the sarcastic voice I have in my head (which I keep to myself because I generally like people). I just connected with her as a character. Aza loves random facts. I do too! I'm kind of a fan.
Something unique and creative about Magonia was how it experimented with formatting text. I can't say that I loved it or anything, but it was interesting. The author had empty brackets with no words in a few places. In the context of the story, it represented the way there are some things words just can't express. Like love.
Another experimental thing in the writing I liked was about Aza's best friend, Jason. Jason likes to recite pi when he's nervous. There are huge strings of numbers in the book sometimes. It worked and I found it endearing. The longer the number, the more freaked out he was. He also loved to read very obscure and ancient books like Kepler's Dream: With the Full Text and Notes of Omnium, Sive Astronomia Lunaris which is basically a scientific novel defending Copernican theory that is dressed up as fantasy so the author wouldn't get his head chopped off. I don't know about you, but the fact that Jason reads such interesting books made him interesting to me, too.
The one thing I couldn't stop thinking about Aza and Jason's relationship was, "A bird may love a fish, signore, but where will they live?" which is from the movie Ever After. It describes the dilemma of their relationship so perfectly.
The world of Magonia comes from an ancient myth from the 1st century that tries to explain the weather. The myth says that sailors traveled in ships in the clouds and would cause storms so they could steal crops and feed themselves. That's a very straight forward way to describe it. Here's how Jason would describe the world of Magnolia:
"It's some kind of Peter Pan plus E.T. hybrid."
I loved that Magonia was based on an actual legend that no one has really heard of before. It added this magical authenticity to the world that's hard to describe.
As much as I loved the fascinating mythology and the fantasy world, it was relied on a little too much to keep my interest in the story. By about 70% through the book, the plot starting slowing down a lot. Most of the middle of the book is spent world building and by this point, I was no longer dazzled by the world. The world is really cool. You can't deny that. And the writing was sadly starting to lose the sarcastic voice it had started with. I felt strangely disconnected. I think the biggest reason I stopped being invested in the story was because once Aza enters the fantasy world of Magonia, it's unclear what she WANTS. Does she want to stay in Magonia? Does she want to go back to earth? Does she want to help with this mission of dubious morals? Does she love her best friend Jason or not? For most of the book, I didn't know the answer to these questions mostly because it doesn't spend much time with Aza's thoughts at all. If I didn't get to know these answers, I would have really liked Aza to explore those questions a little bit. It's realistic to have the main character be undecided when they are thrown into a strange new world, but her indecision went on for too long. If she doesn't want something, there's no conflict left. And no conflict means boring. A fantastic world can't replace a good conflict. At the beginning, the conflict was great. She was always dying and she didn't want to die. Seems like a lame conflict but it really worked because I liked the character and the way she viewed the world.
However, I did enjoy the ending. I liked her epiphany that the Magonians were scared of humans because they have to wear huge helmets with tubes so they can breath in Magonia. This epiphany helps her get what she wants which we FINALLY learn is going back to earth to be with her family and Jason.
Short and Sweet Version Slow-burning romance. Fun, modern retelling of Greek myths. Epic, cliff-hanger ending. Twists. Famous rock star father sold y Short and Sweet Version Slow-burning romance. Fun, modern retelling of Greek myths. Epic, cliff-hanger ending. Twists. Famous rock star father sold your soul. All the things you need for the perfect novel to lose yourself in for a while. Jessica Thinks Too Much Version (view spoiler)[
The parental dynamics in the book are refreshing. There are no clueless, barely existent parents that act unrealistically. Oh no. The parents in this book CAUSE the problems by selling their children's souls. That understandably gives Daphne, the main character, some trust issues. Daphne's dad, Joe, made a deal with the devil and deeply regrets it. I liked Joe because he genuinely tries to become a better person. One of the most tender and emotional moments is when they finally mend their relationship.
I liked the pace of Daphne and Haden's relationship. It was beautiful, deep, and slow-burning. Since they hadn't just gotten together and made out really fast in the first book, their relationship still had somewhere to go in this book. I didn't feel like their relationship was being artificially sabotaged for "reasons." Daphne not admitting her love for Haden was heart-breaking but it I bought it. She says that it's because the future is in uproar and I guess that's true, but with her character I felt like it had more to do with her trust and abandonment issues from her dad. She has a plan for the future and a guy is not supposed to be in it because she wants to be independent. I was biting my nails because I could totally understand where she was coming from but I know she's going to realize the error of her ways but will it be too late?!?!
My favorite twist at the end - and there were a lot of them so don't worry I won't tell them all - was finding out that her uncle is Cupid/Eros. I really didn't see it coming, but then it made me smile when I thought about the fact that he loves Valentine's Day and works at a flower shop. Maybe that's a little obvious foreshadowing, but I was so focused on her mom being Demeter that I forgot to think about who her uncle would be. I also probably let it slide a little since I love Valentine's Day and I'm in the minority like he was. Anyway. His arrows were awesome! Who knew Cupid could kick butt! He was like a guy Katniss with arrows of evil and love. Such an unexpectedly cool character.
The cliffhanger. All I have to say is that if book 3 wasn't happening I would be extremely upset. Angry. That's quite the mess they got into by the end. I loved how Daphne kind of mirrored Orpheus's story but the genders were swapped. The Persephone myth was woven in as well with a little reference to Cupid and Psyche. So much awesome mythology to geek out over and I loved it!
If you lovedWhere'd You Go, Bernadette I bet you would loveBig Little Lies, too. Big Little Lies is full of quirky characters Short and Sweet Version
If you loved Where'd You Go, Bernadette I bet you would love Big Little Lies, too. Big Little Lies is full of quirky characters, great humor, gossip, intrigue, and mystery. It's addicting to read. And somehow, at the same time, it talks about abuse, lies, and the objectification of women in a thoughtful and moving way.
This book is about deep issues like abuse and lies so how did Liane Moriarty make it so funny? I think it was a combination of blunt honesty and creative writing that made this book amazing. Right from page one we get snooty internal commentary from a cat that sets the tone for the whole book. Sadly, the cat doesn't really show up again but the humor sticks around. (And can I just say that a book about a person going on with their daily life that is narrated by a sarcastic cat would be an excellent book. Someone should write that.)
If this quote doesn't perfectly describe people on their phone all the time then I don't know what does (I'm one of them, ok? Not judging).
Mothers took their mothering so seriously now. Their frantic little faces. [...] Eyes fixed on the mobile phones held in the palms of their hands like compasses.
-Liane Moriarty, Big Little Lies pg 2
I think my phone/compass has a setting that heads straight for the corner of my counters and table. Anyway.
Chick lit and murder mystery had a baby and it is this adorable book that you just want to eat up and pinch it's wittle cheeks. The narrative of the story is interrupted by hilarious interviews between the residents and the police officer about a murder that has happened. The interviews unearthed mostly gossip and unhelpful information but oh are they so much fun to read. At first, I felt like I needed to keep all the people straight in the interviews but I don't think you really need to. Unlike other murder mysteries where you are trying to find who did it by following a revolting trail of disturbing clues, this book doesn't even tell you who died. Part of the fun is trying to figure out who even died! And your only clues are the interviews of the moms judging the other moms in the school! I had a lot of fun writing guesses in the margins as I was reading and they were all wrong which means that this book had excellent foreshadowing and writing that kept me on my toes.
My favorite character was Madeline. Her tirade about being forty and getting outraged at imaginary problems was hilarious. Also, I never, never get upset about problems I've invented in my head. Never. Mostly.
I don't know why, but I loved reading about Madeline's unfounded resentment for her ex-husband's wife, Bonnie. It was just so funny and blunt.
"When Bonnie hears I've hurt my ankle, she'll bring me a meal. She just loves any excuse to bring me a home-cooked meal. Probably because Nathan told her I'm a terrible cook, so she wants to make a point. Although the worst thing about Bonnie is that she's probably not actually making a point. She's just freakishly nice. I'd love to throw her meals straight in the bin, but they're too damned delicious. My husband and children would kill me."
-Liane Moriarty, Big Little Lies pg 28
I feel a little like that when I get mad at my husband and he's nice to me. My husband is also freakishly nice. Now what am I supposed to do!? The nice card is so not fair sometimes.
I can relate to this a little too much.
The angrier Madeline got, the more freakishly calm Ed became, until he reached a point where he sounded like a hostage negotiator dealing with a lunatic and a ticking bomb. It was infuriating.
-Liane Moriarty, Big Little Lies pg 212
One of the deeper issues that Big Little Lies explored was how important a woman's looks are in our society and the consequences of that.
A glittery girl. [...] All her life Jane had watched girls like that with scientific interest. Maybe a little awe. Maybe a little envy. They weren't necessarily the prettiest, but they decorated themselves so affectionately, like Christmas trees, with dangling earrings, jangling bangles and delicate, pointless scarves.
-Liane Moriarty, Big Little Lies pg 14
Why are looks so important to women? Why do even women value other women based on their looks? Do we miss things (like the abuse of one of the women who happened to be very beautiful) because everything looks pretty on the outside? It's not like I've never asked myself these questions before, but I always find myself thinking more deeply about them in the context of a story. Jane, one of the main characters, has this thought when she meets someone new:
Although, what did that say? If the woman had been a toothless, warty-nosed crone she would have continued to feel resentful? The injustice of it. The cruelty of it. She was going to be nicer to this woman because she liked her freckles.
-Liane Moriarty, Big Little Lies pg 16
I found this next quote so moving and thought provoking. It's about how in our society women can easily feel that the most valuable thing a woman can be is attractive to a man. I liked this honest look at the issue of women's looks that Liane Moriarty masterfully mixed with a little humor.
"You're beautiful," she began.
"No!" said Jane angrily. "I'm not! And that's OK that I'm not. We're not all beautiful, just like we're not all musical, and that's fine. And don't give me that inner beauty shining through crap either."
Madeline, who had been about to give her that inner beauty shining through crap, closed her mouth.
-Liane Moriarty, Big Little Lies pg 197
Madeline talks about how Jane's mother's attitude about beauty shaped Jane a little, then society and media shaped her attitude a little more, and then one hateful comment finished the job that everyone had been doing little by little. They all added up together to warp her attitude about food and wrongfully plant the idea that skinny means beauty and beauty is what matters most to a woman.
There were some lovely thoughts on parenting. This book showed so well that while genetics play a role in your kids, how you raise them matters so much more. As I'm watching my kids grow up, I relate to this quote that puts childhood so poignantly.
Your child was a little stranger, constantly changing, disappearing and reintroducing himself to you. New personality traits could appear overnight.
-Liane Moriarty, Big Little Lies pg 63
I never realized until reading this book that I judged people who stayed in abusive relationships. I developed so much empathy for people who are victims of abuse after reading this. This quote shows the mindset of the woman who was abused. The idea that she somehow deserves abuse. I love that the message of this book was that you don't deserve it. No matter what.
A little violence was a bargain price for a life that would otherwise be just too sickeningly, lavishly, moonlit perfect.
So then what the hell was she doing here, secretly planning her escape route like a prisoner?
-Liane Moriarty, Big Little Lies pg 245
I think this all the time. There has to be a balance between empathy and the ability to function in your real life.
... there was real pain in the world, right this very moment people were suffering unimaginable atrocities and you couldn't close your heart completely, but you couldn't leave it wide open either, because otherwise how could you possibly live your life, when through pure, random luck you got to live in paradise? You had to register the existence of evil, do the little that you could, and then close your mind and think about new shoes.
-Liane Moriarty, Big Little Lies pg 353
The word silly is used a lot throughout the story to downplay the hurt and concerns of women. The saddest example is when the little girl who was getting hurt during the school year was afraid to say who it really was. But when the little girl later insisted on not inviting a certain boy to her party, the mom dismissed it as her daughter just being silly. It turned out that this certain boy was the one that was hurting her. We sometimes trivialize violence and pain when it happens to girls and even women. Every time I saw the word silly, I realized how very sadly common it is to do that to women. To trivialize the pain they are going through.
One of the most fascinating things about this book was all the lies and secrets. All of the characters tell white lies and most of the characters have big lies or secrets. It seemed like the more secret they kept something, the more power it had over their life.
There's something about this scene that just gets to me. Celeste is naturally beautiful. I think this scene shows how even women tend to over-value how important our appearances are.
"Oh, Celeste," she'd moaned. "I just can't handle you today. Not when I'm feeling like shit and you waltz in here looking like . . . you know, like that." She waved her hand at Celeste's face, as if at something disgusting.
The girls around them had exploded with joyous laughter, as if something hilarious and subversive had finally been said out loud. They laughed and laughed, and Celeste had smiled stiffly, idiotically, because how could you possible respond to that? It felt like a slap, but she had to respond like it was a compliment.
-Liane Moriarty, Big Little Lies pg 165-166
The passive aggressive way the women told Celeste that she was too pretty and it made them feel bad made Celeste respond as if it was a compliment when it wasn't. Is there something about passive aggressiveness that makes the only polite response a lie? I try to imagine Celeste responding with the truth and I couldn't figure out a way in which it didn't end badly for her.
Surprisingly, her emotional trials of mending her family relationships got to me more than her physical trials did. On some levelShort and Sweet Review
Surprisingly, her emotional trials of mending her family relationships got to me more than her physical trials did. On some levels Stephanie is not very relatable with her Leave it to Beaver life, but I found myself relating to her a lot when she was going through this trial of surviving burns on 80% of her body because I connected with her honesty, selfishness, guilt, and her eventual resolve to work hard and overcome.
Stephanie Nielson's life sounds like a 50's sitcom. I think it was the freckles and apron that tipped me off. I didn't think it was a bad thing necessarily. Maybe she's not the most relatable person to read about, but she was certainly interesting to read about since her life was very different from mine. Still, she has a simple love for simple things that was very catching.
I had learned that those doses of quiet joy like that can be brief, but their effects are long lasting and often carried me through the busy and challenging times of running our household.
- Stephanie Nielson, Heaven is Here pg 10
She had a humor and honesty about the small annoyances in life that was fun to read about. My favorite example of this was when she moved into a house and the previous owner said she left some things for her that she thought she would want.
What I believe she meant was that she decided to save time packing only half of her stuff, and leaving the rest for me to worry about. In the bathroom we found an old bar of soap, a razor, toilet paper, women's personals, and even her deodorant.
- Stephanie Nielson, Heaven is Here pg 60
After reading about her perfect life (which honestly sounded to me more like a nostalgic look back on her lost life instead of bragging), it goes into the tragic plane crash that she survived. Stephanie put this quote in the book as an introduction to part 2 which is all about her surviving and recovering. I love this quote.
"There is in every true woman's heart a spark of heavenly fire, which lies dormant in the broad daylight of prosperity, but which kindles up and beams and blazes in the dark hour of adversity."
- Washington Irving
I don't know why, but the part where they scrape away the skin on her face makes me so sad. Stephanie suffered burns on 80% of her body - including her face. It's so hard for me to imagine losing what I look like.
The doctors scraped away my skin to save my life. It was a moment's consolation to learn that they had paused before they took the knife to my face, before they carved away the tissued that had defined my facial features, before they scraped my beauty away.
- Stephanie Nielson, Heaven is Here pg 104
As hard as it was to live through her physical trials with her, I thought her emotional and family trials were much more difficult and it was those that really got to me. Her fragile hope was heartbreaking. All she wanted was to be a mother and her children were scared of her. One child easily accepted her, one child didn't recognize her and one child couldn't be in the same room as her. The parts that made me cry the most were her struggles reconnecting with her kids. The saddest part was hearing her youngest, barely a toddler, pound on the front door and crying for mommy. His aunt had taken care of him for so long that he called her mommy instead of his mom whom he didn't recognize. I can't imagine what that would feel like as a mom to hear that. Those moments and others like it yanked on my mommy heart strings.
She went through a near death experience. I'm not usually a fan of those, but it was interesting reading about hers. It's brief in the book and it helped me see what she was going through and how close she was to dying more than once.
Her guilt was so raw and real. Every mom experiences guilt and I could relate to her feeling guilty even though it wasn't her fault. She says that "I had done something awful--unforgiveable--to my sweet and innocent children (pg. 122)." It seems ridiculous to feel that way, but as a parent I know my kids need me all the time for everything and being gone from my kids for 3 months, no matter the reason, would feel like an awful betrayal.
She was brutally honest about her feelings of selfishness and I admired that honesty. Selfishness is definitely not accepted in our society but this experience made me wonder if maybe she needed to be that way to heal emotionally and physically. Is there a right amount of selfishness?
On some level I realized how selfish it was to keep him out of my room. I knew I was ignoring his needs and his emotional pain. I was sorry for that, but not sorry enough to change my mind.
- Stephanie Nielson, Heaven is Here pg 125
Stephanie and her husband, who was also burned, seemed to have a magical love story. When she was in a coma, her heart kept racing when her husband came in the room. It was something straight out of a fairy tale. Then later, when she is crying about going home because she literally can't do anything and was worrying about who would cook dinner and fold the clothes, her husband says that he will do it. He seems happy about it, too. Just as long as they're together it doesn't matter who is doing what. What a Prince Charming.
I was touched by the story of her husband being haunted by nightmares so their three-year-old son would come sleep in the room with his dad and the nightmares would go away. It was such a bittersweet role reversal. I loved her son Ollie's forwardness, openness, and acceptance. He's the child that accepted her right away and I found him very endearing. One of my favorite stories is of Ollie loudly telling people in the restaurant to stop staring at his mommy.
One of the inspiring things about Stephanie was when she realized that even though she had hit rock bottom and couldn't even control her own body, she could control how hard she worked. Hard work was all she had left. Instead of refusing to do things, she didn't give up. Reading her blog now is inspiring in little ways to me. I came across a post where she was doing a craft for Easter and you could see pictures of her burned hands. It looked like it was difficult and painful for her to do the small details of it. The thing that inspires me is not Easter crafts (I loathe crafting) but the fact that she decided to go back to doing the things she loved doing before her accident despite the fact that it was now much harder.
When she wants to have another baby, I couldn't help but think "Hasn't your body been through enough?!" But I went to her blog and saw posts of her baby daughter's 3rd birthday and how grateful they were to have her, I couldn't help but be impressed that she continued to not just survive but to work hard for the things that she wanted. I would like to hope that I would be that way, too.
I went back and read her blog posts about her pregnancy and the unique challenges she faced because of her burns. At the end when she expereienced swelling, her skin on her legs couldn't stretch and so the swelling went inwards and she said it felt like "like thousands of needles poking my skin all day". Reading honesty like that makes me feel grateful for things I had never thought to be grateful for. I am so grateful right now for skin that can stretch on my body.
This exciting fantasy adventure stars a fascinating heroine who is a mix of sarcasm, humor, Cinderella, and deadly assassin. ThShort and Sweet Version
This exciting fantasy adventure stars a fascinating heroine who is a mix of sarcasm, humor, Cinderella, and deadly assassin. The romance was a love triangle, but I thought it was well written. Other than too many exclamation points in the writing for my taste, I loved this book.
Throne of Glass has a fantastic main character named Celaena. Her strong opinion mixed with her sarcasm and a little condescension made her so funny and likable and just awesome. Even though she is a notorious assassin, she's also not afraid to be feminine which I found refreshing.
Random question - I was confused about the "Adarlan's Assassin" title. Did she kill people FOR Adarlan or IN Adarlan? I know there are prequels to this series and I'll bet it answers that little detail. I've heard good things about the prequel stories so I'm probably going to read them. But if you happen to know the answer to that little detail, I'd be very grateful.
Throne of Glass started out as a fairy tale retelling of Cinderella but Sarah J. Maas changed it after asking herself, "What if [Cinderella] was an assassin who had just tried to kill the prince?" The questions she asked herself after that helped shape it into an original story with only slight references to Cinderella.
To anyone that has issues with the realisticness of a woman being an assassin, I would like to point out that women already posses a lot of the skills required to be an assassin. I think my favorite example is Kaltain staring Celaena down with a "keenness that would make any assassin proud. (pg 75)" Being underestimated is also another huge advantage that women have. Celaena is underestimated about her assassin skills all the time and she uses it to her advantage.
As much as I adore Celaena's sarcasm and humor, she can only get away with it because of her vulnerable moments where she discusses her childhood which was full of abuse and tragedy. I found myself noticing that Celaena used her sarcasm the most when she was telling tragic stories from her past. It helped me connect with her character more when I realized that she was probably being overly sarcastic to cope with the pain she still felt.
Celaena is definitely brave, but she's not perfect either. If she was perfect I would hate her. I like her flawed the way she is. In the castle that Celaena is living in, there is something or someone going around killing people. Celaena is usually very confident and brave, but she starts to have doubts about being able to kill this particular monster. As she hurries up the stairs in the dark, she says to herself, "Not that the thought of something wicked dwelling in the castle scared her or anything. (pg 194)" That made me laugh. She's brave but maybe not that brave. I felt like I could connect with her a little more after that.
Despite being a little afraid, Celaena is trying to figure out who/what is killing people. Her only clues are disemboweled, dead bodies with weird symbols around them like it's the Da Vinci Code High-Fantasy Edition. Celaena learns that the symbols mean this monster has been released from the Chamber of Secrets land of the dead, so she gets all Hermione at the library to figure out how to kill it. This story keyboard smashed all my geek buttons at the same time.
As Celaena is chasing after this monster, two guys are chasing after her. Kidding! Honestly, it's not that bad. There are two guys that she develops relationships with. I feel like it is my duty, as a book reviewer, to tell you that there is a love triangle. I know this plot element can really bug people, but it doesn't bother me that much if the romance is a subplot like it is in this book. I really enjoyed the romance in this book. Neither of the guys is perfect and they both have a unique connection with her. Now I can't choose. As far as love triangles go, it's a very well written one. Captain Westfall annoys her too much for them not to have some romance later on. And the Prince is just so darn charming but a little vulnerable at the same time that you can't help but like him, too.
The Prince perfectly matches Celaena's sarcasm. When Celaena is having her period, she tells the prince to go away because she feels like dying. He tells he that no one should die alone and makes up a a sarcastic and slightly suggestive story to entertain her in her "final moments." By the way, how cool is the casual reference to a period? I liked the honesty, but I liked even more the men's reactions. The captain freaks out and runs away. The prince comes to tease her.
The prince was clever, charming, and persuasive. I liked that he intuitively knew to appeal to Celaena's competitive side to get her to join the assassin competition on his behalf. I found it so interesting that the prince embodied the romanticism that a traditional princess has. He insists on marrying for love, which Celaena finds old-fashioned and unrealistic. He also believes in being polite and kind. And he thinks incredibly gorgeous and romantic things like this about Celaena:
He couldn't banish her heart-wrenching music from his mind, even when he burned his mother's list of eligible maidens, even when he read a book long into the night, even when he finally fell asleep.
-Sarah J. Maas, Throne of Glass pg 149
Isn't that just beautiful and romantic?
This next quote is a conversation that Celaena and the prince have and I think it shows the princes romanticism and Celaena's realism. I also think it makes them a good couple.
"What's the point in having a mind if you don't use it to make judgements?" [said Celaena]
"What's the point in having a heart if you don't use it to spare others from the harsh judgements of your mind?" [said the prince]
-Sarah J. Maas, Throne of Glass pg 231
As much as I like Celaena, I agree more with the prince. I try daily to have more empathy and not judge others.
Captain Chaol Westfall is attractive in his own way. He's logical, loyal, and down to earth. The captain also has a swash-buckling side to him that Celaena makes fun of, to my delight.
Chaol tossed his cape on top of hers, his toned body flexing through the dark threads of his shirt. He drew his sword. "On your guard!" He moved into defensive position, and Celaena looked at him dully.
Who do you think you are? What sort of person says "On your guard"?
-Sarah J. Maas, Throne of Glass pg 81
I have only one small complaint about Throne of Glass. Exclamation points do not belong in prose. Just saying. It made the writing feel cheesy. Here's an example:
How lovely it was to hear a voice like her own--cool and articulate--even if he was a nasty brute!
-Sarah J. Maas, Throne of Glass pg 3
If the exclamation point had been left out it would have come across as delightfully sarcastic. The eclamation point makes it just so dramatic!! You know!!! It sounds like Jim Carrey is stuck in my head!!!!
Here's another one! In the prose! I only marked it because it irked me. Irked me, I tell you!
Celaena would not make a fool out of him!
-Sarah J. Maas, Throne of Glass pg 133
Here's another example of the generous use of exclamation points! This is Celaena's hilarious description of the prince!
Princes are not supposed to be handsome! They're sniveling, stupid, repulsive creatures! This one ... this ... How unfair of him to be royal and beautiful.
-Sarah J. Maas, Throne of Glass pg 8
I know I'm starting to sound like Elaine Benes from Seinfeld criticizing someone's use of an exclamation point, but it did pull me out of the flow of the story more than once. Although, to be fair, the exclamation points work better in the last quote since this is a thought in her head instead of in the prose. Still, they were used a lot throughout the book and the story didn't need so many exclamation points.
I think the only way to write a fair review of this book is to mock it light-heartedly in a way I hope Celaena would approve of. I loved this book. It was so much fun. But the exclatamtion points need to go. *deep, tragic sigh* *hand over heart* *moment of silence for the dead exclamation points*
I'm sorry. I'll stop talking about exclamation points now.
One thing I enjoyed about the narration was when it moved to different points of view. It didn't do it a lot - just enough to be interesting. It told the story from the Prince's view, the Captain's view, and Celaena's view. And it was well written so I could tell whose head I was in without ever getting confused. Most of the story was from Celaena's view, but it added a lot to the story - especially the romance - when we got to see little snippets from the Prince or the Captain.
Throne of Glass had a fun, adventurous plot that I really enjoyed ... except for the ending. As Celaena continues the quest of finding out who is killing people she starts to think that it's Nehemiah, who is her best friend. I know from too much reading of books that I should not believe this. I'm hoping for a cool reveal of who is controlling the beast that kills people and it sadly turns out to be the most cliche choice. I was kind of disappointed. Was anyone else disappointed when they found out it was Cain controlling the monster? I wanted a third, unexpected person to be controlling the monster besides Nehemiah or Cain so I could bask in the author's foreshadowing genius. I guess I can't expect that to happen all the time. But it would have been nice.
I loved the fresh and different take on magic in this book. Celaena briefly mentions being able to see fairies as a child. The day she first killed someone was the day they left her. This quote talks about how there used to be magic in this world but it left on it's own.
But even though the king had banned magic, most knew the truth: within a month of his proclamation, magic had completely and utterly disappeared of its own accord. Perhaps it had realized what horrors were coming.
-Sarah J. Mass, Throne of Glass pg 31
This little snippet causes so many questions that I know I will devour this series until I find out where magic went. Why did it leave? When is it coming back? WHAT IF IT NEVER COMES BACK? I found the idea of magic suddenly leaving one day so interesting.
Also, unimportant detail (but what am I if not a noticer of unimportant details), the main characters are 18 and 22 which are technically adults. Just curious why it's not an adult book. Not judging or anything. They probably made it a young adult book because young adult books are awesome and this is an awesome book. But still, it did make me wonder what "makes" a young adult book. Does the age of the main character matter when it comes to labeling it young adult or not? I'd love to hear your thoughts. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
This very short novel is a beautiful story about what it means to be a community andhow a community comes from having something in common - even if itThis very short novel is a beautiful story about what it means to be a community and how a community comes from having something in common - even if it's as small as a garden. Each chapter has a different character and a different point of view about this community garden which made it feel more like a short story collection instead of a novel. I enjoyed reading it in that format since it gave me a chance to see the garden in so many unique and interesting ways. The cast of diverse and interesting characters was delightful. One of my favorite characters was the old lady who kept drinking a tea made from flowers and her doctors told her not to. She outlived all those doctors and would say their names like a "chapter in Genesis." I just love that!
When we discussed this book in book club, we wondered who the main character was since it was told from so many points of view. I liked my friends idea that the garden was the main character since it changed and grew the most. I also liked where the term "seedfolks" came from. One of the characters talks about her ancestors who were the first black family in Colorado and she thought of them as her "seedfolk" since they planted their roots there for her. This was a cute story about community and how we have more in common than we think....more
This book was so muchmore than just a really long pep talk about getting rid of your stuff. It's full ofgreat ideas aboutever Short and Sweet Version
This book was so much more than just a really long pep talk about getting rid of your stuff. It's full of great ideas about everything from paperwork to kitchen cabinets to basements. Peter takes the overwhelming task of organizing your entire house and breaks it down into manageable steps with a process to easily maintain and it keep it that way.
Jessica Thinks Too Much Version
I love how personal and customizable this book is. Instead of diving right into a lecture on why you should organize your stuff, Peter Walsh starts out in a surprising way. He has you take a quiz about what you want in your ideal home (there's also a hilarious quiz about how much of a hoarder you are). I had a blast making a long list of what my dream home would be like. My list was full of things like: colorful, smells nice, clean, can find things easily, and relaxing. Because of this approach, it made me more open to the ideas he had. Now I had this image in my head of what I wanted and I knew this process was going to get it for me. Plus, who doesn't love quizzes about themselves?
I loved this whole book. I took 10 pages of notes. I've recommended it to everyone I know. But I'll share the things that resonated the most with me.
Organizing isn't really about the "stuff." Like most people in my generation, I had grandparents who lived during the Great Depression and stuff was hoarded for good reason. This was passed down to my parents and it was instilled in me. But unlike the time of my grandparents when even hoarding everything you could find still left you wanting, hoarding now creates an excess of stuff that is ultimately making me unhappy. The amount of stuff you had used to be limited by money but since everything is much cheaper now, it has to have a different limit. That limit has to be the size of your house. Until reading this book, I hadn't realized that I even was hoarding. I like minimalism. I don't like knick-knacks. But when he pointed out that we can't keep adding to our stuff without ever subtracting, I realized that I buy and buy but never get rid of anything.
Even though this was something I knew, I still liked his discussion about value vs. cost. Cost and value aren't the same thing. Just because something was expensive doesn't mean it is adding value to your home. See also the broken $2000 TV sitting in my basement that no longer works. Maybe we could fix it someday but most likely not. Maybe the TV example is too obvious. But what about the expensive bike I hardly ride? Or the books taking up room on my shelf that I don't like?
Peter says that most people make quick decisions about where things go the day they move in and never change it. They never question if things function where they are or make thoughtful decisions about where to put things. He's so right! I did that! I think this is most true in the kitchen. It's the first thing I set up because I ... um....food and I just hurried and shoved things in cabinets. Then I got so used to where things were that even changing one drawer was annoying. I've rearranged my kitchen a few times since reading this and it is so annoying to open three drawers before you remember where something actually is. I thought I needed more furniture in my kitchen, but after decluttering and rearranging I realized I didn't.
The room function chart in this book is simple yet genius. He just asks you to go through each room and ask what it's current function is, what it's ideal function is, who uses it, and what needs to leave the room. For some reason I never looked at my rooms this simply and logically. I transformed my mud room because of this chart. I have a closet in there as well as coat hooks on the wall. Since I didn't need the closet for coats, it seemed obvious that I would use the closet as a broom closet. But when I went through the functions of the mudroom I realized I wanted it to be a place to grab everything you need before leaving and put everything back when you come in the door. Having my brooms in there didn't make sense especially when all the diaper bags, church bags, school bags, library bags, and work bags were on the bench/floor/everywhere and you couldn't move in there. It was only obvious after going through this chart that I should stick all those bags in that closet. My mudroom is gorgeous and clutter free now. (I stuck all my brooms in my laundry room in case you're wondering.)
He goes through common problems for each room in the house. Having stories about how people struggled with a certain area and then fixed it made me feel normal. I loved the stories from people's lives because even though they didn't always apply to me, they did give me ideas about what to do with each of my rooms.
I know that all organizing books essentially say the same thing, but I loved Peter Walsh's approach. It's personal yet logical and easy to use. He's funny, likable, and has great ideas. I could tell he was passionate about what he does and it rubbed off on me a little bit. It's made me motivated to get rid of stuff and I'm much happier because of it.
In the Heart of the Sea is an addicting read mostly because I was horrified andhad to know what happened next. This story honestly sounds made up butIn the Heart of the Sea is an addicting read mostly because I was horrified and had to know what happened next. This story honestly sounds made up but it is not. As nail biting as the story itself was, it was written like a historical textbook. I know this story happened a long time ago, but using "perhaps" a lot dragged the story down. He uses lots of dates and what feels like info-dumping of historical details that don't seem relevant to the story. Some information felt like showing off how much research he did. Right whales, sperm whales - I learned a lot about whales.
I enjoyed the clever similarities in the history pointed out by the author that I might not have otherwise noticed. For example, the female dominated society in Nantucket from all the missing whalers is similar to the female dominated society of the whales. The whaleship Essex slowly died and sunk just like the whales they hunted did.
Speaking of whales, the description of hunting and killing the whales was very graphic. You don't have to be an animal lover to find the way that they hunted these whales extremely sad. It was also very disturbing to read about the cannibalism and insanity among the sailors that came from being lost so long at sea. Journaling at sea helped the Captain maintain his sanity, but not everyone was so lucky. I thought it was interesting how much journaling can help people cope with tragedy.
Overall, it was fascinating to see the historical story that inspired Moby Dick that I knew nothing about before reading this book....more
An epic romance on par with Gone With the Wind that features a feisty female lead. It made for a great discussion in my book Short and Sweet Version
An epic romance on par with Gone With the Wind that features a feisty female lead. It made for a great discussion in my book club since it brought up social and women's issues. The western setting and the journal-style story telling made it an unforgettable read.
These is My Words is an epic western romance starring a wonderful and strong female lead named Sarah. She reminded me a lot of Scarlett O'Hara from Gone with the Wind. But I have to say as much as I like Scarlett, I think Sarah has a few things that Scarlett was lacking. Sarah is genuinely kind but never loses her blunt, humorous honesty. When she saves a man who had gotten seriously injured by his horse near her ranch, she says this:
I lifted his head and took away the rags and gave him a pillow. I can make another pillow, I thought, and if he is going to die in my bed he may as well be comfortable.
-Nancy E. Turner, These Is My Words pg 136
I liked Sarah's gumption and the fact that she stood up for herself. She can defend herself in times of physical danger (which in the wild west, there were a lot) but she also stands up for what she wants, what she thinks, and what she believes. One of my favorite things that Sarah says is the most awesome string of cursing I've ever read. I need to remember this line the next time I'm mad.
Low down dirty ornery rotten skunk of a cussed mule-headed soldier!
-Nancy E. Turner, These is My Words pg 106
There is nothing more witty or tough than a pioneer woman. As much as I admire Sarah, I think deep down if I lived in pioneer times I would act more like her sister-in-law who screamed at tarantula spiders and fainted when they circumcised cattle. Sarah just calmly flicked the tarantula out the window and wouldn't kill it because they eat bugs. I would have killed it. Or burned the house down when I didn't have the guts to actually kill it. Anyway. One of my favorite parts in the story was when Sarah went to the bank to deposit her money. This was the banker's reaction to her:
...he had the gall to sniff in my face and tell me to let my husband handle my money and not trouble myself with the confusion of it all.
-Nancy E. Turner, These is My Words pg 301
Sexist pig. When she tells the banker that she doesn't want to leave her five hundred dollars with someone who finds money "confusing" he suddenly becomes much more accommodating when his eyes light up with dollar signs about that huge amount of money. Then Sarah puts him in his place when she finds out the pitiful interest rate they offer and tells him how she can make much more money by raising cattle or making soap. Then she says this little gem of a line:
In case that's confusing to you, Mister, it's called profit. Thank you for your time, and good day.
-Nancy E. Turner, These is My Words pg 302
Sarah's awesome. Don't miss out on her story because of the writing. It's written in a journal style which was hard to read sometimes if I'm being honest. There's very little dialogue and the journal style is hard to get into since I'm being told how things are instead of being able to imagine them and live them myself. The other thing about journals is the dates, which I most often skipped over and didn't bother reading. My friend who listened to the audiobook was able to point out when Sarah had stopped writing for years at a time that I hadn't even noticed. So the dates were a little important to the story but they were so boring to read. It's just a drawback of the journal style I guess. The grammar is also intentionally bad to give it an authentic western feel which it pulls off pretty well. Still, the poor grammar is difficult to read and I'm glad to say that the grammar improves as the story goes along because Sarah becomes more and more educated. Sarah writes with a western accent and she uses terms that we are no longer familiar with. The grammar, the journal style, and the unfamiliar accent and terms all made it hard to get into at first. This isn't an easy read for sure but it was a great story that stuck with me. Once I got into it, I was hooked.
The women and social issues that this story brought up made for a good book club discussion. As a group, we were surprised at how similar the problems that Sarah faced were to our own. There are the judgmental, gossiping neighbors that she feels judge and watch her every move. There's the day when Sarah's husband asks her to do something and she totally lays into him because she has had enough. I do that and I don't even have half the problems that a pioneer woman did.
One thing that was drastically different from our own problems was how common death and war were. Children experienced the death of family members quite often. I thought this was a beautiful quote about how children deal with grief.
Children just cannot be sad too long, it is not in them, as children mourn in little bits here and there like patchwork in their lives.
-Nancy E. Turner, These is My Words pg 95
Living in the west was dangerous. Sarah always had a gun with her. She had it with her all the time because she had to use it all the time to defend herself. I even got to the point that I was suspicious of everyone Sarah met. Every time she met someone new I was like, DOES SHE HAVE HER GUN? WHERE IS HER GUN? WHO IS THIS GUY?
I loved the small details about culture that I got to learn and think about. I found the way they built houses fascinating. When Sarah marries Jimmy, he builds a large porch so they can easily expand their house by just adding some walls. Jimmy had her stand in the kitchen so he could build counters exactly her height. I found the idea of a husband custom building a house just for his wife so charming. What a labor of love.
Most of the things I need in my life are relatively cheap and easy to come by. It's nice to have a reminder that that wasn't always the case. Pioneers had to completely use up everything. Nothing went to waste, not even old children's clothes. Sarah receives some old children's clothes and decides to turn them into a rug. The way she describes what the rug means to her makes me want to value the things I have a little more.
I am making a rag rug with scraps the Maldonados gave me from all their children's old worn out clothes. I told them what a happy rug it would be as it carries all the children's laughter with it, and Mrs. Maldonado cried and hugged me and made me eat two huge tamales.
-Nancy E. Turner, These is My Words pg 108
As much as I love the main character and the culture, this book is through and through a romance that will appeal to people who love Gone With The Wind. It's got an epic time period, a sharp, independent woman, and eventually true love after a few divorces. If Scarlett O'Hara lived in the west, her story would have been a lot like These Is My Words.
The romance starts with trading books for horses. Sarah Prine, the main character, finds a treasure hoard of books on her trek west and she needs horses to haul them. She runs off to Captain Elliot for help, who teases her in the most adorable way. He offers to help if she gives up two of the books. This is Sarah's reaction to his offer.
"To give that man a book was more than I could stand, but if it meant to have all the others, I just had to do it."
-Nancy E. Turner, These is My Words pg 45
Aw. Such cute teasing for me to read, but I would have been mad just like Sarah if those were really my books. I loved how the captain watches her reaction to each book he picks up. She agrees too quickly to the sermon book and so he puts it back down. Of course he finds the book she wants the most and takes it.
The captain and Sarah part ways and she ends up marrying someone named Jimmy. All epic romance needs something truly tragic and Sarah's marriage with Jimmy definitely was. When on his death bed Jimmy confesses to loving his old sweetheart and not Sarah, his wife, it broke my heart. But that event led to one of my favorite parts about the romance with Captain Elliot. When Captain Elliot finds her a while later and tries to date her she emphatically tells him she doesn't want to date anyone ever again. Her emotional outburst leads her to tears. Sarah's young daughter, April, naturally thinks that her mom is crying because she has an "owey." This is the captain's reaction, which I loved.
He was drilling a hole in my head with his eyes, but he said to April, Yes, honey. Mama's got owey. Straight through the heart, I'd reckon.
-Nancy E. Turner, These is My Words pg 147
What I love about his reaction is that he understands her. You can tell that he knows she's been treated badly and he works so hard to show her how much he loves her. And when he proposes to her and says, "I want to be married to you just like you are, spitfire and all. (pg 214)" you can just tell that he loves her the way she is. That's what true love is to me and I couldn't put down this book because of it. Can true love exist in marriages where each spouse depends on the other for survival? This was an interesting question that my book club brought up. Someone pointed out that in the west where you needed someone to tend the farm and you needed someone just as much to cook the food and make clothes, did a lot of the marriages come about because of need and not because of love? I bet a lot of marriages came about because of that. Then there's the fact that there weren't a lot of options to pick from. You get who you get and you don't throw a fit. I think even in marriages where they married because they more or less had to, that they found true love in a different way. In fact, since they depended on each other so much it can develop a special bond that is unique and deep. What do you think?
Content Warning - there are a few rape scenes in this novel. they are not overly graphic, but some people might find them disturbing.
If all Princess fairy tales had a feminist ending, it would come outThis book is also reviewed on my blog Books: A true story
Short and Sweet Version
If all Princess fairy tales had a feminist ending, it would come out exactly like this beautifully written short story. If you like Princess stories but don't like the "I have to get married, a guy needs to save me" theme, then you will love this fascinating fairy tale. Little Knife is about a girl who is so so pretty but no one listens to her. They really, really should have.
This is a story of Yeva, a girl that was so so pretty. And it sucked. People thought she was a demon. She couldn't go outside because it caused a scene. Instead of passively accepting her fate, Yeva asks why she has to hide. GOOD QUESTION. Why can't women be accepted as they are? Why is she expected to change her behavior which is normal (i.e. going outside) while the village doesn't feel the need to change their abnormal behavior (i.e. freaking out whenever they see her)?
No one ever asks Yeva what she wants. Her father, the Duke, is the worst. He is always thinking what he can get out of her instead. He really, really should have asked her what she wanted.
The tasks that the Duke sets up to find a husband for his Mega Hot Daughter (aka Yeva) are selfish and ridiculous and are what most of the plot is about. I liked the writing of this fairy tale. It has a charming repetitive style. Yeva logically questions the stupid things the Duke has the men do to compete for her hand and he ignores her. Idiot.
If this had been a regular fairy tale, the underdog Semyon would have won her hand. He's poor. No one likes him that much. He has magic. But through the story we see how he is no better than the Duke because he blames the river for all his problems. The freakin' river who is literally just sitting there minding it's own business. For a poor person, he seems awfully rude and entitled. Luckily, the river obeys Semyon's magic and helps him with the stupid tasks. He rewards the river, which he nick-named Little Knife, by being ungrateful and demanding.
"Now slice through the ground and fetch me the coin, Little Knife, or what good are you to me?"
- Leigh Bardugo, Little Knife (Location 181)
The ending rocks. The river kicks butt, turns into a powerful magical being, and is the first person to ask Yeva what she wants. Turns out, Yeva wants freedom. The river and Yeva leave the town, destroying it on their way out. Yeva lives by the sea and does normal things. Then she gets old and ugly but she doesn't bloody care because she's a free person. That's the best ending to a fairy tale ever.
I read this book on a recommendation from a friend. When I first sawThis book is also reviewed on my blog Books: A true story
Short and Sweet Version
I read this book on a recommendation from a friend. When I first saw it, it seemed like it was mocking religion. The cover kind of says "See how ridiculous religion is? LOL." While there is humor, it's more self-deprecating instead of mocking. That being said, the humor wasn't that hilarious. It was more like amusing. I was entertained by his writing and I surprisingly learned a few things. It was a fast, entertaining read but the humor didn't quite blow me away.
Jessica Thinks Too Much Version
I thought The Year of Living Biblically would be more about living primitively. I kind of expected him to make bricks out of straw or something. The author, A. J., was more focused on trying religion out in a bizarre way. I was surprised that he actually got quite a bit out of his experiment. He grew spiritually. At the end, he's not ready to join Judaism or anything but I really felt that he was changed and would think about morals a lot differently after this. His motivation behind this experiment was his son and how to teach him morals.
I don’t want him to swim in this muddy soup of moral relativism. I don’t trust it. I have such a worldview, and though I have yet to commit a major felony, it seems dangerous. Especially nowadays.
- A. J. Jacobs, The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible (p. 39).
Seeing him adapt ancient commandments to a modern world was fun. My favorite interpretation was for the commandment of gleaning which he described like this:
The idea of gleanings is one of my favorites in the Bible. It goes like this: When you harvest your field, don’t reap the entire field. Leave the corners unharvested so that the leftovers— the gleanings— can be gathered by the poor. It’s a beautiful and compassionate rule. Plus, the commandment rewards people for doing a half-assed job, which I think is a nice notion.
- A. J. Jacobs, The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible (p. 166).
If only we could be rewarded for doing everything half-assed. A. J. decided to leave money at the ATM to follow this commandment. He was concerned that the person getting the money was most likely rich and not poor, but it was the best idea he had since he didn't actually farm.
I learned a lot about the Jewish faith from reading this. A. J. actually explored a lot of religions during this experiment which I wasn't expecting. He had a lot of questions about how to interpret and live certain commandments so he interviewed leaders from a variety of religions. I was familiar with Jewish kosher laws, but I had no idea where the tradition of them came from. It's such a neat story.
But the rabbis have a far more elaborate interpretation: Exodus 23: 19 actually means to separate milk and meat. Which is where you get the kosher rules banning cheeseburgers. Along with the myriad rules about how long you must wait between a meat course and a dairy course (from one hour to six hours, depending on local tradition) and whether you should separate dairy utensils and meat utensils in a dishwasher (yes). Strict Orthodox Jews believe that God gave these amplifications— the “oral laws” —to Moses on the mountaintop. That’s why he was up there for forty days . Moses passed on the oral laws to the Israelites, who told them to their sons, and so on until they were eventually written down.
- A. J. Jacobs, The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible (p. 69).
A. J.'s self-deprecating humor was great. It wasn't in there a ton, but when it was it made me smile.
I’m no handyman. Put it this way: When I watch Bob the Builder with Jasper, I always learn something new (oh, so that’s what a strut is).
- A. J. Jacobs, The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible (p. 78).
I also thought this quote was hilarious. We all have an eccentric aunt Marti, right?
My aunt Marti , the vegan and animal rights activist, found out about my honey eating and sent me a rebuking email. The subject header was “The bitter truth about honey.” She listed all the ways the commercial honey industry mistreats bees. I won’t reprint it here, but her description of artificial bee insemination was disturbingly graphic. She signed the note, “Your eccentric aunt Marti.”
- A. J. Jacobs, The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible (p. 173).
I'm a religious person. I've read the Bible. So I was pleasantly surprised at some of the insights he found in the Bible that I had never thought about. A. J. was struggling with infertility. He talked about how the stories of infertility stood out to him and gave him comfort.
There is an upside to the Bible’s infertility motif: The harder it was for a woman to get pregnant, the greater was the resulting child. Joseph. Isaac. Samuel.
- A. J. Jacobs, The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible (pp. 19-20).
I liked his insight on how religion was a surprising paradox. Having to make less choices because of all the commandments he was living was actually freeing to him and not confining like he thought it would be. He didn't gossip and so negative thoughts just stopped occurring to him in the first place. Religion was also surprisingly grounding to him. It made him look at life realistically and honestly.
This book inspired me to be more grateful in my life. I loved these two quotes about gratitude. They are so true.
The prayers are helpful. They remind me that the food didn’t spontaneously generate in my fridge. They make me feel more connected, more grateful, more grounded, more aware of my place in this complicated hummus cycle.
- A. J. Jacobs, The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible (pp. 95-96).
I’ve never before been so aware of the thousands of little good things, the thousands of things that go right every day.
- A. J. Jacobs, The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible (p. 269).
So maybe it wasn't a mind blowing, hilarious, laugh-until-my-sides-ache book. But I'm still glad I read it. It's a nice reminder of the importance of religion and gratitude in my life and I enjoyed seeing someone going through the process of learning that, too....more
Cheaper by the Dozen is a charming story about a dad full of personality and how he raises hiThis book is also reviewed on my blog Books: A true story
Cheaper by the Dozen is a charming story about a dad full of personality and how he raises his twelve kids. The dad is witty, blunt, sarcastic, slightly over protective, eccentric and a little strict. The father is what really makes this story because it was delightful to read about him. There's some back story about the dad and my favorite story from his childhood was when he was talking to a brick foreman about how to do things more efficiently and no matter how much the foreman threatens and swears at him, he carries on about his ideas without missing a beat.
I admired the way he parented his children. He always had them learning things by turning them into games. He plays jokes on the kids and has a lot of fun with them. He was such a bad driver that the kids voluntarily became look outs. Even though he was a really strict dad and never dreamed of bending the rules, he knew when to show them extra love, too. The story of the roller skates was such a touching story of teaching his kids a lesson but in a loving way.
As much as I enjoyed all of the stories about the family, I thought the father was a little too eccentric and strict until I read the ending. The ending was so beautiful and not at all what I expected. The father is adamant about saving time when doing even the smallest tasks. I think he would have been a huge fan of life hacks. People would ask him "But what do you want to save time FOR?" It was a reminder how precious time is and to spend as much of it with your family as you can.
Overall, it was a charming story about his dad and his eccentric ways of raising a family that had a beautiful message and ending....more
Where'd You Go, Bernadette is a literary bookthat is full of witty, intelligent humor. The voice of the teenage girl, Bee, who narrates this book is dWhere'd You Go, Bernadette is a literary book that is full of witty, intelligent humor. The voice of the teenage girl, Bee, who narrates this book is delightful and sarcastic especially about some of the crappy things that happen to her. I love the humor of the unpopularity of Bee's dad working at Microsoft where they are "acronym-happy (pg. 123)." Bee has a sweet personality, too. She is collecting letters, emails, transcripts, and blog posts in this journal that she is writing about where her mother went. I ADORE the blog post that Bee puts in the book that is 500 words long and literally all the post says is that it's going to rain. Ah to love something that much that you could write 500 words about the smallest detail.
The writing is amazing in this book. I don't think there is a single cliche thing said in the entire book. There's a scene where people freeze as they stare at an argument. But does she just say that they froze? No. She describes them as this:
Nobody had moved. Some hands were frozen in midair, in the middle of doing a fold. It looked like a wax museum diorama of an origami presentation.
- Maria Semple, Where'd You Go, Bernadette pg 275
I love it. This was an example of the ultimate show not tell with everything from the unique structure of emails, faxes, and letters, to the writing itself. Where'd You Go, Bernadette was very entertaining and full of personality.
The crazy small community that this story is set in was hilarious and it kind of reminded me of the small town charm and quirkiness of Gilmore Girls. This book was full of interesting characters. Literally all of them exaggerate. We get to see different perspectives and how each character tends to bend the story a little in their favor to make themselves the victim.
I learned so much from the character of Bernadette. She showed me that creativity is sometimes found within extreme limits. I admired her ability to use her interpersonal skills to help her thrive in the male dominated professions of architecture. Remember to embrace your talents - even the weird ones - and use them to do something you love that no one else can do. I also loved the theme of Bernadette getting lost literally and figuratively in motherhood which I found very relatable. Even though Bernadette doesn't say this particular quote, I think it describes motherhood perfectly.
I felt so alone in this world, and so loved at the same time.
- Maria Semple, Where'd You Go, Bernadette pg. 199
Overall, it was a impeccably written and hilarious story full of fascinating characters that taught me a lot about embracing your talents - even the weird ones.
Content warning: some strong language - about a dozen or more f-words....more
The subtitle for We Were Liars should be, "I Can't Remember the Really Stupid Thing I Did LasThis book is also reviewed on my blog Books: A true story
The subtitle for We Were Liars should be, "I Can't Remember the Really Stupid Thing I Did Last Summer." I read this book because there was a lot of hype around it. "Crazy Twist Ending! Must Read!" is what everyone said. I don't normally read contemporary YA books, but I decided this one might be fun because of all the hype around it.
My first impression of We Were Liars was that there was a map at the beginning. I LOVE MAPS. Are there more contemporary books out there with maps? Because if there are, you need to tell me so I can read them all.
The short sentences and broken lines made the writing feel very poetic. It also showed the broken mind of the main character, Cadence. To me, I didn't enjoy the reading experience as much as I could have because it felt like I was impatiently waiting to get to The Twist. The Twist was pretty cool and unexpected but it's not like a twist that has never been done before. Ironically, I read this because of the hype about the ending but because I knew there was a crazy ending I couldn't enjoy it all the way.
The biggest questions I had while reading this were: "What happened to Cadence?" and "Why does she keep giving her things away?" The first question is eventually answered, but I felt like the second question was left up to me as the reader to decide. Cadence's attitude towards things and objects was really interesting.
"...the accumulation of beautiful objects is a life goal. Whoever dies with the most stuff wins. Wins what? is what I'd like to know."
- E. Lockhart, We Were Liars pg 46
Overall, it was an interesting read with beautiful writing but the over-hyped ending left me a little disappointed.
The fantasy world that Snow Like Ashes is set in is the best and worst thing about this book.This book is also reviewed on my blog Books: A true story
The fantasy world that Snow Like Ashes is set in is the best and worst thing about this book. The idea of seasons being a kingdom is pretty cool. Some kingdoms have one season all the time and some kingdoms have all four seasons every year. The Season Kingdoms and the "Rhythm" Kingdoms don't like each other. That's a lot of kingdoms and weather to keep track of, which is where the love/hate relationship comes in. The world is interesting and complex but difficult to figure out which made the narrative prone to info dumping at times. Thankfully, the kingdoms and their cities had obvious names to help me out. I liked the play on the names of calendar months for the capital cities - Jannuari, Abril, Oktuber, and Juli. But going for the obvious made it feel a little cliche. The people in the Autumn Kingdom had a Native American ethnicity. The people of the Winter Kingdom had all white hair and blue eyes. It's fun and cheesy at the same time and I still can not figure out how I feel about it.
The magic system grew on me. I did not like it at first. From a logical standpoint, it seemed completely stupid to have magic reside in an object that can easily be stolen (see also: the entire conflict of this novel). I wanted to tell the whole Winter Kingdom, "Duh. That's obviously a stupid idea." Many, many chapters later it's explained why magic only resides in objects and I changed my mind about not liking it. The nature of evil is portrayed through magic as feeding on itself and being about a choice between good and evil. It was actually pretty interesting. Although, there was one scene at the beginning that seemed like it was supposed to have a lot of shock value but since the rules of magic hadn't been explained yet, I was not impressed.
The writing wasn't the best I've read. It had a few cliche sayings that pulled me out of the story and would sometimes tell me things I had already figured out. Villain motivation is very important to me. This villain fell into the category of wanting more power for no particular reason. That is probably the least interesting motivation that a villain can have. I mean, at least have a reason for all this power. Maybe he's always wanted all the things because he never had the things. Please. Something. I kept wondering through the whole book what it was that he wanted. They just called him "evil" the whole time.
Meira is a strong, spunky female lead. I liked her character and reading about her. She wants to be a soldier, not a princess. As much as I liked Meira though, I loved Theron. I thought he was the best character in the book. He was so far from cliche that I don't think Theron and cliche have ever met. Theron says my favorite quote from the entire book:
"There will always be a THEY in your new life, Meira. THEY make decisions; THEY mold your future. The trick is to find a way to still be YOU through it all."
-Sara Raasch, Snow Like Ashes (Chapter 14)
Overall, this was a good epic fantasy with an interesting world (once I figured it out) full of fun characters but had a few too many cliche moments for me to completely love it.
Content warning: some violence that is mildly graphic...more
After reading the acknowledgementsby the author, I could see the Into the Woods inspiration.This book is also reviewed on my blog Books: A true story
After reading the acknowledgements by the author, I could see the Into the Woods inspiration. Stray follows the sappy fairy tale stereotype and gives it a darker undertone especially about it's control towards women. If you kept Cinderella almost the same but made it slightly darker with forbidden magic you might have something like Stray.
This fairy tale was all about controlling women and how they aren't valued in this world even though they are technically powerful. I know it was supposed to be a satire but sometimes it was difficult to read about the extreme rules for them all towards the goal of getting married. The girls act ridiculous and when one of them eats before going to a ball I couldn't get the image of Scarlet O'Hara reluctantly stuffing her face and wondering why you have to be so ridiculous just to catch a husband.
The world building just wasn't very strong. While I liked the plot, it felt hard to imagine the world because it was a little confusing. The biggest problem for me, though, was the question of why these girls would even put up with all these crazy restrictions or where they came from in the first place. That thought pulled me out of the story a lot because it was never really answered very well.
The writing was ok for the most part. A few cheesy lines here and there with the cliche "breath she didn't know she was holding." I'm so glad she figured it out in time or she might have died. And my favorite "Suddenly" was in there more than I prefer. But it had some good writing too. Just not terribly consistent. I liked the characters and their relationships. The villain gives speeches about having fun with the poor, powerless protagonist and it made me roll my eyes.
I didn't like the beginning. It throws me into an action scene right away but I'm not sure why I should care yet. I'm not a fan of when authors do that.
And to be very, very nitpicky - she doesn't use the term "artless" like I'm used to Jane Austen using it and it irked me.
Overall, it was a different take on fairy tales that had an interesting plot but the world building wasn't my favorite....more
If you're an avid Freakonomics podcast listener, like me, you won't find much new in this book. Still, I really enjoyed the ideShort and Sweet Version
If you're an avid Freakonomics podcast listener, like me, you won't find much new in this book. Still, I really enjoyed the ideas and had fun applying them in my life. It's all about critical thinking and new ways to approach problems that you might not have thought of before.
Jessica Thinks Too Much Version
Think Like A Freak is all about approaching problems in ways you hadn't thought of before to actually solve them. We go about problem solving the wrong way sometimes because we put private benefit over the greater good. We also have this mentality that there is a right way and a wrong way to solve problems. More of us need to think like a Freak which more or less means this:
The modern world demands that we all think a bit more productively, more creatively, more rationally; that we think from a different angle, with a different set of muscles, with a different set of expectations; that we think with neither fear nor favor, with neither blind optimism nor sour skepticism. That we think like--ahem--a Freak.
-Steven D. Levitt & Steven J. Dubner, Think Like A Freak pg 8
Here's a simplified list of what the first two Freakonomics books were about. This book is different because they discuss in more depth HOW they did those things.
Incentives are the cornerstone of modern life
Knowing what to measure, and how to measure it, can make a complicated world less so
The conventional wisdom is often wrong
Correlation does not equal causality
If you want a single word to describe all advice on Facebook, here it is:
Just because you're great at something doesn't mean you're good at everything. Unfortunately, this fact is routinely ignored by those who engage in--take a deep breath--ultracrepidarianism, or "the habit of giving opinions and advice on matters outside of one's knowledge or competence."
-Steven D. Levitt & Stephen J. Dubner, Think Like A Freak pg 28
I had never realized how much value there is in admitting you don't know something. People fake it because looking like you don't know something, especially if everyone thinks you should know something, has more consequences than just making up something. We all do it. At the very least, it gave me permission to say "I don't know" to my kids more often.
This small quote changed my perspective on learning.
The key to learning is feedback. It is nearly impossible to learn anything without it.
- Steven D. Levitt & Stephen J. Dubner, Think Like A Freak pg 34
I get stuck in the trap the feedback = criticism which leads to hurt feelings. They give an example in the book of learning to bake bread. If you have never baked bread in your life and you are not allowed to try it and make mistakes the chances of you succeeding are almost none. The two ways you can learn something are:
Trying it out and using the feedback from your experiments to do better next time
Have a teacher, who will also give you feedback on what you are doing to guide you in the right direction
It's so simple and yet I had never thought about it that way before. You can't learn anything without feedback! It changed the way I viewed teaching my piano students. I now see that me making little adjustments to what they are doing is essential to learning instead of being hurtful.
In most situations, it's easy to get feedback but reading this made me realize how many things I'm doing that have no feedback. Raising my kids, running my book club, doing the laundry, cleaning my bathroom, running my blog, writing these reviews - I don't get much feedback on how I do those things. Most of the time I just stick with the first thing I did and hope it doesn't turn to crap. It made me more aware of the decisions I make that are not based on feedback because I don't have it or I didn't bother to gather it. I want to do more experiments in my life so I can have actual feedback and make better decisions.
The best experiment I ever did was figuring out how to get my dishwasher to actually clean my dishes. A couple years ago, we lived in a rented townhouse and it had a basic dishwasher. We would pre-rinse the dishes as much as we could, but every time they came out they would be covered in tiny bits of food. Glasses that had been used for drinking water were now dirtier than when they went in. Obviously that must mean we weren't using enough detergent, so we used more dishwasher detergent. Didn't help. Convinced that our dishwasher was broken, we called the maintenance guy. Unlike me, he had experience with using and fixing lots of dishwashers. Or in other words, he had lots of feedback. He told me my dishwasher was most likely clogged with detergent so it wasn't draining properly and instead of my dishes being rinsed with clean water, they were being rinsed with the dirty washing water that hadn't drained all the way. Ew. Gag. I also didn't believe him. I thought he was trying to get out of fixing our stupid, broken dishwasher. When I told him that, he decided to prove it to me. He ran my dishwasher empty - no detergent or dishes. After it had been running for about 10 minutes, he opened the door. The entire bottom of the dishwasher was covered in suds. The only place the suds could have come from was inside the dishwasher, clogging the pipes like he said. He told me to get some dishwasher cleaner and run it empty until there were no more suds. It took 3 times to get it all the way clean. After that, I experimented with doing my dishes. I've always believed that it's dumb to wash your dishes before you put them in a dishwasher.
What happens if you just stick gross, disgusting dishes with 2-day-old caked on food straight in the dishwasher? I was going to find out. Turns out, they come out much cleaner than you'd think (once your dishwasher isn't clogged with detergent anymore). My experimenting revealed that caked on spaghetti sauce and cheese wouldn't come off very well in that particular dishwasher (my new dishwasher will get spaghetti sauce off like a dream). Other than that, everything came out clean. Plates with huge blobs of ketchup - straight in the dishwasher. No pre-rinsing. Pans that most sane people would soak - straight in there. Food that was so caked on that I couldn't even scrape it off - dishwasher! The caked-on kind came out 80% clean and then I would hand wash them after the dishwasher had done most of the work because I figured, why prewash ALL of the dishes when only some of them actually need it? Putting them all in no matter what and then washing the ones that came out dirty afterwards saved time because then I only had to wash the ones that needed it. Since it was draining properly, the gross dishes weren't getting the other ones dirty. I would like to add that of course I scrape food off into the garbage can but anything that is so stuck on that scrapping won't get it off is the dishwasher's job.
I then experimented with different brands and types of detergent. The one that got my dishes the cleanest was the plastic tabs with powder inside them. Powder dissolves better and doesn't clog up the drain like liquid detergent does. I tried turing the heat-dry cycle on and off. Turning the heat-dry off makes it easier to clean the dishes that didn't get all the way clean, but it leaves the tupperware wet and you have to shake it off before putting it away.
TL;DR - don't do the dishes in the dishwasher the way your mom taught you. Clean it out and experiment to see what your dishwasher can really do. Hint - it can do more than you think, even the old, basic models.
My next favorite chapter was about thinking like a child. Try to make things fun. I try to turn chores into games because I think I hate cleaning as much as my kids do. One of my favorite games I made up was Laundry Basketball. I turn on the washing machine and tell the kids to see how many shots they can make with their dirty clothes. My mom is convinced that in college they are going to round up their roommates and play Laundry Basketball with them.
Incentives easily backfire. Say hello to my kid's sticker covered potty training toilet that achieved nothing. Incentives work for people who think just like you, but most people don't think like you do. Can I just say that I love this list on how to use incentives the right way? It's come in really handy so far.
How to Bribe Your Kids the Right Way - Incentives 101 (pg 135)
Figure out what people really care about, not what they say they care about.
Incentivize them on the dimensions that are valuable to them but cheap for you to provide.
Pay attention to how people respond; if their response surprises or frustrates you, learn from it and try something different.
Whenever possible, create incentives that switch the frame from adversarial to cooperative.
Never, ever think that people will do something just because it is the "right" thing to do.
Know that some people will do everything they can to game the system, finding ways to win that you never could have imagined. If only to keep yourself sane, try to applaud their ingenuity rather than curse their greed.
After reading that list I realized that the perfect incentive for my kids is video games. My kids LOVE video games. They would be completely addicted zombies by now if I let them. But it makes the perfect incentive because they really care about it, it's cheap for me to provide, and they will do almost anything to get it. They have done dishes, laundry, picked up toys, and even cleaned toilets to get to play for 30 minutes....more
Quiet changed how I view introverts and made me realize how many biases there are against theThis book is also reviewed on my blog Books: A true story
Quiet changed how I view introverts and made me realize how many biases there are against them. Our society values people who are outgoing and people who are shy are considered to have some sort of flaw even though that is their natural personality. I had never thought about or even realized how our society values a very "narrow range of personality styles. (pg. 3)" As an introverted person, I didn't think I would have any biases against people who are labeled as shy. Was I wrong. Many shy people are encouraged to be social and change which gives them a feeling that something is wrong with them instead of them just having a different personality.
Introversion— along with its cousins sensitivity, seriousness, and shyness— is now a second-class personality trait, somewhere between a disappointment and a pathology. Introverts living under the Extrovert Ideal are like women in a man’s world, discounted because of a trait that goes to the core of who they are.
-Susan Cain, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking (p. 4)
My favorite thing about this book was how it showed that introverts have strengths just by being who they naturally are. An example she used was Rosa Parks who was "shy and courageous (pg. 2)." Susan Cain points out that the Civil Rights movement wouldn't have gotten started if Rosa Parks had been an outgoing and loud person. It succeeded because she was a quiet, well respected person and the fact that she stood up for herself gained more attention because it was easier for people to realize the huge injustice of it since she was acting against her personality.
Here are a few of the strengths that an introverted person naturally has:
Function well without sleep (pg. 3)
Good at negotiating because their mild-mannered disposition allows them to take strong/aggressive positions and be accepted more easily (pg. 8)
Think before they speak or act (pg. 8, 168)
Prepare more for speeches and negotiations (pg. 8)
Asks lots of questions and listens intently to answers that leads to strong negotiation skills (pg. 8)
Work slowly and deliberately (pg. 11)
Ability to focus intently on one task and high abilities of concentration (pg. 11)
Relatively immune to the temptation of wealth or fame (pg. 11)
Able to delay gratification (pg. 163)
Don't give up easily (pg. 168)
Leadership style that wins people over (pg. 197)
Work independently which can lead to innovation (pg. 74)
I loved hearing the definition of an introverted person that wasn't framed in a negative way compared to an extroverted person. An introverted person enjoys less stimulation which is why they tend to like things like reading. They recharge by being alone while extroverted people recharge by socializing. All introverted people are not necessarily shy. I really liked Susan's illustration of how shyness and introversion were two different things.
Shyness is the fear of social disapproval or humiliation, while introversion is a preference for environments that are not overstimulating. Shyness is inherently painful; introversion is not.
- Susan Cain, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking (p. 12)
There's a quiz in the book to see which end of the spectrum of introversion/extroversion you fall on. She states several times that no one is completely extroverted or introverted. I did get 15/20 on the test which means I fall heavily on the introverted side. So this book felt very relevant to me. But even if you don't feel like an introverted person, this book has so much value because it's pretty much guaranteed that you know or are related to someone introverted and it can help you understand and relate to them.
One epiphany I had about myself was learning that some introverted people are sensitive. There's a study in the book about babies who had personality assessments when they were babies and again when they had grown up. They found the babies who were sensitive, who cried at loud noises and bad smells more easily turned out to be mellow, introverted adults. The babies who were easy going and didn't react much to new things grew up to be more outgoing. It seems like it should be the other way around, but it makes sense. If an introverted baby is overwhelmed by stimulation, they choose to be around less stimulation as they become adults. I immediately called my mom when I read this study because I will never live down the stories of being the baby who was scared of the orange rug every time I sat on it, the lamp from just looking at it, and my aunt's braces when she smiled. And when Susan Cain is talking about sensitivity she is using the psychological term.
Many introverts are also “highly sensitive,” which sounds poetic, but is actually a technical term in psychology. If you are a sensitive sort, then you’re more apt than the average person to feel pleasantly overwhelmed by Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” or a well-turned phrase or an act of extraordinary kindness. You may be quicker than others to feel sickened by violence and ugliness, and you likely have a very strong conscience.
-Susan Cain, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking (p. 14)
It’s as if, like Eleanor Roosevelt, they can’t help but feel what others feel.
-Susan Cain, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking (p. 138)
I wasn't expecting this book to help me think about what I really want to do with my life. Introverts are more likely to ignore their own preferences for career choices. The author talks about her career choice as a lawyer and even though she was good at it, she didn't enjoy or even want to do it. She listed three steps to finding out what you love to do.
First, think back to what you loved to do when you were a child. (pg. 218)
Second, pay attention to the work you gravitate to. (pg. 218)
Finally, pay attention to what you envy. Jealousy is an ugly emotion, but it tells the truth. You mostly envy those who have what you desire. (pg. 218)
When I went through these steps I realized that I love reading and reviewing books. Go figure after studying music and then finance in college that I would eventually come back to reading which I have loved doing since elementary school. Blogging about books has been such a great outlet and way for me to write which I also loved doing. I had to giggle when I came across this quote because my husband can't believe some of the things I post on my blog for the world to see sometimes.
Studies have shown that, indeed, introverts are more likely than extroverts to express intimate facts about themselves online that their family and friends would be surprised to read...
-Susan Cain, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking (p. 63)
If being introverted is so great, why isn't it valued in our society? There's an entire chapter that talks about the shift in American culture to over-emphasize the value of extroverted people that led to a devaluing of introverted people. It was very interesting. It involves industrial change, work force changes, and even parenting changes. She compares other cultures to America's (like China) and shows how their value of extroversion is not as strong or even the opposite and how that affects their culture. The biggest thing that contributed to extroversion being over-valued has to do with the business world. Loud, fast talking people are seen as leaders even if it negatively affects others. Harvard Business School teaches that true leaders have quick and assertive answers which might have led to many of the financial crises since the slow and cautious decision makers were mostly dismissed. There was a study in the book that questioned whether extroverted people are always the best leaders. It turns out they are excellent leaders if their employees are very passive, but in a work environment where the employees are more proactive an introverted leader is actually more efficient at utilizing the knowledge and experience of their employees.
You would think that as an introverted person it would be easy to parent an introverted child. That's not necessarily true and I enjoyed the parenting tips in the book. I need to remember that my child is just sensitive to things that are new in general and not to label him as shy or anti-social.
I feel like I know myself a little better after reading Quiet. I can recognize now when I’m feeling overwhelmed from stimulation and I make it a point to take time to myself to read or spend time on my own. It’s made me a lot happier. I also have been standing up for myself more, but in my own way by asking lots of questions and not being afraid to speak my mind just because I’m not a loud person. It also made me realize the social pressures I had been putting on myself and my kids. I always felt guilty for not having “enough” play dates and social time. And by “enough” I mean daily play dates. I realize now that the pace of a few times a week makes both my and my kids happy. I don’t feel pressure to have them constantly doing something with other kids anymore. Most of all it helped me realize that I am not an anti-social person. Now that I'm aware that going out with lots of friends or to parties will drain me, I make time to wind down afterwards and I no longer turn down social invitations since I understand my personality better. I feel like for me, this book accomplished what Susan Cain wanted it to.
If there is only one insight you take away from this book, though, I hope it’s a newfound sense of entitlement to be yourself.
-Susan Cain, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking (p. 16)
Overall, Quiet shifted my perspective on what it means to be introverted and I learned a lot about myself in the process. I highly recommend this book.
Dad is Fatexpands on Jim Gaffigan's staple humor about kids and the challenges of being a parThis book is also reviewed on my blog Books: A true story
Dad is Fat expands on Jim Gaffigan's staple humor about kids and the challenges of being a parent. I laughed out loud at most of this book. As funny as the book is, I think it helped me look at life more honestly and realize that being a parent IS crazy and hard sometimes. The ability to laugh about it and realize all parents aren't perfect inspires me to do a little better and not let myself get bogged down in the sheer stress of it is sometimes. I can laugh about my stress and let it go.
Failing and laughing at your own shortcomings are the hallmarks of a sane parent.
- Jim Gaffigan, Dad Is Fat (pg 25)
I think another point he makes in this book is how funny kids are just from being themselves. One of my favorite things about Jim Gaffigan's humor is that he can take situations that usually stress me out about kids being themselves and show me how funny it is. Like this:
Children have a tendency to behave as poorly as the most poorly behaved kid in the room. The laws of physics dictate that if there is a kid screaming and running in the hallway of a hotel, all the other children will scream and run in the hallway of the hotel.
- Jim Gaffigan, Dad Is Fat (pg 15)
The chapter that I laughed at the most was called "Vice President" where he compares dads to real vice presidents (like the enforcer role he sometimes has of Dick Cheney) and how dads different vice president roles function in the family. The whole chapter is great but here's my favorite quote:
As a dad, you are Vice President. You are part of the Executive Branch of the family, but you are the partner with the weaker authority. In your children’s eyes, you mostly fulfill a ceremonial role of attending pageants and ordering pizza. I’m never the first choice. My kids don’t even mask it, which I respect them for. “Let’s see, the crabby guy with the scratchy beard or that warm soft lady that tells us stories for eight hours?” It’s not even close.
- Jim Gaffigan, Dad Is Fat (pg 36)
I wish I could share all my favorite quotes with you, but that would be half the book. I listened to the audiobook, but then got the ebook from the library so I could highlight all the quotes that I loved. So here's the last quote that I want to share with you. Jim is talking about how his kids wake up before the sun and how loud they are (which I can relate to) which makes this quote so hilarious to me.
The song goes, “Morning has broken,” and I’m pretty sure my children broke it. Like everything else they break, if they did break it, they’ll never admit it.
- Jim Gaffigan, Dad Is Fat (p. 194)
Narrator Review: Five stars
Listening to the audiobook was just as much fun as listening to one of his standup routines. He's honest, sarcastic, funny and so entertaining to listen to. The way he says things really adds to the humor. I highly recommend the audiobook over the ebook.
Overall, it was a hilarious and entertaining read about being a parent and the funny things that kids do.
The Queen of the Big Time reminded me of Gone with the Wind but set in the north instead of tThis book is also reviewed on my blog Books: A true story
The Queen of the Big Time reminded me of Gone with the Wind but set in the north instead of the south. There's a guy that Nella, the main character, pines for but can't have (who is kind of whiney by the way) and she doesn't fully love the one she has until it's too late. And then she returns to Tara...uh, I mean the farm she grew up on.
We had a great discussion in my book club about this one. It was a book that made you want to have more fun and live life instead of working too much because of Nella's reflections on her life and the choices she made. It also had me ponder about our dreams for the future. I couldn't decide if Nella gave up her dream or if she just got a new one. That was something I can really relate to. I still don't know the answer. Did I give up my dream of music or did I just find a new one that I love?
It was touching to read a story about a family and the support and care they have for each other even when they don't always like each other. I find myself enjoying multi-generational stories like these and how they show the changes of generations and their relationships. My one complaint about the novel was the the plot didn't have much going on it felt kind of slow to me.
Narrator Review: 3 Stars
The narrator, Cassandra Campbell, had a pleasant voice. She read a little slow for my taste but speeding up the narration helped with that. I thought she did a great job pronouncing all the Italian names.
Overall, it was a beautiful story about family and the choices we make with our dreams, our love, our work, and the act of trying to balance it all.
Content warning: a fade-to-black sex scene and there wasn't any language that I could remember....more
I've recently gotten hooked on the Freakonomics podcast so I decided to borrow Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner's latest book from the library. The full title is SuperFreakonomics: Global Cooling, Patriotic Prostitutes And Why Suicide Bombers Should Buy Life Insurance which would not fit in my little title box for this post.
My favorite thing about this book, that also shows up every week in the podcast, is how they challenge popular beliefs about current issues by using statistics to come to different conclusions than everyone else. It stretches my brain and I learn some new things at the same time. Like learning about the whaling industry. I didn't know that oil (the fossil kind) replaced the whaling industry. At the time whaling could have been considered too big to fail since whale oil was used to light houses. A theory that really stretched my brain was the after-affects of September 11 in increased policing of terrorism reduced policing in other areas like the financial sector. I had never linked the two before, but it does make a lot of sense.
That's not to say I agree with all the ideas in the book. I thought the hose idea to fix global warming was stupid but I do appreciate the focus on creative, simple, and unconventional solutions to current problems.
Another interesting tidbit I learned from this book was how to get rid of illegal markets. If you go after suppliers of illegal things (like we do right now with drugs) then it creates more demand and the market sticks around. If you go after the demand the market will shrink. It seems pretty straight forward and obvious but there are a few reasons that we don't do that. As a society it's easier to villianize drug dealers than the poor little guy who wanted a fix. But the biggest reason, I think, that we don't go after the demand is because there is so much more of it. The police can barely keep up with getting rid of suppliers.
Narrator Review: Four Stars
Stephen Dubner also narrates the Freakonomics podcast so I was used to hearing his voice. This book felt like a really long podcast and it was enjoyable for me to listen to. Stephen reads at a good pace and does a good job of adding interest to the book. I find his way of narrating conversational and very easy to listen to.
Overall, it's an interesting and different look at current issues that I learned a little from and was entertained by as well.
Content warning: one use of the f-word and a discussion in the first chapter of the "business" of prostitution. It wasn't graphic but it was still a little too much info for me....more
The author, William Davis, had a lot of really good points in Wheat Belly some of which I hadThis book is also reviewed on my blog Books: A true story
The author, William Davis, had a lot of really good points in Wheat Belly some of which I hadn't thought about before like how much wheat there really is in a grocery store. It's pretty much on every single isle. When you look at all the over-proccessed and packaged foods, it's easy to see why he says that we've traded cheap food for our health. Ain't that the truth. I also didn't know how high the glycemic index for wheat bread was. It's higher than a Snickers bar. So the next time I went to the store I totally bought a huge bag of Snickers. I'm pretty sure that wasn't the point he was trying to make but man - I could have been eating candy this whole time! It was interesting when he went into some science and research about how addictive wheat really is. It causes us to crave food constantly and eat more than we need.
I didn't really agree with the implication that he made that even if you eat healthy and exercise, you don't lose weight if you eat wheat. I do see the value in reducing wheat in our diet after he drives home how much we overeat it. I can also see the value in reducing wheat in your diet if you are diabetic since wheat does have such a high glycemic index. But there are enough healthy people who eat wheat that I just can't see how this would be true all the time.
I learned some cool things about your body and how it works. Your body's ph balance is so important that it will draw calcium from your bones if you have too much acid for your body to neutralize (like from drinking too much soda). The author explained how abdominal fat (which he believes comes mostly from wheat) can cause inflammation becuase it spikes your blood sugar which causes your body to make more insulin and then insulin makes more fat which causes inflammation. It keeps going around in this vicious circle. And when he had a study that said Rheumatoid arthritis was shown to improve with gluten removal I convinced my husband to go on a gluten-free diet to see if it will help his arthritis.
The last chapters got kind of boring to be honest. To sum up - wheat makes you old and gives you heart disease. It was kind of technical and hard to follow a lot more than that. Then he generalized the findings and research he had about wheat and turned it into not eating any starch at all (is this guy serious!!?) to limiting the amount of fruit you eat (say what??). He summarizes his diet in the back of his book to eating unlimited amounts of meats, veggies, and raw nuts, and then limited amounts of non-gluten grains and fruits. I'm really not sold on that. I don't see anything wrong with eating fruit and gluten-free grains as a main part of your diet.
I decided to go on a gluten-free diet after reading this because we eat mostly a gluten-free diet already since my son has celiac.Since I don't like making two dinners and I usually eat leftovers for lunch, I'd say half my diet was already gluten-free. We eat more fruits, vegetables, eggs, cheese and meats now. We still eat gluten-free grains. I feel much better (e.g. I have more energy and I'm not starving by 10 am). Even though our food costs more, I find that we are eating less like the book says and my food budget has stayed about the same. Not to mention our diet is healthier with things like fruit and yogurt and cheese sticks for snacks instead of over-processed crackers. So far, I have enjoyed the gluten-free diet that we are on. I find that the food tastes better. We buy this gluten-free cereal that fills me up longer and tastes better than the wheat cereal I was getting even though they have similar amounts of fiber and protein. The wheat cereal actually had more calories than the gluten-free kind.
Narrator Rating: 4 stars
The narrator was easy to understand and made the novel interesting but I had to kind of roll my eyes at how many times during the book he said "healthy whole grains" sarcastically. He really couldn't resist saying it every other page. I looked at the print version - healthy whole grains is not in quotes every time it's mentioned (it is in quotes a few times) so I didn't understand the need for "sarcastic" pronunciation every time it showed up.
Overall, the author convinced me that we eat way too much wheat in our diet but he did not completely convince me to go to the extreme diet that he suggests in the back of the book....more
Proof of Heaven is not the kind of book I usually read. I'm not a fan of reading near death eThis book is also reviewed on my blog Books: A true story
Proof of Heaven is not the kind of book I usually read. I'm not a fan of reading near death experiences since they seem very personal to me and I have a hard time connecting with them. I wasn't a huge fan of the descriptions of Eben Alexander's near death experience because they felt a little weird to me, but overall I actually liked this book. Proof of Heaven talks about his family life before his experience and the things he personally learned during his experience which was enjoyable to read.
My favorite part of the book was Eben learning about his past. He was adopted and felt loved by his adopted family, but as he grew older and had kids he started to wonder if his biological parents ever loved him. He compares not knowing if he was loved by his biological parents and how it made him unhappy to not knowing if we are loved before we came to this Earth by God can make you depressed and unhappy. Until he went into a coma he didn't believe God loved him. It was beautiful to read about how learning that God loved him brought a lot of joy and happiness into his life.
There were a few life-changing things he learned that really resonated with me. Evil is necessary for free will and free will is so important in our mortal life. He learned that God is human and personal. One of the unique things about Eben's experience was the fact that he was a brain surgeon before this experience and he realized that you don't have to sacrifice science to believe in the spiritual. If we as a society continue to pursue science without also pursuing the spiritual then we will be "relatively bereft in the realm of meaning and joy, and of knowing how our lives fit into the grand scheme... (pg 152)."
Eben had such an interesting view on the brain and how it relates to consciousness. I had never thought about it like that before, but it made sense to me.
The brain itself does not produce consciousness. That it is, instead, a kind of reducing valve or filter, shifting the larger, nonphysical consciousness that we possess in the nonphysical worlds down into a more limited capacity for the duration of our mortal lives.
- Eben Alexander, Proof of Heaven pg 81
Narrator Rating: 4 Stars
This was a great audiobook. It was read by the author which always seems to help clarify what exactly they meant when they wrote it just based on how they read it. He had a mellow, southern voice and read at a nice pace. There's also an afterword in the audiobook that was not in the print version. He blended the ideas of East and West religions and clarified why he chose the words he did in the book which was interesting to listen to.
Overall, even if you are skeptical of near death experience memoirs I think you should still give this one a try since I found his scientific perspective unique and enjoyed the spiritual learning that he did.
I read this in one sitting as a bet against a friend that I couldn't finish a 200 page book iThis book is also reviewed on my blog Books: A true story
I read this in one sitting as a bet against a friend that I couldn't finish a 200 page book in less than 4 hours. I did! I win :) I loved the themes in this one about looking on the inside instead of the outside. The characters either focused on the external appearances of things or the internal value of things.
This story is told in duel perspectives that alternate each chapter. The boy, Bryce, had a charming but sarcastic voice with not much dialogue while the girl had a sweet, funny, and endearing voice with a Hermione-type personality. After reading a while I noticed that the girl, Juli, focused on dialogue and detail. The voices were distinct and I enjoyed reading each of their stories. But I think I might have liked Bryce's voice just a little more because his slightly negative attitude and sarcasm were just so much fun.
Finally I break free and do the only manly thing available when you're seven years old - I dive behind my mother.
- Wendelin Van Draanen, Flipped pg 3 (Bryce)
Yes, each chapter tells the same plot from the previous chapter but just from a different point of view. While the plot being retold did make the book feel a little long and slightly draggy, it was definitely not boring because the author, Wendelin Van Draanen, did a awesome job messing with your perspective and challenging your biases. For example, there's one scene where Bryce insists that he didn't say anything mean and just summarizes what he said and is baffled by Juli's anger. Since you are reading that scene from his point of view, you agree with him. When you read Juli's chapter, you see the actual dialogue of what he said and your perspective flips and you see that he was being kind of a jerk.
That's not to say I chose a side. I could see why each character did what they did and it was so interesting to read two different views of the same events or conversations. Since you know what motivates each of them, you don't really judge them as one being better than the other. I also liked seeing how Bryce would do something out of self interest and Juli would see it as kind. It was cute to see how they interpreted each others actions. They both almost always got the other's motivations wrong.
I thought that this was such a beautiful novel about how important it is to look at things and people for what they are on the inside instead of how they appear on the outside. And when you do this your perspective can totally flip.
It was on a day like that when my father's notion of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts moved from my head to my heart. The view from my sycamore was more than rooftops and clouds and wind and colors combined.
It was magic.
- Wendelin Van Draanen, Flipped pg 37 (Juli)
Overall, it was a cute love story about seeing people for who they really are....more
Is it cheesy to say The Power of Habit changed my life? Well it has. I finished this book yesterday and today I decided to change one of my bad habitsIs it cheesy to say The Power of Habit changed my life? Well it has. I finished this book yesterday and today I decided to change one of my bad habits that I've had my whole life. Using the steps in the book I quickly found out that my bad habit was a distraction for me from my stress and within three hours I learned that I had no clue how to deal with my stress. It was funny because I discovered something about myself that I hadn't realized before. I'm better at dealing with large, life changing stress than I am about dealing with the small everyday stresses of life like a cluttered house and dirty dishes.
I used my bad habit to distract myself all day long and suppress my stress and anxiety so I didn't have to think about the things that were bothering me. I completely broke down within four hours and called my husband in tears telling him I just didn't know what to do. How DO people deal with stress? I talked it out instead. Some of the stresses we came up with plans to change and some seemed to go away just from talking about them. My husband was a little shocked and saddened when he realized how often I must be stressed (because I do my bad habit all day long). Yeah, I can't believe how much I am stressed out either and I've been running from it too which I'm sure just adds to my stress.
After I talked things out I blogged for an hour which helped me relax and the temptation for my bad habit was gone for the time being. It came back in full force later that day when my son's bus was late. I couldn't find a distraction big enough to stop thinking about all the many, many things that could have gone wrong (my imagination uses it's power for evil sometimes), so I did some serious praying to calm my racing heart. His bus got there 5 minutes later and I survived, though honestly I was a little shaky and it felt like my heart was racing. I've got a lot of work ahead of me to learn good stress management and I'll probably need another book for that. :) I've tried and failed many times to change my bad habit over my life time feeling like I'm worthless or that I'm a bad person or that there was something wrong with me, but I don't feel like that anymore.
It is critical to understand that self-control doesn't fail because the person cannot muster the needed resources. Instead it fails because the effort seems too great for the payoff.
-Charles Duhigg, The Power of Habit (Footnote 5.6)
I can tell you for a fact that my habit is going to be just as hard to change as it's always been but I have faith now that I can do it. And that faith is something I've never had before. Also, if you have any stress management books I would be very much interested in them. :)
I flew right through this book. It is truly fascinating how our brain works. Our brain is literally designed to make everything it can a habit to save energy and resources. Once you figure out how it works you can "program" your brain to do anything without even thinking about it. I highlighted the heck out of this book.
Here are some of my favorite things I highlighted while reading:
Habits never disappear. You can replace the bad habits but without faith in God or the belief that you can in fact change, old habits can come back.
If you want to change a habit, use the same cue, provide the same reward but get a new routine.
It's interesting how new habits form. Toothbrushing was from an ad campaign.
Pick a reward you crave. That's the key to lasting habits.
While I am still working on changing my bad habit, I did successfully create a new habit. Exercising. I hate exercising. I always have. To be honest I STILL hate exercising but I do it regularly now. Why? I used the tools in this book. My cue is my son going to preschool. It's at the recreation center so I wear my workout clothes when I drop him off and just walk around the indoor track the whole time he is in school and pick him up when I'm done. I can get two miles in about an hour. There's an old guy that teases me when he passes me. Whatever. My 28 minute mile is an awesome pace. My reward is what keeps me doing this. I listen to audiobooks which I look forward to. Exercise is boring to me but audiobooks make the time fly by. I crave my alone time and listening to good books. I would be sad now if I didn't exercise.
I had a friend ask me (after I told her about how much I loved this book) what the basic steps were for changing a habit, so here they are:
Identify the routine
Experiment with rewards (try different routines that give different rewards)
Isolate the cue (Location, Time, Emotional State, Other People, Immediately Preceding Action)
Have a plan
In handy infographic form if you'd like :)
Overall, this was a self help book that truly changed my life and I think everyone should read it.
Content warning: two uses of strong language (n word and f word)....more
I loved the writing in A Study in Scarlet. The dialogue was catchy and natural. I found the bThis book is also reviewed on my blog Books: A true story
I loved the writing in A Study in Scarlet. The dialogue was catchy and natural. I found the book surprisingly easy to read especially considering how old it is. The thing that really stands out in this book and the thing that has made it last for so long are the characters. Sherlock is very cheerful, eccentric, sarcastic, loves to be flattered, and is bluntly honest. And of course the thing that makes his character so fun to watch on TV in the modern adaptation - his cocky genius. I couldn't hate this guy if I tried. I loved seeing these two iconic characters meet (Sherlock and Watson) to set the stage for the rest of the Sherlock Holmes series.
The first half of this book was a fascinating mystery. I was glued to the story, turning pages, dying to know what happens next. Then we get to Part 2. The second half of the book was the longest, most drawn out and boring flashback I have ever read. We find out the solution to the mystery at the end of Part 1. Part 2 goes into why he did it. Apparently Mr. Doyle doesn't believe in recapping what happened. We get to live it. If we're going to live through it, at least make it interesting. It was not at all interesting because almost nothing happens for most of Part 2. I skimmed a lot of it. It also felt very disjointed to go from a mystery in London to the American West. It felt like I was reading two different stories that had nothing to do with each other. Part 2 is only tied in to Part 1 by the very end.
Portrayal of Mormons
I have to say as a Mormon, reading Part 2 of this story was a little difficult for me since Mormons are not painted in a good light for this part of the story. But let's start with this hilarious quote first.
In the central portion of the great North American Continent there lies an arid and repulsive desert...
- Arthur Conan Doyle, A Study in Scarlet p. 63
Repulsive! Arid! My home this is! Yoda and I are highly offended. Okay not really. But he kept describing the whole state of Utah like it was entirely covered in the Salt Flats where everything was covered in "alkali dust" and used words like "barren", "misery", "despair," and my personal favorite "gloomy." The whole thing just made me laugh. While it is true that the west side of the Great Salt Lake is all those things, the pioneers settled on the EAST side of the lake which was your more run-of-the-mill desert with snakes and cacti and stuff. And regular desert dirt that almost nothing can grow in thank you very much. I mean if you're going to insult my state at least get it right. :)
The thing I struggled with the most was the portrayal of Mormonism as a cult. And when I say cult I mean a group forcing people to do things by threats or brain-washing. Mormons believe the point in life is to make choices. There is a point in the story where Mormon pioneers find a starving, wandering man and his daughter and say they can join them only if they become Mormon. Brigham Young (or any Mormon) would NEVER force anyone to be Mormon. Not cool Mr. Conan Doyle. I did some research and in Mr. Doyle's defense, he believed these things to be true at the time. Still - forcing people to do things is against our religion and always has been.
The murderer's motive was based on their hatred of the practice of plural marriage (or polygamy). While Mormons did practice it, it was portrayed in the book that if you didn't get married to more than one person you were kicked out (and then hunted down by a secret band of murderers. Say what?? That most definitely didn't happen). Not everyone practiced plural marriage. Many early Mormons were monogamous and were in fine standing with the church. I won't go into tons of detail in this review, but if you're interested the official Mormon (also known as Latter-Day Saints or LDS) website has more information on plural marriage and Mormonism. It's an interesting article that talks about the trials the people who lived it faced, how long it was practiced and more. And just to be thorough Mormons don't practice polygamy today and haven't since 1890.
Overall, I adored the first half of the novel and meeting the most iconic characters in literature, but I found the second half to be boring and the anti-Mormonism made me uncomfortable. I would give the first half of the novel 4 stars and the second half like 1/2 a star....more
My biggest thought about the House of Ivy & Sorrow is that it could have been more. The vThis book is also reviewed on my blog Books: A true story
My biggest thought about the House of Ivy & Sorrow is that it could have been more. The voice was there, but it didn't come out as much as it could have. The conflict definitely needed more to it. Even with a twist, the conflict came with an explanation already just based on how the world works and it made it hard for me to stay connected to the story. I almost didn't finish this one because about a third of the way through I didn't feel like I would learn anything new about the conflict. To be honest, I didn't learn anything new about the conflict at the end. It came out like I thought it would. But the way it was resolved was interesting. I liked that the resolution came from the girls and their friendship. Girl power!
I liked the magic and the characters in this book. The idea of magic coming from places was creative. The character Nana was one of my favorites. She had the strongest personality in the book and I enjoyed reading about her. The love interest seemed a little boring at first, but he came with an interesting twist of his own. The romance was a little cheesy for my taste, but it was still cute for the most part.
I didn't enjoy the writing. There were a few cliche moments, but luckily it didn't go to the extreme or I would have definitely chucked this book across the room. The dialogue was interesting, but I found that the main character said "No" a lot, in big long strings, when things didn't go her way. Maybe it's a little much to expect someone to realistically be eloquent in moments of stress. I don't know.
I was disappointed, to say the least, when I found out the villain's motivation. I think this goes along with the weak conflict. The villain and conflict just needed to be turned up a notch and it would have been awesome! And then the villain had to go and be all tacky. He was cheesy enough to make me cringe a little. If only he had a mustache to twirl....
Overall, the magic and characters were good but without a strong conflict or interesting villain motivation this book just didn't keep my interest.
Content warning: a few brief kissing scenes and pain used for magic that is mildly disturbing (e.g. pulling out fingernails and teeth etc.)...more