Tuesday, December 13, 2016


I recently finished a book called Books for Living by Will Schwalbe in which he assigned each chapter a different action or phrase and then made book recommendations that corresponded with it.

That got me thinking about what books I would recommend for those phrases and I've decided to write about my selections here. 

Next up...


Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling

I've tried to write this piece several times and in several different ways and every time it comes across even cheesier than the time before.

I guess it is impossible, or so it would seem, to discuss the ability to trust oneself, to build trusting relationships, and how those dynamics are depicted through out the Harry Potter series, without coming across as a complete cornball.

Ultimately what I was trying to get at was that when it comes to the magic in the Harry Potter series, so much of the power is found within. You have to trust that you have had the ability inside you all along. The strength and command to conjure up fire, to unlock doors, to transform the world around you, to protect oneself with a majestic swan patronus (because that's what http://www.magiquiz.com/quiz/whats-your-patronus/ said I would have) all that power comes from trusting yourself. Believing in yourself.

But there is another lesson that Harry so often has to learn. That is to trust your friends.
Harry continually struggles with trusting that his friends care for him, are loyal to him, and support him no matter what (see the beginning of book 5 if you don't believe me. And even when he is on good terms with his friends, he has a hard time trusting them enough to delegate. He believes that only he can face Voldemort and their for tries to take on everything by himself.
What JK Rowling consistently teaches Harry is that he needs teamwork to overcome his biggest obstacle.

I'm probably one of the worst people to ever talk to anyone about the importance of trusting oneself. But I would trust my friends with my life. With everything I have. They are amazing, strong, intelligent people. I would be lost without them.

And through them I am learning to trust myself as well.

Sunday, December 11, 2016


I recently finished a book called Books for Living by Will Schwalbe in which he assigned each chapter a different action or phrase and then made book recommendations that corresponded with it.

Most of which I had never read before (out of the 26 I might have read 3??? maybe...).

Naturally it got me thinking about what books I would recommend for those phrases and I've decided to write about my selections here. So, next up...


Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

This will be one of my more obvious picks. 

Eat Pray Love was released in 2007 and adapted into a movie in 2010 which is when a lot of people took notice of it. 

It is the story of one woman's journey to find herself after a painful divorce and an overwhelming battle with depression. Upon reaching her breaking point she decides to take a year to go in search of her own happiness. She spends time eating in Italy, praying in India, and falling in love in Bali. 

There were times when I did find the ease of Gilbert's journey slightly grating. Not many of us have the ability to take a year off work and travel the world without having to worry about having a job or friendships or MONEY when we returned home. I even remember there was a scene while in Italy that Gilbert writes about spending more on lingerie then what one person would spend on a round trip ticket to New York City! I think I had to put the book down for a minute after reading that part.

But the moments that spoke to me, were the ones in which Gilbert was honest and vulnerable in speaking about her depression. The pain that she suffered, and the loss of identity she felt, were both very real struggles that I believe we can all relate too on some level.

Throughout Eat Pray Love Gilbert is searching for self acceptance, spiritual intimacy, and the confidence and strength to learn to love again. Now, I'm a firm believer that it would be detrimental for most of us to completely check out of our lives and travel abroad in order to find ourselves. But I also believe that the journey, evolution, and eventual lessons learned would be similar in the end.

At least I hope they are.

Thursday, December 8, 2016


I recently finished a book called Books for Living by Will Schwalbe in which he assigned each chapter a different action or phrase and then made book recommendations that corresponded with it.

Most of which I had never read before (out of the 26 I might have read 3??? maybe...).

Naturally it got me thinking about what books I would recommend for those phrases and I've decided to write about my selections here. So, first up...

Slowing Down

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Anyone who knows me knows that I love a good audio book (even not so good audio books). The older I get the harder it has become for me to stay put long enough to read. I get restless and feel like there are just other things I need to get done...now! I have always been a fan of audio books but I have found that I seem to be relying on them more and more these days.

They are great in the car, at home while cooking or cleaning, or at work when I'm auditing or filing. A perfect way to multi-task and be entertained at the same time. Also with most devices you can alter the speed of the narration. Speed it up if the pauses between sentences is too much for you or you are facing a book club deadline! Slow it down when the reader is using a thick accent and you aren't really sure what they are talking about.

Every now and then a book will come along that is the flawless blend of imagery and characters, and with a reader who stops you in your tracks and you just want to listen to them read you anything for the rest of your life.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern and read by Jim Dale is such a book. Two worlds colliding with magic and romance, brings competing illusionists to face each other. Morgenstern reveals the artistry of such a world with each chapter. Taking you, the reader, into every scene. Allowing you to amerce yourself in the beauty she paints around you. Dale provides a voice that lures the listener in, feeling safe and comforted while being lost in such a place.

If you have the chance for Jim Dale to read you anything, anything at all, EVER, do it! But when it comes to the Night Circus, slow it down! Don't rush it. Breath it in. Live in that world a little while longer. Take your time! The rest of the world can wait.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Abducted by the Rosie Project

THE HEADLINE: Man tries to use a survey to find his perfect match

TIME IN CAPTIVITY: I recently read this book for the second time. I'm in two book clubs and sometimes the books overlap. Never have I been more excited to re-read a book than with the Rosie Project! 

When Don decides that it is time he gets married, he uses a very interesting approach towards determining his future wife. Being somewhat socially awkward, which I'll get into more later, he hasn't been too successful in the relationship department. Because he is also highly intelligent he begins "The Wife Project", which will approach the problem scientifically, creating a survey that will help him weed out those who he believed would be "incompatible".

Then he meets Rosie, and just like in every good romantic comedy, she appears to be completely wrong for him! I wonder what will happen next!!!

With Don and Rosie, Graeme Simsion presents a truly refreshing twist on the classic boy meets girl narrative. Don makes several references to the fact that he is "wired differently" and therefore he approaches all situations logically. That leads to one of the most remarkable qualities in the book; the fact that it makes you feel so much without the scenes themselves being weighed down with emotions. At times Don can be blunt and harsh, to the point of embarrassing those he is interacting with and making the reader question the reality of the situations. But, on the whole, I found him to be charming, sincere, and unique.

What I loved most about the book ended up having very little to do with the romance of the story and more to do with the self examination. I enjoyed the time Don spent trying to figure out who would be a good match for him, what qualities he should be looking for. I also appreciated how much Don reflected on his own qualities, the doubts he had about what kind of partner he would be.

The older we get, the more set in our ways we become. It can be harder and harder to find that perfect someone. And it doesn't always help matters that so much of our "dating" life is done online these days. It becomes all too easy to pass on a profile if the person suggests that they listen to different music then you or like a movie that you hated.

The Rosie Project presents an interesting look at the difference between what we think we want, and what we truly desire. While also exploring how much we are willing to adapt our behaviors in order to experience more substantial relationships.

THE ABDUCTOR: The Abductor in the Rosie Project, for me, was so clearly Don Tillman. I read some reviews that mentioned they didn't like the book because of how Don and his autism were presented. And I have to admit that the first time I read this book I questioned the reality of some of the changes Don is able to work through. But what I noticed the second time around is that Don never actually identifies himself as being autistic. He only refers to himself as being "wired differently". He even says this about his condition:

..."depression, bipolar disorder? OCD? and schizophrenia?" The question marks are important: beyond the obvious observation that I was depressed, no definitive diagnosis was ever made...

Don does make references to having "bad times" in his past and his depression. And this is where I think I got confused and maybe others. Don is presented as being extremely rigorous when it comes to his schedule, his activities and his meals. He is also lacking in social skills and empathy. It may come across as if he belongs on the severe side of the autism or aspergers scale, but I don't think he does.

I have struggled with depression all of my life. Depression alone can cause people to be awkward in social situations, to become careful and diligent about the way they spend there days. In the past, when my depression became really bad I had to schedule my day in five minute increments just to keep moving.

I do believe that Don is autistic, but I don't agree that he is on the severe side. I think his autism when coupled with his depression made his behaviors become severe. 

POINT OF ABDUCTION: I fell in love with this book and this character in the scene when he gets the little kids to chant about baby killing. It is such a memorable scene and very early on, so I was pretty much hooked from the start.

Then, in this vanishingly small moment in the history of the universe, she took my hand, and held it all the way to the subway.


I loved it the first time, I still loved it the second time, I can't wait to read it again someday!

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Abducted by The Second Summer of the Sisterhood

Sunday marked the fourth anniversary of my blog! In celebration I have decided to feature a new review every day this week! I hope you will enjoy them!

THE HEADLINE: Four friends get ready for another crazy summer!

TIME IN CAPTIVITY: I was severely disappointed with this book. I mean it was written in the same tone and style as the first, which I loved, however it also had almost the same story lines as the first book which I could not believe! I mean literally, the exact same story lines!
Lena is obsessed with Kostas, even though she spends over half the book not even speaking to him. Tibby has yet another person following her around like a puppy dog that she is choosing to ignore. Carmen is mad at one of her parents because they aren't giving her enough attention. And Bridget is depressed.
Actually, Bridget's story line was the only one I liked because depression doesn't just clear up in a flash. So I was grateful that they showed her still struggling with the symptoms.
Now, Tibby frustrated me because she so easily ignored her friend Brian. I understood why she was reluctant to befriend Bailey in the first novel, because she was 12 and no 16 year old once a 12 year old following them around. But Brian was already her friend, and a very close one at that. He didn't deserve to be ignored. But in fairness I will also say that I thought it was crazy that Brian kept showing up the way he did. And I could see where Tibby had wanted to do something new on her own this summer and him showing up all the time got in the way of that.
Lena and Carmen really pissed me off though. I didn't buy Lena's feelings for Kostas in the first book, so my dissatisfaction with that couple carried over to the sequel. I tried to give them the benefit of the doubt because the book only takes place during the summers and so Lena and Kostas had a relationship during the school year that I wasn't privy-ed to. But the whole thing wore on me by the end. And Carmen was just being ridiculous! I couldn't believe how selfish she was behaving. I mean I guess some teenagers freak out when their parents start dating again, but Carmen really let it consume her.
In the end, I spent so much time being frustrated with the plots that it made it hard for me to enjoy the book. But I will finish the series! My sisters and I all want to do a read-a-long for the fifth and final book so I'm already committed to finishing. But the good news is that Carmen has run out of parents to be mad at and Bridget is finally doing better so the next book has to be different....right?

THE ABDUCTOR: As I said already Bridget was the only character I cared about in this book. It would have been incredibly unrealistic if I had opened this book to find Bridget as bubbly and provocative as she was in the first one. But I also didn't expect the author to make the choice of still having her struggle as much as she was to get back to feeling like herself again. So, for that alone I was extremely grateful!

POINT OF ABDUCTION: I can't think of a point of abduction for this book. I just tried my best to push through it and I really did try to make the best out of it.

I mean putting yourself out there in the way of overwhelming happiness and knowing you're also putting yourself in the way of terrible harm. I'm scared to be this happy. I'm scared to be this extreme.


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Abducted by The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer

Sunday marked the fourth anniversary of my blog! In celebration I have decided to feature a new review every day this week! I hope you will enjoy them!

THE HEADLINE: Three kids die in accident. Will the only survivor have the strength to remember the truth?

TIME IN CAPTIVITY: I went into this book with absolutely no expectations. I was hoping to like it, but I had also seen some negative reviews for it so I was prepared for some issues. I ended up really liking it though! It definitely wasn't perfect, but it was still enjoyable.
Mara Dyer is a teenage girl who wakes up in the hospital with no memory of the accident that put her there or the fact that three of her friends died in that same accident. Now, she has moved to Miami with her parents and two brothers and is starting at a new school. 
But not all parts of this transition play out smoothly. For one thing, she is struggling with severe Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. This part of the plot I found most exciting. With all her hallucinations I had no idea if she was crazy or haunted or stalked or what was going on! Normally, I get frustrated when it takes too long to figure out what the plot is, but for some reason I was having so much fun thinking she was crazy that it didn't bother me. Every time she met someone new I kept waiting for someone else to acknowledge them before I trusted that they were actually there. 
And Mara did meet a few new people, a friend named Jamie, and the cute boy at school Noah. 
The harder that Mara tries to ignore her hallucinations, the worse things seem to get. 
And the closer she gets to Noah increases her desire to finally discover the truth. 

THE ABDUCTOR: I loved Noah in this book! He was cocky and crass, which I normally hate, but for some reason I found it all really funny and cute. And I didn't believe all the stuff that Mara heard about him from her fellow classmates. Apparently there are a lot of rumors going around the he is basically a man whore, but I didn't buy it. 
I'm sure the abductor was supposed to be Mara, but she turned out to be a slightly unlikable character. I didn't ever really hate her or anything, but she could be bratty and self-centered at times. 

POINT OF ABDUCTION: There was a scene towards the beginning that involved a dog that Mara tried to rescue and I think that was my point of abduction because I was so concerned about the dog I had to keep going. 
I was also abducted by all of the creepy hallucinations! They were so spooky I just had keep going to find out how crazy she was!

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