Braving the Wilderness: A Review

Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand AloneBraving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone by Brené Brown

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Overall, I enjoyed the book. My favorite piece of this particular book was her acronym BRAVING which she uses in each of her Practices chapters, making them a more dimensional and practical. I’ve read Brown before, and this book is similar to her other books, almost a continuation from Rising Strong. But in this book, she addresses the issues of communication in a polarizing culture.
The example that stood out most to me was the conversation she had with a woman about gun control after the Newtown shootings. Brown’s beliefs about the issue were more nuanced than the woman wanted them to be. The woman was looking for an either/or camp. Which side was Brown on? Slight spoiler, Brown was on her own side.
And that’s pretty much what the book is about. How to be patient in listening, not quickly putting people in one camp or the other, being generous and allowing people to have complex thought, not immediately needing to always have an answer, being okay with delaying that answer or hearing more of what the other had to say.
The only criticism I have for the book is that a lot of her values match a lot of my values or at least a lot of my friend’s opinions on social matters, so the book doesn’t seem very off-putting and I am able to get the gist of the content. But, I could see someone else reading this with a more conservative background and having a hard time with the examples. It seemed like only people who did not have a conservative view actually experienced the wilderness, which may not always be the case. I’ve seen instances around me when I’m around my more liberal friends that when a conservative friend speaks up, it’s harder for them in that setting to do so. But I think this content would benefit anyone who is frustrated with the social circles around them, with the lack of healthy communication. Also, I think this book coming out just a few months before the holidays is almost perfect timing.
No matter what “camp” you feel you fit into or don’t fit into, I would highly recommend this book for anyone that needs some encouragement while trying to navigate the very divided country we are living in at the moment. Not only does it give tools to communicate, but also to listen.

I also wanted to let you know that I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.  These are all things I have used personally.  I wouldn’t recommend something I haven’t tried myself.  Thanks!

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Echo: A Review


Echo, Volume 1: Moon Lake by Terry Moore

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I haven’t read a lot of graphic novels recently, but I enjoyed the Marvel universe when I was a kid, as well as an adult with all of the movies that they put out now. So, when I was looking to begin really getting into the graphic novel genre, I have a friend who is pretty well-versed in all things comics. He suggested this comic.
Terry Moore’s art is absolutely gorgeous. Each frame is detailed and visually beautiful. And the story is pretty interesting as well. It begins with a girl named Annie performing tests on a flying suit for a classified military contractor laboratory. And while doing the test, they shoot her out of the sky. Pieces of her suit fall from the sky over civilian territory, affecting a couple of people, though the one in particular that we follow through the book is Julie. The metal from the suit adheres to Julie’s skin and chest, and the adventure goes from there.
There is some language throughout the book, and some adult themes, but nothing really too extreme. The metal does adhere to her chest, so there are a minimal amount of boob jokes, but overall, the book merely sets the stage for the rest of the series.
I hope to get the next one soon so I can find out what happens to Julie. It’s definitely a great start to getting back into graphic novels!

I also wanted to let you know that I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.  These are all things I have used personally.  I wouldn’t recommend something I haven’t tried myself.  Thanks!

Eleanor and Park: A Review

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When I started reading this book, I didn’t think it was YA, considering all of the profanity and the adult nature of Eleanor’s situation. Despite those two things, the book was really good. It was crass and uncomfortable, which aptly describes the two main characters. Park and Eleanor didn’t quite fit in at school for different reasons. Park was half Korean in the middle of the mid-west, which made him feel like he stuck out. Eleanor came from a very dysfunctional, abusive family, and she felt like she was huge and fat compared to other girls her age.
I really liked the switching from Eleanor’s perspective to Park’s perspective throughout the chapters. How they viewed each other was quite different than how they viewed themselves, and their place in society.
It was interesting to see the contrast between Park’s parents and Eleanor’s mom and stepdad. Even the difference between how Eleanor viewed life before her parent’s divorce. The relationships were complex, and I didn’t catch on to the mystery of the words written on her cover until it was revealed (which I won’t spoil, but it’s an awful reveal).
For any parents wondering if this would be a good book to read, I would recommend that they read it before giving it to their teen. It definitely deals with some pretty heavy material, but I think it deals with it well.

I also wanted to let you know that I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.  These are all things I have used personally.  I wouldn’t recommend something I haven’t tried myself.  Thanks!

 

Of Mess and Moxie: A Review

I wanted to take a minute to recognize today in our nation’s history.  I wrote about my memory of that day and subsequent days to follow here.  My prayers continue to be with those who have lost loved ones to the terroristic actions of others.


Of Mess and Moxie: Wrangling Delight Out of This Wild and Glorious Life by Jen Hatmaker

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Okay, to be fair, my personal perspective comes from a place of pregnancy loss and infertility, so anything I read or consume in any way is filtered through that perspective.

Overall, the book is hilarious. I chuckled and straight out laughed out loud at some of the parts of her stories. I’ve never read one of her books before, so this may be consistent with the rest of them, but this book was like sitting down over tea or coffee and chatting with a friend, listening to her tell me stories of her life. It wasn’t really one of those big, life changing, “this is how I’m going to live my life now” kind of books, but it did have moments of motivation and inspiration in it.

However, as from my perspective, there are some uneasy parts to this conversation. Parts that I have no connection to or relatability to. I don’t know what it’s like to raise teenagers or little kids. There was this one little section in one of her How To segments I could have done without (not everyone can relate to the Family Planning joke of “I just held hands with my husband and got pregnant). But if I were to recommend this book to one of my fellow infertility/pregnancy loss sisters, I would say, read the little add on before the acknowledgments first (One More Word As You Go), then read the last chapter (Rewoven), and the chapters We Live and Unbranded. Then, depending on your journey, carefully sift through the rest of the chapters knowing that she is speaking from her life and her journey. It’s not all about babies and kids and teens, but there’s a good chunk of it that is.

Overall, I give it four stars. It’s a funny, light-hearted kind of book that is like a calm, comforting conversation with a dear friend.

I also wanted to let you know that I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.  These are all things I have used personally.  I wouldn’t recommend something I haven’t tried myself.  Thanks!

The Immortal Series: A review

When I went through my books earlier this year, I came across this series.  I started the series several years ago, but I never finished it.  So, I decided I would start purchasing the books and read all the way through the series as part of my summer goals.  I got every book but the last one by the beginning of June and dug in (I borrowed the last one from the library).

Spoilers ahead.

The first book introduces Ever, a girl who loses her family in a tragic car accident and gets shipped off to live with her aunt.  When she wakes in the hospital after that accident, she finds out that she has psychic powers, including the ability to see her dead sister.  At her new school, she meets Damen who reveals that not only are they soulmates, but he made her immortal at the scene of that car accident.

Lots of conflicts and other characters ensue.  I won’t go heavily into the stories of the other books.  Basically, Book one was good, Book two was okay.  Book three I wanted to throw across the room because Ever made the same stupid mistake that she makes in book two.  Book four was just annoying.  Book five was better.  And Book six literally wraps up every single loose end from every other one of the books.

I liked the first book because of the ideas of alchemy and past lives.  I thought that the other books would dig deeper into these past lives, and I love a good historical fiction.  But I feel like the past lives were just a means to an end.  There were a couple of quips about the differences (like medieval times didn’t use toilets…so different!), but it was just so shallow.

The themes finally came out in the last book, which helped me to appreciate the journey, but not as much as I would have liked.  The idea that we live in abundance and not scarcity was a good one and that we should make our choices out of living in abundance That our soul is immortal and that we shouldn’t hold onto our physical self so tightly, knowing that there is more eternal meaning to our life, I can agree with that, too.  But the rest of it got really new age-y, maybe even too much for me.

There was a whole love triangle (there were more than one, actually, but I’m talking about the main one) that I did not agree with.  The “loser” of the triangle I thought should have been the soulmate, and I think the author didn’t do a good job to convince me otherwise, even though there were chapters and chapters of explanation.  It just wasn’t a very good explanation.  Of course, this could probably be true for a lot of YA love triangles.  I just happened to be on the dissenting side this time.  And I feel like out of all the loose ends, this guy’s end wasn’t tied up very well, either.

I feel like I also need to address the fact that sex is a major theme in the book.  The two main characters are unable to consummate their love for much of the story (with some really weird exceptions), and while I think the author was trying to create tension, I don’t think it was very well done.

I feel like the book could have been better in a trilogy, not six books.  The author seemed to draw things out just for the sake of making more money by selling more books than what was necessary.  It just made the plot more tedious to me.  As far as any graphic violence or sexual content, it’s not really there, but it’s very heavy on the new age aspects.  The if I just believe hard enough I can manifest anything for myself, which I don’t think goes well with my own Christian beliefs of struggle and dependence on God and not self.

I give it two out of five stars for the series itself.  You could almost read the first and last books and enjoy the series just as well.  It’s prompted me to get rid of any book series where I just bought the first book and enjoyed it.  I may go back some day and read those other book series, but for now, I’m going to focus on my growing present book-et list.

The Nightingale

The NightingaleThe Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I don’t get transported by many books, but the vivid imagery of this story set me in the time of Nazi occupation in France during World War II.

The story is about two sisters, Vianne and Isabelle. Their father leaves them in the care of another family after their mother dies, unable to care for them himself. Vianne eventually marries. She has a miscarriage and then goes on to have a little girl. Isabelle, the younger, goes from boarding school to boarding school, unable to conform to lady’s society. When Germany takes over parts of France, both girls learn what they are capable of under pressure and in constant fear.

One of the themes that kept popping up for me was this sense of abandonment. Isabelle feels abandoned first by her dad, then by her sister who couldn’t take care of her when she had her miscarriage, which led her down the path of failed boarding schools. Vianne depends on her husband, and after he leaves for war and subsequently becomes a prisoner of war, she has to learn how to live without his constant care and support. And of course, there is the bigger theme of abandonment in the French people as France turns over Paris to the Nazis, and the people who live there are now under the thumb of Hitler.

The characters and settings are complex and beautiful. Every time I dived into the chapters of this book, I got lost in the story. I’ve been to Paris, and there is a beautiful quote about Paris in the book that I totally agree with, “I had forgotten how gently time passes in Paris. As lively as the city is, there’s a stillness to it, a peace that lures you in. In Paris, with a glass of wine in your hand, you can just be.” It makes me want to go back and see the places in this story!

I highly recommend the book for anyone who likes a female character driven story. There is romance, action, and complex drama throughout the whole story. Definitely a book I will read again!

You can also get your copy of The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah here!

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I also wanted to let you know that I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.  These are all things I have used personally.  I wouldn’t recommend something I haven’t tried myself.  Thanks!

Rethinking Positive Thinking: A Review

Rethinking Positive Thinking: Inside the New Science of MotivationRethinking Positive Thinking: Inside the New Science of Motivation by Gabriele Oettingen

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Like a lot of other reviews I’ve read, “dry” is an accurate description for this book. I read this book because Goodreads recommended it based on some of my other reads. I think from now on, I’m going to read the other reviews, and not just the first one or two reviews, but the entire overview of the book. I know most normal people do this already, but I’m learning.
Anyway, the book itself is a response to the ideas coming from “The Secret” or what is normally thought of as “positive thinking.” “Just putting your wish out into the universe and it will come back to you” kind of thinking. This book basically debunks that idea.
It’s not that wishful thinking or daydreaming is necessarily bad, it’s just that there are other steps to the process of getting what you want. You have to also think about the obstacles that stand in your way of reaching the desired outcome and make a plan to overcome those obstacles. In fact, the WOOP that the author suggests includes an entire step of imagining the outcome that you want in complete detail, but then you think of the obstacles as well.
I hesitate on this idea because it really requires a person to be self-aware of the obstacles in front of them, to take the time to reflect, and then be able to make adjustments as needed. You have to be constantly looking at the bigger picture and the details. I’m not saying humans are incapable of doing this, it’s just that in the harried lifestyle of most people I know, it would take a considerable amount of slowing down in order to embrace the process.
Finally, to address the dryness. The book reads very academically. The author goes over study after study that she and her partners did in great detail. Every experiment, the variables, and the controls. I think it would have been easier to just talk about the outcomes of the experiments instead of talking in length about each one. The last three chapters went by slightly faster because they were more about application and examples instead of experiments, which I think the average reader would be more interested in.
Because of it being such a dry and slow read, I wouldn’t recommend it to someone who just likes to read light self-improvement books. It’s more for those interested in sociology or psychology on an academic level.

You can get your copy on Amazon here!

I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.