Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Sensitive and Strong

Sensitive and Strong: A Guide for Highly Sensitive Persons and Those Who Love ThemSensitive and Strong: A Guide for Highly Sensitive Persons and Those Who Love Them by Denise J. Hughes
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Are you a HSP, a Highly Sensitive Person? The first time I encountered this question was from Cheri Gregory herself. I don't remember my reply to her, but I know my thought was, "Gosh, I hope not." I was borderline on the online test I took, so I felt like I wasn't. But the idea never really left me.

Fast forward a few years and a few ear surgeries. I take the online quiz again, and voila, I score much higher on the HSP scale.

I don't know if it's a combination of ear and hearing issues and my own sensitivity to certain stimuli alongside getting older, or what, but this book was a huge relief and help to me. I have often felt like there is much wrong with me, and this book has reassured me that no, I am not wrong. I am unique, I'm wired with several sensitivities, and being sensitive to certain things does NOT make me weak. Indeed, learning more about how I handle certain things has given me more confidence in myself and in how I handle certain situations.

This book offers help and hope: help with practical strategies to help in certain situations; hope that this is not a derogatory situation and we're not finished growing and changing yet!

Many thanks to Denise and Cheri for writing this book with such clarity, openness, and love. I am so grateful for you!

I was given a review copy of this book by the publisher and authors, but all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Sunday, November 03, 2019

Light Shining in The Light After the War

The Light After the WarThe Light After the War by Anita Abriel
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

4.5/5 stars
What a moving story. Told from the point of view of Vera Frankel, Anita Abriel skillfully weaves the story of two young women--Vera and her best friend, Edith Ban--who have survived World War II, with flashbacks of Vera's past memories of childhood and school days. I enjoyed reading this and I think it would make a good movie someday. It has the story of a sweeping saga, with characters that are believable and sympathetic, with plenty of drama and romance and mystery and heart.
I would love to know how much this story parallels the story of the woman it's based upon.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Very big lies. Very small town.

Big Lies in a Small TownBig Lies in a Small Town by Diane Chamberlain
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Big Lies in a Small Town is an accurate title. Very big lies, pretty small town.

What interested me about this book was the idea of post office murals. The book takes us through the process of both the mural creation and its eventual restoration later on. I am not well versed in visual art forms at all, other than having an admiration for great pieces. The way that the author wove the information and history into her narrative is truly great, and it kept me reading the entire time.

I thoroughly enjoyed this mystery with alternating time lines and narration styles. Highly recommended.


Wednesday, July 24, 2019

The Book Charmer charms the reader

The Book CharmerThe Book Charmer by Karen Hawkins
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

"The Book Charmer" is a delightful read in the vein of Sarah Addison Allen's "Garden Spells" - sisters who have special--dare I say, magical--gifts they use to help others. Each character was a delight, the story was heartwarming without being saccharine, and I enjoyed the entire book. I would recommend this novel for those who enjoy magical realism, small towns, quirky but fun characters, and bittersweet moments that tug on heartstrings.

View all my reviews

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Review: The Dinner List

The Dinner ListThe Dinner List by Rebecca Serle
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I heard about this novel last month. It sounded great, because who hasn't made a "five people I'd invite for dinner" list before? The only thing that made me hesitate at first was the "magical realism" in the description.

It took me quite a while to get into this novel, and with school starting, my reading time was limited to evenings. However, I pushed through to finish it this weekend because it really captured me about halfway through.

Magical realism aside, I think more of what is needed is "willful suspension of disbelief." Maybe it really is more “magical realism” as the description states, because how else can you have the narrator's deceased father and Audrey Hepburn there? There is a revelation about halfway through that was a turning point for me: Do I press on and continue, or do I quit? That is how much it upset me. However, I persisted, pushed through, and finished. I'm glad I did.

The author's alternating chapter style really works. And after the first several chapters, the continual dialogue around the dinner table doesn't feel as forced or as dialogue-y as before. She does an amazing job of delving deep into these characters' motivations and desires.

I liked how the book made me think of romantic relationships, what is socially expected, what others expect of us, and what we expect of the other person in the relationship. Very interesting and I'll be pondering it for a while.
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Thanks to NetGalley, the author, and the publisher for an ebook review copy.
FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book on NetGalley for review. All opinions are my own.

Monday, July 02, 2018

All We Ever Wanted: A Review

All We Ever WantedAll We Ever Wanted by Emily Giffin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

All We Ever Wanted is worthy of the buzz it's receiving this summer. I had a hard time putting this one down, but I did on occasion to process the story. It is riveting and thought-provoking and so very current.

With alternating points of view (a favorite literary device of mine), we gradually learn the truth of what happened that night: the night when Tom's daughter and Nina's son are involved in a scandal that threatens their peace of mind, their sense of safety, and their very futures.

Teens, alcohol, and Snapchat are a dangerous triumvirate. As a high school teacher, I know how prevalent social media is in many teens' lives, Snapchat in particular (and yes, I've been on there without my permission, so there's that as well). And while I and other teachers have preached and taught the lessons about responsible digital citizenship and the permanence of online presence, I often sense an ignoring of those lessons and at the same time a sense of entitlement among my students. Until it happens to them, they don't really seem to care.

All We Ever Wanted shows us what can happen, and how justice is not always served in the way we believe it should be. It also shows us in this age of #metoo that we cannot judge based upon outward appearances (and dare I say, Facebook and Instagram photos), and that each of us is a walking library of stories and experiences.
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FTC Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book on NetGalley for review. All opinions are my own.


The Cast, a Review

The Cast: A NovelThe Cast: A Novel by Amy Blumenfeld
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Available August 14, 2018

I tend to gravitate toward books about groups of friends who have stuck it out through thick and thin, so naturally I requested to read The Cast by Amy Blumenfeld from NetGalley.

The basic plot is that Becca's friends made a video for her twenty-five years ago in the vein of SNL called "Becca Night Live," to cheer her up while she was in the hospital receiving cancer treatment. Fast forward a quarter-century and Becca's friend Jordana plans the ultimate reunion for The Cast. Everyone makes plans to attend; then, of course, as in real life, things begin to happen to thwart even Jordana's carefully planned reunion.

Thankfully, this novel has plenty of twists and turns among the alternating POV chapters, and not much at all was predicatable. Blumenfeld kept me guessing quite a bit, and that's no small feat.

One of my favorite parts was the incorporation of a character who had chosen a life in the Orthodox Jewish community. I am blessed to know an Orthodox family, so to see that lifestyle so respectfully represented was wonderful.

I recommend this novel for fans of friend-group reunion stories. You won't be disappointed.
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FTC Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book on NetGalley for review. All opinions are my own.

Sensitive and Strong

Sensitive and Strong: A Guide for Highly Sensitive Persons and Those Who Love Them by Denise J. Hughes My rating: 5 of 5 stars Are you a...