A week in reading – October 8-14

What did I finish reading this past week? I finished reading I Thought There Would Be Cake by Katharine Welby-Roberts and T is for Tree by Greg Fowler. These were both NetGalley books I had requested. My reviews are up on both of these books!

I thought there would be cake tisfortree

What am I currently reading? I am currently listening to Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult on audiobook and reading One Dark Throne by Kendare Blake. Leaving Time has been a little slow, but I’m still enjoying it. One Dark Throne is awesome! I’m hoping to finish it this weekend.

leavingtime one dark throne

What do I plan on reading next? I plan on reading The Goblins of Bellwater by Molly Ringle next. I love the cover, so I’m hoping the book is also awesome.

the goblins

 

 

Who am I?

Want to know more about the person behind the stack of books? Here are 10 facts about me:

  1. I’m in my 30s, though I regularly forget how old I am. Time is a cruel mistress, and it zips by so quickly.
  2. I’ve been married for 10 years. My husband and I got married when we were 21—young kids, in the grand scheme of things—and we’ve been happily married ever since.
  3. I have two kids—a 7-year-old girl and an 18-month-old boy. They are a delight, though they keep me very busy.
  4. I graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in English Literature, but I now have “Engineer” in my work title.
  5. I am currently working on my MBA and should be finished the fall of 2018.
  6. I have four pets—three cats and a dog. I love them dearly, though I despise their constant shedding.
  7. I am an INTJ through and through. After the kids are in bed, I read. I need this time to unwind. Luckily my husband is also an introvert.
  8. Growing up, I hated school. I thought it was boring and a waste of my time, so I would skip. I would skip with such regularity that sometimes I would only go to classes a couple days per week. I’m also a bit of a perfectionist, so even though my attendance in school was poor, I maintained straight-As. This started in junior high and continued through college.
  9. I am a creature of habit and enjoy routines; however, this does not extend to work. I hate doing the same things at work day in and day out. Luckily my job is flexible and I do something different every day.
  10. I worked for a production company in college and am credited on IMDB as an Associate Producer.

Tell me an interesting fact about YOU!

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Book Review – T is for Tree by Greg Fowler

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Title: T is for Tree
Author: Greg Fowler
Publish Date: August 10, 2017
# of Pages: 384
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐


Description

(From Goodreads) Eddy knows he’s not like other teenagers. He doesn’t look like them. He doesn’t think like them. He doesn’t go to school or have friends like they do. Eddy’s not even allowed to leave his bedroom – except on shower day of course. He doesn’t know why; all Eddy knows is that he’s different.

Abandoned by his mother and kept locked away by his grandmother, Eddy must spend his life watching the world go by from his bedroom window. Until Reagan Crowe moves in next door and everything starts to change. She’s kind, funny, beautiful, and most importantly, she’s Eddy’s first friend. Over time, Reagan introduces Eddy to the strange and wonderful world outside his bedroom: maths, jam, love.

But growing up isn’t that simple for either of them. And Eddy has a secret. The tree that’s slowly creeping in through his window from the garden is no ordinary tree. But then again, Eddy’s no ordinary boy. He’s special…

Set over the course of five years, T is for Tree is moving, life-affirming, and shows that we can all find greatness in the small things.


Review 

** Possible spoilers!**

T is for Tree by Greg Fowler is about Eddy, a young boy with Down Syndrome, and his friendship with the neighbor girl, Reagan. It is a story of friendship, love, and loss.

I thought this was a very well-written novel. Once I started reading it, I didn’t want to put it down.

So what did I like?

The symbolism. The symbolism with the tree and Eddy’s relationship with the tree is beautiful. The tree brings Reagan and Eddy together. As the tree grows, Eddy grows. Towards the end of the book, the tree symbolizes life and the circle of life.

Eddy and Reagan’s friendship. The friendship between Eddy and Reagan is enviable. For Eddy, Reagan is his whole world. For Reagan, Eddy is her rock. Reagan doesn’t see Eddy as disabled—she sees him as a constant friend, worthy of love and jam sandwiches. Eddy makes the ultimate sacrifice towards the end of book and trades his life for Reagan’s. I think this is seen as controversial, since Eddy is mentally handicapped (his life is worth just as much as Reagan’s), but I didn’t see it as controversial. I thought it was a beautiful show of friendship that capped off a tragic circumstance.

Eddy’s supporter’s. From the sweet elderly lady down the street to Mrs. Crowe, Eddy has strong supporters who want him to succeed. I like how everything tied back to Eddy and his ability to bring people together.

Eddy the philosopher. Eddy turns into a little philosopher towards the end of the book. He discusses life, the meaning of life, and his purpose in the world. I’m not sure how believable it is, since my knowledge of Down Syndrome is practically nonexistent, but it was a neat addition, regardless.

What didn’t I like?

The grandmother. I thought the first part of the book where Grandma Daisy keeps Eddy locked up is strange. I don’t think it did much to develop the plot towards the end of the book, and I’m not sure what purpose it really served. After I finished the book, this part still stuck out to me as strange.

Not realistic. While I liked the symbolism of the tree, I still don’t really understand the tree. Is it magical? Is the magic in Eddy’s head?

Overall, this was a wonderful story. It made me smile, and it made me cry.

Thank you to NetGalley for providing the Kindle version of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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Book Stats

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Quotes

“‘Relationships are like rubber bands, in my opinion. When we’re getting along well, they’re under no pressure, but when we fight and argue, it’s like they’re all stretched, and that’s when they can snap. What a lot of people don’t seem to recognise is that a stretched rubber band is still a rubber band. If anything, it’s showing exactly how strong it really is. Sometimes people just figure it’s going to snap so they get out before it can sting them. But you see, Eddy, rubber bands are remarkable things, they can withstand more pressure than we give them credit for and then they’ll go right back to where they started . . . if you’ll just give them that chance.’”

“You can’t beat a dose of sugar and fat when a challenge came knocking.”

“Life was all about circles, not squares. Squares had ends, hard, sharp ends that refused to budge. Circles, on the other hand, never ended, they just kept renewing themselves.”


Buy It

Check this book out at your local library.

 

Throwback Thursday – Memorable Book Read in 2016

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For this throwback Thursday, I’m picking a memorable book I read in 2016.

My absolute favorite book read in 2016 was The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah. It was riveting and tear inducing. I loved it. If you haven’t read it already, I highly recommend you pick up a copy!

Have you read it? What’d you think?

Description (From Goodreads): Despite their differences, sisters Vianne and Isabelle have always been close. Younger, bolder Isabelle lives in Paris while Vianne is content with life in the French countryside with her husband Antoine and their daughter. But when the Second World War strikes, Antoine is sent off to fight and Vianne finds herself isolated so Isabelle is sent by their father to help her.

As the war progresses, the sisters’ relationship and strength are tested. With life changing in unbelievably horrific ways, Vianne and Isabelle will find themselves facing frightening situations and responding in ways they never thought possible as bravery and resistance take different forms in each of their actions.

Book Review – I Thought There Would be Cake by Katharine Welby-Roberts

I thought there would be cake
Title: I Thought There Would be Cake
Author: Katharine Welby-Roberts
Publish Date: August 17, 2017
# of Pages: 128
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️


Description

(From Goodreads) EVER THOUGHT LIFE ISN’T TURNING OUT QUITE AS YOU EXPECTED?

Growing up, Katharine Welby-Roberts imagined that being an adult was one big party. But depression, anxiety and crippling self-doubt led her to alienate herself from others. To replay events and encounters as nightmares. Occasionally, to be unable to leave the house.

Aware of the cacophony of voices in her head, Katharine invites us to join her as she journeys to the depths of her soul. Here, with instinctive honesty and humour, she confronts the parts of her story that hinder her most.

As she charts a course that offers ways of coping with everyday issues, we are encouraged to embrace our own self-worth. To recognize the value of our existence. To let ourselves be loved. Exactly as we are.

‘Brilliantly honest, often funny and wonderfully readable’
Martin Saunders, Youthscape

‘Wholly authentic in the face of suffering and struggle’
Will van der Hart, The Mind and Soul Foundation


Review 

I Thought There Would Be Cake is a journey of self-reflection written by Katharine Welby-Roberts.

Have you ever met someone who can’t process their thoughts without talking (or writing) their way through them? This is this book! Katharine Welby-Roberts battles with mental health issues, and this book is a way of processing her thoughts.

Throughout the book, Welby-Roberts describes different destructive ways of thinking and how the destructive thinking holds her back. As she provides examples, she also gives tips on how to turn the corner on destructive thinking. This isn’t a self-help book, but it certainly provides enough useful tips to give it a self-help feel.

Welby-Roberts is courageous in sharing her stories and laying bare some of the mental health issues that plague her. This takes guts, and she does it with humility.

The author has a strong Christian faith that plays a big role in this book. While at times it felt somewhat preachy, this is obviously a big influence in her life.

The book is what I would term a “quick read.” It takes little time to get through; however, as I finished the book, I was left feeling shortchanged. It seemed as though Welby-Roberts had barely scratched the surface before ending the book. Because of this, I’m feeling somewhat lukewarm about the entire thing.

Thank you to NetGalley for providing the Kindle version of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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Book Stats

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Quotes

“If you depend on outside affirmation to survive, it is never going to be quite enough. You always need more, a further confirmation of your abilities, in order to gain the hope of being ‘enough.'”
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“When we allow social media to run away with us and dictate our self-worth, it may tell us we are kind but only if others say so, we are smart only if others respond with approval, and we are important only if we have a blue tick.”

Buy It

Check this book out at your local library, or buy it here* on Amazon.

*Note: this is an affiliate link

Down the TBR Hole! (Week 6)

Week 6! So many books on my TBR list . . . This is a popular tag, so I thought I’d give it a shot! If you’re like me, your TBR list is so long that you’ll never get through them all. Here are 5 books on my TBR list. Have you read any of them? Are any of my keeps worth bumping to the top of my TBR list? Let me know!

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1. How We Decide 
by Jonah Lehrer
Publish Date: February 9, 2009
# of Pages: 259
Goodreads Rating: 3.81

Description (from Goodreads): The first book to use the unexpected discoveries of neuroscience to help us make the best decisions.

Since Plato, philosophers have described the decision-making process as either rational or emotional: we carefully deliberate, or we “blink” and go with our gut. But as scientists break open the mind’s black box with the latest tools of neuroscience, they’re discovering that this is not how the mind works. Our best decisions are a finely tuned blend of both feeling and reason—and the precise mix depends on the situation. When buying a house, for example, it’s best to let our unconscious mull over the many variables. But when we’re picking a stock, intuition often leads us astray. The trick is to determine when to use the different parts of the brain, and to do this, we need to think harder (and smarter) about how we think.

Jonah Lehrer arms us with the tools we need, drawing on cutting-edge research as well as the real-world experiences of a wide range of “deciders”—from airplane pilots and hedge fund investors to serial killers and poker players.

Lehrer shows how people are taking advantage of the new science to make better television shows, win more football games, and improve military intelligence. His goal is to answer two questions that are of interest to just about anyone, from CEOs to firefighters: How does the human mind make decisions? And how can we make those decisions better?

Why is this book on my TBR list?: I enjoy learning about why people do the things they do. This book still intrigues me!

Verdict: Keep


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2. A Love That Multiples
 by Michelle & Jim Bob Duggar
Publish Date: June 7, 2011
# of Pages: 288
Goodreads Rating: 3.95

Description (from Goodreads): In this second book from the Duggars, they focus on the principles that equip them to face life’s challenges—drawing from their most recent challenge with the 3-month premature birth of their newest child, Josie. They also share the new challenges their older children are facing as they prepare for adult life. Central to the book is a section on the principles that the Duggars have consistently taught their children. These simply worded principles are basic to the Duggar family and are shared in a way that other parents can incorporate in their own homes. A special chapter on homeschooling gives valuable information to parents who are considering this route or are already invested in it. The world continues to be amazed by their nineteen well-groomed, well-behaved, well-schooled children and their home life, which focuses on family, financial responsibility, fun—and must importantly, faith. The Duggars show how parents can succeed whether they’re rearing a single child or several.

Why is this book on my TBR list?: I used to think the Duggars were interesting. Now? Not so much.

Verdict: Gone


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3. The Compass of Pleasure 
by David J. Linden
Publish Date: April 14, 2011
# of Pages: 240
Goodreads Rating: 3.86

Description (from Goodreads): A leading brain scientist’s look at the neurobiology of pleasure-and how pleasures can become addictions.

Whether eating, taking drugs, engaging in sex, or doing good deeds, the pursuit of pleasure is a central drive of the human animal. In The Compass of Pleasure Johns Hopkins neuroscientist David J. Linden explains how pleasure affects us at the most fundamental level: in our brain.

As he did in his award-winning book, The Accidental Mind, Linden combines cutting-edge science with entertaining anecdotes to illuminate the source of the behaviors that can lead us to ecstasy but that can easily become compulsive. Why are drugs like nicotine and heroin addictive while LSD is not? Why has the search for safe appetite suppressants been such a disappointment? The Compass of Pleasure concludes with a provocative consideration of pleasure in the future, when it may be possible to activate our pleasure circuits at will and in entirely novel patterns.

Why is this book on my TBR list?: This was another book that was added because I like understanding why people do the things they do.

Verdict: Keep


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4. The Lost City of Z
 by David Grann
Publish Date: February 24, 2009
# of Pages: 351
Goodreads Rating: 3.86

Description (from Goodreads):
A grand mystery reaching back centuries. A sensational disappearance that made headlines around the world. A quest for truth that leads to death, madness or disappearance for those who seek to solve it. The Lost City of Z is a blockbuster adventure narrative about what lies beneath the impenetrable jungle canopy of the Amazon.

After stumbling upon a hidden trove of diaries, New Yorker writer David Grann set out to solve “the greatest exploration mystery of the 20th century”: What happened to the British explorer Percy Fawcett & his quest for the Lost City of Z?

In 1925, Fawcett ventured into the Amazon to find an ancient civilization, hoping to make one of the most important discoveries in history. For centuries Europeans believed the world’s largest jungle concealed the glittering kingdom of El Dorado. Thousands had died looking for it, leaving many scientists convinced that the Amazon was truly inimical to humans. But Fawcett, whose daring expeditions inspired Conan Doyle’s The Lost World, had spent years building his scientific case. Captivating the imagination of millions round the globe, Fawcett embarked with his 21-year-old son, determined to prove that this ancient civilisation–which he dubbed Z–existed. Then his expedition vanished. Fawcett’s fate, & the tantalizing clues he left behind about Z, became an obsession for hundreds who followed him into the uncharted wilderness.

For decades scientists & adventurers have searched for evidence of Fawcett’s party & the lost City of Z. Countless have perished, been captured by tribes or gone mad. As Grann delved ever deeper into the mystery surrounding Fawcett’s quest, & the greater mystery of what lies within the Amazon, he found himself, like the generations who preceded him, being irresistibly drawn into the jungle’s green hell. His quest for the truth & discoveries about Fawcett’s fate & Z form the heart of this complexly enthralling narrative.

Why is this book on my TBR list?: I don’t remember adding this book! While it certainly sounds interesting, I don’t think this is one worth keeping on my TBR shelf.

Verdict: Gone


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5. Then They Came for Me 
by Maziar Bahari
Publish Date: 2011
# of Pages: 384
Goodreads Rating: 4.10

Description (from Goodreads): The Basis for the Major Motion Picture Rosewater, Directed By Jon Stewart

When Maziar Bahari left London in June 2009 to cover Iran’s presidential election, he assured his pregnant fiancée, Paola, that he’d be back in just a few days, a week at most. Little did he know, as he kissed her good-bye, that he would spend the next three months in Iran’s most notorious prison, enduring brutal interrogation sessions at the hands of a man he knew only by his smell: Rosewater.

For the Bahari family, wars, coups, and revolutions are not distant concepts but intimate realities they have suffered for generations: Maziar’s father was imprisoned by the shah in the 1950s, and his sister by Ayatollah Khomeini in the 1980s. Alone in his cell at Evin Prison, fearing the worst, Maziar draws strength from his memories of the courage of his father and sister in the face of torture, and hears their voices speaking to him across the years. He dreams of being with Paola in London, and imagines all that she and his rambunctious, resilient eighty-four-year-old mother must be doing to campaign for his release. During the worst of his encounters with Rosewater, he silently repeats the names of his loved ones, calling on their strength and love to protect him and praying he will be released in time for the birth of his first child.

A riveting, heart-wrenching memoir, Then They Came for Meoffers insight into the past seventy years of regime change in Iran, as well as the future of a country where the democratic impulses of the youth continually clash with a government that becomes more totalitarian with each passing day. An intimate and fascinating account of contemporary Iran, it is also the moving and wonderfully written story of one family’s extraordinary courage in the face of repression.

Why is this book on my TBR list?: Again, I love memoirs, and this one seems to have all the feels. This book is a keeper!

Verdict: Keep

Cookies!! (A follow up to my Sally’s Cookie Addiction book review)

Over the weekend my daughter and I made two batches of cookies using the Sally’s Cookie Addiction cookbook. While the cookies we made weren’t exactly Pinterest-worthy, they were delicious!

First we made Soft Peanut Butter Cookies. This was the recipe I chose, and as the name states, these were packed with peanut buttery goodness and oh, so soft!

My daughter chose Sugar Cookie Sparkles. These were also soft and delicious. And very pretty! 

I’m looking forward to trying out more recipes in the near future. This cookbook was worth the money!

Check out my review from a  couple weeks ago, or check out the book on Amazon!