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Book Review: When Breath Becomes Air

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Paul Kalanithi is incredible, as is this lovely book he wrote. I cant remember the last time i read something that was so authentic and intelligent. He talks about death and what makes life worth living with clarity, true honesty, and peace. At times, I found myself far more upset that he was terminally ill (the forward even tells you he dies) than he was. I heard this book reviewed as “the best piece of non fiction ever written.”. It’t not that. Its good. and although it made me look at my life differently at moments, it didn’t actually change any of my behavior. When Breath Becomes Air is a beautifully written story of a mans final years in this mortal world and it was beautiful and heartbreaking to be in his mind during that time.

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Book Review: My Not So Perfect Life

MNSPLMy Not So Perfect Life was okay at best. I liked the main character, Katie. I related to her. Having a “cool job” and trying to keep up in some sense. I have never been one that is big on social media, and I found what Katie did for her ridiculous. Do people really do that? But after I got into the story a bit, I found it predictable and silly. The love story was contrived and there out of the thought of, “Katie needs to find love” instead of it feeling like the two characters couldn’t help but falling for each other. It did give a nice little lesson at the end, that I completely agree with.

Book Review: Little Women

Little Women

I’ll start by saying that my expectations for this book were pretty high. My recent run of classics has been stellar. It’s been a great reminder that some things are popular because they are touching, moving and resonate with people.

Little Women wasn’t that.

I am probably speaking too harshly too soon. I liked it. I knew the story having grown up on the Christian Bale, Winona Ryder movie (which is darling). But I had expected there to be some tension. I think Louisa May Alcott intended this to be the love story between Jo and Laurie, but Jo never loved him. He may have loved her, but as soon as he started spending time with Amy in Europe it finally got a little more interesting.

The story was sweet. Having 2 sisters myself I was able to put myself in their shoes several times as they jumped from love to annoyance to love again. I loved how vastly different personalities can be even when everyone is raised in the same way under the same roof. Everyone is unique and beautiful in their own way.

It is possible that I didn’t like this as much as I thought i would because the narrator was awful. Andrea Emmes had the worst voice for Marmee. What I expect would come off as sweet motherly advice turned to condescending and annoying. This is a character I should have loved. LikeEllen O’hara , Molly Weasley, Marilla Cuthbert or Ma Joad. These were strong amazing women who lead their families to happier and richer lives. Marmee gave wonderful advice and ran a household by herself while her husband was off at war. All very admirable things! But in the end, Emmes voice for her made me want to roll my eyes more than jot down the advice in my journal to take into my own life.

It very possibly is a classic for all the best reasons, but I missed mostly it. The reason I feel this way is possibly because of the narration.

Just watch the Winona Ryder movie.

Book Review: Pride and Prejudice

 

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Don’t you wish all your books had this beautiful of a cover? I wish this was mine so I could see what darling illustrations Hugh did for this. 

I had never read a book by Jane Austen before, despite loving her stories and having seen all the movies multiple times, and being a reader. I knew the story of Pride and Prejudice. I knew the characters, I knew the setting and about all the pride and all the prejudices that were going to take place – But WOW. I loved this far more than I anticipated.

It is a beautiful love story. Lizzie Bennett is a gem and Mr. Darcy is a total fox. My favorite surprise was that the story doesn’t end (SPOILER- but really, who doesn’t know this story) when Elizabeth and Darcy get engaged and Mr. Bennett gives the go ahead! There is more. Jane Austen gave us a few blissful chapters where they were in love and planning their future together. It was the great payout for such a long hard journey to get to that point. I loved hearing about Lizzie’s worries about her family not approving of the match because they all thought him to be “such a proud, disagreeable man”. Reading this made it all so much more real. I was proud of her for not settling for anyone less that Mr. Darcy. I think there is a lot of truth in this in modern dating. Find someone who truly deserves you.

If you haven’t read this because you know the story, or you are worried about the language, read it anyway. You will wonder what took you so long.

Book Review: Frankenstein

15509416322_9edf3e0380_kTurns out, Frankenstein isn’t the monster but the scientist, and the monster is less of a mindless brut and more of a lonely and isolated creature that feels so abandoned. This book was heavy and thought-provoking and I found myself sympathizing with the creature to the point where I justified some of his poor (to put it lightly) actions. There is a reason this is a classic. Absolutely beautifully written. When I finished it I wanted to watch all the film adaptions of this book, but after looking at all the options, I decided against it. It looks like they all missed the point of this story of a creature and his creator.

2016 Books

With my husband in grad school, I set off in 2016 to read 30 books (as it is the default goal on Goodreads) in a calendar year.  Full disclosure, I didn’t actually read most of these books my journey was largely Audible. It was fun and sometimes frustrating (Cursed Child, I am looking at you). It reminded me how much I love being transported into a story and how much I can walk away with after I finish a book.

 

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone– I truthfully don’t even know how many times I have read this book. It is delightful and fun every single time. Jim Dale does an amazing job narrating.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets– This one had a new meaning this time around in that I noticed how many things in this story end up relating through the rest of the series. Mostly notably we get our first look at a horcrux.

Beautiful Ruins– I listened to this after seeing it on a list of books soon to be turned into movies. Overall I felt conflicted. It has a couple of different storylines going at the same time, one of which takes place in Italy during the ’60s, and modern day. I loved the storyline in Italy. I was less enchanted with the modern-day storyline taking place in Hollywood. However, it all tied together nicely in the end.

Me Before You – I devoured this and then cried a lot.

The Girl with all the Gifts – This book fascinated me. It is not your typical zombie story. It was a little slow in the middle but the ending more than made up for it. I immediately wanted to discuss it with someone and find out if they thought it was as perfect as I did.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban– I had remembered this as my favorite of the whole series back when I read them when they first came out. Going back to it, I strongly disagree with my 13-year-old self.

The Royal We – Attention all Kate Middleton fans! This is total fan-fiction, but I was okay with it because it was perfect fan-fiction. A guilty pleasure that I ate up without shame. Simply put, it was fun. I am incredibly excited about the film/TV series that Lauren Graham and Mae Whitman are working on.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire – This one is so different from the movie! I loved it.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix – Angsty Harry… Probably my least favorite of the series.

Big Little Lies – I bought this because it kept showing up in my “suggested for you” section, and who isn’t intrigued by a murder mystery?? It ended up being very different from I anticipated but I couldn’t finish it fast enough. I needed to know who killed who and why. This was my first book by Liane Moriarty and I fell in love with her writing style.

After You – This wasn’t worth my (or anyone else’s) time. The first one felt real and heart-wrenching, and this plot seemed so uninteresting that I had a hard time caring about the previous darling, Louisa Clark. I understand what the author was trying to go for with “she wont be happy until someone shows her that she is worth living for” concept, but it all felt depressing and contrived.

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince– I think I walked away from the series this time around with this as my new favorite. The stories are a bit more mature at this point, but there are a lot of really great moments and good characters that come into play more.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows– She tied up all the loose ends. She is amazing and I loved the ending.

Devil in the White City – Half history of the world’s fair in Chicago in 1893, half the story of the serial killer who saw this as a great opportunity. It wasn’t nearly as dark as I worried it might be. Overall I liked it.

The Martian – The movie is great and Matt Damon did a good job portraying Mark Watney. The book was fun and something different from I usually read. The science really added to the story and gave a better look into the mind of the kind of person that would be chosen for a mission to Mars. He was smart, creative and super nerdy with a bit of an ego.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – (I actually read this one!) I was so happy to be back in this world. That was probably the best thing about this book. It broke the rules that JK made for time travel back in PoA. So many issues. So many holes. ugh.

The Husband’s Secret – Another Liane Moriarty. This one is my favorite of hers. This was a story about forgiveness and loyalty. The epilogue made it for me.

The Elephant Whisperer – I read this at the suggestion of my mom. It took me a little while to get into, but I loved learning about life on a nature preserve in South Africa. I laughed, I cried, I grew to love these people and these animals. Everyday when my husband got home from work I wanted to tell him all the interesting things that had happened since I last told him. This may have gone down as my favorite book of the year.

What Alice Forgot– Another Liane Moriarty. I love her writing style so much. This one was fun and leaves you guessing for a long time.

A Dogs Purpose – Confession: I don’t love dogs. Unless it belongs to a good friend, and I see it often my assumption is that it probably wants to hurt me. They are scary. There. I said it. With that said, I loved this story. It made me think that maybe we should get a dog and be dog people.

Wonder – I am going to make my (currently non-existent) kids read this when they enter middle school. It is the story of a boy born with some facial deformities as he goes to public school for the first time in middle school. It made me ask myself, how kind am I? How judgmental am I? How can I make other people feel better about themselves, not worse?

Boys in the Boat – Wonderful historical fiction about the 1936 Olympic Crew Team from Washington. Once the team got to the Olympics, I kept thinking about them running into Louis Zamperini from Unbroken. Great story.

Behind Closed Doors– This looked like the cheesiest book ever…. But, I finished it in less than a day. I had to find out what happened. It was a great thriller with none of the sex like many of these books have.

A Man Called Ove – This is about a cranky old man and a kind family that moves into his neighborhood. Read it. Right now. Ove is one of my favorite literary characters. He and Anne Shirley would be great friends.

Red Queen – This was the dumbest book I have ever read. It’s a mix of a whole bunch of different books including, but not limited to; The Selection, X-Men, Hunger Games, and some other book with a twist that comes totally out of left field purely for the shock factor. Don’t pick up this book. I have no idea why it has such great reviews.

My Antonia – Beautiful story of an immigrant girl growing up on the American plains. The writing is great, as are the characters.

The Magnolia Story – I love this couple. They are not afraid to be exactly who they are. They are God-fearing, Hard-working, outward thinking people who I want to be more like.

The Rosie Project – A cute and unconventional love story.

Anne of Green Gables – I read this years ago and remembered liking it, but I absolutely loved it this time around. Anne Shirley is one of the greats and will always have a place in my heart, as will Matthew.

Talking as Fast as I Can – This was fine. I thought I would like it more considering how much I love Gilmore Girls. My favorite part was when she talked about working on The Royal We.

Kitchen Flood

We bought our home last April after endless battles with other buyers in this crazy market. it’s a nice house in a good neighborhood. It wasn’t really our style, but it’s a starter house and saw it as a project. When the kitchen flooded 6 months after moving in our dreams of remodeling the kitchen were sped up by a few years. With the help of homeowners insurance and some savings our “someday maybe” ideas about the kitchen became a reality much faster than anticipated. We have been living in a half-kitchen for quite a while but things are finally about to come together.

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Our kitchen the night before moving day. Complete with a sweet note from the previous owners about the memories they made here. 

The tile floors were the first thing I wanted out when we moved it. After getting a quote, we decided it could wait and I began researching ways to bleach the grout. When the flood happened and they had to rip all the tile out, I was thrilled. Then, when some of the cabinets had to go too it was just a bonus.

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In process of ripping ripping things up so they can dry. Notice we painted the walls grey instead of brown. a fresh coat of paint makes a huge difference!
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The very LOUD drying out process

It was like this for over 2 months without any progress on getting things back together. (I should write a whole post on working with home owners insurance). Our claim has finally been approved and things are moving forward! We have picked out flooring, cabinets, granite, molding, backsplash and are changing things a little bit. We originally just wanted white shaker modular cabinets to save on cost, but after getting a few bids, getting custom cabinets was only $200 more- so we went with that. I’ll post updates as things are installed over the net couple of weeks!