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review 2016-06-09 22:30
Sometimes You Need To Wreck To Find Order, Within Yourself.
Wreck and Order: A Novel - Hannah Tennant-Moore

This is one of those books where on the surface it appears that nothing is happening, but then you look just below the surface a bit and boom, it's all right there.


This is not a neat and tidy narrative, which I really appreciated. Elsie (the narrator) is not simple.  She has a chronic inability to square the kind of life she imagines for herself with the kinds of thoughts and desires that inhabit her constantly zooming mind, which means that inner peace is elusive at best. I can totally relate. My mind is like this as well. This year I've really had to slow down and do a ton of inner work on myself in hopes of rising from the mud of my past like a lotus flower.


My favorite parts of the story was Elsie's journey through Sri Lanka. The way the passages were written made me feel like I was right there beside her. No small writing feat.


In the end, Elsie comes to a magnificent conclusion, that "everyday smallness" is something to be truly grateful for. 


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review 2016-06-08 17:16
Lovely, Strong, And Thoroughly Interesting Cast Of Female Characters
All of Us and Everything: A Novel - Bridget Asher

This was my first book by Bridget Asher I have ever read, but it won't be my last. Let me explain.


The writing was funny, heartfelt, and just plain lovely. I mean we all come from interesting beginnings, don't we? Asher's lens is wonderful. She created some very interesting characters in the Rockwell Sisters: Esme, Liv, and Ru, and their mother Augusta, was wonderfully fascinating as well.


I also enjoyed the themes Asher explores: of deep familial ties and how they can sometimes bind and gag us, until we are willing to peel back the layers and explore the (dis)connections, reconcile, and forgive ourselves and each other, so that deep, meaningful, and extraordinary changes can take place inside ourselves and within each other.


This has also been the theme of my year, on a personal level, so I could really relate to this book. It made me laugh out loud, cry, and go deep inside myself to heal those old wounds that I don't want to fester and carry around with me any more, on all levels of being, especially at the emotional level.


I recommend this book for book clubs, and if you enjoy the writing styles of Nick Hornby and Kevin Wilson.



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review 2016-04-18 22:59
Worth Reading
Jane Austen Ruined My Life - Beth Pattillo

After walking in to find her husband and her teaching assistant having sex on the dining room table, Emma's well-ordered life falls apart, along with her university career specializing in the literary works of Jane Austen.


Since it was Austen's novels that made Emma believe in happy endings in the first place, she heads to England with plans to discredit the long dead author, whom she now feels was no real authority on love and relationships.


However, what Emma discovers in her literary research is that Austen experienced her own disappointments in life and love due to the choices she made. The more Emma learns, the more she evaluates her own life choices, her relationships with others, and the paths she ignored or did not take.


Her journey to England is one of self discovery that gives her a new respect for Austen, as well as a fledgling sense of self worth and the confidence to explore new found possibilities in love and her career.


I really liked Emma and Mrs. Parrot the most in this one. I also enjoyed the literary journey through England, as well as, the mystery of both Jane Austen's life and Emma's unraveling of her core beliefs throughout the narrative. I thought these things were presented in an organic, believable way throughout the text.


I feel that most Austen fans would enjoy this fictional re-imagining, where some poetic licenses were taken, but the basic facts of Austen's life, are true.



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review 2016-04-13 14:19
A Good Book For Discussion
Whistling Past the Graveyard Target Club Pick - Susan Crandall

If you enjoyed any of the following titles, then I think you will enjoy this book:


*Secret Life of Bees

*Saving CeeCee Honeycutt

*The Help


The story itself was multi-layered, and I read it for a book club discussion, which was indeed lively and interesting. One of the more interesting ones we've had in a while.


I really enjoyed Starla Claudelle. She defied the odds, to have the gifts we have hidden inside, revealed.


All in all, a fast paced read with interesting characters, that produced a lively book discussion amongst all participants.


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review 2016-04-05 22:18
Big Magic: Helped Me To Make Peace With My Creativity
Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear - Elizabeth Gilbert

Big Magic is a self-supporting book regarding creativity, and is aimed at writers and artists, but it's also, for anyone who wants to inject some creative magic into their every day lives. The questions Gilbert proposes are simple ones: What are you curious about? And what would you keep doing, even if you knew you would fail? 


Gilbert’s approach to creativity is sometimes a bit mystical, but it’s also deeply democratic, even tilting towards radical. In some parts I rolled my eyes, but then there were other parts that had me fist pumping in solidarity. I can imagine my Literary Criticism and Writing Professors turning absolutely green at some of Gilbert’s ideas. “Are you one of those people who believe that the arts are the most serious and important thing in the world?” she asks about 100 pages in. “If so, my friend, then you and I must part ways right here.” She thinks creativity can be meaningful, sure, but she wants you to get off your high horse about it, and not quit your day job.


More importantly, she rejects the idea of certain people being geniuses, instead she claims that everyone has a genius that comes and goes, and it's our job to work humbly, without ever expecting it to arrive, yet at the same time, to but be ready for when it does; as it's very often without pomp and circumstance.


So, for instance, you might be gardening and you'll get an idea about a flower, so you do some research on said flower, and then that research will lead you to another clue, and then another clue will follow that. Gilbert proposes that it's our job to follow that chain of intrigue to see where it will lead. Hint: It's often not where you'd expect, so just go with it.


“I cannot even be bothered to think about the difference between high art and low art. I will fall asleep with my face in the dinner plate if someone starts discoursing to me about the academic distinction between true mastery and mere craft,” she writes. “I don’t ever want to confidently announce that this person is destined to become a great artist while that person should give it up.” In other words, Gilbert believes every single person has innate creative ability; it’s our job to tap into it, if we so wish.


Furthermore, Gilbert suggests that we should stop searching for the idea no one else has had. Gilbert thinks people are way too obsessed with “original” ideas, and would do better to find more "authentic" ones, instead.


In conclusion, this book helped me to make peace with my own creativity on a lot of different levels, and for that I am grateful. Since reading this book, I have taken concrete steps to shift my own inner dialogue, and it has had a lot of positive changes in all aspects of my life. 



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