March 17, 2019

It’s OK That You’re Not OK: Meeting Grief and Loss in a Culture That Doesn't Understand by Megan Devine

When a painful loss or life-shattering event upends your world, here is the first thing to know: there is nothing wrong with grief. “Grief is simply love in its most wild and painful form,” says Megan Devine. “It is a natural and sane response to loss.” So why does our culture treat grief like a disease to be cured as quickly as possible?
In It’s OK That You’re Not OK, Devine offers a profound new approach to both the experience of grief and the way we try to help others who have endured tragedy. Having experienced grief from both sides—as both a therapist and as a woman who witnessed the accidental drowning of her beloved partner—Devine writes with deep insight about the unspoken truths of loss, love, and healing. She debunks the culturally prescribed goal of returning to a normal, “happy” life, replacing it with a far healthier middle path, one that invites us to build a life alongside grief rather than seeking to overcome it. In this compelling and heartful book, you’ll learn
• Why well-meaning advice, therapy, and spiritual wisdom so often end up making it harder for people in grief
• How challenging the myths of grief—doing away with stages, timetables, and unrealistic ideals about how grief should unfold—allows us to accept grief as a mystery to be honored instead of a problem to solve
• Practical guidance for managing stress, improving sleep, and decreasing anxiety without trying to “fix” your pain
• How to help the people you love—with essays to teach us the best skills, checklists, and suggestions for supporting and comforting others through the grieving process
Many people who have suffered a loss feel judged, dismissed, and misunderstood by a culture that wants to “solve” grief. Devine writes, “Grief no more needs a solution than love needs a solution.” Through stories, research, life tips, and creative and mindfulness-based practices, she offers a unique guide through an experience we all must face—in our personal lives, in the lives of those we love, and in the wider world.
It’s OK That You’re Not OK is a book for grieving people, those who love them, and all those seeking to love themselves—and each other—better.

Grief is such a monster. It treats everyone differently, hits at different times, and hurts in the worst way possible. You can’t predict how you’re going to feel day to day. Once you’re in grief, it never really goes away. You just find a way to life with it.

I honestly can’t say enough about this book. It came into my life exactly when I needed it, and I think I’ll probably end up reading it a few more times.

I would recommend it to anyone dealing with grief, anyone trying to comfort someone in grief, and everyone else. I think it provides info on a way to look at situations from a different viewpoint. Treat people with more empathy and care before you just don’t know what they’re going through.

This book is beautifully written and has plenty of the writer’s own experiences sprinkled throughout to show what has helped her and what was very unhelpful as she dealt with the loss of her husband.

If you’re looking for a book for yourself – pick this up. Give this book as a gift. Have this book available to anyone who needs it. It is important and it is validating.

5/5 Stars

Memorable Quotes: “If we commit to loving, we will inevitably know Loss and grief. If we try to avoid loss and grief, we will never truly know love.”

“There are losses that rearrange the world. Deaths that change the way you see everything, grief that tears everything down. Pain that transports you to an entirely different universe, even while everyone else thinks nothing has really changed.”

November 29, 2018

Lost Girls: An Unsolved American Mystery by Robert Kolker

Award-winning investigative reporter Robert Kolker delivers a humanizing account of the true-life search for a serial killer still at large on Long Island and presents the first detailed look at the shadow world of online escorts, where making a living is easier than ever, and the dangers remain all too real. A triumph of reporting, a riveting narrative, and "a lashing critique of how society and the police let five young women down" (Dwight Garner, The New York Times), Lost Girls is a portrait of unsolved murders in an idyllic part of America, of the underside of the Internet, and of the secrets we keep without admitting to ourselves that we keep them.

There is something about the writing style that bothered me. I kept trying to put my finger on it, but the best I can come up with is that it’s not very fluid. The short sentences make the reading very choppy. 

Jumping into true crime with I'll Be Gone in the Dark and The Stranger Beside Me may have been a bad idea. Those are very personal works, but this one is so distant. You don’t hear about Robert at all. Maybe that’s why the writing style wasn’t as intriguing to me too. I felt like I was reading a fifth party account of everything. Just a retelling - which all books are. . . They just don’t all FEEL that way. 

The writing in the second half of the book was better than the first, but there was something that just kept taking me out of it. It was easy to put it down after each chapter. At times, it even had me looking to see how many more pages were in the chapter. You never want that while reading. 

I was upset that I didn’t get sucked into the book. The case is really interesting and I was invested in the story, just not this telling of it. I stuck it out because I wanted to read it to completion, but it felt like a bit of a chore at times. 

Lost Girls does start important conversations about how sex workers are treated. From every day citizens to law enforcement. As he points out, it’s been a part of every culture since the beginning of time, so why does society still treat sex work as such a taboo subject and why does that profession lead to so much judgement? Sex workers need protections just like anyone else. I wish that was a commonly shared belief. 

2/5 Stars

November 22, 2018

Target: Alex Cross by James Patterson

A leader has fallen, and the procession route from Capitol Hill to the White House is lined with hundreds of thousands of mourners. None feel the loss of a President more keenly than Alex Cross, who has devoted his life to the public good. 
A sniper’s bullet strikes a target in the heart of DC. Alex Cross’s wife, Bree Stone, newly elevated chief of DC detectives, faces an ultimatum: solve the case, or lose the position for which she’s worked her entire career. The Secret Service and the FBI deploy as well in the race to find the shooter. Alex is tasked by the new President to take a personal role with the FBI, leading an investigation unprecedented in scale and scope. 
Alex has a horrible premonition: is the sniper’s strike only the beginning of a larger attack on the nation? It isn’t long before his fears explode into life, and the nation plunges into a full-blown Constitutional crisis. His ingenuity, his training, and his capacity for battle are tested beyond limits in the most far-reaching and urgently consequential case of his life. As the rule of law is shattered by chaos, and Alex fights to isolate a suspect, Alex’s loyalty may be the biggest danger of all.

First of all, is this book sponsored by Uber? I don’t think I’ve ever seen Uber mentioned that many times in. . . any sort of media ever. That was a strange detail that stuck out to me. 

Second of all, I can’t see this being all that realistic. That took me out of the book from time to time. It was very over the top. I will give it credit for being very action packed though. 

I thought I would like seeing Alex practicing more in his private practice, but I don’t think I do if we are going to have random therapy cases that only exist to add weird angles to his investigations. 

Well, that ending was certainly unexpected. I wrote the previous paragraph before I had finished the book. I guess this time, his client has a bigger role - but only if they follow up with the story in the next book. This one was certainly left on a cliffhanger. 

There was an upsetting lack of John Sampson. 

I have a lot of minor thought about this one. Nothing that really flows together. Overall, it was a solid Alex Cross book. None of them are entirely realistic, so it follows that trend. 

3/5 Stars

November 21, 2018

‘Salem’s Lot by Stephen King

'Salem's Lot is a small New England town with white clapboard houses, tree-lined streets, and solid church steeples. That summer in 'Salem's Lot was a summer of home-coming and return; spring burned out and the land lying dry, crackling underfoot. Late that summer, Ben Mears returned to 'Salem's Lot hoping to cast out his own devils... and found instead a new unspeakable horror.
A stranger had also come to the Lot, a stranger with a secret as old as evil, a secret that would wreak irreparable harm on those he touched and in turn on those they loved.
All would be changed forever—Susan, whose love for Ben could not protect her; Father Callahan, the bad priest who put his eroded faith to one last test; and Mark, a young boy who sees his fantasy world become reality and ironically proves the best equipped to handle the relentless nightmare of 'Salem's Lot.
It took me three tries, but I have finally finished ‘Salem’s Lot. There’s something about King’s writing where you have to be in a very specific mood to read his stuff. I’m not sure how to explain it, but I think anyone who reads his books will understand. 

In typical King fashion, there was jumping around from character to character, but it allowed for a depth to the character development and everyone got their own arcs. It took awhile for things to get going, but once they started it was full speed ahead. It went so quickly that I feel like some things may have been left out (somehow, with Mr. Descriptive). I can’t put my finger on exactly what that would be. 

With some of the deaths, it felt sort of like “oh, they’re dead now. Okay.” They just came out of nowhere with not much build up. It was interesting. 

Much like with IT, it took a turn that I wasn’t expecting. I don’t really know what I expected from ‘Salem’s Lot, but I didn’t expect it to be a book about Vampires. That was a bit of a shock to the system, as I don’t typically go for vampire novels. But the time we get to that reveal, it’s a bit too late to turn back. 

Overall – I enjoyed it. I don’t know if it liked it due to the quality of the book or just because it’s a King classic. Either way, if you’re in the mood for some Stephen King, I’d say it’s a good read with some likeable characters. 

3/5 Stars

Memorable Quote: “The town cares for the devil’s work no more than it cares for God’s or man’s. It knew darkness. And darkness was enough.”

“At three in the morning the blood runs slow and thick, and slumber is heavy. The soul either sleeps in blessed ignorance of such an hour or gazes about itself in utter despair.”

November 19, 2018

Faith, Hope and Justice: Saved by Grace and How God Led Me Through Hell by Marie Libellule

When a hard-working doctor dedicated to serving the poor is falsely accused of insurance fraud, she questions her faith, her life, and her vocation. But a series of unexpected messages from God, channeled through surprising messengers, changes everything - and leads her from the darkest despair into the light of vindication. A true story of faith, hope and justice, written by the woman who lived it.

I really didn’t expect to get drawn into the book the way that I did. Once I started it, I wasn’t able to put it down. I had to push through because I kept thinking WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?! JUST ONE MORE CHAPTER! Pretty soon it was 2:00 am and I only had one chapter left, so I just HAD to finish it that night.

The writing is really animated and puts you into the story. It’s not a super long book, but it’s very complete. It’s non-fiction, but it feels like a superhero book and gives you a whole new level of respect for doctors who really love what they do and respect their patients above all else.

Whether you like medical books or not, whether you are religious or not, whether you are into the medical field or not, I think this is a great book and highly recommend it as a quick afternoon read.

5/5 Stars

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November 14, 2018

Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis

Founder of the lifestyle website and CEO of her own media company, Chic Media, Rachel Hollis has created an online fan base of hundreds of thousands of fans by sharing tips for living a better life while fearlessly revealing the messiness of her own. Now comes her highly anticipated first book featuring her signature combination of honesty, humor, and direct, no-nonsense advice.
Each chapter of Girl, Wash Your Face begins with a specific lie Hollis once believed that left her feeling overwhelmed, unworthy, or ready to give up. As a working mother, a former foster parent, and a woman who has dealt with insecurities about her body and relationships, she speaks with the insight and kindness of a BFF, helping women unpack the limiting mind-sets that destroy their self-confidence and keep them from moving forward.
From her temporary obsession with marrying Matt Damon to a daydream involving hypnotic iguanas to her son's request that she buy a necklace to "be like the other moms," Hollis holds nothing back. With unflinching faith and tenacity, Hollis spurs other women to live with passion and hustle and to awaken their slumbering goals.

When I started this book, I didn’t realize how polarizing it was. A lot of people love it and a lot of people HATE IT.

Here’s what I take away from it – It’s not so much a self-help book as it is a motivational book. It’s more of a kick your ass into doing something rather than giving you tools on how to improve yourself. And that’s fine. That’s what this book is, don’t expect more than that.

If you’re religious, you’ll probably relate to it more than someone who isn’t. Rachel is a rather religious person, so she mentions it a lot. It never seemed preachy to me or pushy, so it wasn’t something that turned me off.

I’m not a huge fan of her writing style. I enjoy that it’s more conversational than it is dry and boring. But, being called “sister” way too many times certainly isn’t for me.

2/5 Stars. Overall, I don’t think it deserves ALL the hate it gets (some, yes), but it doesn’t deserve the absolute love it gets either. It’s just a book, and it wouldn’t be on my recommended list.

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