Category Archives: books

What I’m Reading!

It’s been a while since I updated this.  Lisa reads a lot of books and her latest post reminded me LOL. My challenge is to read 30 books this year and I am 2 behind schedule right now. It’s busy around here as usual and I have 4 shows coming up in the next 6 weeks for my soaps, which means probably burning the midnight oil with my job and all that.  At least being busy keeps me out of trouble!

Here are the finished ones:


kafka

The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka.

This is a strange little book. It’s a metaphor, really, but still strange. It begins with the main character, Gregor, waking up in the form of a giant insect, but not understanding what happened to himself.  It’s never explained in the book how this came to be or even what kind of bug he is. It just details this part of Gregor’s life after the metamorphosis and how his family deals with what happened to him and what they should do with him.  Kafka never explained the meaning of this story, but it seems to say a lot about how we treat people when they cannot function for themselves anymore.


absolutist

The Absolutist by John Boyne

This book was really not what I was expecting at all, but it was a good book. It takes place after WWI in 1919 and begins when a young soldier, Tristan, returns letters to Marian, who is the sister of Tristan’s fellow soldier, Will. Returning these letters are really an excuse for him to come clean about the truth what happened during the war and the circumstances surrounding Will’s death.  The book is written in flashback leading up to the present moment and definitely has a big suprise in the end.  The title refers to conscientious objectors to the war and where do you draw the line of right and wrong in a war.  It’s a sad book, but good.


flowers

The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh.

I picked this book because the subject was the meaning of flowers and how flowers could be used to convey messages. Victoria is an 18-year-old girl who was just released from being a ward of the state. She had a troubled past in foster care and now has found a job working in a florist shop designing flower arrangements that hold meaning. Victoria’s past keeps her from being able to develop relationships with people and her past comes back into her life.

The story was interesting, but I could not get past the fact that Victoria is just not very likeable. She is very selfish and has anger issues. It made the story hard to swallow because why is everyone so nice to someone who isn’t very nice back?  So, I’m kind of middling about this book.

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girlwaits

Girl Waits with Gun by Amy Stewart. Book 1

This book was fun. I didn’t realize is was actually based on the real life of Constance Kopp, who was the first woman deputy in the US in the early 1900s.  Constance was considered a spinster and a very tall and imposing woman.  When she and her sisters are involved in a carriage accident, Constance tries to get restitution from the man at fault, who turns out to be a very powerful businessman in the community. He begins to harrass Constance and her family, but Constance won’t give in and works with the local sheriff to try to bring the men to justice.

I love how strong Constance is and there are some real surprises in the book. I think I will read some of the others to see what else Constance got up to in her life!


nighting

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

The Nightingale has “movie” written all over it. I would be really surprised if this isn’t made into one.  It takes place during WWII in France. Again, I pick another story from this time period!

This is the story of two sisters, Vianne and Isabelle. When the Germans invade Paris, Isabelle joins the resistance and Vianne remains to rebel in her own way. Each woman has to face dire situations, Isabelle always at risk of being caught and Vianne having a German general billeted in her house.  The book really describes the hardships of an occupied country and what people went through and how they survived.

I really enjoyed this book. It was well written, although a little cliched at times.

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I have been having trouble getting into a new book and  I will toss them before I get too far in, which is one of the reasons I am behind schedule.  My Kindle is full of some classics, so I think I am going to just read some of those.

I was asked how I choose my books to read. What I do is peruse my library’s online book selections and then I read reviews on Goodreads to see if it would be interesting to me. Goodreads is much better for honest reviews than Amazon, in my opinion.

What I’m Reading

Not much exciting over the weekend and I didn’t take too many pictures.  We got caught up with a lot of things, including doing some work on my parent’s bathroom.  I love home improvement stuff. It’s really satisfying, even when it isn’t my own house! 😀

Anyway, I realized I hadn’t updated my reading list in a while. In my goal to complete 30 books in 2016, I have finished 17, which is about 2 books behind schedule. It’s summer and I spend a lot of time outside, so less time reading.  I imagine when we fly to Ireland, I will churn out 2 or 3 books on the plane flights!

bgarden

The Butterfly Garden by Dot Hutchison

This is a book that tells the story of young women who were kept captive in an indoor garden. The Gardener (as he was called) tattooed each young woman with butterfly wings on her back and each one was killed on her 21st birthday to preserve her young beauty.  The story begins with the escape of the girls and the narrative is told through the eyes of Maya. What seems cut and dried on the surface is actually a story with a lot of twist and turns.

Overall this was a decent book. I struggled a tiny bit with the premise because with a dozen girls in the garden, you think they could just overpower the Gardener and that would be that. A little hard to swallow that plot point. Other than that, the story had some interesting twists in it at the end, which seemed just a little rushed.


wintermen

Winter Men by Jesper Bugge Kold

I got this as a Kindle First book, part of being a Prime member. This book is a translation and I think it was done really well. Sometimes translated books come across as a little stilted or forced, but this one was well done.  The story follows the path of two brothers and how they ended up unwillingly becoming part of Hitler’s SS.  It was a very different perspective for me to have the story told from the German point of view. The war touched everyone and they all handled it in a different way. The brothers step by step gradually became part of the machine and their reasoning and justification was an intriguing read. It’s really difficult to feel any sympathy for either brother, but it’s never really black and white anyway.

The book really is graphic about the front lines of WWII and you really feel the harsh reality of what a country goes through being invaded and how soldiers are treated.  Not the easiest read, but quite good.


museum

The Museum of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman

This was the first I have read by Alice Hoffman. I might look up some of her other books. I think there was some wish to compare it to Night Circus, but it’s really a different book all together, and much better.

The story takes place in New York City at the turn of the 20th century, so of course you know I liked that. Much of it is set in Coney Island. Coralie is a girl born with webbed fingers. Her father runs a museum of side shows acts, I guess you would say, and Coralie was used as a mermaid, complete with tank and costume to complete the deal. Her father was a brutal man with all of his employees and basically kept Coralie prisoner until she started to sneak out at night.  As the story progressed, her father became more and more desperate as a new show called Dreamland (an actual real life attraction) was to open and would cause the end of his museum.

Eddie is the other character. He is a Jewish man who left the faith and began a life not quite of crime, but definitely dealing in the unsavory part of New York. Eddies finds people and things and he is asked to find a missing young woman. This is where his and Coralie’s stories intertwine in a murder mystery.

I really liked the atmosphere of this book. It definitely takes you back in time. The only thing I didn’t care for was the narrative switching through multiple perspectives by the same characters, which was a little jarring.  There also was a *lot* going on in this book. Lots of sub stories and plots that mostly intertwined, but some were left hanging. A quick and interesting read, though.


wateredge

At The Water’s Edge by Sara Gruen

I was pretty excited to read this book. Sara Gruen wrote Water For Elephants, which I loved.  This story is set in the 1940s. To avoid scandal in Philadelphia, Maddie, her husband and a friend left the country to hide out in Scotland, despite a war being on.  Maddie’s husband and his friend decided to look for the Loch Ness Monster (or fake the monster) as a way to redeem themselves and be able to go back to Philadelphia.

Maddie is left alone much of the time and really begins to understand her privilege and learns empathy for others, particularly during war time. It’s the story of her personal development from a shallow socialite into a deeper, better person. She also realizes how horrible and manipulative her husband really is.  Left alone at the inn they are staying at, Maddie falls in love with the innkeeper, which obviously causes a lot of trouble.  In many ways, this story is like WFE with the woman married to a horrible man and the outside male trying to protect her. So, maybe nothing new, but I really liked this book.  Definitely recommend it.

What I’m reading

I haven’t updated my book goal on the year for a while. I’m getting through some books! I am on schedule to hit 30 this year (my goal).

When I last left off, I was just getting into To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

mock

Is there anyone who hasn’t read this? I actually hadn’t. Not sure why it wasn’t on a required reading list. Anyway, for those that haven’t, this is the story of young Scout and her older brother Jem and basically how they learn about the harsh realities of the world after a a black man is put on trial (wrongly) for sexually assaulting a white woman. Their father is the defendant’s attorney and it divides a town. It was made into a movie starring Gregory Peck, and while I have seen snippets of that on TCM from time to time, I have never seen the whole thing. I need to do that.


After that book and the previous couple of books, I needed something that wasn’t so depressing.  Enter The Anatomist’s Apprentice by Tessa Harris.

apprentice

Okay, that doesn’t sound so uplifting and it was a bit grisly at times. This is the first in a series of detective novels. The apprentice is American Dr. Thomas Silkstone, who really is not much of an apprentice as the next great anatomist in 18th century England. In this book, he gets involved trying to solve the murder of Lady Lydia Farrell’s brother, which is blamed on her husband. Is he or isn’t he the real killer? Dr. Silkstone is a pioneer in forensics and uses what he knows of anatomy and the study of death to try to solve the murder, along with falling for Lady Lydia. This was a good book, breezy reading and I will probably read some of the other books in the series.


Then I decided to read something everyone else has read. Outlander by Dianna Gabaldon.

outland

This is the story of Claire Randall, a nurse from 1954 who accidentally finds a portal in Scotland that whisks her back in time 200 years. There she meets Jamie and they fall in love and traipse through Scotland going through battles and the like. The premise sounded really interesting and it was at first.  However, I will just say that I didn’t like this book. It was tooooo long and the constant English/Scottish skirmishes were getting boring. Then don’t get me started on the love story. It was fine at first, but when it went down the road of spousal abuse and the heroine being okay with that – game over. I don’t care if people defend it as ‘that’s how it was back then’ – I feel like Claire really wouldn’t be okay with it. She is a fairly strong character and it just didn’t make sense.  Anyway, I slogged my way through the book and I will not be reading any of the others in the series.   Sorry to those that loved this — I don’t get it.


The Bookman’s Tale by Charlie Lovett

bookman

In the same vein as The Club Dumas (only without the devil), this is an antiquarian book mystery. It’s the story of Peter Byerly, a new widower, who finds  a watercolor drawing of a Victorian woman who is the spitting image of his dead wife while perusing old books. He then goes on a search to find out more about the artist and gets mixed up in an old family feud about the origins of a newly discovered Shakespeare work after being hired to confirm its authenticity.  The story of current day is intertwined with the story of how he met and married Amanda – then how these stories intersect.  It was a good book, although a bit simplistic in the characters at times. It certainly was a fast read and you can tell the author has a love of old books.


Just finished was The Templeton Monsters by Lauren Groff.

templton

This is the story of Willie, the descendent of the founders of the town of Templeton (pretty much Cooperstown, NY renamed). She comes home pregnant and disgraced after an affair with her archeology professor. At the same time, the monster of Lake Glimmerglass dies and comes floating to the surface confirming rumors. Willie is informed by her mother that her father (previously unknown to her) was actually a man in Templeton, but won’t say who. Willie uses her research skills to dig through her family history to find any ties as to who her father is, all the while trying to come to terms with her friend’s illness, her pregnancy, and reconnecting with high school friends.  The story wanders into a strange area of ghosts and paranormal activity, which I didn’t really like. The monster was fine and an interesting side story, but the ghost stuff? I don’t believe in ghosts and the one in this story was a little too deus ex machina. I also didn’t care for Willie that much. It’s hard to read if you don’t like the main character when I think we are supposed to.  She was spoiled and had rage issues. The other thing was that the main plot was Willie discovering who her father was and by the end of the book, I didn’t even care. I do like how the author created little charts and put in doctored photos to make it seem like a real historical novel.  I sort of waffle between liking the book or not, but it would be worth a summer read.

Now to find the next book!

What I’m Reading

It’s been a little slower on the reading front. Getting all that painting done and and such. I’ve been really tired at night for reading, but I did manage to finish a few:


 

An Absent Mind by Eric Rill

mind

This is a short book. It is a story of a family going through the patriarch having Alzheimer’s disease from diagnosis until the end. It is told from 5 points of view in various chapters: Saul, the father with Alzheimer’s, his wife Monique, daughter Francine, son Joey and Saul’s doctor.  Each person tells their version of what happens and what really stuck out to me is how the other family members would perceive something that was not what the other person felt at all. There was not much communication between them until it was too late.  The author was drawing on personal experience of one of his parents having Alzheimer’s and it’s really a look into how a family tries to function in the face of a terrible disease. 


 

The Dead Letter by Seeley Regester

dl

This was an interesting little book. I picked it up because it was the first mystery novel written by an American author in the Victorian Era.  It involves a murder – and what mystery doesn’t??  The story was fairly straight forward in knowing really near the beginning who did it, but the mystery comes in how to prove it.  Now this book was written around 1870, so there were no phones or fingerprint technology or television or any fast way of getting information from person to person. Crimes must have been so hard to solve back then!  The story centers around Richard Redfield, a young man who was an apprentice with a lawyer. The lawyer’s daughter was engaged to be married and her fiance was murdered one night for unknown reasons. Suspicion starts to fall on Richard and he works with a famous detective to try to prove who the real killer was. 


 

A Farewell To Arms by Ernest Hemingway

arms

A classic. There are so many classic books that I never read in high school or college, so I try to fit those in my reading lists each month. I got on the Hemingway trail from reading The Paris Wife, reviewed here. That made me want to read The Sun Also Rises, which I reviewed here. Then I decided to read his pinnacle novel, A Farewell To Arms. It’s very autobiographical (as was TSAR). Hemingway served as an ambulance driver in WWI and was injured. Same goes for the main character, Frederick. He is an American who joins the Italian army for reasons which are never really made clear. He meets a nurse named Catherine and they fall in love during his convalescence.  Then they try to figure out how to create a life away from the war, which means Frederick must desert the army. The story is anti-war in a lot of ways, although I don’t think that was the main intent of the novel. The book certainly does a good job of describing what war was like in the trenches and describing the Italian countryside. That was what I liked about the book. I have to say, like with Sun, I didn’t care for the characters themselves. Frederick was selfish and Catherine was weak, clingy and emotionally unstable. It’s funny, I found the female characters in both of Hemingway’s novels to have the same qualities to them. Maybe this is why he was married multiple times in real life? I get the feeling he didn’t really understand women all that well. I know that Farewell to Arms is supposed to be his greatest novel, but I actually liked The Sun Also Rises better.  I think the next one of his I will venture to will be The Old Man and the Sea.


 

Anyway, these books were actually a little depressing to read all in a row!  Currently in my reader is To Kill A Mockingbird. 

What I’m Reading

Book update! I have a goal of 30 books this year. These are the ones I’ve completed so far.

The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George

paris

The premise of this book is unique. Jean Perdu is a bookseller who owns a floating bookstore in Paris. It is called the Literary Apothecary and he ‘treats’ his customers with prescriptions of books based on their troubles.  He has spent 20 years doing this, hiding from his own grief over a lost lost and finding an unread letter by her when she left him. This letter sends him on sort of a reawakening of his feelings by sailing his book barge down the Seine and meeting many different people on the way to answer the letter.  There are a lot of great quoteable moments in the book. I loved how the book started, but I did start to skim a little about 3/4 of the way through because it started to seem repetitive, but the book was satisfying in the end. It was really about the complex relationships between people and learning to let yourself feel emotions.


 

The Garden of Evening Mists – Tan Twan Eng

gardenmist

The basis of this book is about gardening, so of course you know I was all over that.  The story takes place in 1949 Malaya. The main character, Yun Ling, is a retired judge who was held in a Japanese prisoner camp  as a young girl along with her sister. She was the only survivor from the camp and wanted to build a garden in her sister’s honor. She became the apprentice of a Japanese master gardener, Arimoto. Fast forward to 1949 after her judge career prosecuting Japanese war criminals and she has returned to the master’s gardens after learning she is ill. Then she writes her memories down and we learn what happened in the camp and how she survived and what secrets it held. This was definitely a good book. Yun Lin is full of anger and a lot of the book is her coming to terms with this.  This was a good book. Hard to read at times, but the writing was really beautiful. I loved the imagery the author created.


 

The Club Dumas – Arturo Perez-Revert

dumas

When I started reading this book, I didn’t realize that it was the basis for the movie The Ninth Gate with Johnny Depp, which we had seen. The interesting thing is that the movie focused on the smaller story in the book. The book was much more interesting than the movie.  If you love old books and book history, this has all of that. Lucas Corso is sort of a mercenary who deals in antique books and authenticating them. He is drawn into finding and matching copies of an ancient book and its possible connection with an unknown manuscript by Alexandre Dumas, while at the same time scenes play out that mirror The Three Musketeers with a lot of intrigue and all that. It’s quite the mystery with a lot of red herrings in there and the ending is somewhat different than the movie, and I’ll just leave that there.

 


 

Circling the Sun by Paula McClain

circling

I was waiting and waiting for this book to become available at the library. It’s the second book by McClain, the first being The Paris Wife, which I enjoyed very much. This time she writes about the early life of Beryl Markham. Beryl was a woman way ahead of her time. She was English born, but raised by her father in Africa and spent most of her life there. She became the first woman to hold a training license for race horses and the first woman pilot to cross the Atlantic. The book covers the time from her early childhood through the 1930s or so. It was a very engaging book, although I think the problem lies in that Beryl herself wrote her own autobiography called West with the Night, which is highly praised as fantastic writing (and on my wait list). So, this book is a fictionalized telling of the same story, but with more focus on the relationship she had with Denis Hatton.  In my mind, Beryl didn’t seem the sort to be mooning over a man. She was much more forward and independent. Her life was marked with a lot of scandal because she did what she wanted. I admire a really strong woman who will buck convention. This was a good read, especially if you don’t know anything about Beryl Markham.

 

**Disclaimer, Amazon links are my affiliate links.

What I’m reading

Here are a few other books that I finished recently. I was reading a little more a couple months ago, but I’ve just been so tired at night lately that I haven’t wanted to read as per usual. I’ve just wanted to shut my mind off. I know everyone else gets like that on occasion.  The good thing about borrowing books from the library on my Kindle is that they are due in 2 weeks rather than the 4 if I had a hard copy of the book. That pushes me to read them a little faster.

sar

 

The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway

After I read the book The Paris Wife, it made me want to read the actual book that Hemingway wrote during this time period. It’s funny how the characters in the semi-biographical book morphed into the actual writings. Anyway, the book itself. I can see why people like Hemingway’s style of writing. Sentences are crisp and not overdone. They get to the point and it reads quite fast. I had a little trouble when there was a lot of dialogue because Hemingway didn’t use any Joe said or Frank said or whatever to distinguish who is talking. So, at times I had trouble figuring out which character was speaking.

As for the story itself, it follows a group what would seem to be 20 somethings in Paris in the 1920s (there’s that decade again!!). It is post WWI and all of the characters were affected at some point by the war. The story is told through the eyes of Jake and follows him and his friends through a ton of drinking and trying to find happiness in their lives, all culminating with a group trip to Pamplona to watch bull fighting (which Hemingway loved in real life). It seems the big themes of the novel were wanting what you couldn’t have, loneliness and drinking. Lots of drinking. I actually didn’t like any of the characters except for Jake. The others were pretty unlikable. I am interested in some other of Hemingway’s books.Probably this winter I will read another one.


 

 

bees

 

 

The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd

I think this was made into a movie, right? Nothing like being late to the party on popular stuff. Anyway, I had no idea of what this book was about. It’s the story of 14-year old Lily and her housekeeper/surrogate mother Rosaleen. Lily’s mother was killed when she was just 4 years old and Lily was raised by her abusive father in a racially charged town in South Carolina. After Rosaleen was jailed for getting in an argument with some white men, Lily broke her out and they ran away to a city that was on the back of one of her mother’s pictures. There they met a trio of bee keeping sisters and Lily learns a lot more than she bargained for about her family. The book has a strong mother theme and uses the bees to help symbolize family and what it takes to keep a hive going.  It was a good book and read really easily. I found the dialogue to be heavy handed and cliche at times, which took away from the story. I did like how the women were all strong characters, too, each in their own way.


martian

The Martian by Andy Weir

Yep, the popular movie! I had put myself on the wait list for this book months ago and it finally came about a month ago.  For those that haven’t read it or seen the movie, it’s the story of Mark Watney, who gets left behind on Mars when his crew members thought he was dead. It’s the story of his fight for survival and resourcefulness to live to be rescued.

I have to say, I really wanted to like this book more than I did given how hugely popular it is. It was engaging at first, but then I started to get bored with all of the technical details of how Watney jury rigged everything to make what he wanted and it always worked. It seemed every other chapter was “I’m going to try something super dangerous. It could be my last day” Well, at halfway through the book, I doubt that. 🙄  I also found his character to not have a ton of depth. There was very little emotion in his diary writings save for jokes and an occasional thought about his coworkers or parents. He was quite flip most of the time. He never seemed to really break down and talk about the people in his life or anything. I get why this book is popular. It read like a movie.

Does anyone else see the similarity in the covers between the Hemingway and Weir books? Interesting.

What are you reading?

What I’m Reading

I have finished a few books out of my Kindle that I thought I would share.  These were finished over the last couple of months with the exception of Ticker, which I finished a long time ago, but never did a review on.

pwife

The Paris Wife by Paula McClain

A lot had been written about Ernest Hemingway’s wives and Hadley Richardson is often referred to as the Paris Wife because the majority of their married life was spent in Paris in the 1920s.  I think that does disservice to Hadley. She obviously held a special place in Hemingway’s heart. His autobiography A Moveable Feast was sort of an homage to Hadley and their time together in Paris. Anyway, The Paris Wife is told in Hadley’s voice and was put together through letters and correspondence and interviews.  Of course, the ending is not a surprise, but I think that this really is an interesting look into Hadley’s mind of what it was like to be involved in the life of someone as volatile as Hemingway, particularly as it was on the cusp of his success. I definitely recommend this book.


handmaid

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

This book has an interesting format. It is told solely through the viewpoint of the handmaid Ofglen, so you can only discern what is happening by her reactions to what is going on around her.

It takes place in a dystopian society where a strict religious leadership takes over the United States (or at least part of it). The story is told from the point of view of a handmaid, who basically has one purpose in life, which is to provide a child to a prominent childless family in a time when nuclear and past chemical use had left a lot of sterility or the possibility of genetic defects. She is basically a prisoner and she describes what life is like for her and women in general under this regime. It seems like the time period would be about now or may in the early 2000s.  It actually makes you think about if it could be possible for something like this to happen and you realize that it really is not that far fetched.  Scary, in fact.

Note – if you read the ereader version, make sure you read to the end of the book. There was the usual blurb after you finish telling you to tweet/FB that you finished. Then *after* that was an epilogue to the book. So don’t miss that. 


 

ticker

Ticker by Lisa Mantchev

This was a bit of steampunk fluff, so if you like that, you may like this book. This seems like a YA book. Steampunk books are set in the victorian time period with machinery and gadgets inspired by steam powered engines. Really they are fantasy/science fiction and fun.  Anyway, Ticker is about Penny Farthing, who is a girl with a mechanical heart that was made for her by a scientist who started going crazy. Her heart is nearing the end of its useful life and Penny and her friends get involved in trying to locate the scientist and rescue her parents from a kidnapping.  It’s easy to read and while clunky in spots and heavy handed with dialogue, it’s a breezy read.


 

serena

Serena by Ron Rash.

I seem to have a thing for the 1920s lately in decor, books, and other things (Downton Abbey).  This book is set in 1929 in rural North Carolina. It is the story of a husband and wife team of ruthless timber barons.  It’s fiction, but there is a lot of historical detail in this book and the author does a great job with the atmosphere.  While both Serena and her husband George are both rather unlikeable in the way they are willing to dispose of workers and basically ruin the land, Serena is particularly cold-hearted, pretty much a sociopath, really.  She is willing to do whatever it takes and permanently remove anyone who stands in her way, including the woman who has George’s illegitimate son. The writing is very good and the book moves along at a good pace. In fact, I had some of that “5 more minutes” at bedtime which ended up being 45 minutes. 😀  It’s definitely a dark book, but worth reading. Apparently the movie made from it was terrible, so just read the book.

 

I find it interesting that my latest books involved strong female protagonists. Just coincidence, but interesting nonetheless.

Currently in my Kindle is Hemingway’s “The Sun Also Rises”.  Reading The Paris Wife made me want to check out his books.  It’s been easy to fall into so far and I do see why he is so revered as an author.

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Book Review: The Diet Fix

This review is long overdue. I actually was trying to get it done yesterday, but all the thinking I have to do when writing a review was hurting my head, so I switched over to the settee update (more fun, although messier) and figured I would talk about it today. Then I read a post by Debby referencing this very book!

Anyway – I found that amusing, which proves it doesn’t take much.  🙄 

Here is the book.

yonifreed
The Diet Fix: Why Diets Fail and How to Make Yours Work (amazon affiliate link)

I have followed Dr. Yoni Freedhoff’s blog, Weighty Matters, for quite a while.  I have even quoted it on the blog a few times because he just makes a lot of sense.  So, when he came out with a book, I was quite intrigued to read it. In fact, I actually bought a copy instead of waiting for it to come to my local library.

I have to say that he should have named the book differently. It makes it sound like it is a diet book in the traditional sense, which it is not. However, I suppose a book entitled “The every day things you can do to lose weight slowly and sensibly and live happily” wouldn’t really sell, right?

The Diet Fix has 3 parts to it. The first part talks about the issues with diets and why they fail. He often states the term traumatic dieter for people who have dieted on and off for most of their lives (which is a lot of us).  He points out many of the reasons people are unable to succeed with certain types of diets or mindsets about diets and how we tend to turn these things into self degradation.

The second part is implementing a 10 step reset plan to help you succeed. He says 10 steps in 10 days, but really some steps you can take a long time to get down. Not a lot of information is new information to serial dieters, but it is presented in a cohesive way with some additions that make sense.  Seems like I keep saying this makes sense, doesn’t it? Guess that is the theme here.  Things like a food diary (but without judgement), planning meals and snacks with protein to head hunger off before it comes on, how to handle social situations, exercise, etc.

The last section of the book goes into more detail about nutrition and how to to change your mindset about food and exercise (and other people who might sabatoge you), medical conditions and medications that can affect your weight, and a bonus section of recipes from Dr. Freedhoff’s wife.

My biggest personal takeaways from this book were:

1. Incorporate a morning snack. This is something that I always felt I shouldn’t need since I eat a bigger breakfast and should be able to last until lunch. Well, that isn’t always the case and I could be ravenous a couple hours after breakfast. Instead of fighting that, I have decided to make my breakfast just a bit smaller and have a timed mid morning snack (about 150 calories) that includes protein.

2. I think more than anything else this book is about behavior. Not really so much what you are eating, although that is important. It’s setting yourself up for success with a series of tools no matter what eating plan you want to follow.

3.  The biggest and most important thing? Your best weight may not be what everyone else tells you it should be. Your best weight is whatever weight you reach while you are living the healthiest life you can actually enjoy. Suffering should not ever be a part of a diet.

So in a nutshell, I did like this book. I think it has a lot to offer, really especially if you have been a lifelong dieter and have the suffering mentality and beating yourself up. 

What I’m Reading!

Time for another book update.  I read 3 books in the last month. I have now reached my goal of 30 books for 2013.  I am not going to change the goal for more. I will just see where I end up at and use that for myself for 2014.

A note on how I choose my books. I don’t buy books very often. I just can’t afford to buy as many as I read! I don’t get to the actual library as much now, but I can browse the library online and check out Kindle books. I just see what books are available and if one sounds interesting, I check out the reviews on Goodreads.  That’s done me pretty well as far as avoiding most stinkers. For my free Kindle book a month (with Prime), I read the Amazon reviews, but they are not quite as unbiased because they sell the books and some of the reviews can be suspect. I will also check out any book on the Amazon list in Goodreads.

On to this month’s books!

darkmonk

The Dark Monk by Oliver Potzsch.

I had high hopes for this book. I really enjoyed the first book of the Hangman’s Daughter series.  I love historical fiction, but this book was lacking some things.  Like the first book, it involves the hangman, his daughter Magdalena and her boyfriend Simon, the son of the town physician, trying to solve a murder.  The problem is that you find out who the murderer is very close to the beginning and the rest of the book is just kind of figuring out the motive and learning about the Knights of Templar.  So, it was a little disappointing in that regard.  The characters also became a bit repetitive with the same dialogue and situations (i.e., the hangman is shunned in the community, yet everyone seeks him out privately).  I had read this was a problem with the 2nd book and the series picks up again better in the 3rd book, so we shall see. Borrowed the Kindle Lending Library.

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orange

Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman

 This book follows Piper Kerman’s 13 month prison sentence spent in 3 different facilities. She spent the majority of time in Danbury and it was interesting to read about how prison relationships, routines and rituals form. It also makes you wonder what purpose prison serves for nonviolent offenders, which is what most women are in for.

Ms. Kerman was very lucky in that she had an extensive support network on the outside and a good life ready to accept her back, which is not what most of her fellow inmates would experience. She also pointed out how guards and other prison official would make note of how different she was from other inmates and that she shouldn’t be there. She seemed to keep pointing this out and it started to come across as her being better than everyone else.

This book is good to read in order to understand exactly how nonviolent offenders are punished and how there really is no idea of rehabilitation, but just marking time to get out.  I think this book certainly opens a dialogue about prison reform and who really should be going there.  Borrowed from my library via Kindle.

There is now a cable show based on her book, which I found out after climbing out from under that rock.

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cblood

In Cold Blood – Truman Capote.

John had just finished this and told me I should read it, so I did.  One of the few time I actually did something he told me to. :mrgreen:  I don’t really know what to say about this book. It’s disturbing, depressing and just really good. Of course, you do go into the book knowing that it is about the murder of the Cutter family and the 2 persons responsible, but it is amazing how Capote is still able to build a lot of suspense and anticipation. This book really  was the first of the true crime genre and very well written. I didn’t really feel much sympathy for the 2 men, although I did feel kind of sorry for them in that I don’t feel they received a fair trial and you really realize how mentally ill they both were.  Highly recommended.  Borrowed from my library via Kindle.

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Seems like a dark month of reading now that I look back at it LOL!

And can’t leave without the pink picture of the day!  This is the new cover for my phone!

pink

The Breast Cancer Site

 

What I am reading!

More reading! I’ve been very busy and I wasn’t thinking I would get much read this last month.  But, something that helped my reading this month? Flying to Vegas! 😀  With a 5 hour flight each way, I knocked out a book for each trip.

 

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The Good Thief by Hannah Tinti

This book started out with a lot of promise. Ren is an orphan with a missing hand who is adopted out of a monastery by someone claiming to be his brother. He ends up in the land of grifters in New England.  Aot of the book is spent with all the schemes that Ren’s ‘brother’ and his con artist friend think up.  It’s also a story of a big mismatched family that forms from all of these people.  Coincidentally, he ends up landing in the perfect spot to find out about his real family and how he lost his hand.

I actually really enjoyed this book until about 3/4 of the way through and the plot started to become a little unbelievable, especially what comes to light about Ren’s real past.  Ren was a very well developed character, but the others were a little predictable.  I would recommend borrowing this and not purchasing. Borrowed from the library on my kindle.

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secretrace

The Secret Race by Tyler Hamilton.

Wow.  This book was really, really good.  We all know about doping in pro cycling, but the extent of the doping throughout the years and the lengths that they went to in order to cover it up is amazing.  It’s a very honest book.  The pressure put on the athletes is amazing.  Tyler doesn’t really try to put himself in a good light. He basically states that while doping is bad, not all people who dope are bad.  He talked about his decision to start doping and what the alternatives were for him. Even if you don’t follow cycling, this is just a well done book about how the culture of something can get out of control.  Not to mention a lot of details about Lance Armstrong as Tyler Hamilton was on the Postal team for several of the years that Lance won the  Tour.  I really do recommend this book.  Borrowed from the library on my kindle.

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Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt

This was quite a good book.  A very emotional book.  It is a story set in the 1980s during the first real awareness of the AIDs epidemic.  It’s the story of  teenage June and her sister Greta and how they deal with the death of their uncle Finn from AIDS, who was also a famous artist.  June becomes unlikely friends with Toby, Finn’s partner, in secret and the book is an unfolding of this.  The book deals with a lot of emotional issues like sibling relationships (both as children and adults), dealing with illness, death and grief, family secrets, etc.   This is definitely worthwhile to pick up.  Borrowed from my library via kindle.