Book Review: Girl, Stop Apologizing by Rachel Hollis

If you have a goal, a mind-blowing dream, and haven’t done anything about it yet…

Get. This. Book.

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image courtesy: goodreads.com

I heard the audio book during my daily commute and I literally felt like Ms. Hollis wrote this book for me. Maybe not the entire book, but definitely the chapter on “Not Having Enough Time” in the excuses section of the book.

Ms. Hollis is straightforward and bold as she encourages women from all walks of life to finally get themselves into action and make, yes MAKE, their dreams come true.

She addresses excuses we all use to avoid tackling on a project head-on. And, chances are, there is at least one excuse which resonates so deeply with you, Ms. Hollis will unpack and dismantle it in minutes.

The audio book is rich with examples from her personal story of success and she keeps each point relevant to the pressures women face in modern-day society.

A print copy of the book would be useful if like me, you love to underline, note-take or highlight sections to remember. However, if you’re also like me and have your day pretty much planned out between work and family, the audio book delivers her message rather effectively during your commute.

I highly recommend this book for anyone who feels stuck or is unsure of where she’ll find the drive to truly go after her goals. Ms. Hollis will fire you up and get you going! (I hope).

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Review: The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson

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I’ve read quite a bit about self-help, self-improvement, finding your true self, healing yourself etc. In fact, I didn’t realize how much until reading this book.

Chapters 1-4 had me smiling. The simplicity of the writing combined with the stark, honest tone offers a refreshing take on a theme so many people claim to be experts on. At no point does Manson claim expertise in any of the areas he highlights which is a nice way of interacting with his reader because the decision is always left in the reader’s hands.

The honesty is a no-holds barred delivery of the mistakes he has made in his own life – and this continues throughout the book. I had two reactions to this approach.

I felt that it worked well because he intermingles all of the stories of his own pitfalls with the stories of other rather well-known personalities, plenty of solid research and a really sound basis for his views on modern living and how it should be approached in order to live a balanced lifestyle.

By the end of the book, however, I felt like I had just read Manson’s personal journey of self-discovery rather than be allowed to use his advice to have one of my own. This isn’t necessarily a knock on the book. It was just how I reacted.

The not give a f*ck attitude of the book is really strong in the opening chapters. The swearing is abundant; however, it does taper off. The edge of his attitude isn’t quite so sharp in the second half of the book. And, it begins to read a little like a traditional self-improvement book, with a few f*cks thrown in so one doesn’t forget the spicy title.

Overall, I found Manson’s book entertaining and an easy read. His anecdotes and stories were very interesting and painted a great picture for the points he wished to drive home.

I do feel he has much to offer people in terms of finding a less stressful way to live life. He is an advocate for gratitude, for making conscious choices, for learning to fail and learning to say no. His writing style is fun, lively and he really is a great storyteller, using that skill to reel us in for the real purpose of his chapters: to show a better way to approach modern living.

If you’re looking for a book to inspire a little change in your life, to spark you to live your life a little differently, this just might be the book to do that.

Have you read Manson’s book? Would love to hear your reactions!

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#amreading The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck

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The title. Obviously.

My first thought: the title is a gimmick to sell self-help in an inundated market. My second thought: yeah, I’ll buy it.

I’m at the point in my life where I really don’t give a f*ck what people think most of the time…so, I’m hoping this book will enlighten the way to feel like this all of the time.

I’m also hoping this book will be as honest and practical as its title suggests.

Looking forward to some great nuggets to use on this journey of growth and search for equanimity I seem to have unwittingly embarked upon.

Seems like a short straight-forward read…can’t wait to share my thoughts on this one.

Have you read it? Would you recommend it?

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Bookish Thursdays: A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

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from goodreads

Summary from deborahharkness.com:  When historian Diana Bishop opens a bewitched alchemical manuscript in Oxford’s Bodleian Library it represents an unwelcome intrusion of magic into her carefully ordinary life. Though descended from a long line of witches, she is determined to remain untouched by her family’s legacy. She banishes the manuscript to the stacks, but Diana finds it impossible to hold the world of magic at bay any longer. For witches are not the only otherworldly creatures living alongside humans. There are also creative, destructive daemons and long-lived vampires who become interested in the witch’s discovery. They believe that the manuscript contains important clues about the past and the future, and want to know how Diana Bishop has been able to get her hands on the elusive volume. Chief among the creatures who gather around Diana is vampire Matthew Clairmont, a geneticist with a passion for Darwin. Together, Diana and Matthew embark on a journey to understand the manuscript’s secrets. But the relationship that develops between the ages-old vampire and the spellbound witch threatens to unravel the fragile peace that has long existed between creatures and humans—and will certainly transform Diana’s world as well.

This book is long. As much as I would’ve loved to make it a marathon and just read into the wee hours of the night, my lifestyle (ha! what lifestyle? I’m on maternity leave)…anyway, it wasn’t possible.

So each time I opened the book, I allowed myself to just enjoy the writing and let Deborah Harkness spin her tale and wrap me in it. 

I loved the mix of historical fiction/fantasy. Harkness’ background as a scholar really comes through in her writing. It is thorough, and my guess would be in the historical fiction part of it, accurate – and if not, it felt accurate. Which in a work of fiction is probably more important.

Each character is flawlessly created and distinct. I really felt that I was shown the layers that make up each character – no matter how minor and I loved that! It is a rich, rich story that truly offers readers the chance to get lost in a story.

So, it wasn’t until I finished the novel and shook my head a little, that I realized that there were a few things that bothered me. I found Diana very immature. Her reluctance to accept her legacy was thoroughly annoying. I mean she has all this power – just learn how to use it already! And, why is it that an intelligent female character always has to be low-maintenance? Maybe it’s the Latina in me but women can take care of themselves, appreciate their own beauty and be intelligent. Don’t know why it bothered me so much…perhaps since the narrator always makes sure to tell us what she’s wearing and it’s usually not all that appealing…

I also thought Matthew was a little too controlling. And his pet name for Diana “ma lionne” was too much…sure she survived being tortured by a fellow witch, but other than that I wouldn’t call this character brave…at least not yet.

My annoyances with the characters were minor and didn’t really affect my overall opinion of the book. I liked A Discovery of Witches. I enjoyed the slightly different portrayal of vampires and witches. The writing and character development were superb. And, I loved the way Harkness weaved history and major historical events into the plot and the lives of the characters. It was fun to see the love story between Matthew and Diana develop thought at times it was a bit juvenile (I fell in love with you before you fell in love with me). The narrator treated the reader with maturity so it was easy to overlook instances like those. A Discovery of Witches was a little dense at times, but I think it worked.

I will definitely be reading book two of the All Souls Trilogy, Shadow of Night.

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Bookish Thursdays: Drums of Autumn by Diana Gabaldon

Summary from GoodreadsIn this breathtaking novel—rich in history and adventure—The New York Times bestselling author Diana Gabaldon continues the story of Claire Randall and Jamie Fraser that began with the now-classic novel Outlander and continued in Dragonfly in Amber and Voyager. Once again spanning continents and centuries, Diana Gabaldon has created a work of sheer passion and brilliance…. It began at an ancient Scottish stone circle. There, a doorway, open to a select few, leads into the past—or the grave. Dr. Claire Randall survived the extraordinary passage, not once but twice. Her first trip swept her into the arms of Jamie Fraser, an eighteenth-century Scot whose love for her became a legend—a tale of tragic passion that ended with her return to the present to bear his child. Her second journey, two decades later, brought them together again in the American colonies. But Claire had left someone behind in the twentieth century—their daughter, Brianna…. Now Brianna has made a disturbing discovery that sends her to the circle of stones and a terrifying leap into the unknown. In search of her mother and the father she has never met, she is risking her own future to try to change history … and to save their lives. But as Brianna plunges into an uncharted wilderness, a heartbreaking encounter may strand her forever in the past … or root her in the place she should be, where her heart and soul belong….

I loved Drums of Autumn. Almost as much as I loved Outlander. Almost. Even though I didn’t love Voyager, I read Drums of Autumn because it was there and I felt compelled to keep reading Claire and Jamie’s story. I’m glad I did. Drums of Autumn restored my faith in the series and I am now quickly moving through The Fiery Cross.

Once again, Gabaldon delivers a strong novel about love, relationships and family.

This time the Frasers are in America – the new world. And what a fierce world it is. Claire and Jamie battle the political landscape, wilderness, poverty, and the knowledge that war will once again find them with ferocious courage and determination to make a good life for themselves.

Any romantic notions about time travel are quickly dissolved in this novel. Gabaldon paints a picture of a very hard life. The struggle to survive is the focus of each day. The constant preparation for long winters is exhausting. I wouldn’t last a month.

I loved Brianna’s journey in this book – both literal and metaphorical – and absolutely loved when she finally finds her parents and meets Jamie. The adventures in this book are vast and full of unexpected turns. My mouth fell wide open with shock at certain points and I just could not put the book down.

I thought Gabaldon did a nice job of developing Jamie and Brianna’s father/daughter relationship.  They disagree on most things; their views on life and gender are completely alien to one another due to being from wildly different centuries. Yet, the love they have for each other helps them to bridge the abyss no matter how unforgivable their actions may seem.

This book highlights new characters and conflicts that Jamie and Claire bravely face together. It also manages to maintain the deep love and romance between Jamie and Claire without being redundant or overly dramatic. I really loved the growth in Brianna’s character as well.

Drums of Autum was so much fun read. It was entertaining and had just enough romance, intrigue, violence and adventure to leave one fully satisfied and ready to read the next installment upon closing the book.

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