Saturday, February 7, 2015

Review: The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake
The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this book. It had a nostalgic feel to it that draws you back into your childhood—not necessarily in a happy way, but a more real way.

The main character begins to taste the feelings of others in her food at age nine and quickly decides she does not enjoy that aspect of eating, leaving her to eat bland junk food devoid of feelings. This attachment to others' emotions seems to keep her stuck in a place during her childhood which stops her from being able to move on and tell herself apart from others.

She especially has an odd relationship with her mother, who adores her brother even though he seems to be emotionally closed off from everyone.

Eventually her brother disappears and her childhood crush moves away and she is finally able to start learning about herself and seeing her gift as something she can use instead of seeing it as a curse.

If you enjoy books where the characters take a long way toward freedom and self-actualization, this one is for you.

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Thursday, January 1, 2015

Review: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondō

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

As today is Jan. 1, this seems like a great time to review this book. I'm sure many, many people already have "get organized," and "simplify" on their list of resolutions for the New Year. If so, this book should definitely be on your list of books to read in 2015.

This book has been better for me than any other on decluttering so far. I think the reason is that I want someone to do the hard work for me, but it's NOT POSSIBLE! Kondo goes ahead and tells you—"Hey, I can't do this for you." But she does give a better solution. She has you work with your intuition by seeing how you feel when you pick up the item. I know. I know. Several of you think this is too new agey for you. And if you think that, then you're probably right. This book is probably not going to help you. But if you can put your pessimism aside and try it out, you might just find this is actually a great solution.

In addition to seeing how your objects makes you feel, the author gives great tips on storing your stuff away. Her way of folding is fantastic! It saves space and she is correct in that most of your shirts will remain unwrinkled somehow even though you are folding them more. It's like ... magic.

I know there are people who say, sure that works for people in Japan, but won't work in America and this is confusing. Do we think we are so special that we're just doomed to clutter? Again, if you think this, you're probably right. But why would you want to be right about this?

I've read the book through once quickly and been throwing stuff out along the way, but know I missed a lot, so I'm starting to rid it over again so I can't take the process more to heart and ensure I do a total restart. I can already tell that this is working better than other books, because a lot of times they would be very specific, which I thought would be good, but would ultimately derail me. They would go into details about basements and garages and kids' rooms—I have none of these. But they wouldn't go into pantry items, spices and hair care products—I have tons of these! So I would be frustrated and move some stuff around and maybe chunk some stuff but I still wouldn't feel done.

This method you use for every item until you're 100 percent done. Keep your fingers crossed that this will work for me and I'll send the same well wishes back.

Happy New Year and have a tidy year!

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Saturday, October 18, 2014

Review: Le Divorce

Le Divorce
Le Divorce by Diane Johnson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Le Divorce is interesting in that the cover (the cover shown here is not the one I had) looks like the book would be Chick Lit. It's not, though, which makes it interesting when you look up reviews. While it's good literature, those who may have picked it up for the cover may not have especially enjoyed it.

I found it to be refreshing. It covered quite a few different themes, such as navigating a divorce in France, the property rights of a painting, reasons for marriage and divorce, attraction to power, femininity and the battle of the sexes.

One of the quotes I especially liked was, "We wrongly tend to think old people depend on us."

When you're young, you assume the world revolves around you and other young people. As you grow older, you realize everything is actually quite the opposite and older people just let youth believe everything is all about them, so they can get on living.

So... about the book.

Isabel moves to Paris to help her sister Roxy during her pregnancy, since she just quit film school. Just before Isabel shows up, Roxy's husband leaves her and her daughter.

Roxy is distraught and fine with letting people believe he is just away on a trip, but as things move on, people begin to learn the truth and Roxy dives further and further into depression.

When Isabel arrives in Paris, she does not understand what it is about the French that Roxy loves so much, but the longer she is there, the more it grows on her, especially the food. When Isabel finds herself being drawn to a powerful older man, she contemplates what it means to be a mistress and eventually learns first hand.

This novel not only shows some of the differences between Americans and the French through an interesting storyline, but also explores how greed can work its way into the hearts of those that didn't think they were interested in money just by the mere possibility of it.

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Saturday, September 20, 2014

Review: Chocolat

Chocolat by Joanne Harris

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I truly enjoyed this book. I enjoy most books about food, but a book about chocolate can hardly be beat. After I finished reading the book, I watched the movie again to see if it was the same, as there were some things that didn't seem familiar to me, and, in fact, there are quite a few variations between the two. However, while the movie definitely strayed form some of the characters and details, the theme remained in tact. Both cover the theme of the righteous wanting to control life, while showing that that is neither possible nor the most loving thing to do.

Vianne, the main character, draws people in with her welcoming smile and her lovely chocolates. While the local priest sees this as evil, with her temptations, she is merely loving the people that come into her life the best she can. He on the other hand does not know what it means to love, only judge. Though the two are clearly set against one another, perhaps there's room for them both in this small French village.

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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Review: The Debutante

The Debutante
The Debutante by Kathleen Tessaro

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'm quickly becoming a fan of Kathleen Tessaro's work. I first picked up The Perfume Collector because it has a gorgeous cover of a mysterious woman wearing a red dress. After enjoying it, I went back to Half Price Books to see if there was anything else by the author and found this one. While I may not have enjoyed it quite as much as the first one (it's set in England rather than Paris), I still liked it a lot.

An auction house owner lets her niece come to live with her because she is in some sort of trouble and she gives her a job working with a longtime employee, who just happens to be handsome, though brooding.

The niece is nothing like the employee thought she would be and actually enjoys her company as they go to an estate to take inventory.

At the estate, the niece finds a hidden room with a hidden box that leads her down a road of mystery. As she finds out more clues to a famous debutante from the past, the woman realizes some of the mistakes of her past and has to make a decision on what to do about it.

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Sunday, March 30, 2014

Review: Thanks!: How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier

Thanks!: How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier
Thanks!: How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier by Robert A. Emmons

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book will not only give you the research behind gratitude and why living a grateful life leads to a longer, happier life, but will also teach ways to cultivate gratitude. If you've ever felt you should be more thankful, this book will tell you why you're right and what to do about it.

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Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Review: Nurturing Healing Love: A Mother�s Journey of Hope & Forgiveness

Nurturing Healing Love: A Mother�s Journey of Hope & Forgiveness
Nurturing Healing Love: A Mother�s Journey of Hope & Forgiveness by Scarlett Lewis

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book just takes a few hours to read and tells such an inspiring story about love and healing.

A mother, whose son died in the Sandy Hook tragedy, tells her story of grief and healing after such a tragic loss, while also telling a story of hope and sharing her son's message to others.

During the months following the tragedy a year from last December, the mother tries many healing mechanisms, from therapy to spiritual practices, and finds the ones that help her most.

While the story may sound sad, this book is not one of sadness, but of hope and healing.

The mom and the son that remains move toward hope through helping others and spreading the message of love around the world.

I would highly recommend it to anyone.

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