Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Review: Move Your Stuff, Change Your Life: How to Use Feng Shui to Get Love, Money, Respect, and Happiness

Move Your Stuff, Change Your Life: How to Use Feng Shui to Get Love, Money, Respect, and Happiness
Move Your Stuff, Change Your Life: How to Use Feng Shui to Get Love, Money, Respect, and Happiness by Karen Rauch Carter

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a great intro into Feng shui. Several years ago, I was really into reading about Feng shui, but had not really practiced it in a while. When I found this book at Half Price Books last week, I decided it might be time to revisit it.
If you're not familiar with the concept, Feng shui is all about placing things in your home with intention in order to have the best outcomes in your life in terms of money, love, fame, health, etc. it also teaches about creating space for energy to flow in and out of your life more easily.
It's a quick read and offers many solutions to whatever design problems your home may have. For instance, there are good and bad places for your toilet to be positioned in your home. Your bed should not face a door.
I also liked that the author invited readers to learn other practices of Feng shui besides her own, being open to different practices of Feng shui.
Overall, I found the book helpful and easy to read and was able to apply the tips to my own home easily.

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Friday, December 20, 2013

Review: Mad About the Boy

Mad About the Boy
Mad About the Boy by Helen Fielding

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

In some ways, I'm ready for Bridget Jones to grow up a bit. Even though she's middle-aged, I feel like she's got a lot to learn and maturing to do. I get that she is supposed to represent that part of us that sometimes just can't get our act together, but I had hoped she'd grown just bit from her earlier days. She also seems to end up with the men who make her most fell like a little child, so perhaps she has daddy issues?

Overall, I think it's hard to rate this book, as there is so much pressure to be the the first book we fell in love with. I'm not sure if I wasn't terribly crazy about this book because 1) it's not the first book 2) I'm not as young as I once was and therefore can't entirely identify with Bridget the way I could in my 20s or 3) it just wasn't as great as the earlier books.

All that to say, it's an easy read, that flies by, has some entertaining bits and can keep you occupied over the holiday. Just don't expect too much in the line of character growth, as I'm not sure that's where this character is headed.

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Saturday, December 14, 2013

Review: The Valley of Amazement

The Valley of Amazement
The Valley of Amazement by Amy Tan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As always, Amy Tan tells a great story that winds its way this way and that.

Again, she shows the complicated relationship between mothers and their daughters through the lens of American-Asian women. Regardless of coming from a different ethnic background, there are enough similarities between mothers and daughters to lend a familiarity among most women.

While I have seen this book being compared to Memoirs of a Geisha, that should not make you think that this story will unwind in the same ways. This novel has its own twists, turns and surprises.

Some of the themes around love and relationships with men are also interesting as the main character gets a taste of some of the best and worst relationships possible.

If you enjoy stories that are original, complicated, yet keep a thread winding the story along and character development, you'll enjoy this one.

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Thursday, September 12, 2013

Review: Coming Clean: A Memoir

Coming Clean: A Memoir
Coming Clean: A Memoir by Kimberly Rae Miller

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this book about the author's upbringing living with hoarder parents. I guess we all have things that our parents do that drive us crazy repeatedly, but in this case, she literally has to live with their filth ongoing. It was also interesting from the standpoint that I'm a mix of minimalism and cluttered, so I could understand where her dad was coming from in feeling somewhat soothed by having his information surrounding him. The difference is that I eventually have a point at which I cannot tolerate it any more and will completely clean everything and I cannot stand for shared spaces, such as the kitchen and living room to have clutter. It's also interesting to hear how someone can be frustrated and loving to their parents at the same time. Her parents seem to take their lifestyle just as a thing that's somehow happened to them and don't seem to notice they've created this lifestyle. In fact, it doesn't seem like the dad even realizes there's anything wrong with it. Regardless of whether you grew up in a spotless house like mine, or a completely messy house like the author's there are themes that will likely strike a chord with you.

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Saturday, September 7, 2013

Review: The Year of Magical Thinking

The Year of Magical Thinking
The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'm not sure why I've been reading books about death, but somehow I've been finding myself reading about 2 things: women who are left single while pregnant and those who are left single by their husband's death. I suppose this could show a fear of abandonment, but since I'm already single, it seems an odd trend to say the least. "The Year of Magical Thinking" is along the lines of widowhood, not pregnancy. It's about Joan Didion's year following her husband's death.

While I've never had anyone really close to me die, I can still understand some of the obsession she goes through in this process after losing someone. She begins methodically going over every last moment and every conversation looking for a way to change the reality that has already happened. If she could just understand how her husband died of a heart attack, perhaps she could prevent it-never mind the fact that it's already happened.

She also goes through the pain of trying to move on, but feeling guilty if she is enjoying herself. It's a natural feeling, and yet, does her not enjoying life bring her deceased husband any closer to feeling joy once again?

If you've ever wondered what it's like to lose someone after a long marriage, this is probably one of the few books that tries to show exactly the things being thought without trying to give a happy ending or a false sense of everything happens for the best. This isn't to say it's a depressing book-it wasn't. It was a fast read that gives a glimpse into the odd way we try to deal with death, even when we act like everything is as it always was.

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Monday, June 17, 2013

Review: The Happiness Project: Or Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun

The Happiness Project: Or Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun
The Happiness Project: Or Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun by Gretchen Rubin

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I had been wanting to read this book for a while, so when a friend of mine offered to lend it to me, I jumped at the chance. I was curious how it would go, since I've been reading Gretchen's blog for a few years and, while I love the idea of the blog, had never been as inspired as I thought I should be. The book was exactly the same. While it's inspirational in a way (I love the idea of becoming more "me" and doing things I like to do instead of things I think I should want to do), I also think that many of her ideas were fairly similar and the ideas weren't that far outside the box. It also really bothered me that she would not attempt meditation, even though people kept repeatedly telling her it was the No. 1 thing for them in being happy. Granted, I realize it's HER project and not mine, it just seems like she wasn't THAT willing to try new things in order to reach her goal. Many of the things she did was just increase something she already did, such as be more polite. I've hear her new book, "Happier at Home" got better ratings than the first, so I'm still undecided on whether to give it a chance. I'd love to hear if anyone did their own happiness project, especially if they went a little more "outside the box."

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Friday, June 7, 2013

Review: Before I Fall

Before I Fall
Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I'll be real honest. I bought this book because I read a tweet that was talking about how great it was. When I began to read, I wasn't so sure. The beginning felt very shallow, but over time I grew to like it (not love it, but like it).

This book, aimed at teens is the story of a girl who fell into popularity just before middle school and, while she wasn't a super-terrible person, she wasn't willing to step out of her box and be nice, or even pay attention to, people outside of her four-person popular group (except for her shallow boyfriend, who just wanted to get into her pants).

The story starts out with the main character, Sam, who dies in the first scene in a car wreck. But the weird thing is, she wakes up the next day only to find herself at the beginning of the day she relived before her death. Much like Ground Hog Day, her day keeps starting over, allowing Sam to try things a little different each time--sometimes for the better and sometimes for the best.

Will Sam ever become a better person and makes things right or will she spin out of control with the power she has at knowing she will likely just wake up again to relive the same day?

Overall, I liked the idea and think it was well-written. I just had a hard time liking some of the main characters very much, although the minor characters will pull at your heart strings as you see them suffering in the typical high school popular/unpopular scene.

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