Transcription, Kate Atkinson

Kate Atkinson is one of those author’s that her book’s are an automatic “to read” on my list. Her novels, Life after Life, and God in Ruins, were amazing. So when Transcription came out, I immediately put it on hold at my library. My feelings about this novel are a little bit murky, but the reviews on it are INCREDIBLE. So, what do I know??

Transcription follows Juliet Armstrong, who at 18 years old has been recruited to join an espionage team in England for M15 in 1940. Just like her last two novels, Atkinson plays with time travel, and takes you to post-war (1950), and to her current life (1981). While Juliet is a naive, pathological liar, the M15 admires these qualities in someone… as long as they are good at it. And she was. When something tragic happens to her and her work mates, she finds herself in a state of paranoia and panic. And also questioning whose side her work mates are actually one.

First off, let me tell you what I did like. Kate Atkinson can dazzle a reader with her snarky one-liners, and her perfect placement of words. But, I found this book’s pace to be quite sketchy. For pages it was so moving, and I found my brain wandering as I read it. Then it would pick up at an incredible pace, and you were turning the pages so fast! As I sit here writing this, I think that possibly Atkinson used this as a tool. That being a spy would be much like this. From one moment you are just waiting for something to happen that is worthy of reporting, or reacting to. Then the moment it actually happens you have to react fast, and get moving.

I have listened to a couple podcasts in which Atkinson was being interviewed, and doing this was really eye opening. It made me appreciate the novel much more. She talks a lot about how the “Phony War”  played a part in her novel, in the sense that she wanted to create a foggy, secretive setting… just like the British were experiencing in 1940 as the War was also very unknown to them. They had no idea what they were to expect, and ultimately what was coming there way until the Battle of Dunkirk. The interview I enjoyed the most was The Guardian Book Podcast.

One last thing I will leave you with about this book, is a quick quote that really captures just how snarky, and smart her writing is. And of course, it’s quick little nod to Jane Eyre wins me over immediately.

Juliet felt slighted yet relieved. It was curious how you could hold two quite opposing feelings at the same time, an unsettling emotional discord. She felt an odd pang at the sight of him. She had been fond of him. She had been his girl. Reader, I didn’t marry him, she thought.

Until next time, happy reading!!

Advertisements

September: Continue to Learn

img_1335.jpg

Whoopsy… I dropped the ball on posting for my September Happiness Project. But here’s the thing I’ve realized, at this point in my project… I am tired! Summer has been busy for all of us, so in hopes of an organized September I had thought of all these different things months ago that I could accomplish for September.

Well… here’s the truth, I decided this month is truly just reflection. I had hoped to sign up for a course, or some lectures, and what I know right now what I need is a slow down. It’s time to journal, listen to some reflective podcasts, and truly just be.

This week I listened to an eye opening episode of Goop podcast, which was an interview with Gwyneth Paltrow and Oprah. At one point Gwyneth asked Oprah whether she was happy, and I’m paraphrasing, but what Oprah answered back was with that being happy isn’t a word she uses for herself. It’s temporary, but being present is a thing. It’s about not holding onto a something too tightly with your expectations. It’s about being you, and taking comparison out of your life and living YOUR best self. This episode was one big AHA moment for me, and exactly what I needed right now.

SO last but not least, what I’ve learned and continue to learn about myself is that it’s not always about being perfect. It’s about being balanced, and whole.

That’s all for today, and I will check back in with you in October 🙂

A Tribe Called Bliss, by Lori Harder

img_1029.jpg

I stumbled upon Lori Harder when a client had recommended her podcast called Earn your Happy. So, after some intense binge-listening, I heard she released a book based on how she reached her highest potential. I ran out to the only bookstore that had it and bought the last one… and happy danced upon holding it in my hands!!

A Tribe Called Bliss is based on Lori’s journey through dealing with anxiety, loneliness, and disconnection. She describes in detail on how she shed those unfulfilling friendships, and discovered her untapped potential. This book is truly a manual on how to create deeper connections with people, instead of burying deeper inside yourself. It’s also a manual on how to use specific tools that will help you become a better and more whole being.

At this point in my life, I feel like female friendships are interesting. I have some friends I’ve had for a super long time, and those relationships are the ones that feel authentic and always pick up where they leave off. It’s cool if we haven’t talked in a bit, and we always check in on each other, and reach out to each other. BUT, meeting new friends at this stage is such a hard ship to navigate. With a young family, time is limited… and sometimes you may click with someone who could potentially become a really good friend, but the time is so limited that there isn’t much time for it to flourish. Or sometimes these new friendships start off great, and then you start to realize that maybe you didn’t have as much in common as you thought you may have. Either way… it’s a weird thing to struggle with at this stage in my life… but in talking to other women after reading this book, there are a lot of people who feel the same way.

What I loved about this book was it made you really look inside of yourself, and figure out what exactly holds you back from connecting with other people, and most of all, yourself. I’m not really on the level to air all my dirty laundry on here, but I will say that there was one line that made me realize what does hold me back. Upon reading this line, I cried, and cried, and then I journaled.  Another thing resonated with me is that Lori talked about how often we cut people down because of our own insecurities. She talks about how malicious gossip is so hurtful, and there is a difference between that type of gossip, and the processing and venting that can be helpful. Lori shares quotes all through this book, and here’s one that made me go AHA, about gossip;

Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people. – Eleanor Roosevelt.

One last thing I will share with you that I took away from this book is that Lori Harder must be a huge bookworm, because she even references Anne Shirley. She talks about how she always believed there would be one friend who would be her “bosom buddy”, and that this belief had proven to be untrue. So, as you may guess, anyone who is an Anne fan already feels like a kindred spirit to me.

Anywho, that’s all on this one friends. I’ve been really trying to sprinkle in some more non-fiction, self-help, memoir genre books to give my reading life a little more variety. I hope you’ve enjoyed these reviews as much as I’ve enjoyed reading these books.

Up next, a fiction title that a client has lent me called The Rent Collector. I’m thoroughly enjoying this one, and it also has referenced some great books in it… that’s a win/win, friends!

You are a Badass, by Jen Sincero

IMG_0363

This book is definitely badass. I’m not one for the “self-help” genre, but every now and then I hear from multiple bookish people that a book is great and I finally cave. I have seen this splashy cover all over Instagram and actually thought there is no chance in hell I will read this book. It sounded cheesy and self-righteous. Like come on, “start living an awesome life”?!? Then I heard the girls on By the Book Podcast recapping their experience of living by this book for two weeks, and chatted with a friend in the same day about how awesome this book was… so I ran on over to Hunter Street Books to buy it.

You are a Badass is a book aimed at people who want to improve their lives. Jen Sincero is a success coach, and a writer, who has documented the process on how to start understanding yourself, and start kicking some ass!

If you want more time in your life, show time some respect.

This book has so much great information, but the main thing is… it’s all things that we know, but just aren’t putting to practice. Sincero gives some really honest, and great advice. The one thing that really rang loudly for me was changing my internal story. I’ve been juggling two jobs for awhile. One where I work at a clinic, another where I am self-employed and trying to build my own business. And in all honesty, I’m exhausted lately, and tired of saying how busy I am. Sincero had said to try changing your story to let’s just see… and maybe from there you can start giving it a shot. For a long time my internal story was I need to keep both jobs for security, because what if my business doesn’t work. Well, from now on I’m just gonna see if I can really make it work. I finished this book, and decided that I need to quit my one job, and really make space for my business to grow and flourish.

I have lived a long life, and had many troubles, most of which ever happened. – Mark Twain

Another thing that this book reminded me was that I’m the WORST procrastinator ever! I will literally put something off to the very last minute, then run around like crazy to get the job done. You are a Badass totally kicked me out of that procrastination habit… for awhile. Let’s see how long that lasts 🙂

Well… honestly I could go ON and ON about this book, and the lessons that it reminded me and taught me. I have dog-eared, and highlighted the shit out of this book, and I have also reflected back on it so many times already. It’s an easy-to-read, full of sarcasm, and completely inspiring book. I suggest it whole-heartedly, and am literally telling everyone I meet about it.

Anywho, until next time, happy reading!!

 

State of Wonder, by Ann Patchett

IMG_4391

I’m an Ann Patchett fan. I loved both of her novels, Bel Canto, and then I rushed out to read Commonwealth when it was released. Sadly, State of Wonder sat on my bookshelf for far too long before I finally read it. Here’s the real reason I finally picked it up… when I read Big Magic, by Elizabeth Gilbert, there was a fascinating chapter about an exchange that she and Ann had in which she believes that she transferred the idea of this novel to her. I thought it was fascinating, so I moved State of Wonder to my pile of books to be read ASAP.  One last thing, Ann Patchett believes in the power of a local bookstore. So much so that she opened up Parnassus Books in Nashville, click on over to hear her interview about why she did this!

Here’s a quick synopsis: Dr. Marina Singh is sent by her boss to the Amazon in an effort to determine two things: What happened to her colleague, who had died mysteriously there scant weeks ago, and what kind of progress was being made by her former mentor in the development of a new fertility drug that was being funded by her pharmaceutical company. Both of these tasks prove to be most complex and difficult to achieve. Her former mentor’s work is at the centre of her journey and involves a little known tribe of people whose fertility extends well into their seventies and proves to be as closely linked to their life’s rituals as the environment in which they live. As Marina spends more time in the Amazon, it seems she is learning some deep, dark secrets that could end up extending her visit!

Hope is a horrible thing, you know. I don’t know who decided to package hope as a virtue because it’s not. It’s a plague. Hope is like walking around with a fishhook in your mouth and somebody just keeps pulling it and pulling it.

State of Wonder is awesome. I was skeptical, because a guest on Anne Bogel’s podcast WSIRN had said she threw this book across the room because she hated the ending so much!! I, on the other hand, just felt like giving this book a really long hug after I read it. There were crazy scientists, an insane anaconda fight, and some risky love!! All of these things had me sitting on the edge of my seat while I read this book. But as exciting of a story it was, there were some big themes and beautiful writing!

Never be so focused on what you’re looking for that you overlook the thing you actually find.

If you haven’t read any Ann Patchett, I strongly encourage you to. She writes an effortless story that just makes a reader feel so satisfied at the end. Her novels are all really interesting concepts that make you go, “Huh, what would I do in this situation?”

That’s all friend, happy reading!!

 

 

Manhattan Beach, by Jennifer Egan

img_4252.jpg

Manhattan Beach is the awaited novel by Pulitzer Prize winner Jennifer Egan. A Visit from the Goon Squad was the book that won her the Pulitzer, and had fans chomping at the bit for this novel. I had heard some mixed reviews that this was quite the departure from her previous work. Some good, some meh… but in the course of a week I had a friend recommend this book to me, then listened to a great podcast episode deep diving it (no pun intended) on Literary Disco.

Here’s a quick synopsis: Meet Anna Kerrigan. A plucky, adventurous girl who accompanies her father to the house of a man who ends up being crucial to her family’s life. Anna observes this man’s (Dexter Styles) lavish lifestyle, and wonders what role he plays in his father’s life. Year’s later, WWII is in full effect, and her father went to work one day and never returned. Anna’s job becomes the sole income for her mother and handicapped sister. Here she has become the first female diver, as they are in need of people… before the war this would not have happened. She repairs ships by diving and welding underwater to send them off to war. Then on a night out on the town, Anna is reacquainted with the gangster Dexter Styles, and is attracted to him with magnetic force that will forever change each of their lives.

How do you know a gangster?” “Usually, the room goes a little quiet when he walks in.”

The setting of this book was just glorious! Based in New York WWII, you felt the war looming in the background and you see how much the women were effected by the war and how much more independence they gained during this time period out of pure coincidence.

Egan’s ability to time hop throughout the chapters at first seemed confusing, but in hindsight I think that she did this a tool for the reader to feel what Anna was feeling about her life and family. She was confused about the mystery of her father’s disappearance, and what her future would hold. The descriptions of Anna’s underwater escapades were incredible. You could almost hear  the sound of the waves, and then the quiet of the underwater as she submerged in her diving suit.

He sealed her faceplate, a cool chemical hiss of air filled Anna’s mouth and nostrils. She descended the ladder backward, then held the descending line and let the harbour swallow her. The current was tremendous, a pull with the force of the ocean behind it.

I had thoughts that this book would be a typical historical fiction story… and it was, but Egan’s writing just felt like so much more. It felt like a story full of symbolism and feeling. I’d be interested to hear what your thoughts are on this one, as I said earlier some people weren’t overly impressed by it, but I thoroughly enjoyed it!

Anywho, friends, that’s all for now!

Happy reading!

The Four Tendencies, by Gretchen Rubin

img_4018.jpg

If you have seen My Happiness Project, or my review on Gretchen Rubin’s book The Happiness Project, you will probably see how much I admire her work. She takes practical small tasks, and shows you how to use them to transform into big results. BUT I will say that The Four Tendencies wasn’t my favourite of hers. This book just seemed like it was a repeat Better than Before…. which happened to be a book that I found really useful. Here’s a quick synopsis:

Gretchen Rubin believes that there are two types of people this world… one that divide the world into categories, and the other who do not. She is a categorizer, and believes that there are 4 different types of people: the Upholder, the Questioner, the Obliger, and the Rebel. This book is basically a road map for how to handle your own personality, the people around you, and how it can affect you in different areas in your life.

If personality books interest you, pop over to Gretchen Rubin’s quiz to see what category you are. I am an Upholder… and that comes as no surprise to me. I fit into this category so easily… one thing that really confirmed it was that I constantly hear people say “How do you have time to do what you do?” and my answer is always… “I make it”. And that is one thing that the Upholder will always do, find a way to make it work, or give it up. It’s really fun to see what category you fit into, and she gives great advice on how to motivate yourself, and deal with other types of people. You should definitely check the quiz out!

I think this book would be a great addition to a library of someone who works in the public sector. Being an RMT I find it hard sometimes to motivate different types of people to do homecare, but reading this book helps you understand just exactly what motivates some people and how you can use that to get them doing their tasks. I also think this book was a great realization of how and why your brain functions the way it does, and that it’s okay for you to be the way you are!

Anywho, that’s all about this one. Like I said not my favourite, but still very insightful. So now head on over to do her quiz, and in the comments tell me what category you fit into!

Until next time, happy reading!