A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L’Engle

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It was a dark and stormy night. 

This is  the opening line to A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L’Engle, a book that is hailed to be one of the greatest books of all time… and soon to be on the big screen! I’m embarrassed to say that this was the first time I read A Wrinkle in Time. Can you believe I had only just heard about this book from Madeleine over at Top Shelf Text? She had hosted a Read-A-Long in preparation for the movie. So naturally, I jumped on board for the reading fun. If you want in on some of the conversation on this one check out her most recent Instagram post.

Here’s a quick synopsis: On this dark and stormy night, Meg Murry, her brother Charles Wallace wake up in the middle of the night. They decide to make a sandwich and a hot cocoa, when a stranger visitor appears at their door. This strange visitor, their friend Calvin, and the two siblings embark on a dangerous and wild journey to share the Murry children’s father.

There is a couple things you should know about this book before you decide whether or not you should read it:

  • It’s prolific, and I am possibly the only person who has never read it.
  • It falls in the Fantasy and Science Fiction genre.
  • It is an appropriate book for all ages of readers.
  • It’s the first part of L’Engle’s classic Time Quintet.

This book was pretty good. I think the themes are big, and there is a lot of content here for what could make an amazing movie… but I also felt like I couldn’t completely get into the story. I think it’s important to point out that maybe it was just my frame of mind going into the book. The thing that I really loved about this book were the quotes from famous works of literature, and also L’Engle’s writing was supreme.

Life, with its rules, its obligations, and its freedoms, is like a sonnet: You’re given the form, but you have to write the sonnet yourself.

So friends, that’s all I have to say about this one, but I am DYING to hear what your thoughts are on this book… I’m still pretty unsettled about it. And truth be told, it’s been a week since I finished it!!

Until next time, happy reading!

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Brooklyn, by Colm Tòibìn

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I recently read Brooklyn, by Colm Tóibín, with a friend in a mini version of a bookclub. It was such a beautiful book, with vivid descriptions, and it’s intoxicating characters. The best thing that I have started doing lately is NOT reading the back of a book before I begin to read it. I had no idea where this book would take me, and it really allowed me to enjoy the experience. Tóibín’s writing has you instantly hooked, and it was the kind of book that you just had to bring everywhere with you in case you had time to squeeze in one extra page.

This is the first post I am going to give spoilers, and I am doing so for two reasons. First being that I felt really strongly about the ending, and secondly because there is a movie based on this book that was released awhile ago, I feel like most people have either watched the movie or already read the book. I will warn you before I start spilling all the tea though, I promise! I hope that this will prompt you to go pick up this beautiful book, and fall as deeply in love with it’s characters as I did.

She was nobody here. It was not just that she had no friends and family; it was rather that she was a ghost in this room, in the streets on the way to work, on the shop floor. Nothing meant anything.

Beyond me thinking this book is incredible, it is the winner of the Costa Book Award, and was also shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, and as previously said it was also made into a movie. This book is centred around Eilis Lacey, a young woman who grew up in 1950’s Ireland. When Eilis’ sister has set her up to be sponsored by an Irish Priest in America, she decides to go. She leaves behind her frail mother, her sister whom she is quite close with, and her brothers who she misses dearly. When she arrives in Brooklyn and gets comfortable in a rooming house with a bunch of other young woman her age, she finds herself working at a local department store. She is vulnerable, lonely, and has had her eyes opened to a whole new world on the other side of ocean when she meets Tony. As Eilis and Tony begin to fall deeper in love, Eilis gets some news in which she must go back home to Ireland for. It is here where she has to decide the path her life will now go.

She has gone back to Brooklyn, her mother would say. And, as the train rolled past Macmire Bridge on its way towards Wexford, Eilis imagined the years already when these words would come to mean less and less to the man who heard them and would come to mean more and more to herself. She almost smiled at the thought of it, then closed her eyes and tried to imagine nothing more.

SPOILER WARNING: The way this book ended was not my favourite! When Eilis returns home, she finds herself falling I love with Jim Farrell. Whom she found insufferably stuck up before she left, but is now charmed by him. You can tell the difference between these two loves instantly. I felt like she fell for Tony because she was lonely and needed to feel a sense of home. But with Jim, she had the kind of love that she wanted to stay up late talking to squeeze in every minute with him. I was so disappointed with her choice of going back to Brooklyn to be with Tony… even though it was a good enough love, she could have had the type of love that swept her off her feet. In saying all this, I think that Tóibín used the time period so well. I think that Eilis realistically didn’t have a choice, as divorce was rarely an option, and her pride would have been compromised significantly.

That’s all for today from me… Until next time, happy reading!

Everything I Never Told You

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Everything I Never Told You, by Celeste Ng, was my in real life Book Club’s next book. I was super excited when I heard this as I loved Ng’s second novel, Little Fires Everywhere, and had been wanting to read this one for awhile.

Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet.

 Lydia is the favorite child of Marilyn and James Lee, a Chinese American family, living in rural Ohio in the 1970’s. Her parents are bound and determined that Lydia will live the dreams that they never pursued. All this changes when Lydia’s body is found in the local lake, and the Lee family starts to fall apart. In this falling there are family secrets, and resentment seething out of each of the family members.

The things that go unsaid are often the things that eat at you–whether because you didn’t get to have your say, or because the other person never got to hear you and really wanted to.

This is a story of grief, family struggles, and love. This subtle, suspenseful story  had me flipping the 292 pages so fast that I couldn’t stop. I read this book in two days, and would highly recommend it. Ng has captured the ability to build tension in a story at a comfortable enough pace that you want to read every word, but also need to know what is going to happen in the end. She also was able to have the reader feel so much empathy for each character, and the difficulties they were having. She moved from one character’s train of thought to the next so flawlessly that you can’t help but admire her prose. I found it hard to believe that this is her first novel!

You loved so hard and hoped so much and then you ended up with nothing. Children who no longer needed you. A husband who no longer wanted you. Nothing left but you, alone, and empty space.

This novel was very layered. Obviously the story line of figuring out how Lydia was killed… but even more so you were sucked into the struggle of motherhood, and the complexity of a bi-racial family. In this time period (1970’s), bi-racial couples were not common, but also rarely accepted. Ng was able to tell the struggles that went on within their family, and the marriage.

This was a fantastic book for out book club to dig into. We had tons of conversations about the relationships within the novel, and there were definitely different points of view brought up. I love it when a book can dig up some deep feelings within a reader.

Until next time, happy reading!!

 

The Four Tendencies, by Gretchen Rubin

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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!

The Alice Network, by Kate Quinn

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Ohhhh this book!!! I admit, I avoided reading this book because the hype around it was EVERYWHERE. I usually don’t like to jump on board with the hottest, newest book… but I just kept on hearing how great this book was. So off to the library I went to put it on hold, and low and behold… this book was incredible! I’m going to share with you a list of reasons why I loved The Alice Network:

  • Full of strong women who make a difference.
  • References to poetry (Baudelaire mostly) and music (Edith Piaf).
  • A history lesson.
  • A little romance!

What a treasure it is to read a fast-paced, well told story, and learn about this time in history. If books like this one weren’t ever written, I wouldn’t have heard of these female spies of WW1, and how they helped change the path of the War, and saved so many lives.

This book fits into the historical fictional category, and comes in at almost 500 pages. I’m going to give you the synopsis from GoodReads, because I could go on and on… Two women—a female spy recruited to the real-life Alice Network in France during World War I and an unconventional American socialite searching for her cousin in 1947—are brought together in a mesmerizing story of courage and redemption.

This. Book. Is. Great!!!! Just read it, please!! You will fall in love with one of the main characters, Eve. She is a kickass spy from WW1, who is at first very abrasive and rough… then as more of her story pours out you see how much depth she has, and the incredible experiences she has been through.

I will not tell you one single solitary fact about my work, my friends, or the woman I was arrested with. But I will tell you this, Rene Bordelon. You’re a gullible fool. You’re a terribly lover. And I hate Baudelaire.

The fact this this fictional story is based on real people, and their real experiences is fascinating. Kate Quinn has done something that is so unique by creating a story full of historic facts. She’s given us all the chance to learn more about these women, this time period, and for that I am grateful. The women in the Alice Network were incredible, and their stories need to be heard. Do me a favour… and read the Author’s Note at the end of this book. Then flip through all the books that Kate Quinn used for research. I love when an Author’s Note elevates the experience of a book, and that’s exactly what this does.

So I guess my lesson of the day is, just read the damn book if everyone says it’s great… because it probably is. Until next, happy reading friends!

 

 

 

 

 

February: Time for Love

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February marks month 2 of My Happiness Project, and the focus this month is “Time for Love”. When I initially mapped out this project “Time for Love” meant working my relationship with my hubby… well, the plan has shifted a bit to include myself in this plan too.

My husband and I have had a stressful first month of the year, with some personal things popping up, as well as him going back to school while working full-time…  let’s just say that we have had to work as a team more than ever. And I think we have been an amazing team, and am really happy with how we have been coping with these stressors… but as much as it’s fun working as a team to get through the day, I don’t want us to forget about being a couple. So below I’ve listed a couple of goals to work on:

  • Go on a date. This sounds easy. I know couples who do monthly, or even weekly date nights… we are not this couple. Although we really enjoy date nights when we do them, it’s just hard to get a babysitter, line it up with out schedules, and get out the door. So this month, we are going on a date! Stay tuned for the update 🙂
  • Timing. You know that feeling when you have something important to talk about with your significant other, and you just want to get it over with… It’s the end of a long day for both of you, and you decide to just get the conversation over with. This is something I do all the time… but this month I’m going to work on picking the right time to have these important discussions, or decisions. Because just picking the right timing for an important chat can completely change the way it goes.
  • Saying Thank You. It’s really easy for me to take for granted the fact that my hubby just does all the things he does. I appreciate it all, from plowing snow, to bathing the kids, to bedtime stories… so I am going to make a better effort at telling him how thankful I am and how much I appreciate the things he does.
  • Self-love. Like I said earlier, it’s been a bit of stressful month. And I think like any parent, I have a hard time taking time for just me. But this month I’m going to force myself to get more comfortable with it. Once a week I am going to make sure I have some “me-time”. It can be a fancy coffee and reading, a pedicure, or just some quiet time!

Some required reading I’m doing this month:

Anywho, that’s it for February! And please in the comments below let me know a great romantic classic that I could add to my reading list this month. Thank you!

 

 

 

 

 

January Wrap-Up

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It’s the end of January already, holy smokes!! These past couple days I have been reviewing my January goals of Time Management that are dedicated to My Happiness Project. Here was what I was working on this month:

  • De-cluttering my house!
  • Plan meals, and use my crock pot more.
  • Post 2-3 times a week.

Overall, I’m really happy with my progress this month. These small goals have made my life a lot more manageable. I really loved de-cluttering. I did this over the course of the month slowly. If I had some extra time, I would go through one of our closets, or through the pantry. The best part about this was that I could find things a lot easier… plus I discovered things that I had that are going unused. It was like Christmas all over again!

The goal that I had the biggest results was the using my crockpot more, or making extra meals on the weekend for those hectic nights. I LOVED being able to come home, turn the oven on and pop a casserole in… instead of having to cook for a good hour, I could play with my kids and chat with my hubby. One recipe that I used a lot was putting whole sweet potatoes wrapped in tinfoil in the crock pot for 6-8 hours. They were awesome, and I just did up a batch so we would have extra in the fridge. Super fast dinner, and really yummy!

Lastly, posting on the blog a couple times a week. When I had gone back to work after my maternity leave, I had found it really hard to squeeze in the time to do this more than once a week. This month I decided I would start writing posts during my lunch hour at work… this helped hugely!!! Because in all honesty, I usually just surf the web, or scroll through social media on my lunch… so banking in on this time was a really great use of that time.

Here’s to hoping I can use some of these habits into the rest of the year… and stayed tuned for my February goals!