Monday, June 29, 2015

The Real Thing: Lessons on Love and Life from a Wedding Reporter's Notebook by Ellen McCarthy

McCarthy works as the wedding reporter for the Washington Post, and this is a collection of her thoughts on Dating, Commitment, Breakups, and Making It Last. Short little chapters make this a very easy read, plus her observations are really interesting and spot on.

Recommended if you're dating, married, wanting to date, or just curious about how relationships work. My only complaint is that I wish that the couples she profiled were a bit more diverse (in terms of ethnicity and sexual orientation).

Recommended by Modern Mrs. Darcy's 2015 Summer Reading Guide. Thanks, Anne! :)

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Still Life: An Armand Gamache Mystery by Louise Penny

 Here is a book that falls under the category of "a book in a genre you don't typically read" in Modern Mrs. Darcy's 2015 Reading Challenge. I hardly ever read Mysteries and I was surprised to find myself really enjoying this one!

In a rural Canadian village, Ms. Jane Neal is found shot dead by an arrow. Was this a hunting accident? Or a murder? And why??? We are introduced to Chief Inspector Armand Gamache and his team, and all of the village people.

I thought Still Life was well-written with a nice cast of characters. And it is the first book in a series! I am considering checking out the second one. So, thanks for encouraging us to read outside of the box, Modern Mrs. Darcy! :)

By the way, Still Life was also listed on Modern Mrs. Darcy's Summer Reading Guide. So, double thanks!

Monday, June 22, 2015

The Fringe Hours: Making Time for You by Jessica N. Turner

I probably didn't need to read this book because I am quite intentional about having time to myself. I know that I need to spend at least one day by myself every week (a day that Boomer is at work!), and thankfully, I can arrange my work schedule to accommodate that.

The message of this book is that you matter and it's vital to take care of yourself. I appreciated that this book offers many practical tips and suggestions about how you can do this while also being a mother, wife, sister, friend, etc. I especially liked the list of different ways to say No. Wonderful!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

This one falls under "a book in a genre that I don't typically read" under Modern Mrs. Darcy's 2015 Reading Challenge. I hardly ever read science fiction.

It's 2044 and Wade Watts is in a competition in the online world of OASIS. The winner of the competition is promised wealth and power.

This isn't Ender's Game, but it's still a fun read even though I am not a fan of video games and didn't get many of the references. Boomer read Ready Player One right after I finished it, and he could not stop reading it.

Recommended by Modern Mrs. Darcy's 2015 Summer Reading Guide. Thanks, Anne! :)

Monday, June 15, 2015

Selfish, Shallow, and Self-Absorbed: Sixteen Writers on the Decision Not to Have Kids edited by Meghan Daum

"The decision process itself has influenced me both personally and professionally in ways I couldn't have imagined, in ways beyond the issue of whether or not to become a mother. It led me to a stance I call the "Affirmative No." I define this stance as the refusal to pursue a course of action that, on serious reflection, you discover is not right for you." --Jeanne Safer in Beyond Beyond Motherhood
There are so many books on parenting out there (you probably know that I LOVE Bringing Up Bebe), but there are not so many books about the decision to not have children. In this collection, we hear from sixteen different writers on the decision to not have kids, their experience of not having children, and the cultural pressures of having kids. Overall, one of the themes that comes out is that there are many ways of being a productive, responsible, and happy adult and sometimes that includes raising kids and sometimes it doesn't.

Recommended to anyone in the process of deciding whether or not to have kids, and also to parents out there (who I doubt will read this, but please let me know if you do!) who would like to know what it's like on the other side of the fence.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler

In general, I enjoy Anne Tyler's books. They are about real everyday humans who love and falter at loving those around them. She is able to accurately capture the poignancy of a moment, sometimes so well that it hurts.

I was looking forward to reading Tyler's newest novel, A Spool of Blue Thread. It tells the story of four generations of the Whitshank family and their secrets and fears. I loved the first half, but was disappointed with the second half. I did not come to love these characters as I have in other Tyler novels, and the story did not seem to come together for me.

I would rank this book as so-so, or, as we say in Chinese, mamahuhu. :)

Monday, June 8, 2015

Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives by Gretchen Rubin

I liked The Happiness Project (although I felt tired after reading it), had some reservations about Happier at Home, but I really liked Better Than Before. I think it has a lot to do with the fact that I like Gretchen Rubin way more ever since I started listening to her podcast, Happier. (Thanks to Amy for recommending the podcast to me!)

On the podcast, Gretchen and her sister, Elizabeth, come across as very friendly, down-to-earth ladies, and I love listening to them each week. So I really liked Better Than Before. It's all about habits, how you work as a person, and how creating better habits can make our lives happier.

Highly recommended to anyone interested in being more aware about how you work, and how to add better habits to your life.

PS: This is the book I read for the category "a book published this year" in the Modern Mrs. Darcy 2015 Reading Challenge.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Three Short Reviews

Here are some short reviews of books I've recently finished:

 Half-Baked: The Story of My Nerves, My Newborn, and How We Both Learned to Breathe by Alexa Stevenson

Stevenson writes about her experiences going through IVF, giving birth to her daughter 15 weeks early, and seeing her daughter being cared for in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Perhaps this would be a helpful book for parents who have gone through a similar experience or for family members/friends who want to know about some of the feelings that might arise for parents. For me, her humor didn't quite jive with me so this was distracting.

 One for the Murphys by Lynda Mullaly Hunt
12-year-old Carley is sent to live with the Murphys after her step-dad beats up her mom. With the Murphys, Carley experiences consistency, love, and acceptance. Does she belong here? A sweet book, but I enjoyed Counting by 7s much, much more.


 Wearing God by Lauren Winner
I'm a fan of Winner's first book, Girl Meets God. In this book, Winner writes about other ways to think about God besides the very common images of shepherd, etc. Somewhat interesting, but more theology than memoir.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

Teenager Lydia is found dead in the neighborhood lake. As the story goes on, we slowly understand the reasons behind Lydia's death and her family history and dynamics. Ng's writing is concise and lyrical, and there is a depth to her characters and story.

I could not put Everything I Never Told You down. It was glued to my hands last weekend. I even took it to church.

Recommended by Modern Mrs. Darcy's 2015 Summer Reading List. Thanks, Anne! :)