Book Club: Redemption Road

It is Book Club day! I am doing it a week early this month due to the holiday next week.  I hope you all read our November book with me because it was such a great read.  Our book for November was Redemption Road by John Hart.  This book was a change of pace from the books I had been choosing.  This one was more of a psychological thriller, and it certainly didn’t disappoint. I was totally wrapped up in the storyline and characters.  I really could not put it down.  The twists and turns throughout the story kept me guessing on the edge of my seat.  My only complaint is that I didn’t really love the ending.  I felt like it left me wanting more.  I can’t quite put my finger on exactly what more I needed out of the ending, though. I just know that it felt a little unfinished to me.  Maybe it was just that I didn’t want it to end.  I’m not sure.  Despite that, I really enjoyed this book.  I loved the mystery and the thrill of it.  I spent most of the time reading it trying to predict what was going to happen. John Hart certainly did a great job of keeping me guessing up until the end.  I definitely recommend this book if you haven’t already read it. I thoroughly enjoyed it. 

Redemption Road is a story that revolves around four characters whose lives become intertwined in the aftermath of murder and mystery.  It all began thirteen years ago when a police officer, Adrian Wall, was convicted of murdering the mother of a young boy named Gideon.  Elizabeth Black, a fellow police officer, was the first on the scene. Because of that, she developed a very close relationship with Gideon.  She became his protector and took on a motherly role with him in the years that followed.  It turned out that Elizabeth’s path had crossed with Adrian’s a few years before the murder, and that incident had altered the course of her life. As a result, she did not believe that Adrian was capable of such a crime.  She had an unshakeable belief that he was wrongly convicted and was one of only two people that supported his claim of innocence leading up to his conviction.  

Thirteen years after the murder of Gideon’s mother and Adrian’s conviction, Elizabeth was caught up in another case when eighteen year old, Channing, was kidnapped.  Elizabeth was put on suspension from the police force and faced criminal chargers after admitting to shooting the two men who had kidnapped, tortured and raped Channing.  She had allegedly shot the two men 18 times.  Elizabeth again developed a strong connection with the teen and took on a protective roll with her after the ordeal.  In the days following Elizabeth’s suspension, Adrian was released from prison on parole. His time in prison had not been kind to him as he had suffered through abuse and torture at the hands of the warden.  The day Adrian was released put him on a collision course with Elizabeth, Gideon, and Channing.  Little did the four know that they would be thrown into a wild ride together mixed with more murder, mystery, obsession, and ghosts from their past. Their stories intertwined and eventually led all four of them down the road to redemption. 

It was a beautifully written story filled with intrigue and mystery.  I really did not see the ending coming.  Again, I highly recommend this story especially if you like psychological thrillers and murder mysteries.  It reminded me of stories like Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train, which I loved. I will definitely be reading more books by John Hart in the future.  

My next pick for our Book Club is another psychological thriller that is said to be addictive with a jaw-dropping twist.  It was just released this month and is already making waves.  My pick for December is The Other Daughter by Shalini Boland.  It is about a mother whose 2-year-old daughter is kidnapped right under her nose. That little girl makes a return to her mother’s life 9 years later.  Here is what the publisher has to say about this book.

“From the million-copy-bestselling author of The Secret Mother and The Perfect Family, this utterly gripping psychological thriller will have you up all night reading. If you loved Gone GirlThe Girl on the Train and The Sister this book is for you.”

Will you come along and read with me?

Anchored in a Good Book,

*This post contains commissioned links. Should you choose to purchase items through these links, I may earn a small commission. 

Book Club: This Tender Land

It is hard to believe that it is the last Friday of October and that November will be here next week. It is just crazy to me.  The last Friday of the month means that it is Book Club day, which is one of my favorite days each month.  I love that doing this book club each month forces me to read because it is something that brings me so much joy.  I have loved reading my whole life, but I had gotten away from reading regularly because I let life get in the way.  This book club forces me to make time to get wrapped up in a story, and I love it.  This month we read a book fresh off the printer entitled This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger.  It came out last month and was an instant best seller, and I could see why after only a few chapters in.  I really enjoyed the journey that this story took me on.  Not only did it instantly take me back in time when the world was much different, but it also kept me enthralled in the story page after page. I was totally wrapped up in each character’s storyline.  It was really a great read, and I enjoyed it immensely. 

This story begins in the summer of 1932 when 4 unlikely friends set off on an adventure after escaping from the Lincoln Indian Training School in Minnesota. The Lincoln School was a place where Native American children who were taken from their families were sent to be educated. Mrs. Brickman and her husband ran the school.  They both seemed to despise children and gained pleasure from their suffering.  The students called Mrs. Brickman the Black Witch.  She would lock them in a quiet room, farm them out for hard manual labor in the community, barely feed them, and turned a blind eye to beatings and other inappropriate actions towards the children by an employee of the school.  Needless to say, these children suffered greatly at her hands.  Mose was a descendent of the Sioux tribe and came to the school at a young age after he was found next to his dead parents in a ditch.  His own tongue had been cut out in the attack, so he communicated through sign language. Odie and Albert O’Banion were brothers who ended up at the school after their father was killed during a bootlegging run. They were not of Native American descent but were told that they were sent to the Lincoln School because the state orphanage was full. The last of the 4 was sweet Emmy Frost, the daughter of 2 teachers at the school.  Her father had been killed in a farming accident a few years earlier and her mom had a sweet spot for the 3 boys and wanted to take them in as her own. After Mrs. Frost was killed in a tornado, Emmy was left to live with the horrible Brickmans. Those events lead the 4 to band together and escape from the Lincoln School and begin a long journey down the river to St. Louis in search of family.  The events that followed would change their lives forever.  

This is a story of heartbreak and struggle.  These 4 children faced things in their short life that no children should ever have to face. Murder, imprisonment, abuse, snakebites, loss, and more plagued their journey. They also came across people who were a danger to them and people who showed them great love along the way. Their determination, resiliency, and love for each other helped them along their journey. While their journey to freedom only lasted a little over a month, it felt like it was years in the making.  Although they experienced and lost so much in those few short weeks, their bond only grew stronger as they became the family they all longed for. I really loved this story and highly recommend it.  It certainly did not disappoint.

My pick for November is a bit different than the last few I have chosen.  I am moving away from the historical fiction genre for this pick to give us a little variety.  I thought I would spice it up a little this time. This month I am choosing Redemption Road by John Hart.  This story is more of a mystery/thriller this time.  It is a New York Times Bestseller from the only author to ever win the Edgar Allan Poe Award back-to-back. Here is what Apple Books has to say about this novel.

Redemption Road took five years to write, and that investment shows. John Hart’s thriller is masterfully written and haunting.  At its center is suspended policewoman Elizabeth Black, who under investigation for the murder of two men who abducted and tortured a teenager Channing Shore. Liz is plagued by nightmares, not all of them related to Channing’s horrific ordeal. Hart has not only created a strong, vulnerable heroine to root for, he’s written a Southern gothic crime novel that’s flush with eeriness and themes of righteousness and redemption.” 

I hope you will come along and read with me.  

Anchored, 

*This post contains commissioned links. Should you choose to purchase items through these links, I may earn a small commission.

Book Club: The Orphan’s Tale

It is Book Club Friday today, and I am excited to share my review of this month’s book, The Orphan’s Tale by Pam Jenoff.  I really liked this book a lot.  It certainly held my attention, and I was very attached to the characters.  I actually finished it early in the month, which is unusual with my crazy schedule, but I couldn’t stop reading at night and stayed up way later than normal to keep reading.  It was a great historical fiction tale, which is probably my favorite genre.  The story takes place during World War II and revolved around 2 women who became an unlikely pair.  One was a young teen, Noa, who had become pregnant by a Nazi soldier and then was cast out by her parents as a result.  She was sent to a center where she delivered her a baby boy and was forced to give him up against her will.  She was living and working at a train station when she came across a train car full of Jewish infants, some of which had already frozen to death.  Reminding her of the baby she lost, she snatched one little boy and fled on foot in the snow to escape being discovered by Nazi soldiers. The second woman, Astrid, was the daughter of a Jewish family that ran a circus in Germany and around Europe for many years. She had left home and the circus life to marry a German Soldier.  When the war got worse, her husband was forced to cast her out for fear of his own life.  Her family was nowhere to be found and thought to have been killed, so she found refuge with a nearby German circus that used to be her family’s rival.  The head of that circus knew her and her family and gladly brought her in to give her safety as the circus’s lead aerialist.  It was understood that all circus performers were like family no matter what circus you came from. When Noa was discovered passed out in the snow with the baby near the circus by one of its top performers one night, they took her and the baby in.  While Astrid was forced to teach Noa how to be an aerialist in order to also provide them with refuge, their relationship, strained at first, eventually became one of survival and sacrifice.

As I said, I was very wrapped up in the characters and loved seeing how the two women’s relationship went from rivals to a tender, caring and protective relationship.  Their struggles for survival and strong urge to protect the baby and each other at all cost brought the two of them together in a way that neither of them ever dreamed was possible.  The horrors that the Jewish people faced as a result of the war was depicted in a way that made you feel deep emotions for the characters and what they faced during that time.  It truly gives you a glimpse of what life was like during that time period and what a family the circus performers are to each other.  The descriptive language allowed me to visualize what it was like under the big top of that circus as they all feared for their lives and tried to maintain their composure during each performance.  If you like historical fiction, you will really enjoy this book. It is filled with extreme sadness, heartbreak, and loss; but it is also filled with love and triumph.  I highly recommend The Orphan’s Tale as one you should read.

My pick for October is a new release by the best selling author, William Kent Krueger, entitled This Tender Land.  This book became an instant New York Times Best Seller just after its release earlier this month.  It is another historical fiction novel that will take us on the journey of 4 Native American children in Minnesota in summer of 1932 during the Great Depression. These 4 children became orphans when they were forcibly removed from their parents and were sent to be educated.  It is said that fans of Where the Crawdads Sing and Before We Were Yours will love this book. I really enjoyed both of those novels, so I am hoping this one will not disappoint. Will you come along and read with me?

Anchored in a Good Book,

*This post contains commissioned links. Should you choose to purchase items through these links, I may earn a small commission.

Book Club: The Silent Patient

I was unable to give my review of my August Book Club pick last week, so here it is today.  Better late than never, right? Anyway, last month I chose The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides as my August pick.  It had great reviews and I even had a few friends tell me that they loved it.  Unfortunately, I cannot say the same.  I won’t say that it was awful because it wasn’t.  It was suspenseful and had an unexpected twist to it.  However, it didn’t really hold my attention.  I found myself distracted while reading it and having to reread paragraphs multiple times because I had not been paying attention.  I can’t quite put my finger on what I didn’t like about it other than it just didn’t grab and hold my attention. I love books that I just can’t put down until I finish it, and this book certainly didn’t do that for me.  I felt like I had to force myself to finish it. I know that this will be an unpopular opinion as so many seem to love this book, but I promised to always be honest with you all.  It was ok, but I didn’t love it. 

This book is about an accomplished artist, Alice Benson, who was accused and convicted of murdering her husband.  She was not sentenced to jail because they found her guilty by reason of insanity. She was instead admitted to a mental institute for the criminally insane. From the moment her husband was murdered and she was found next to him covered in his blood with the murder weapon nearby, she had gone mute.  She refused to speak at all.  Her one bit of communication was a painting she did immediately after the murder.  It was a self-portrait entitled, Alcestis.  People always took to painting as an admission of her guilt.  Theo Faber, a psychotherapist with his own troubled past, became obsessed with Alice’s case and treatment.  He managed to earn a position at the facility where Alice was being treated.  He quickly set his sights on treating her and eventually became her doctor.  He was convinced that he could help her and get her to speak again.  The story chronicles his attempts to reach her with multiple twists and turns along the way.  This story is told both from Theo’s point of view as well as Alice’s point of view.  It was a suspenseful story that had an unexpected ending. I did not dislike this story per say.  I just didn’t love it.  I won’t say that I don’t recommend this book because there are obviously a lot of people that liked it.  I just wasn’t one of them.  

I decided to go back a couple of years and choose a book that is a little older for my September pick. It was published in 2017 and was a New York Times Best Seller.  My pick for September is The Orphan’s Tale by Pam Jenoff.  It from the historical fiction genre and is set during World War II. It involves some of the individuals who protected Jews during the Holocaust.  Here is what the publisher had to say about this novel.

“A powerful novel of friendship set in a traveling circus during World War II, The Orphan’s Tale introduces two extraordinary women and their harrowing stories of sacrifice and survival.”

Will you come along and read with me? Let’s dive into this book together! Happy Reading!

Anchored in a Good Book,

*This post contains commissioned links. Should you choose to purchase items through these links, I may earn a small commission.

Book Club: Summer of ‘69

Before I dive into my review of this month’s book club book, I just want to say that I love this book club. Even if I am the only person reading the book, I love it anyway.  I have been an avid reader my whole life.  I LOVE books of all kinds!  However, life seems to always get in the way and prevents me from reading as much as I would like.  This book club holds me accountable.  It forces me to make time in my schedule to read.  Knowing that I have to give my review each month and select a new book motivates me to find that 20 minutes here and there to read more.  That alone is enough reason for me to keep choosing books each month. My hope is that there are some of you that read along with me, but I’m totally cool with it if it’s just little old me reading because it gives me so much joy.  Now, if you are like me and you love to read but find yourself with never enough hours in the day and want to be held accountable, send me a message.  I will start an email group where I send you reminders each week to keep you on track.  I will be your accountability partner.    All you have to do is ask (and send me your email).

Moving on! Here are my thoughts on this month’s book, Summer of ’69 by Elin Hilderbrand.  Side note: I sort of geeked out when Elin Hilderbrand commented on my Instagram post when I announced her book as my pick for July. How freaking cool is that? Anyway, I have to say that I really enjoyed this book.  It is the perfect summer read.  It was an easy read and had all of the elements of a great book.  This historical fiction novel revolves around the Nichols-Foley-Levin family in the summer of 1969: a time of war, self-discovery, gender equality, and civil rights.  It includes hints of suicide, love affairs, first love, getting high, and scandal.  Elin Hilderbrand expertly tells the story of 4 siblings and their journey through the events of that time period including the first walk on the moon, Woodstock, and the Vietnam War.  Blair, the oldest of the siblings, struggles through her pregnancy with the belief that her work-a-holic husband has been cheating on her while he also suffers from mental illness.  Kirby, the outcast of the family, sets out on a journey of rediscovery away from her family as she struggles to overcome her past while navigating the stigma of an interracial relationship.  The only male of the siblings, Tiger, is drafted and sent off to the war in Vietnam, and the whole family struggles to deal with his absence. The baby of the bunch, Jessie, begins her teen years that summer while feeling her first hints of love, becoming a woman, and learning the truth of her family’s history. Their mother, Kate, has her own struggles through that summer as she lives with what she calls her “punishment” for the events that led to the death of her first husband and father to her oldest 3 children.  The one thing that was clear throughout the story was that despite everything going on with each of them individually, they truly loved each other at the core of their being and that is what ultimately holds them all together. The story and character development of this story was done beautifully. I always love stories that make me feel like I am right there in that time period with them. Elin Hilderbrand did a great job depicting the historical events of that time and weaved them into the storyline in a way that was believable. I really did enjoy this book and hope that those of you that read it along with me did as well. Let me know your thoughts.

My pick for August (I can’t believe August is almost here!) is a book that keeps finding its way into my recommended reads.  I have looked at it several times as a possible choice for my book club but always pushed it to the side.   I have finally decided that is’s time to give it a go.  I like to try to mix it up with my choices so that I can appeal to everyone.   This month’s pick is a suspenseful thriller.  I have chosen The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides.  It is a New York Times Best Seller.  Entertainment Weekly calls it “An unforgettable—and Hollywood-bound—new thriller…A mix of Hitchcockian suspense, Agatha Christie plotting, and Greek tragedy.” I don’t think I have picked a thriller yet, so this should be a change of pace for us.  I am excited to dive in to see where this story takes us.  Here is what Apple Books had to say about this novel.

“In this confident debut, Alex Michaelides mixes the meticulous packing of an Agatha Christie thriller with the dark tragedy of Greek myth. The Silent Patient starts with an unforgettable image: Artist Alicia Brenson stands in her living room soaked in her husband’s blood after apparently riddling him with bullets. After that, Alicia goes mute for years—until psychotherapist Theo Faber finds his way to the institution that houses her, armed with unconventional ideas about unlocking her past. Michaelides has crafted a binge-worthy, slow-burn psychological thriller that explodes in one final twist.”

Will you join me? Can I help you to be accountable for reading and doing something that brings you joy? There is nothing like diving into a great book and fully immersing yourself in the journey of someone else. Happy reading everyone!

Anchored in a Good Book,

*This post contains commissioned links. Should you choose to purchase items through these links, I may earn a small commission.

Book Club: My Sister, the Serial Killer

I missed Book Club Friday last week and this week is a bit off schedule, so I figured I would get it in today.  Our book for June was My Sister, the Serial Killer (Amazon) by Oyinkan Braithwaite.  This book came recommended by a few of my friends as well as by actress, Kimberly Williams Paisley.  This book is a quick, easy read.  I read it in a couple of hours.  It is a really short story with super short chapters.  Most chapters were only one to two pages long.  I will say that I have mixed feelings about this book, and I can’t quite say that I liked it or that I didn’t like it.  I felt like it jumped around a lot and that there wasn’t enough character or story development for me. I like stories that let you really get to know the characters.  I found myself wanting more. However, it did keep my interest for the most part. Again, I didn’t love it, but I didn’t hate it either. If you are looking for a quick beach read this summer, this one would fit the bill.  

This is a story of two sisters. Korede is the oldest and is a hardworking, practical nurse.  She considers herself the ugly sister. Ayoola, the youngest, is a wild, carefree beauty that seems to have a knack for having men swoon over her.  The two were brought up in a wealthy family in Nigeria. However, unbeknownst to everyone around them, their family had a dark secret. Their father was a very violent man who attempted to sell his daughters to his important friends, beat his wife (and sometimes daugthers), and participated in shady business deals. Their mother resorted to sleeping pills to hide away from the horrors of their life behind closed doors. Following their father’s death (the author even makes you question the nature of his death), Ayoola’s boyfriends seem to keep ending up dead.  Although Ayoola gives excuses as to why she kills them, the true reason behind her killings never seems to be revealed.  Korede, was her protector, even from their father at a young age. She cleaned up the messes made by Ayoola every single time.  Despite her feelings about what was happening with her sister, Korede would do anything to help her, no matter the cost to her own happiness. This story seems to focus more on the strength of the family bond, specifically the bond between two siblings, than the actual murders. It demonstrates the old saying that blood is thicker than water. 

This story is surrounded by dark humor and mystery.  If you are looking for a quick read, this is the book for you.  While I am unsure of my love for this book, I can certainly see why it has become so popular. It has mystery, intrigue, family dynamics, and more. Let me know your thoughts if you read along with me.  I am interested to hear what others think about it since my feelings on it are so mixed.  

Let’s move on to my pick for July.  I hope you will come along and read with me. My pick for July is Summer of ’69 (Amazon) by Elin Hilderbrand. This #1 New York Times bestseller quickly rose to the top after its release last month. It has also made it on USA Today’s bestseller list.  I generally like historical fiction, and I hope this one doesn’t disappoint.  Here is what Apple Books has to say about this novel…

“Elin Hilderbrand’s first historical novel is a fun twist on the classic Nantucket beachside read she’s so well known for. A first love, an illicit affair, and Woodstock are all woven into this engrossing family drama, which follows four siblings over the tumultuous summer of 1969. While the era’s big social movements—like civil rights and gender equality—are front and center, Hilderbrand also has a lot of fun with the small period details, whether it’s serving relish trays or drinking to “settle the nerves” during pregnancy. Make sure there’s room for this nostalgic, summer pageturner in your beach bag.”

Come along and read with me!

Anchored in a Good Book,

*This post contains commissioned links. Should you choose to purchase items through these links, I may earn a small commission.

Book Club: Where the Crawdads Sing

It is the last Friday of the month, which means that it is Book Club Day! I am excited to share my review of this month’s book, Where the Crawdads Sing (Amazon) by Delia Owens. I really enjoyed this book a lot. It was one of those books that I didn’t want to put down, and I certainly didn’t want it to end.  If you haven’t read it yet, I highly recommend that you do.  It is a great summer read.  I found it to be an easy, quick read as well.  

This story takes place on the marshes of North Carolina. It centers around a girl named Kya.  The story chronicles her life as she navigates the unfortunate circumstances she was faced with growing up as “the marsh girl.” She did not lead an easy life, coming from a poor family that lived in a small shack in the marsh.  Her mother left without a word when Kya was just 6 years old because of the abuse she suffered at the hands of Kya’s father. All of Kya’s siblings left one by one for the same reasons leaving Kya to fend for herself with her abusive, alcoholic father at such a young age.  Once her father left her too, Kya was completely alone as a child with no money, no food, no education, and only the wild around her.  Kya learned how to survive in the marsh living on the land, making friends with the wildlife, and closely studying the environment around her.  Eventually she connects with two young men. When one of those men, a young and wealthy guy, turns up dead, Kya becomes the number one suspect is his murder.  

This is a story of heartbreak, survival, pure innocence, and love.  The author takes you through a journey by flashing back from the past of Kya’s youth to the present day with the investigation of the murder of Chase Andrews.  Kya’s story of her childhood is one that is hard to imagine.  What is sad to me is to think that there are so many kids just like Kya that are abandoned and left alone to figure the world out on their own. I thought a lot about that as I was reading.  I guess some of that comes from my background as a teacher and seeing things and hearing horror stories about students.  The positive is that we see Kya’s resilience and strength shine through over and over again while we, as the readers, are rooting her on.  Delia Owens does a great job really describing the marsh and what it was like for Kya to survive there.  I could totally imagine the scenes in my head and the marsh sort of came alive for me.  When the book flashed to the present and to the murder investigation, you could see how the town was prejudiced towards Kya and were looking for ways to point towards her guilt while there were those select few who deeply cared about Kya and were doing all they could to take the spotlight off of her.  This truly was a great story and one that I really loved. Again, I highly recommend this book. You truly will feel like you are in the marsh right alongside of Kya.  

Now, let’s move on to my pick for June’s book club. For this month, I have chosen My Sister, the Serial Killer (Amazon) by Oyinkan Braithwaite.  It is her debut novel, and I hope you will join me in reading it this month. Here is what Apple Books has to say about this book.

“Set in Lagos, Nigeria, this fun and twisted novel uses a nasty case of sibling rivalry to keep us in suspense. Older sister Korede is an experienced nurse who’s a stickler at work and a fuzzy, unfulfilled shadow in her personal life. By contrast, Korede’s younger sister, Ayoola, is a shooting star: an aspiring fashion designer, a social media influencer, and a glamorous beauty who turns heads wherever she goes. But Ayoola’s shiny image hides a nasty history of fatally stabbing her boyfriends. Oyinkan Braithwaite’s debut novel unfolds in sharp, snappy chapters that keep your wheels spinning as you try to parse out the truth of the two sister’s lives.”

 Come along and read with me!

Anchored in a Good Book, 

Book Club: Normal People

I cannot believe that April is almost over.  This year is totally flying by.  The end of the month means I’m giving you my take on this month’s book club book, Normal People(Amazon) by Sally Rooney and telling you what my next pick is for May. I have to say that I was slightly disappointed with Normal People.  I wouldn’t say that the book was awful because it did hold my attention for the most part. However, I didn’t think there was enough plot development for me, and I thought it was a little choppy the way it jumped ahead months at a time.  I just felt like there were things that were left out that I as the reader wanted to know. This book came with high praise and tons of buzz about it, so I was expecting more.  It just didn’t excite me enough, I guess.  Had I not picked it as our book club book to review, I may not have finished reading it.  I don’t know why really. I just didn’t love it. I would be very interested to hear what you all think if you read along with me.  

This story was about two people that met as kids, Connell and Marianne.  Both came from very different backgrounds.  In fact, the two met because Connell’s mother (a struggling teen mom) was the housekeeper for Marianne’s family.  Connell was the popular football player while Marianne was the lonely, girl who kept to herself with secrets of a tumultuous family life. They pretended not to know each other for all of their high school years while they had a secret romance behind closed doors.  Their roles sort of reversed when they ended up at the same college.  Marianne became the boisterous, popular girl while Connell became a quiet reserved guy. They develop this weird connection to each other over the years as their relationship continued off and on throughout their lives.  There was a lot of turmoil within each of them individually that seemed to really affect their relationship as well. Even though they both dated other people, they just couldn’t seem to resist this hold they had on each other.  There relationship was very strange and, at times, unhealthy.  There was a lot of psychological things that both of them needed to work through, and I am not sure that they ever fully dealt with all of it in the end. Again, I didn’t love this book.  It is hard to put into words why I didn’t like it, but I just didn’t. Let me know what you thoughts, though!

My pick for next month’s book is one that I have heard great things about from friends who have read it, and the reviews are very good.  It is also a Reese Witherspoon Book Club pick and a #1 New York Times Bestseller.  My next selection is Where the Crawdads Sing (Amazon) by Delia Owens. Here is what Apple Books had to say about this book,

“Abandoned by anyone who should care, Kya lives deep in the swampy North Carolina lowlands. She understands the creatures that live there and waits for someone to understand her—but the locals in town call her Marsh Girl. Delia Owens’ enchanting mystery follows Kya’s exhilarating and terrifying first steps into the outer world, and the murderous betrayal that happens when she lets two young men get close to her. Thanks to Owens’ lyrical prose, we could hear the rustling of the cypress leaves and were pulled headfirst into her complex, emotional story.”

Will you come along this journey with me this month? Happy reading!

Anchored in a Good Book,

Book Club: Girl, Stop Apologizing

If you have been holding your breath to hear my thoughts on Rachel Hollis’s latest book, Girl, Stop Apologizing (Amazon), here is comes.  Just kidding! I doubt any of you noticed that I missed writing my review last week.  Anyway, this book was highly anticipated by thousands of her followers and me.  I could not wait to get my hands on this book.  Let me tell you, it did not disappoint.  She had just as many amazing nuggets inside this book as Girl, Wash Your Face (Amazon) did.  If you didn’t read Girl, Stop Apologizing along with me last month, I highly recommend it.  The premise behind this book is Rachel Hollis giving you her “shame free plan for embracing and achieving your goals. “ If you are stuck in what direction you wanted for your life or are at a crossroads, this book will give you the motivation to figure out what you want your future to look like and give you practical advice on how to get there. This book is broken up into three sections. I will go through each of those three sections and tell you which chapter was the most meaningful for me.  

Excuses To Let Go Of

In this section, Rachel goes through 9 different excuses that many of us tell ourselves and that prevent us from succeeding and reaching our goals.  The excuse that I identified with the most was “I’m Not Enough to Succeed.” I have written about this several times before. I tend to think that I am not good enough all the time.  I will start this negative self-talk where I talk myself out of things. I start doubting myself.  Rachel talks about how we subconsciously think that we are going to fail at something before we even get started.  I know that I do this a lot.  I don’t even begin to try something new because I have already convinced myself that I am not good enough.   Other times I will decide that I am going full force on a goal, but then I hit roadblocks and my forward progress comes to a halt.  The self-doubt enters again.  I start thinking that all of these obstacles are signs that I am not good enough and that I should just give up. She talks about how we need to get over this self-doubt and push forward.  Instead of giving up right away, you have to realize that although you haven’t met your goal yet, it doesn’t mean that you never will.  Rachel says that it is the YET that matters. She says, “You are enough. Today. As you are.  Stop beating yourself for being on the beginning side of yet, no matter what age you are. Yet is your potential. Yetis a promise. Yet is what keeps you moving. Yet is a gift, and you are enough to get to the other side of it.” Over that past year, I have begun to believe that.  I am beginning to realize that I am enough and I am worthy of pursuing my dreams and goals for my life.  I haven’t reached them YET, but I WILL! I just have to be patient, give it time, and keep plowing through the obstacles.  

Behaviors to Adopt

This is the section that really applies to my current situation in life.  I have made the decision to go for my goals and dreams, but now I am trying to figure out how to get there.  I have to have a plan.  Our behaviors are how we live our lives day to day.  The things that we do daily as part of our routine are the things that are going to keep us pushing forward.  These behaviors should become habits and things that are just natural for us. In this section Rachel gives us 7 behaviors that she believes we should adopt in order to get us to our goals.  There were actually two chapters in this section that really spoke to me.  The first was “Ask for Help.” I have always struggled with this.  I have always taken on everything myself and done it all alone.  Even when I was teaching, I had a hard time letting things go for my assistants to do or for others to help me with.  I wanted it done the right way, and I felt like only I could do that.  There have been so many times in my life when I have needed help, but I didn’t ask for it. I thought it would make me look like a failure.  Rachel says to allow yourself to admit that you are drowning.  There have been so many times in my life where I have felt that I was barely keeping my head above the water because I was trying to project my weird version of perfection.  Rachel encourages you to ask for help because it truly takes a village to get through life. She says that you will burn out if you keep trying to do it all on your own and that is exactly what happened to me with teaching.  Her advice is, “Stop pretending. Stop faking it. Stop taking it all on alone and then later feeling bitter about it. Stop wasting your time on activities you hate as penance for the time you want for yourself. “

The other skill in this section of the book that really spoke to me was “Learn to Say No.” This is one of my biggest flaws.  I cannot say no.  It kind of ties in with the behavior of asking for help.  I can’t say no. I take on more than I can handle all the time because I cannot tell people no. Then I refuse to ask for help when I am drowning.  When someone asks you to do something, Rachel recommends that you respond right away, be polite but honest, and be firm.  She says, “You have made the commitment to you and your goals, and it’s important that you stick to your guns. Learn to say no and to say no effectively.” 

Skills to Acquire

To wrap up the book, Rachel gives you 6 skills to acquire to help you reach your goals. The one that I most identified with is “Confidence.” I don’t know if you see a pattern here or not, but the whole feeling of not being good enough goes hand in hand with confidence.  I am not confident in my abilities.  I don’t trust myself enough to reach my goals. If you are always doubting yourself and feeling like you aren’t good enough, you never will succeed.  There are three things that Rachel recommends as ways to help you develop confidence in your self. The first is how you look. She says, “Confidence comes from you liking the way you look, not from you looking any certain way.” I always say that when you look good you feel good.  This is exactly why I get up and shower every single day.  I put on make up and do my hair on put on clothes that make me feel good.  The second way to gain confidence is in how you act.  You have to act like you are confident even when you don’t feel confident. She says, “You can make yourself feel anything you put your mind to as long as you back it up with action.” The third way to develop confidence is with who you hang out with.  I think this is so true.  We adapt and change who we are based on who we hang out with.  If you are around people that are always negative, then you are going to become a negative person too.  The same is true that if you hang out with people who exude confidence, you will start to feel that way too. Rachel says, “Be mindful of the people you hang out with, the words you use, and the way you present yourself to the world around you. Pay attention to the times or the circumstances that make you feel the most self-assured, and then work to cultivate more opportunities like those.” 

There really is so much more to gain from this book to help you become the best version of yourself, someone that goes for her goals with all she’s got and never gives up until she reaches them. Again, I highly recommend this book for any woman.  It really makes you think about your life and how you approach things.  It inspires me to keep pushing to become who God meant for me to be.  

Now, on to our book for April. For this month, I have chosen the book Normal People (Amazon) by Sally Rooney.  Check out what Apple Books had to say about this book.

“Irish author Sally Rooney’s second novel is a sharply observed story about growing up and learning to love. Connell is a popular kid from the wrong side of the tracks, while Marianne is a rich, slightly awkward school outcast. From their respective childhoods in rural west Ireland to their college years in Dublin, Marianne and Connell struggle to square their shared intelligence and passion with the calcified gender and class politics that define so much of their lives. Normal People is both a timeless love story and a resonant cautionary tale. Rooney’s characters feel poignantly, painfully real—we wished her book were twice as long.”

I hope you will read along with me.  Let me know your thoughts on Girl, Stop Apologizing, too! 

Anchored in a Good Book,

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Book Club: Left Neglected

I am sorry that I didn’t get this up yesterday like I said I was going to try to do. My whirlwind travel did not allow me enough time to finish it enough that I felt good about posting, so here it is today. Better late than never, right?

Our February Book Club book was Left Neglected (Amazon) by Lisa Genova. I chose this book because it was by the same author that wrote Still Alice (Amazon), and I really enjoyed that book.  This book did not disappoint either.  I actually found myself relating to the main character a lot. The story centers around a woman named Sarah who is at the top of the world.  She has the job, the family, the house, the nanny, and even the vacation home. Her days were scheduled from the moment she woke up until the moment her head hit the pillow at night and then some. She was practically married to her job and spent the majority of her time on being the best of the best and moving up the corporate ladder.  Everything was great in her mind, until it all came to a crashing halt. One car ride, one attempt to make a call while driving, and a devastating crash that almost killed her left Sarah with a brain injury called Left Neglect.  She suddenly had no awareness of the left side of her body or that left side of the world and her surroundings.  The story follows her journey to overcome her injury, retrain her brain, and to figure out what her new normal would be.  

The beginning of this story made me nod my head yes over and over again.  I was living that life just a few short years ago.  I devoted everything in me to my job and being the absolute best in my field.  I let it control me and everything I did.  I forgot what was important just like Sarah.  She kind of gave me the impression that her view of being perfect was very similar to mine.  Thankfully, it didn’t take a life altering accident for me to realize that way of thinking was skewed.  While my journey to the place I am now was not as tragic as hers,  I found myself seeing similarities in her discovery of who she was, who she had become, and who she really wanted to be.  Here is an excerpt that hit home for me because I had very similar ideas about my life. 

“Ever since business school, I’ve had my head down, barreling a thousand miles an hour, wearing the flesh of each day down to the bone, pointed down one road toward a single goal. A successful life. And not just run-of-the-mill success. The kind of success that my fellow elite classmates would envy, the kind that my professors would cart out to future students as a shining example of achievement, the kind that even the exceptionally prosperous citizens of Welmont would aspire to, the kind that Bob would be proud of. “

Then this realization that was also similar to mine, and I feel like it could have been something that came directly from my mouth not so long ago.  

“And I’m starting to wonder. What else is there? Maybe success can be something else, and maybe there’s another way to get there. Maybe there’s a different road for me with a more reasonable speed limit.”

I highly recommend this book. It is an easy light read and story that could teach us all a thing or two.

I couldn’t be more excited about my pick for March.  It is a book that I have been waiting on for what seems like forever! It is being released in a few short days, and I preordered it months ago.  I am sure you can probably take a good guess as to what it is because I have talked about it many times before.  If you guess that it is by my imaginary BFF, Rachel Hollis, you would be correct! Girl, Stop Apologizing is almost here and I CANNOT WAIT! I hope that you all have already read Girl, Wash Your Face, because it is phenomenal.  I know that this new one is going to be just as great, if not better.  I have already heard excerpts of it from Rachel herself during her live videos every morning on Instagram and Facebook and it’s so good.  The book releases on March 5.  Here is the publisher’s description of the book:

“In Girl, Stop Apologizing, #1 New York Times bestselling author and founder of a multimillion-dollar media company, Rachel Hollis sounds a wake-up call. She knows that many women have been taught to define themselves in light of other people–whether as a wife, mother, daughter, or employee–instead of learning how to own who they are and what they want. With a challenge to women everywhere to stop talking themselves out of their dreams, Hollis identifies the excuses to let go of, the behaviors to adopt, and the skills to acquire on the path to growth, confidence, and believing in yourself.”

Will you join me in reading this book on our way to self discovery? I can’t wait to get started!

Anchored in a Good Book,