Book Club: The Henna Artist

This month I read The Henna Artist by Alka Joshi and I really enjoyed it for the most part.  I learned a lot about the Indian culture and their caste system, which is what I was hoping.  Working with artisans in India through Trades of Hope, was what sort of piqued my interest in this book, and it allowed me to gain a better understanding of how their caste system works and what it means for women.  There were a lot of Indian words in it that I obviously didn’t know, but I could figure out some of them just using context clues.  The author did provide a glossary of terms at the back of the book. However, reading it on my iPad made it a little more difficult to access it easily.  I think I would have utilized it more had I had the actual hard copy.  There was also a list of characters at the beginning of the book that gave a sort of background explaining who each person was.  This was helpful information, but, again, it was difficult to reference it as I read since it was an eBook. Those two things were probably my biggest issues with this book. Other than that, I really enjoyed the storyline.  The characters were well developed and there was a good balance between the actual plot line and the historical facts about the economy and customs in India. I thought that the storyline was very well developed even with multiple intricate parts and multiple characters.  I would recommend this book to anyone that has an interest in Henna art, Indian culture, or a great storyline.

The Henna Artist revolves around the life of a woman named Lakshmi Shastri. She was born into one of the highest Hindu caste levels (Brahmin) as her father was a teacher. However, circumstances had left her family very poor.  Her parents arranged for her to marry at the young age of 15.  While living with her husband whom she despised due to his violent nature, Lakshmi learned about natural herbs, teas, and medicines to help women with a variety of medical issues from her mother-in-law.  After 2 years of marriage, Lakshmi couldn’t take it anymore and one day snuck away and left her husband.  At first she was making a living by making contraceptive teas for courtesans to keep them childless while also learning the art of henna. She eventually ended up in Jaipur where she climbed the ladder through hard work and became the most sought-after henna artist to Jaipur’s elite.  She had this to say about working with one particular woman a similar caste.  

“Parvati and I were born to the two highest Hindu casts, she a Kshatriya and me a Brahmin. But she could never bring herself to treat me as an equal because I touched the feet of ladies as I painted their henna. Feet were considered unclean, only to be handled by the low-caste Shudras.  So even though her caste system had relied on mine for centuries to educate their children and perform spiritual rites, in the eyes of Jaipur’s elite, I was now a fallen Brahmin.” 

Despite the elite not truly accepting her as one of them, things were going very well for Lakshmi and opportunities were opening up for her. That was until, out of the blue, her husband, Hari, showed up. He brought with him her thirteen-year-old sister with news that her parents had both died.  Lakshmi never even knew her sister existed.  This set in motion a series of unfortunate events that led her to go from the best of the best to the person no one wanted in their homes.  Lakshmi’s story is one of restoration, redemption, and the will to never give up.  She went from a broken family, to being completely alone, to finding out the true meaning of family.  She learned that success and climbing the ladder wasn’t truly the most important thing in life, and she also learned to use her gifts to help others in a special way. This really was a great story and one that I believe many would enjoy. 

I decided to switch it up a bit and go for a mystery/thriller for my pick for July.  I have chosen The Last Flight by Julie Clark.  It has been said by some to be one of the top books of 2020 so far. Here is what Apple Books has to say about this book.

“For two women on the run, a split-second decision offers a chance at a new life…or a whole new set of dangers.  At the beginning of Julie Clark’s fiercely feminist psychological thriller, Claire—the wife of a beloved philanthropist whose hideous true nature is a well-kept-secret—is at the airport, about to launch into her carefully constructed escape plan. But then Claire makes an impulsive decision to switch passports and plane tickets with Eva, a streetwise survivor on the run from her drug-kingpin former boss.  And we can’t say much more than that because, seriously, things get really crazy from that point on.  Alternating between Claire’s and Eva’s viewpoints, Clark’s book feels like a mix of Gone Girl and The Bourne Identity. It’s that fast-paced and that good. Order takeout, because you won’t be leaving the couch until you turn the last page.”

Will you come along and read with me?

Anchored in a Good Book,

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

Friday Favorites: Books

With everything that is going on in the world right now with the Coronavirus, I decided to make a detour on what favorite thing I had planned to write about today.  Even if you haven’t been confined to your house yet, it seems that you most likely will be in the near future.  Schools are closing, events are being canceled, people are asked to telework, and everyone is being told to stay home.  Well, I don’t know about you, but the thought of having to stay confined to my house for an extended period of time has me fearing for my sanity.  I am certain that there will be a lot of binge watching and moving watching going on. However, you may start to feel like you want to stimulate your brain a little more, so I thought I would share some of my favorite books with you.  It is a great opportunity for you to dive into a good book.  If you prefer a real book to an ebook, I think that Amazon is still delivering (at least for now).  Becoming enthralled in a book can certainly help save your sanity.  I plan to do a lot of reading while I am stuck in the house.  Up first for me is my book club pick for March, When Time Stopped by Ariana Neuman, since I haven’t started it yet.  

I am a big fan of books in a series. I love the anticipation of the next book. My favorite author of all time is Karen Kingsbury.  I have read so many of her books and there has never been one that I didn’t love.  I also really like most books by Jodi Picoult and Kristen Hannah.  Check out 20 books/series that I have read over the years and loved. Some will be very familiar to you and others you may have never heard of.  

The Redemption Series by Karen Kingsbury

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult

The Bronze Horseman Trilogy by Paulina Simons

The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins

Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis

The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling

A Child Called “It” by Dave Pelzer

The Orphan’s Tale by Pam Jenoff

Nightingale by Kristen Hannah

Still Alice by Lisa Genova

Educated by Tara Westover

We Were the Mulvaneys by Joyce Carol Oates

Room by Emma Donoghue

Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate

Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

Dive into a good book while you are stuck in your house in the coming weeks. Stay well everyone!

Anchored in a Good Book,

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

Book Club: The Other Daughter

My day has been totally thrown off.  My kids unexpectedly got the day off of school today for freezing rain.  Having them home completely messes up my normal routine.  On the plus side, though, they can now help me pack for our trips.  Anyway, let’s move on to today’s topic.  I am doing our December Book Club post a little early this month because this will be my last post for December.  This month I chose a short thriller by Shalini Boland entitled The Other Daughter.  This was a super quick read.  In fact, I read it in one day.  I have to say that I have mixed feelings about this book.  Initially, I really was into it, and I was totally surprised by the sudden turn of events at the end.  However, it changed so abruptly and ended so quickly after the twist was revealed that I was kind of thrown off.  I liked it, but I just think I needed a little more.  

The Other Daughter is a story of twists and turns.  It begins when a little girl named Holly is abducted from right under her mother Rachel’s nose.  The abduction caused Rachel to end up divorced and starting her life over again in a new town as a single mother to her younger daughter Jess.  Once she began her new life, she never spoke of her lost daughter again to anyone. She completely put it out of her mind.  She went on to have a serious boyfriend who she had a son with, and they lived a normal life as a family of 4 for several years. During the time they were together, she never told her boyfriend about Holly until one day when she came face to face with a young girl named Bella whose family had just moved to town.  Rachel’s heart stopped the moment she saw Bella.  She had a gut-wrenching feeling that Bella was her missing daughter that had been stolen from her all those years ago.  Rachel became obsessed with learning the truth to the point of lying to everyone and breaking into Bella’s house to obtain her DNA.  Rachel was losing control, but she was convinced that Bella was Holly.  She was beginning to lose everything that meant something to her in her quest to prove that Bella was her daughter.  

As I said, I have mixed feelings about this story.  I think overall, I liked it though.  I was totally not expecting the twist at the end which is always a good thing.  I generally like it when I can’t predict what is coming.  I just feel like it happened so fast that I was left wanting more.  I guess I felt like the ending could have been more developed. I can’t quite put my finger on what more I really wanted, and I understand that probably was the author’s strategy.  I know that she was going for the shock factor, and she definitely got it from me.  I guess I just felt like it was too fast and the story was too short.  I was all into it trying to figure it all out, and then out of nowhere it was over.  I would love to know what you thought if you read along with me and if you were surprised by the ending as well.  

My pick for January is by New York Bestselling author, Lisa Jewel.  It is her latest thriller called, The Family Upstairs.  It is the story of three families, unknowingly intertwined, who find themselves living in a house with deeply buried, dark secrets.  Here is what Apple Books had to say about this novel.

“The past is never far behind us. In Lisa Jewell’s tense phycological thriller, it’s right in front of us, too, ready to reveal some very alarming things. When Libby unexpectedly inherits her family’s London mansion, she’s pulled in by a history of family dysfunction, a mysterious stranger, and several deaths. The tension keeps building—and secrets keep being revealed—right up to the final page. If you feel like you’ve seen it all in contemporary thrillers, trust us, you won’t know what hit you. 

Will you come along and read with me?

Anchored in a Good Book,

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 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: 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,