Thursday, April 25, 2019

Park Avenue Summer


Park Avenue Summer by Renee Rosen     368 pages
 I first became aware of “Cosmopolitan” magazine when its intrepid editor-in-chief, Helen Gurley Brown, visited “The Tonight Show” with Johnny Carson in the late 1970s. It was on those shows that I learned of her radically feministic book “Sex and the Single Girl,” which was published in 1962.

This story takes place three years later, in 1965 Manhattan. The publishing world is still the old boys’ network and women were supposed to be at home. Alice Weiss (a fictional character) has left her Ohio home for New York, with dreams of becoming a photographer. Thanks to an old friend, she gets an exciting job as the secretary to HGB, a woman who knows what she wants but doesn’t know a thing about publishing a magazine.

The Hearst Corporation wants to shutter Cosmo, but HGB wants to bring it into the twentieth century and revitalize its contents and looks. She wants to aim it at young women who want something more before they settle down to a home and a family. It’s HGB’s job to turn the magazine around but not offend old conservatives. Easier said than down when the old boys’ network is sabotaging her every move and decision.

Readers get to see the birth of Cosmo and how HGB raised it from the ashes. Daily life is hectic in the magazine world, and readers get a chance to see what life was really like back in those days: the cigarettes that everyone chain-smoked, the lunchtime drinks, the deals.

Author Rosen was fortunate to meet and talk with Lois Cahall, the woman who probably knew HGB better than anyone else. I’m sure that’s why the story feels so intimate. With Alice as its narrator, modern readers get a glimpse into a storied past. Along the way, Alice finds a way to have everything HGB says she can have, and more.

 “Park Avenue Summer receives 6 out of 5 stars in Julie’s world.

A Silken Thread


A Silken Thread by Kim Vogel Sawyer   352 pages
I loved Kim Vogel Sawyer’s “Bringing Maggie Home,” and I jumped at the chance to review her latest book, “A Silken Thread.” This historical novel takes place in Atlanta and during the Atlanta Cotton Exposition of 1895.

When the story opens, eighteen-year-old Laurel Millard has a surprise visit from her six older siblings. They are concerned about their sixty-year-old mother. They feel that Laurel must give up her dreams of a husband, a home and a family to take care of Mama in her dotage. I admit that I laughed out loud at that. Sixty isn’t old, well by today’s standards. But in the late nineteenth century, that was considered elderly. Still it was a great laugh.

Laurel, wanting to please her much older siblings, stunned by their demand, neither agrees nor disagrees, but below the surface she fumes. How dare they ask her to abandon her dream! Although, she is recovering from a broken heart, she understands that she can still find a man. Oh that sound so quaint, but that’s the way it was back then.

Laurel and her mother don’t have a lot of money. Papa’s death didn’t leave then destitute, but they weave rugs and other items that they sell for extra income. Laurel changes her reasoning, feeling she must set her sights on a wealthy man, one who would be willing to take Mama into his household.

In order to meet these types of men, Laurel gets a job in the Silk Room at the Exposition. There she weaves the raw silk into cloth while her co-workers enlighten visitors with how silk is produced.

Across town, the wealthy Mr. and Mrs. Rochester give their son, Langdon, an ultimatum: find a wife or lose his inheritance. Langdon finds that special someone, someone who is pretty and obedient, when he spots Laurel on the fairgrounds.

An unlikely romance begins to take shape, until Laurel meets another man, one of the fair’s security guards, Willie Sharp. She and Willie become friends, but Langdon isn’t convinced. As the romance plays out, reads get to see various aspects of the Exposition, which are quite interesting and made me want to know about this event.

Against the backdrop of the Exposition, author Vogel Sawyer tackle racism in all its ugly forms. Willie’s best friend is Quincy, a hot-headed young African American man. 

I enjoyed this novel quite a bit. It seemed that dragged a bit in the middle. I felt as if the same scenes were being replayed over several times, in various ways.  Therefore,  “A Silken Thread receives 4 out of 5 stars in Julie’s world.

 

 


You Know You Want This

You Know You Want This: Cat Person and Other Stories by Kristen Roupenian, 225 pages

Summary from Goodreads: You Know You Want This brilliantly explores the ways in which women are horrifying as much as it captures the horrors that are done to them. Among its pages are a couple who becomes obsessed with their friend hearing them have sex, then seeing them have sex…until they can’t have sex without him; a ten-year-old whose birthday party takes a sinister turn when she wishes for “something mean”; a woman who finds a book of spells half hidden at the library and summons her heart’s desire: a nameless, naked man; and a self-proclaimed “biter” who dreams of sneaking up behind and sinking her teeth into a green-eyed, long-haired, pink-cheeked coworker.

Spanning a range of genres and topics—from the mundane to the murderous and supernatural—these are stories about sex and punishment, guilt and anger, the pleasure and terror of inflicting and experiencing pain. These stories fascinate and repel, revolt and arouse, scare and delight in equal measure. And, as a collection, they point a finger at you, daring you to feel uncomfortable—or worse, understood—as if to say, “You want this, right? You know you want this.”

The stories start ordinary enough but somewhere along the way they take a turn. I wouldn't classify most of the stories as horror but almost all of them have the element of the macabre. Despite the fact that most of them don't have happy endings I kept wanting to read the next story and see if it was different. The stories are very good but I can't say that I liked them and yet I am glad I read them and would highly recommend this book.


The Orchid Thief

The Orchid Thief: A True Story of Beauty and Obsession by Susan Orlean, 284 pages


Susan Orlean is a journalist. She came across a story about man who was arrested for stealing endangered orchids from a Florida swamp. Orlean goes to Florida to follow the case and ends up meeting the man. John Laroche had been hired by the Seminoles to set up a nursery and he came up with a scheme to obtain the rare orchids, clone them and sell them to make a lot of money.

Laroche is the central character in the narrative but Orlean also profiles several other people and investigates related subjects. Laroche is a fascinating man who begins exploring a subject and then becomes engrossed in it. He may spend years collecting items but then decides he is done with it and stops, never to do it again. She delves into the world of obsessive orchid collectors and producers. She also explores the history of orchid collecting, the history of Florida and the history of the Seminoles.

It does get a little slow in the middle but it is worth it to go through to the end. This was a re-read for me and I found it as compelling as I did the first time. I would recommend this to people who like narrative nonfiction.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Sacred Heart of Jesus

Image result for The Sacred Heart of Jesus Eudes richard flowerThe Sacred Heart of Jesus by St John Eudes, translated by Dom Richard Flower, OSB, 180 pages

Undoubtedly one of the most popular Catholic devotions, the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, while rooted in Scripture and Tradition, only became formalized in the 17th century with the work of St John Eudes and the revelation to St Margaret Mary Alacoque.  To celebrate the 300th anniversary of their founding, the Congregation of Jesus and Mary commissioned a new translation of some of the works of their founder into English, centering on this devotion.  The result is this book, which compiles many different kinds of writing, from theological treatises to spiritual exercises and the text of the Mass and Office of the feast.  In this, it is somewhat reminiscent of Scripture itself, and as with Scripture the diversity of forms is bound together by a thematic unity, where every line speaks of Christ and His Sacred Heart, the burning furnace of charity in which sinners are refined into saints.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

The Shape of Water

The Shape of Water by Guillermo Del Toro and Daniel Kraus     AudioBook:  13 hours and 28 mins.                 Hardback Book  320 pages                       

The genre description is the story in a nutshell but it is so much more and certainly worth a read.   The characters pop right out of the book and whoever did the casting for the film version was spot on.   Such a good story and so well told.     Who knew a mute Custodian with a penchant for fabulous shoes could mastermind, with a little help from her friends, the liberation of an amphibious/manlike creature (think Creature from the Black Lagoon) from his bondage and sadistic treatment at the hands of a violent special forces operative in a highly secret and military policed laboratory?   I know!  Its insane but it works and it is a terrific story.   Not to mention the mental deterioration of the special forces team leader and his Alabama Howdy-Do!  The guys poor wife is another fun quirky character as are the mute girl’s best friend – no one could be a truer best friend and the artist who brings his suave to rise to every occasion.   Excellent story!   I highly recommend it.

 - Shirley J

Tesla Inventor of the Modern

Tesla Inventor of the Modern by Richard Munson               Audiobook: 9 hours 10 minutes    Hardback Book:  320 pages                  

Fascinating look at a fascinating man.   I enjoyed this book from start to finish.   There is so much information here on Tesla the man as well as Tesla the Inventor.   I never knew he was a germophobe but here you will find what happened in his childhood to make him not allow people to shake his hand and preferably unless you were in his inner circle (he enjoyed the CafĂ©  Society of his day) he preferred people to come no closer than 3 feet to him.    He enjoyed chatting with women at dinner parties thrown by his friends and often requested that specific females be in attendance if the host/hostess wanted him to attend, but Tesla did not find relationships with women suitable for a scientist –women were a distraction from one’s work, he felt,  and he always tried to talk his male friends out of getting married so they could continue their work and better mankind’s lot.    The inventions Tesla came up with are seriously mind-boggling.   He was so far ahead of his time.    He understood and prophysized about internet type communications,  He could create lightning.   He figured out the principles of waves and understood how to replicate earthquakes.   He said he could knock the earth off its axis he understood the inner workings of the earth and its core so well but what would be the point?   I confess the things the man could understand and build and figure the mathematical equations of is so over the top and things found in his notebooks over a hundred years ago are just now coming into being.   Tesla was a phenomenon but without great people skills – he courted rich backers because his experiments and inventions were not cheap but he couldn’t abide them telling him what to do or to do other lesser things for monetary gain for them which is pretty much the only reason they would back him in the first place (what’s in it for me?).    So many of the wealthy set were so shorf sighted they saw only immediate profit with no long term support for further explorations to really let Tesla go and see what he could really do.   The man was the most far seeing far reaching mind of his time.   Where others went so far he went intergalactic and actually had evidence of contact with something beyond the stars.   Great book,  I am a Tesla fan and cheerleader and I was very pleased with this book, oh and though a gemaphobe, he loved pigeons, befriending them to the point he would let them fly into his hotel room at the Waldorf Astoria and allowed them to land on his head and arms and would feed them out of his hands.   Hey, we all have our “things,” and I suspect their gentle natures and cooing soothed his racing mind and brought his life to a calm place just when he needed it too.   I confess, I have a crush across time on this guy.   How fortunate those who were able to witness his workings in person.    I highly recommend this book.   If Tesla interests you at all – you will learn a lot of new things about his life and work, here.   Well done Richard Munson!

 - Shirley J

The Endings: Photographic Stories of Love, Loss, Heartbreak, and Beginning Again

The Endings: Photographic Stories of Love, Loss, Heartbreak, and Beginning Again by Caitlin Cronenberg and Jessica Ennis                Hardback Book: 136 pages             

All of the stories in this book are true, they are either things that one of the authors personally went through or a story of heartbreak, sorrow, resilience that someone told them about after having experienced it.     The authors discuss in detail all of the scenarios, then, they bring in known actresses to portray the real people in the scenes the authors designed along with the props they added in then they take as many photographs as they feel required to come up with two or three perfect shots that capture the emotion of the moment our eye sees and our hearts commiserate with.   They explained the scenes to the actors then let them run with it and followed the actors through the shock, the tears, the anger, the disbelief of the crushing blow happening in these Kodak moments.    When I first noticed the book I thought it would  be a gathering of photographs of the real people that someone just happened to be there in the instant and captured raw moments of sheer pain, severing from the soulmate you thought you’d spend your life with only to be left alone and broken or perhaps resolved that this too shall pass and as Gloria Gaynor sings, “I will survive.”     I felt it to be a great premise and the possibilities were endless for naked truism. People baring their gut-wrenching insides and letting the blood and tears mix on the floor.  Not so, though.    The actresses did their best, I’m sure, but, knowing the photographs were staged took away the realism and  the value of the photos in my estimation.   I was wanting photos torn from Life magazine’s style of random in your face reality shots of moments captured on film that could never be repeated because they were genuine.  They could be imitated and that is what these shots felt like.   They were good for what they were and the actresses did lovely jobs but nothing can truly compare to the dynamic effect of something true and beautiful in its simply being actual.   A good book and an inspirational one, as well.   I think creative people could take these ideas and expand upon them and come up wigh a myriad of wonderful art work.    I found the book a little flat and hollow for its lack of realism but valuable as ideas to spur someone on to try the Life Magazine approach.  

 - Shirley J

Lose the Clutter, Lose the Weight

Lose the Clutter, Lose the Weight:  the Six-Week Total-Life Slim Down by Peter Walsh         Hardback Book: 320 pages             Genre:  Adult Non-Fiction   Organizing, De-Cluttering Your Home, Weight Lose, Weight Lose in perspective with de-cluttering your home of stuff/decluttering your body of pounds, motivational thinking, Seeing how clearing your mind, serving you body by treating it to exercise as you exorcise the weight demons, the clutter demons and the mindset demons that keep you destroying your own self-esteem

Good book.   I enjoyed Peter Walsh’s take on how 4 things work together in everyone’s life: How you think is going to determine how you feel, whether you mindlessly grab any old thing to eat or whether you think about what you are putting into your body.   When your body feels good, your esteem rises and you feel like doing and being and going and becoming a part of whatever makes you happy.   He talks about how when you feel good about yourself your positive vibe will want you to look and be your best and exercise will give you that rosy glow and toned abs which will boost your adrenaline so you start to do more then you want to be more and exercise will get you moving and grooving then you are going to take a look around you and see how much stuff you have managed to pile up in your house.  You are going to want it out cause you are feeling fierce and have “Eye of the Tiger” playing in your head and you are going to feel like, I can do this and you are going to want to mow through your house recycling that pile of newspapers and magazines you’ve been waffling over, get those utensils out of that kitchen drawer that you bought with full intention of becoming the next top chef but haven’t touched them in 19 years – time to go –donate them to someone or someplace they will be loved and used, and those 6 different sizes of clothes you have languishing in your closet that aren’t serving you that you’ve been throwing your weight behind the door just to get it to close because your clothes are hanging out of it because there are too many for it to hold but like all the contortions you put yourself through to zip those too small jeans you continue trying to stuff more in there.  Time to relieve the pressure before it blows all those non-fitting dreams you are clinging to all over the house.   Eye of the Tiger!  Exorcise thoe non-fitting clothes demons – “Non-fitting clothes COME OUT OF THAT CLOSET!  Go forth to make someone else look beautiful and let me be joyful knowing I helped and oh my gosh!   Look at all the space I made –WOW!  I haven’t seen empty hangers and the back of my closet since 19?? Well, you get the drift.    Now you can revel in the you that you are right now in this moment, not who you wish you were or used to be or might be but the lovely you that exists in the right here right now.   Take comfort and joy in that and speaking of exorcising/exercising – all the work you have accomplished and space you have cleared out has worked up a sweat – lose those pounds, Baby!   Work it!   Keep at it – you can probably unload 25lbs., 50 lbs, maybe even 100lbs of stuff out of your house and now that your house has lost weight you ought to be feeling pretty good about losing some yourself.  Way to go!  Eye of the Tiger keep that beat going and you are going to see clutter going down and out of your house and your waistline, hips, chest and calves shrinking, too.  Now you are down to your fighting weight – keep fighting that fight – live within your mines if it isn’t a need – it is a want.  If you want it badly enough get it but for everything that comes in to your house send thing for thing back out – observe the one in one out rule and you will stay on top of clutter and tame that tiger before it rears up again.  Whew!  I’m pumped up and ready to go knock out my junk room right now!  HA!   That is what this book does for you.  Loved it and highly recommend it.  Motivational, puts things in perspective, no denial anymore.   See things for what they really are and how they steal your joy if you aren’t using them pass them to a place or a person that will put them to good use and see how good it makes you feel for doing someone a solid and smile when you see the clear space left where the item had been sagging against another stack lethargically like a little black rain cloud waiting to burst into a storm at any time and bringing your mood down every time you saw it or looked over it.  YAY!!!  Activity breeds activity put yourself in motion and it’s the butterfly effect throughout your house, your attitude, your esteem , your body, your new life!    Be like the lemur in Madagascar – You’ve got to move it, move it!   Move it out of your house and move yourself around the dancefloor in your happy dance at the joy of decluttering.  Oh and happy dancing burns calories.   Lose the Clutter, Lose the Weight – oh yeah!

 - Shirley J

Craft-Fulness: Mend Yourself By Making Things

Craft-Fulness: Mend Yourself By Making Things by Rosemary Davidson and Arzu Tahsin        Audio book:  4 hrs, 30 min       Hardback Book: 208 pages           

I liked this book.   I’m reading a lot of books on positive psychology lately, and this one goes hand in hand with that school of thought.   For years psychologists have studied what makes people sad, but, these ladies along with other writers you will be hearing about as soon as I get their blogs done,   are now studying how being happy not only is about lifting one’s spirits but also about lifting one’s general attitude about their work – happy people are more productive – they love their jobs and are willing to put in extra time on them just because they like doing what they do, homelife is ever so much better when people are happy – they go home happy and excited to be with their spouses,kids,parents/siblings, pets, friends/roommates and are far more fun in their interactions.    Ms. Davidson and Ms. Tahsin have observed how soothing it is for the brain to do crafts.  Whether it is knitting, crocheting, painting, writing, making pottery, whatever your fancy is, it relaxes one so much to follow that passion for creating something new that stress, anxiety, anger, pretty much all negativity melts when you lose yourself in creativity and crafting something.    It has been proven that regardless of which side of your brain you are using your special skill(s) to complete your vision, be it wood working or furniture making with lots of mathematical measurements (left brain) or whether you are recalling people and places from your past to give new life as different characters in the mystery novel you are writing (right brain), that sector of your brain will grow larger.    This book dispels the myth that older people cannot learn new things.   As long s there is breath in your body you can always learn a new thing.    The book discusses therapies going on with Alzheimer patients, teaching them to make music, draw, do collages of cut-outs from magazines, to enjoy the feel of clay as they form it in their hands into whatever lovely thing they want to or to enjoy the feel of the earth in nurturing plants, and the joy that is evident from the satisfaction on their faces.  Veterans suffering from PTSD (Post  Trauma Stress Disorder) who find making crafts calming to the anxiety they can get away from for a while as they let their imaginations run free and work through tragic memories that hound them unmercifully, yet, leave them stress-free while they are committed to weaving or other hands-on projects they immerse themselves in as they get in touch with their deeper selves on a lighter mental plane where happiness and joy replace harsh triggers setting them off.    Exercising self-expression is a balm to the soul and has been found ever so often to be a better medicine for healing than pharmaceuticals could ever be.    It is a precious release for those diagnosed with mental issues to work through what is plaguing them to find release to soar above what binds them to express the good and the bad and put the hurt outside of themselves where they can see it and deal with the now tangible problem in order to begin dealing with it and releasing its hold on them.     Introverts who often feel invisible to society because they aren’t of a boisterous turn overtly expressing themselves can find expression of who they are by following their preferred muse.    This book is about crafts and crafting but also about the release of one’s spirit in thinking outside the box and running with the play and the fun of the enjoyment of doing something wonderful that is all theirs like a sacred gift they give to themselves and then share with the world.    The book starts off a little slow at first  but then like floating through water drifting along on your back lightly using your hands to manipulate your way to other places  you find you are carried away to another plateau entirely where your thoughts can drift freely.   This is obviously not just a crafting book but a journey into the mindfulness and neuroscience of all the peaceful serenity crafting can bring you.   They liken crafting to meditation and I can see the connection.   Good book, give it a chance, it gets better after that slow start and it has a lot of wisdom to share.  

 - Shirley J

Wishes Fulfilled: Mastering the Art of Manifesting

Wishes Fulfilled:  Mastering the Art of Manifesting by Dr. Wayne Dyer                             Audio Book:  6 hrs.,  33 mins    Paperback Book:  224 pages   

Dr. Dyer discusses how to meditate so that you are actually tapping into the presence and  manifestation of God.   He discusses how in tune with God that Moses was, so much so in fact,  that Moses tuned in to the music that is God so that the beat and rhythm of all that God is which is so much bigger than anything man could imagine is felt as a vibration throughout your body once you tune in to God and the limitlessness of him.    He explains and takes you through how to truly let God manifest in your thoughts, how to meditate on the name of God that He told to Moses in Exodus 3:14, I AM THAT I AM and how deep in your spiritual journey and your quest to go deep into the spirituality of your meditation with God so much so that you can converse as your spirit contemplates all that is in the universe that I AM THAT I AM has created from the stars in the galaxies to the dirt under our feet and the sentient being He has made us to be.    Through coming into the presence of the Creator of the Universe we can hear the song that is God and feel the music of the beginning of all time flow into our bodies through the breath of God entering us and lifting our souls to communicate in a better more pure profound way.    I have heard such claims before, but, I have to say, that I did experience that oneness in such a tangible way I had never known prior to this meditation led by Dr. Dwyer and the notes in tune in a far more intense ethereal way.  It was brilliant and amazing.   I would recommend this audiobook to anyone looking for an experience that leaves you with a sensation of having been in the presence of His ultimate majesty like Michelangelo’s painting, The Creation of Adam, a feeling of being in and of something so much fuller than anything you have known but come away from the experience comforted, enveloped and surrounded by a total sensation of being revitalized.    I see why Moses’ face glowed when he came down from Mt. Sinai.   WOW!   I totally recommend the audio version of this book because of the music derived from the Kabbalistic interpretation of the letters in the name of God as it relates to musical tones they derived with a tuning fork.  It is mystical and while it creeped me out a little at first as it continued it became an esoteric sense of the soul  ascending to a higher and deeper consciousness.  It was a sense of being in conversation with the awesome wonder that is God.  It was astounding.  It was that oneness, that loved one to the Creator of all that is love, and yet, so, transparent as to be able to have this easy relaxing Q & A about anything and everthing.   Like I said, WOW!

 - Shirley J

Mindset: The New Psychology of Success,

Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, How We Can Learn To Fulfill Our Potential by Dr. Carol S. Dweck, PhD        Audiobook: 10 hrs.,  23 mins.         Hardback Book:  320 pages

World renowned, and after reading this book, I know why, psychologist, Dr. Carol Dweck is onto something here.   She has simplified pretty much everything in life by coming to the conclusion that everything we think, everything we do and everything we manifest is due to our mindset.    I have always ascribed to that philosophy, too.   I could be down or I could choose to be positive and channel myself into a happy mindset and accomplish stuff, you know the hey, pick myself up and go idea, or wallow in self-pity and accomplish nothing.  NO WAY!  Life is too short to waste it on being negative and this book is another book I referred to previously on the new phychology of positivity – it is all about the mindset you choose.   She breaks it down further to people either have a fixed mindset I am this way, I have always done things this way, my way is the only way, I will trash anybody that gets in my way but if you go along with my way its all good, I will not look for another way because this is the only way,  Iwon’t ever try any other way because no matter what – it will always be this way  which is all negative and leads to a pretty pessimistic life or we can choose the GROWTH mindset which is all about the positive  and learning and growing because if this way isn’t working, then I need to put in the time to learn the best way along with all that entails to find a better way to achieve my hopes and dreams.  Compromise is o.k. and you might know a better way to teach me how we can  all get better and lift everyone up to higher ground.   YAY!!!!   Let’s all strive for the GROWTH mindset not the FIXED living life with blinders on seeing with tunnel vision instead of opening our mind’s up to the whole picture.    GREAT BOOK.     She cites so many great examples and shows how throughout society in every imaginable situation you can come to realize if you are working with people with fixed mindsets or growth mindsets.   She demystifies how to bring both mindsets together and how to bridge the gaps and come to winning solutions for both sides of the mindset coin.    Seriously illuminating – she covers situations from work, home, romance, business situations and how to work with all groups, cultures to bring about positive changes and solutions.    Another must read – it will open your eyes to answers to what you may have thought were untenable situations.  EXCELLENT READ.

- Shirley J

Game Changers: What Leaders, Innovators and Mavericks Do to Win at Life

Game Changers: What Leaders, Innovators and Mavericks Do to Win at Life by Dave Asprey           AudioBook: 11 hours, 12 mins.         Hardback Book:  352 pages

What a great book.   I really like this author.    His main goal in life is to live to 135 years of age and kick a** till he kicks off.    And yes, he walks the walk he talks.   He has researched and performed experiments on himself from medical to dietary to psychological to find that which will make him the healthiest, most focused most productive human he can be.   He has studied with the greatest minds of our times, luckily he meets them as guests on his Bulletproof radio podcast as he brings in experts in every genre you can think of to help everyone listening learn how to be the best they possibly can.   He takes a sackful of vitamins daily,  he eats as healthily as the best fitness experts would recommend.   He exercises to get his boy performing at its maximum, but he wasn’t always conscious of all it takes to be all he can be.  While in college he terms himself a fat slob who didn’t move any more than It took to get food from the fridge and high carb snacks that his grandmother wouldn’t even recognize as food from the kitchen cabinets.   He ballooned up way over 200 pounds, he had few friends and no girlfriend until he had his moment of reckoning and turned his life around.   His story is fascinating coming from where he was to where he is now.   He cites so many great minds and there recommendations to live a fuller, healthier, longer more meaningful life.   There is so much excellent information and tips to be found here you will be glad your read this book.   You will be spurred by this book to want to do your part to make the world a better place and no matter the size of our contribution we can all be the world to someone and help in our own ways and Dave Asprey gives you a mountain of possibilities to begin and continue to work on to set your own goals for achieving a better good.  LOVED IT!
 - Shirley J

The Happiness Advantage

The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor           Audio Book: 7 hours, 19 mins.     Hardback Book:  256 pages            

Shawn Achor addresses the issue of how people find happiness.   People tend to think if they work harder and make more money they will be happy.   If they can gain more success, they will be happy, and so on.   It is kind of like procrastinating, we keep basing our happiness on this mysterious someday when I have all I need, then I will be happy, but, that particular someday doesn’t materialize.    Telling your kids you can’t take them to Disney World until you get all these things (long list) accomplished then you will have the time and maybe the money, but, years pass, your kids and your grandkids grow up and your biggest regret before you pass over is that you never got to go as a family to Disney World.    Promtions, raises, etc. will come and go, responsibilities will always be there with more new ones coming along every day- it is like looking for the perfect mate – there is no such thing, learn to accept folks for who they are and give you and your not quite perfect amour the right to give it a shot.   You could be missing out on so much by waiting for everything to come together – it seldom does and look at all the fun times you’ve missed by waiting.     Achor promotes the new psychology of happiness  - enjoy it now.    Choose to be a positive person, choose to be happy even if you have to really look hard.  Corrie TenBoom and her sister were taken to a concentration camp in WWII, and Corrie complained about the lice but her sister, told her they must thank God for the lice because the lice kept the German soldiers from getting too close to them.   It truly is all in how you look at things.  Mr. Achor has done a lot of psychological tests over the years, some he proctored and some he participated in himself during his 12 years as a Graduate Student at Harvard.   He lectures and offers workshops on how to become a happier person  studies prove not only do happy people live longer, but, they do  better in their chosen careers, they are better able to cope with frustrations and what would cause anxious reactions in others, but, happy people don’t sit around and grouse about bad stuff happening to them, they use their creativity to formulate ideas to find new solutions, new avenues to take, they don’t see problems as debilitating, they work out new ways to accomplish their seemingly insurmoungable task and get whatever challenge they face done and with a good attitude.     Really great book, so many studies discussed, so many examples given and the statistics on being happy in all things overwhelmingly wins the day in all the positive benefits to one’s health, relationships and well being.     He offers examples on how to teach yourself the skills to stop looking at the glass half-empty and learn the habit of looking on the Brightside of life.   He explains in laymen’s terms how we can train our brains tobecome more positive in order to gain a competitive edge and maximize our potential.    A VERY good book.   Treat yourself to this read.   You really will walk away with a happier attitude and a skip in your step.   Well told, Shawn.

 - Shirley J

Thursday, April 18, 2019

The Kingdom of Copper

The Kingdom of Copper by S. A. Chakraborty, 621 pages

This is the second book in the Daevabad trilogy. It starts five years after the end of the first book. Sometimes a second book will jump right back into the action but this one was almost a reset since the start is five years later. It took 150 pages before it got really good.

Ali has adjusted to life after being banished including dealing with the occasional assassination attempt until forces pull him back to Daevabad. He is reunited with Nahri but after events at the end of the last book he is estranged from his friend. He is also on the outs with his brother Muntadhir. On the good side, his mother has returned and his sister is on his side.

Unbeknownst to Nahri, her mother Manizheh (we found out at the end of the first book that she is not dead) is plotting to reconquer the city her people once ruled. Mother and daughter may not have the same aims though.

I can't say that I enjoyed this one as much as the first one in the series but I did like it a lot. Chakraborty has built a wonderful world, has good characters and spins a good tale. I would highly recommend this series to anyone who reads fantasy.

Devotional Writings

The Tower WorksThe Tower Works: Devotional Writings by St Thomas More, 309 pages

This book collects a number of devotional works written by St Thomas while imprisoned in the Tower of London awaiting his trial and execution.  Not surprisingly given the author's circumstances, two of the three main treatises focus on the suffering Christ.  The first, the unfinished Treatise Upon the Passion, ends with the Last Supper, while another, The Sadness of Christ, meditates on Gethsemane.  Linking the two thematically as well as physically is the middle work, A Treatise to Receive the Blessed Body of Our Lord, on the Blessed Sacrament.  

St Thomas lives up to his reputation as a scholar, a lawyer, and a Christian, combining a breadth of learning with keen argumentation, all in the service of an ever-deepening love of God.  Although he does not refer to his personal situation, awareness of it makes the texts more poignant, particularly his warnings against the treachery of flatterers, the fragility of worldly esteem, and the Lord's human fear on the eve of His Passion.