Nothing Wrong: You Do You Review

“There is nothing wrong with you.”

I’m of two minds when it comes to what many people consider self-help books. I think their intentions are often good, but I find a lot of them largely unhelpful when it comes to someone actually improving things themselves. Or maybe that’s just the way they play out for me.

But having said that, I have always considered Sarah Knight’s books in a slightly different vein than the typical self-help books. I own her previous two books, The Life Changing Magic Of Not Giving A F*ck and Get Your Sh*t Together, and really enjoyed reading them. So I guess it’s no surprise that I jumped on preordering her third book, You Do You: How To Be Who You Are and Use What You’ve Got to Get What You Want. A mouthful, right? Let’s just call it You Do You for now, okay?

Like the previous books, I would consider You Do You a no-nonsense self-help book. Sarah returns to her classic blunt tone—this book certainly isn’t for someone who would be offended by occasionally strong language (think curse words). But I think she blends the blunt tone with a dollop of humour—You Do You definitely kept me laughing. I guess it kind of reminds me of talking to a good friend. Not a friend in particular, but something friends might say to one another if they needed a kick in the pants. Make sense?

Overall, I think this book, like her others, has a lot of merit. There really isn’t anything wrong with liking things a certain way or asking for something you want. Truly, so long as you are not a complete asshole about it! I also think the blunt tone allows for an easier time of processing the information. It’s not pandering to the reader, which is how I feel about quite a few typical self-help books.

I’m not sure about in practice with this book, or Sarah Knight’s other books, just yet. I’ve only really read them, but I haven’t put a lot of the words into practice. I’ve been thinking about doing it, because I agree with the vast majority of her work. I think, so long as the reader considers her words and implements them with the right idea in mind (read: does not act like an asshole about things during this process), these books can truly help individuals take more control over their lives. You Do You is a great addition to the lineup. While you can read it alone, skip the others, and still gain benefits, I would actually highly recommend reading all of Sarah Knight’s books and doing so in the publication order. This is because each of them builds on the one that came before both in the advice Sarah gives, as well as  in the background Sarah provides on herself.

If you have read any of Sarah Knight’s books, including You Do You, I would love to hear what you think about them. If you have actually tried implementing the things she talks about—I would love that even more. And if you haven’t read these books? If you want to improve aspects of your life? I would buy a copy of them. And one for your best friend.

~~**~~

Title: You Do You: How to Be Who You Are and Use What You’ve Got to Get What You Want

Author: Sarah Knight

Publisher: Little, Brown and Company

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Fly: The Orphan’s Tale Review

The Orphan's Tale Review
“We cannot change who we are. Sooner or later we will all have to face ourselves.”

The Orphan’s Tale by Pam Jenoff is simple at first, then turns into so much more than one girl trying to survive in a harrowing war. Young Noa falls pregnant from a Nazi soldier, but is then forced to give up her child shortly after its birth.  Cast out by her family, she eventually stumbles upon a boxcar full of children taken from their families. A heartbreaking piece of not just fiction, but elements of real history, as I have since found out.

In an instant, she rescues one of them and begins to run from just about everyone and everything, keeping secrets close to her chest even when she joins with a German circus and begins to train as an aerialist with Astrid, a Jewish woman also on the run from her former life.

While I do not count out any one genre, I will read anything if it intrigues me in even the slightest manner, one of the genres I am currently most attracted to is historical fiction. Much of this, I find, is based around World War 2. Thought, it is not so much focused on the fighting as it is on people attempting to survive, whether it be on the run, in concentration camps, or tucked away in countries like England.

This is definitely a take I have not seen before, in that I had not heard of a circus actually hiding some Jewish people as they travelled through Germany and France. I certainly enjoyed the perspective, since it provided hope regarding some good people in what seemed like an insurmountable sea of evil.

But I was not hooked by The Orphan’s Tale, not at first. The perspective shifts and at times does not appear to be quite linear, though that may also be a by-product of the shifting perspectives and the inherent complexity it brings to the plot. I have always said books with shifting perspectives are immediately harder to follow and require a lot more effort on the author’s part to make everything clear to the reader.

There were compelling scenes in the beginning and scattered throughout the middle, but I think quite a bit of the impact is lost with the shifts in perspective, the downtime, et cetera. I’m not sure what I would change, but there certainly is still work to be done with this text, no doubt about it.

Having said all of that, the ending of the book is what really got me and is why I would still recommend this book to fans of historical fiction, with an emphasis on those interested in World War 2. It brings elements together and to a close in a fascinating and unexpected fashion. I would not have guessed this ending, but it is a great one and I do not think I would change it.

So, I guess my opinion stands as this: read The Orphan’s Tale for the way in which the story is wrapped up, but be wary of the middle and take pains to keep focused on the plots and make sure they are straight in your mind. You do not want to find yourself lost.

~~**~~

Title: The Orphan’s Tale

Author: Pam Jenoff

Publisher: Mira Books

Let The Ball Drop

So here we are, at the close of one year and the beginning of another one. I guess it’s time to think about the resolutions, right? That’s what it seems like everyone does at this time of year at least. I understand the appeal—a new year offers some kind of blank slate in the eyes of many. But I think just making resolutions for the sake of making them, or not actually thinking about the follow-through, is just a recipe for disaster. This is probably why I keep going back and forth on my opinion of New Year’s Resolutions, as well as whether or not I am successful in mine (if I make them). I could probably eat my words on this by the end of 2018, but I would like to give resolutions a serious try again. Well, no. Yoda might tell you there is only do—so I guess I have to think along the same lines! Time to get down to it then…in no particular order, here are my resolutions for 2018:

Physical, Digital, Mental Decluttering

This started out as different resolutions, but I realized they are about the same thing really, which is decluttering my life. The physical decluttering is obvious. I simply want to go around my home and throw out, sell, or donate the things I no longer want, use, et cetera. This includes going through my clothing (again) and actually evaluating if I wear each piece.

Digital declutter is very similar to the physical, in that I want to go through all of my computer files (both on my main computer and my older ones) and clear everything out. I need to run through all the muck and only keep what I want or need to.

Mental decluttering might not be something you are familiar with, unless you happen to be a fan of Sarah Knight’s books. I happen to own all three of them, and while I’ve only read them for fun, I think they hold quite a bit of solid advice. So I want to take this advice and really go for a mental decluttering. This includes only spending my time, energy, and money on things, people, et cetera I actually enjoy, getting my life together, learning to say no…you get the picture. I actually highly recommend you give her books  try. For those curious, they are: The Life Changing Magic of Not Giving A F*ck, Get Your Sh*t Together, and You Do You. I have a review up for the first two, just click on their respective titles, and you’ll get the third shortly into 2018.

Sleep Is Healthy, You Should Get More Of It

Somewhere in the past two years I started an extremely unhealthy sleeping pattern. I would consistently only get roughly 5 hours of sleep a night—6 if I were lucky. I would also find myself waking up during the night (for a variety of reasons). I’ve known this sleeping pattern is unhealthy for quite some time, but I also found I was unable to break the cycle. Thankfully, some of my circumstances are changing in the New Year, and they are forcing me to change my sleeping habits in a good way. I might not always get 8 or 9 hours a night, but I am hoping to achieve a minimum of 7 hours each night. It’ll take more than just the routine change coming up, but also the discipline and such to know I need to put things down at the end of the night and leave myself enough time to sleep. Maybe this means I get less done each night—but my body needs me to stick around.

Floss Every Day

Should we do it? Yes. Do we? Rarely. I always set out with good intentions on this one, truly. I know I want to keep my teeth healthy and granted they are for the most part (only one cavity from years ago), but I also know I need to do more in order to keep them healthy. This means actually flossing every day, or at least more often during the week than I do now. I’ll try for three times a week at the beginning and increase that minimum bar as the year goes by. Should make it manageable?

Drink More…Water

Simple, but effective. I know I need to hydrate more—not doing so has led to some killer headaches I could have avoided otherwise. So it’s just a matter of putting in a little more conscious effort. Maybe I start by drinking a glass immediately when I get out of bed in the morning. I won’t put a number on this one, because it depends on my level of activity on each day, but I figure an extra glass or two should be helpful as a beginning.

20 Minute Morning Yoga

Okay so I’ve tried meditation, however briefly, and found I could never settle into it. It was ineffective for me. Now, maybe I made some mistakes in it, I am open to that possibility, but I remain sceptical about its usefulness. But I know I do enjoy yoga, so why not use that instead? My new morning schedule will give me more time, which means I am fully able to fit in a 20-minute yoga session each morning. I think I’ll probably create it myself based on the poses I already know. I will also start by setting my success bar at three times a week in the beginning. By May though, I want to be up to every day.

2018 Is A Jar Of Good Things

At some point in January, I’d like to start a jar of good things. By this I mean writing down the good things that happen to me during the year on little slips of paper and putting them in the jar. Then I have two choices: I can either open a paper when I feel like I am struggling or just open all of them at the end of the year and reflect then. I haven’t made the choice yet, but hoping I will at some point soon so I can start this!

Time To Disconnect

I spend too much time on the Internet, watching television, picking up my phone but not actually doing anything with it, et cetera. I think it’s about time I actually carve out proper time without technology. My thought here is to choose one day a month (on a weekend, because I work) where I can completely disconnect from technology like my computer, phone, and television. I will obviously allow the appliances to make food, tea, and such in my home. The only concession I will make in regards to technology on these days is the alarm on my phone to wake me up in the morning, and the possibility of an emergency (e.g. if my parents call me). Aside from that? I’ll have to find something else to occupy me.

Did You Know I Speak French?

Seriously, I studied French for roughly eight years in school (including some time in university). Unfortunately, however, my French skills seem to have fallen to the wayside and, while I can still understand it and speak some, my abilities are definitely rusty. My goal for 2018 is to actually dust off these skills. I know I have a set of textbooks with formal lessons to help with this, but I’ve also decided to add reading French books to help. I plan to start with books I’ve already read in English, but hope to progress to ones I have not read in English by the time 2018 ends.

Get Out Of My House

I spend way too much time doing things on my one. It’s how I read so much, watch as much television as I do, et cetera. While I enjoy all of these things, I’ve also come to realize doing so much is a detriment to many other things I want to accomplish in my life. This realization has come up quite often in the last year, much to my mental health’s chagrin, so I know it’s time to shift things. I don’t know how much more I want to get out, but I want to do more things. I want to go places, eat out with friends, and maybe even go out for Happy Hour sometimes. I don’t have all the specifics laid out, but I do know I need to make more of an effort otherwise I am liable to end up a crazy puppy lady.

Visit The Farmer’s Market

I’ve known about a local farmer’s market for just about the same amount of time I’ve lived in my current place, and yet I have never actually gone to it. This year, partially in connection to getting out of the house more, I would like to make an effort to go on a regular basis. My current line of thought is to go once a month, except in the summer, where I would increase that to every week. I’m not going to force myself to buy something every single time—after all, I don’t actually know what the selection is going to be like yet—but I think this would be a lovely thing to try.

Catch A Live Play

When I was in high school, we took a class trip to see two plays at a famous festival (one musical, one Shakespeare). It was a wonderful experience. As luck would have it, I only live about an hour away from where this festival takes place. So why not pick a day and go catch a play this year? I have seen the playbill and there are a number of cool options—not sure what I will pick just yet, but I think it might be fun! Haven’t seen something live in a very long time.

Read For Quality

During 2017 I have been trying to read as many books as possible. I wanted to beat my previous record of 101 books in a year. I know it’s the last day of the year, but I still do not have a final count, though I left my record in the dust a little while back. Having said that, I don’t think I want to do this again. It’ll be a habit to break, I’m sure, but I actually want to shift my focus. I want to read books for their quality rather than their quantity. For instance, I’ve been putting off reading one of J.R.R. Tolkien’s books simply because I know it will take up quite a bit of my time. It shouldn’t be like that. I should revel in what I read. Savour it. Thus, this resolution!

 

Well, I think this is it for my list this year. I might think of more, but who knows. Besides, I think this could be a pretty hefty undertaking. Not sure what I’ve gotten myself in for! But now I would love to know…are you making any New Year’s Resolutions? What are they? Why are you making them? Share all in the comments below!

Shiny: Magpie Murders Review

magpie murders review
“The most obvious conclusions are the ones I try to avoid.”

When I first heard about Magpie Murders, I knew very little. Frankly, all I can remember from the first whisperings is the fact it was a mystery and the idea behind it intrigued me. I figured, as you might expect, it was simply a straightforward murder and accompanying investigation. This was certainly not the case.

Magpie Murders features Susan Ryeland, who was recently given Alan Conway’s new manuscript for a book entitled Magpie Murders. It is, she explains to the reader, a book that changed her life. She goes on to include the manuscript and lets us form our own opinions of a classic British mystery similar to the likes of the infamous Agatha Christie.

I love the idea of a story within a story, which is what we get with Horowitz’s book. I also love that the second story is a classic British one. I have a lot of experience with other sorts of mysteries, but less so with the simple, classic method. As such, it was a refreshing change to visit a town and delve into a simple detective story. It really makes me want to read some of Agatha Christie’s work. Perhaps those will go on my list when I next have an opening.

One criticism you might hear regarding Magpie Murders is that it could have used a copy editor. I’m not sure about this, as the overall book presents the manuscript as unedited. This is why Susan has it, after all, she is meant to go over everything. Besides, I know from my education that copy editing is essentially the last piece. You go over the bigger picture and plot stuff first. You would correct some mistakes as you go, should you notice them, but it is not the focus until the overall story and significant points are nailed down.

Magpie Murders, both the manuscript and the bigger story, do what I like any mystery I read to do. They do not allow me to guess the ending, the whodunit, before I arrive at their intended reveal. I never truly try to guess, but when I do manage to figure it out, it always dramatically lessens my enjoyment. I want the surprise. I want to be fooled. I love nothing more in Magpie Murders than the fact it managed to do it multiple times.

The writing itself isn’t particularly flowery, but again it is not something that would suit this sort of mystery novel. The writing you get does match the genre, which is more important than any descriptions, flowy language, et cetera, at least if you ask me.

If you are a fan of mystery novels even just a little, I would highly recommend reading Magpie Murders. Even with the idea of a story within a story, the plot is something easy to follow and yet I am still willing to bet this book will fool you in the end. So I ask you to share when you do read this book: Was I right? Were you fooled?

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Title: Magpie Murders

Author: Anthony Horowitz

Publisher: HarperCollins

Mind Matters: My Lovely Wife In The Psych Ward Review

My Lovely Wife In The Psych Ward by Mark Lukach is a memoir detailing his account of caring for his wife, Giulia, who suffers from a severe mental illness, originally diagnosed as schizophrenia and later as bipolar disorder. It starts telling their story prior to the first major episode, and carries on quite a ways through their lives together, including through the birth of their son.

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