I’m not gonna lie, folks, I’m really pumped up about today’s post. Since launching A Mindful Migration, I’ve made some new buddies, including the totally awesome, funny and fellow book aficionado, Jana from Jana Says. Every month, she hosts a Show Us Your Books link-up where you can share what books you’ve read the previous month. I read every single post in the link-up last month and it’s not an exaggeration when I say my reading list is now bigger than me! And I love it! I am so grateful to connect with other readers who love books as much as I do and offer such great recommendations.
Reading is a huge passion of mine, but it’s something I never really shared much with others. Some of my friends are not readers, while others are a tad judgmental and will only read “prestige” books. My tastes run the gambit: everything from what Oprah reads to chick lit to vampires and wizards too. Generally, I’m less enthused about werewolves, but it is possible that I am prejudice against them since I am a crazy cat lady. 🙂 Just kidding. Not about the crazy cat lady part — because that is true — but I like dogs.
What I Devoured, Liked and Couldn’t Finish
All kidding aside, I’m excited to share what books I’ve read the past month with you and I have linked up to this month’s Show Us Your Books, which always features a ton of good books, so please check it out! This will also be an ongoing series, so the first Thursday of every month, I’ll be reviewing what I read the previous month and giving you my honest opinion. It will be a mix of fiction and non-fiction with a minimum of one book focused on finance or mindful living.
My Favorite: Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
Book Synopsis: Is creativity magical? According to Elizabeth Gilbert the answer is a resounding yes! She takes us inside her creative process to unlock the great mysteries behind inspiration. She covers everything from facing our fears by befriending them, forming habits, adjusting our attitude, embracing inspiration and showing us how to give ourselves permission to create.
My Review: First, I have a confession to make. I have a sister blog called Eat Laugh Purr, which is an obvious homage to Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. I have never read the book or seen the movie; I just really liked the title. While Eat Pray Love didn’t appeal to me, I have enjoyed some of her articles and was intrigued by this book because I definitely consider myself a creative person: one who is often overcome with fear. After reading this book, it has become my creative bible.
Honestly, there is so much good stuff in there that I really don’t know where to begin, besides telling you to read this book! There are so many great gems, such as “The universe buries strange jewels deep within us all, and then stands back to see if we can find them. The hunt to uncover those jewels—that’s creative living.” This is something that I have really started to embrace. I always thought when you “grew up” you were finished and knew everything, including what you were meant to do with your time here. Now I am realizing part of the joy of living is discovering those treasures inside of you and also knowing that there are always more to uncover. You are never really “done”. A part of me always felt like a bit of a failure or disappointment because I was still such a work in progress. Now I realize that’s called living.
I could go on for another 1000 words about this book, but I won’t. 🙂 Because there was so much good stuff in there that I am going to talk more about the book and how it relates to mindful living in a future post.
To Read or Not To Read? YES! Go now and buy the book or borrow it from your local library. And if you’re like me, you’ll realize that you need to own it and may occasionally just carry it around to give yourself creative courage.
Unwind by Neal Shusterman
Book Synopsis: The premise of this book series is incredibly unique. Another civil war was fought in the United States, but this time over abortion rights. Abortion has been outlawed; however, when a child is between the ages of 13-18, parents can choose to unwind their kids. To be unwound means transplanting all organs from the child to various recipients, thus ensuring the child doesn’t “technically” die.
My Review: This is the first book in a series of 4 and I cannot wait to read the remaining books. There are three main protagonists that we follow: Connor, Risa and Lev. Each is to be unwound for different reasons and all are interesting characters. It is a YA book, so there are some familiar tropes but they didn’t distract from the book. Abortion is a very divisive topic and I was impressed by how well Shusterman handled the topic. I truly enjoyed it and think it would be interesting to have a friendly debate with both pro-choice and pro-life readers.
To Read or Not To Read? Definitely read it!
Dear Mr Knightly: A Novel by Katherine Reay
Book Synopsis: Childhood trauma made Sam hide her real self behind the words of her favorite literary characters, like Elizabeth Bennett and Jane Eyre, which makes it hard for her to relate to people and they to her. But Sam’s life is on the upswing now that an anonymous benefactor has agreed to cover her tuition at the Medill School of Journalism. The catch? She must write letters detailing her progress and experiences to her benefactor.
My Review: I very much enjoyed this book but suspect it is the kind of book that you will either love or hate. The book is all letters, minus the last scene, which some might dislike because it does restrict the story a bit, especially the ending. Others may find it hard to relate to Sam. While I cannot relate to her childhood experiences that turned her so deeply inward, I can relate to her not always feeling comfortable being herself. To not allowing herself to be vulnerable, especially in her writing.
It was quite obvious who the mysterious benefactor was, although I don’t think the reader was meant to be surprised. My biggest criticism is the ending seemed a little fast for me. Because of the format, I think Reay was limited in her options, but I would have rather she dropped the all letter format and made Sam’s forgiveness seem more in line with her character. While I do believe Sam would’ve gotten there eventually, because she grew greatly over the book, I don’t believe she would have forgiven in mere minutes.
To Read or Not To Read? My vote is read it, especially if you recognize a bit of Sam in yourself.
The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey
Book Synopsis: The aliens have arrived and they are not friendly. Cassie is trying to reunite with her younger brother with the help of a stranger. Does he have a hidden agenda? Meanwhile, the Army begins training a new generation of soldiers to fight the invaders.
My Recommendation: This is another YA series, which is not the issue. I like YA books, but these characters didn’t really draw me in the way others, like Katniss and Harry, have. I read a third of the book, got busy and forgot about it. When I received the courtesy notice that the book was due from the library, I didn’t have any inclination to finish the book or renew it. I do think teens may find the book more enjoyable than I did. It’s just not the type of YA book that crosses over well to adults in my opinion.
To Read or Not To Read? Skip it.
Comfort Reads: Books I Reread this Month
A favorite book is like a bowl of ice cream to me. Pure comfort food at its best. There are times when I can’t wait to dive into a new book and go on an adventure with new friends. Other times, I crave familiarity with characters and stories I already know and love. Two books I reread this month are both by Patricia Briggs, Bone Crossed and Shifting Shadows. Ironically, both books involve werewolves. 🙂
These two books are part of the Mercy Thompson series, which I started many years ago. With my aforementioned prejudice against doggies or wolves and focus on other books at the time, I forgot about the series. Last summer, I was going through all my old books and rediscovered them. This time, I fell in love with the characters and devoured the series. If you like supernatural books with strong female characters and little romance, then I highly recommend this series but start at the beginning with Moon Called or you’ll be lost.
Briggs also has a very good sister series, Alpha and Omega, that takes place in the same world. The first book in that series is Cry Wolf but I would actually read Shifting Shadows first as it features a prequel to the first book. And just to make things complicated, you should complete the Mercy Thompson series or at least through Night Broken before reading Shifting Shadows, which is a compilation of short stories from her world.
To Read or Not To Read? Definite read if you like supernatural or fantasy books.
More Great Books on Tap
I went a little crazy with my book requests and there are several books on my dresser and in my Kindle that need my attention. I can’t wait to start reading them and will have plenty of — hopefully — good books to share with you next month.
Have you read any good books lately? If so, do share! Also, have you read any of the books I mentioned? What did you think of them?