Tag Archives: book

TWSM Book Review ‘The Four Winds’

If you are looking for a novel to make you smile, cry, and marvel at just how strong a single mom can be, The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah is a great choice. Set in the dust bowl of the 1930s, The Four Winds follows the story of Elsa, a woman with the odds stacked against her from the start. As she puts one foot in front of the other no matter what, she finds strength that she didn’t know she had and love that she didn’t know she deserved.

The Four Winds is a New York Times bestseller that delves into environmental disaster, economic collapse, workers rights, and fresh starts. The story is profoundly sad, but it is ultimately one of triumph. It will also make you angry about the treatment of women and glad that you live in the twenty-first century (after Elsa becomes a single mom, at one point she is told to continue to wear her wedding ring because it would help her to stay physically safe and be viewed as respectable enough to get a job and housing?!).

Some of my favorite quotes from The Four Winds include:

“She’d learned how to disappear in place long ago. She was like one of those animals whose defense mechanism is to blend into the landscape and become invisible. It was her way of dealing with rejection.” (Chapter three)

“ ‘The things your parents say and the things your husband doesn’t say become a mirror, don’t they? You see yourself as they see you, and no matter how far you come, you bring that mirror with you.’ 

‘Break it,’ Jean said. 

‘How?’ 

‘With a gosh dang rock.’ “ (Chapter thirty)

“A warrior believes in an end she can’t see and fights for it. A warrior never gives up. A warrior fights for those weaker than herself. It sounds like motherhood to me.” (Chapter thirty-five)

The Four Winds is a novel that will draw you in, tug at your heartstrings, and leave you in awe of the grit and triumph that can come from love. I highly recommend that you put it on your reading list. Once you pick it up, you won’t want to put it back down.

Rating 4 stars out of 5 

Copyright 2021 by Visible Ink Corporation

Liz is a technical writer by day and a humor writer by night. She lives in Minnesota with her younger daughter and their two cats. When Liz is not reading, writing, or searching for new books to review, she can be found practicing yoga or enjoying time with friends and family. She is savoring the time that she has left before her younger daughter flies from the nest, yet she is also secretly looking forward to a time when she can travel more and not worry about anyone borrowing her socks.

TWSM Book Review ‘The Successful Single Mom Gets Rich’

 

If you would like to read a book about finances written by a single mom who has “been there”, then The Successful Single Mom Gets Rich: Take Control of Your Finances and Your Future by Honorèe Corpron Corder is for you. Corpron Corder’s common sense advice and empathetic tone can help you whether your financial concerns are big or small.

Corpron Corder is one of my favorite authors. She has written a series of Successful Single Mom books which are filled with hope, humor, and down to earth action steps. The Successful Single Mom Gets Rich is no exception. Corpron Corder is not a financial advisor. She is a player-coach, entrepreneur, author, speaker, and mentor to professionals around the world.

Here are some of my favorite quotes from The Successful Single Mom Gets Rich:

“One of the reasons I wrote this book is because I believe that regardless of where you start out, anything is possible for you. I want you to start to believe it, and eventually know it.” (Chapter One)

“If you are saddled with debt or don’t have an emergency fund, those are your first areas of focus. Every single aspect of your financial life must be uncovered and known. Very simply, you can’t get where you want to go (Point B), if you don’t know where you are today (Point A).” (Chapter Two)

“The good news is, and there’s always good news, you get to change your now, your future, and your children’s futures.” (Chapter Nine)

My only problem with The Successful Single Mom Gets Rich is in one of the single mom examples that is shared in the book. In the name of being prepared to move forward, there is an example of a single mom named Tracey who endured “on-going physical and emotional abuse from her husband” while financially getting ready to leave the marriage (Chapter One). Staying in a situation that could be dangerous for her or her children strikes me as dead wrong regardless of finances. Perhaps Tracey’s definition of “abuse” is very different from mine? I hope so. With this exception (which is reflected in my rating of the book), the examples shared and action steps suggested are helpful and uplifting.

If your finances can benefit from a review (or perhaps a complete makeover), The Successful Single Mom Gets Rich is a good place to start. Corpron Corder’s dedication to staring reality straight in the face while embracing prosperity principles and new habits can help you get to the abundant life that you want for yourself and your children.

Rating 3 ½ Stars out of 5 

Liz is a technical writer by day and a humor writer by night. She lives in Minnesota with her younger daughter and their two cats. When Liz is not reading, writing, or searching for new books to review, she can be found practicing yoga or enjoying time with friends and family. She is savoring the time that she has left before her younger daughter flies from the nest, yet she is also secretly looking forward to a time when she can travel more and not worry about anyone borrowing her socks.

TWSM Book Review ‘Breathing Lessons’

TWSM Book Review ‘Breathing Lessons’ by Anne Tyler

For this review, I chose a Pulitzer Prize-winning contemporary classic, Breathing Lessons by Anne Tyler. This novel is chock-full of lovable and quirky characters that Tyler brings to life with her incredible sense of detail, descriptions of family relationships, and perfect comedic timing. 

Breathing Lessons was originally published in 1988, giving it the feel of stepping back into the retelling of a family story from that era. Maggie, the main character, is like a warm, crazy aunt who wants to meddle in everyone’s life, but of course doesn’t see her actions that way at all. She is intent upon reuniting her adult son, Jesse, with his ex-wife Fiona and daughter Leroy. Maggie’s husband, Ira, is supportive, but more level headed than Maggie and along for the ride. 

Here are a few of my favorite quotes from Breathing Lessons

“Just once in your life, Maggie, I wish you would manage not to stick your nose in what doesn’t concern you.” “And if I didn’t, who would?” she asked him. (Part 2, Chapter 1) 

“It was amazing, Ira often said, how people fooled themselves into believing what they wanted to. (How Maggie fooled herself, he meant.) He said it when Maggie threatened to sue the Police Department that time they charged Jesse with Drunk and Disorderly. He said it when she swore that Spin the Cat sounded better than the Beatles. And he said it again when she refused to accept that Fiona was gone for good.” (Part 2, Chapter 2) 

“They were one of those happily childless young couples with eyes for only each other, and no doubt they were returning from dinner in a restaurant and now would…do what? Put on some romantic music, maybe something with violins, and sit conversing graciously on their spotless white loveseat, each raising a wine glass made of that thin, extra-breakable crystal that doesn’t even have a lip around the rim. Or maybe they would dance.” (Part 3, Chapter 4) 

Breathing Lessons is a great read that is fun, poignant, and manages to respect each of the characters in the book and his or her individual strengths and foibles. As a novel from the 1980s, it also has the advantage of being available for free from your local library app (or can be found for next to nothing used — bonus!). 

I highly recommend that you add it to your “to read” list of fiction. Enjoy! 

Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Liz is a technical writer by day and a humor writer by night. She lives in Minnesota with her younger daughter and their two cats. When Liz is not reading, writing, or searching for new books to review, she can be found practicing yoga or enjoying time with friends and family. She is savoring the time that she has left before her younger daughter flies from the nest, yet she is also secretly looking forward to a time when she can travel more and not worry about anyone borrowing her socks.

TWSM Book Review ‘The Authenticity Project: A Novel’

 The Authenticity Project: A Novel by Clare Pooley 

If you are looking for an entertaining novel about seeking connection, friendship, and love in our modern world, I recommend The Authenticity Project by Clare Pooley. It’s a book about the stories we tell ourselves and others, and how these messages can get in the way of true connection or help us to grow. 

Set in London in 2018, Pooley creates a cast of lively characters for The Authenticity Project. They start out as strangers, but their lives begin to intersect and change as they get to know one another by way of an anonymous “traveling journal”. 

Here are some of my favorite quotes: 

“She kept scrolling, despite knowing this would not be a comfort, more of a form of mild self-harm. Hayley had changed her relationship status to “engaged”. Whoop whoop. Pam had posted a status about her life with three kids, a boast thinly and inexpertly disguised as self-deprecation, and Sally had shared her baby scan picture — twelve weeks.” (Chapter 5: Monica) 

“Riley wasn’t sure how much he believed. Julian seemed to have been present at every significant social event in recent history, from dinners with Christine Keeler and Mandy Rice-Davies to the party where Mick Jagger and Marianne Faithfull were arrested for possession of marijuana.” (Chapter 19: Riley) 

“Before she’d had a baby, he’d never seen her less than perfectly made-up, blow-dried, and waxed. It had all gone a little downhill since then… Alice thought back to the days when all she needed were her keys, money, and a mobile phone stuffed into a jeans pocket. It felt like a different life, belonging to a very different person.” (Chapter 25: Alice) 

The only negative that I have to share about The Authenticity Project is the way in which Pooley writes the character of Mrs. Woo. Although Mrs. Woo is a lovely woman who is both warm and tough as nails, her dialogue seemed a bit like a stereotype of someone who learned Chinese as a first language and English as a second language. I don’t know if this is a fair criticism or not, but it struck me that way. 

Overall, The Authenticity Project is a fun and thought provoking novel. I recommend that you brew a cup of tea, put your feet up, and give it a read. 

Rating 4 Stars out of 5 

Copyright 2020 by Clare Pooley 

Liz is a technical writer by day and a humor writer by night. She lives in Minnesota with her younger daughter and their two cats. When Liz is not reading, writing, or searching for new books to review, she can be found practicing yoga or enjoying time with friends and family. She is savoring the time that she has left before her younger daughter flies from the nest, yet she is also secretly looking forward to a time when she can travel more and not worry about anyone borrowing her socks.

TWSM Book Review ‘An Invitation To Self Care’

“An Invitation To Self-Care” by Tracey Cleantis

An Invitation to Self-Care by Tracey Cleantis is a deep dive into taking good care of ourselves. Cleantis explores self-care in many areas of life — body, mind and emotions, relationships, finances, work, and play. The book includes exercises for assessing your current level of self-care and making plans to up your game. 

Tracey Cleantis is a licensed marriage and family therapist and the author of the critically acclaimed book The Next Happy: Let Go of the Life You Planned and Find a New Way Forward. She includes examples from her own life in her books, which help to make them accessible and humorous. As she says, “Even french fries and facebook have their place.” 

An Invitation to Self-Care uses 7 key guidelines 

  1. Self care is a daily lifelong practice 
  2. Self-care is self-love 
  3. Self-care means taking personal responsibility 
  4. Self-care means noticing what matters to us 
  5. Self-care requires attention and responsiveness 
  6. Self-care must be realistic to be effective 
  7. Self-care precedes self-fulfillment 

Here are some of my favorite quotes from the book: 

“To engage in self-care is to admit that you are a human being with limited energy and resources, and a fragile body that has an expiration date.” (Part One, Chapter Two) 

“You may be responsible for all kinds of jobs, tasks, and people, but ultimately what you are really and truly responsible for is your own well being.” (Part One, Chapter Two) 

“Knowing and responding to your introversion or extroversion will likely mean modifying your self-care based on what feeds you uniquely.” (Part Three, Chapter Five) 

An Invitation to Self-Care is about reflecting on how you learned to take care of yourself, how well you are doing that now, and how you can nurture yourself more deeply going forward to increase your health and happiness. If you are looking for a 15-minute read that will change your life, this isn’t it. By the way, please let me know if you ever find that book, because I don’t think it exists! I recommend that you take An Invitation to Self-Care one chapter at a time and see how you can use it as a valuable self-care tool on your journey.

Rating 4 out of 5 stars 

Copyright 2017 by Tracey Cleantis 

Liz is a technical writer by day and a humor writer by night. She lives in Minnesota with her younger daughter and their cats, Beau and Phoebe. When Liz is not reading, writing, or searching for new books to review, she can be found practicing yoga or enjoying time with friends and family. She is savoring the time that she has left before her younger daughter flies from the nest, yet she is also secretly looking forward to a time when she can travel more and not worry about anyone borrowing her socks.

‘Frankenstein’ TWSM Book Review

‘Frankenstein’ by Mary Shelley

For this book review, I chose a science fiction novel with themes of ambition, revenge, family, and dangerous knowledge — that was written over 200 years ago, Frankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley. Even if you don’t like “old” books I recommend that you give it a try. It is amazing how relatable Frankenstein is, and there are even free versions of the e-book that you can download — bonus!

Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (who was the daughter of Mary Wollstonecraft the feminist philosopher and writer) is probably best known for writing Frankenstein. It is one of the earliest examples of science fiction and is a fascinating tale of human nature written by a woman whose own life was no stranger to both tragedy and scandal. The novel bears little resemblance to the many Frankenstein movies that came after it, yet it foreshadows many themes in science fiction works to come.

Here are some of my favorite quotes from Frankenstein:

“None but those who have experienced them can conceive of the enticements of science.” (Chapter 4)

“Nothing is so painful to the human mind as a great and sudden change.” (Chapter 23) “Beware; for I am fearless, and therefore powerful.” (Chapter 20)

One of the most fascinating pieces of this novel is how the monster represents “the other” in society. Whether it be differences due to physical or mental disability, culture, or social class, Frankenstein’s monster is a perfect example of someone who is ostracized because he does not fit in. How he is treated by his contemporaries is a timeless story, and there are moments when the monster seems even more human than his creator, Dr. Frankenstein.

If I have one complaint to share about Frankenstein, it is that some of the prose is a bit formal, and therefore it can be difficult to read if you are used to twenty-first century English. However, that can also be part of the charm of reading a book with so much history to it. All things considered, it is an amazingly fresh read for a two hundred year old book about bringing a lifeless body back to life!

Rating 4 stars out of 5

Originally published anonymously in 1818 

Now part of the public domain 

Liz is a technical writer by day and a humor writer by night. She lives in Minnesota with her younger daughter and their cats, Beau and Phoebe. When Liz is not reading, writing, or searching for new books to review, she can be found practicing yoga or enjoying time with friends and family. She is savoring the time that she has left before her younger daughter flies from the nest, yet she is also secretly looking forward to a time when she can travel more and not worry about anyone borrowing her socks.

‘Where The Crawdads Sing’ TWSM Book Review

 

Where the Crawdads Sing

by Delia Owens 

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens has been on my “to read list” for months now. When I finally started reading it, I couldn’t put it down. Owens draws her readers in with a tale of love and loss so strong that it leaps off of the page, while including a murder mystery and stunning descriptions of the North Carolina marshland where the story takes place. 

Owens is an American author and zoologist. Where the Crawdads Sing is her first novel, and it has been on New York Times Best Sellers lists for over a year. Since it came out in 2018, you may be able to access it for free via your local library app without a waitlist (bonus!). 

Kya, the main character, is abandoned as a child. She manages to survive on her own in a shack in the marsh which is her home. While scraping through each day and trying to heal, she stubbornly stays alone in the wilderness which gives her comfort, yet she yearns for love and connection. She is taught to read by Tate, her first love, and is wronged by Chase, a local boy of privilege. Where the Crawdads Sing is her story — one of pain and ultimately one of triumph. 

Here are some of my favorite quotes from Where the Crawdads Sing: 

“Marsh is not swamp. Marsh is a space of light, where grass grows in water, and water flows into the sky. Slow-moving creeks wander, carrying the orb of the sun with them to the sea, and long-legged birds lift with unexpected grace — as though not built to fly—against the roar of a thousand snow geese.” (Prologue) 

“It seemed that now, Kya being more vulnerable than ever, was reason to trust others even less. Standing in the most fragile place of her life, she turned to the only net she knew — herself.” (Chapter 44) 

“Tate remembered his dad’s definition of a man: one who can cry freely, feel poetry and opera in his heart, and do whatever it takes to defend a woman. Scupper would have understood tracking love through mud.” (Chapter 56) 

Although Where the Crawdad’s Sing is a wonderful book, if you are in the mood for light reading or a hearty laugh, pick something else — for now. Just don’t let Owen’s novel fall off of your “to read list”. You’ll be mesmerized when you eventually get to it. 

Rating 4 ½ out of 5 Stars 

Copyright 2018 Delia Owens 

Liz is a technical writer by day and a humor writer by night. She lives in Minnesota with her younger daughter and their cats, Beau and Phoebe. When Liz is not reading, writing, or searching for new books to review, she can be found practicing yoga or enjoying time with friends and family. She is savoring the time that she has left before her younger daughter flies from the nest, yet she is also secretly looking forward to a time when she can travel more and not worry about anyone borrowing her socks.

‘Resilient’ TWSM Book Review

Resilient by Rick Hanson, Ph.D.

If a book has ever jumped out at me as one that I needed to read, it is Resilient: How to Grow an Unshakable Core of Calm, Strength, and Happiness by Rick Hanson, Ph.D. Although it was originally published in 2018, it has 2020 written all over it.

Hanson is a psychologist, bestselling author, and founder of the Wellspring Institute for Neuroscience and Contemplative Wisdom. Resilient delves into topics including mindfulness, confidence, courage, intimacy, and generosity. The book uses detailed examples and exercises to teach the reader how to calm the mind and optimize opportunities to connect with others.

Some of my favorite quotes from Resilient include:

“You can’t always count on the world, other people, or even your own body. But you can count on durable inner strengths hardwired into your nervous system — and this book is about growing them.” (Introduction)

“Thankfulness is not about minimizing or denying hassles, illness, loss, or injustice. It is simply about appreciating what is also true: such as flowers and sunlight, paper clips and fresh water, the kindness of others, easy access to knowledge and wisdom, and light at the flick of a switch.” (Gratitude)

“To establish a calmer baseline for yourself plus recover more quickly after stress, set aside a few minutes or more to relax deeply many times a week. Also look for little moments to relax in the flow of your day, especially when the needle of your personal stress-o-meter starts creeping up into yellow, orange, or red. In our overheated culture, relaxation needs to be a conscious priority.” (Calm)

If I have one complaint about Resilient, it is that portions of the book read like a neuroscientist wrote it. If you are a geek like me, this won’t bother you, but some readers might be more inclined to put the book down or at least skip around to the parts that appear to be more interesting and helpful to them personally (which is always a valid approach to reading a new book in my opinion).

If you are interested in becoming more resilient (and who isn’t these days?) Hanson’s book is a helpful addition to your self-care toolkit.

Rating 3 ½ out of 5 stars

 Copyright 2018 by Rick Hanson and Forrest Hanson 

Liz is a technical writer by day and a humor writer by night. She lives in Minnesota with her two teenage daughters and their cats, Beau and Phoebe. When Liz is not reading, writing, or searching for new books to review, she can be found practicing yoga or enjoying time with friends and family — usually around a fireplace or a lake. She is savoring the time that she still has with her daughters under her roof, yet she secretly dreams of being an empty nester who can travel more and not have to worry about other people borrowing her socks.

TWSM Book Review ‘Project 333’

Book Review of Project 333: The Minimalist Fashion Challenge That Proves Less Really Is So Much More

by Courtney Carver

Why not try a fall fashion challenge? Whether you are out and about (at least somewhat) or entirely house-bound during Covid, ​Project 333​ can refresh how you look and feel. I read Carver’s book and took the fashion challenge. At first, the idea of limiting myself to 33 items of clothing for 3 months seemed silly and not feasible, but I ended up loving the concept. I wear my favorite things more often, and I also mix and match my clothes in ways that make my life simpler, and am still in fashion.

There were several things that made ​Project 333 ​approachable for me. This is not a “throw out most of your wardrobe and give it all to charity challenge”. She suggests carefully choosing the items to include and then simply putting the others away for 3 months. The fact that I could technically back out at any time sounded good! Also, there are basic items that you don’t count in the 33 wardrobe items — lingerie, socks, jewelry that you wear everyday, and clothing that you only wear at home or for working out in aren’t included.

Here are some of my favorite quotes from ​Project 333:

“If there are one or two outfits in your closet that you really enjoy wearing, create a uniform with your 33 items and wear very similar things each day. Use other examples you might find on the internet for inspiration and experimentation, but give yourself room to be you and decide what you want to wear.”​ (Chapter entitled “Messy”)

“I prefer wearing clothes I can live in, clothes that fit my body as it is and not as it ‘shouldbe’ “. ​(Chapter entitled “Crazy”)

“Seeing the outfit you wore to an event that made you sad will make you sad. Holding onto your ex’s sweatshirt or your old work uniform can make you sad. You don’t get to hold on to people, relationships, or any part of the past just because you are holding on to the stuff.” ​(Chapter entitled “Emotion”)

By trying the Project 333 challenge, I found that less really can be more. I wore my favorite colors more often, threw together outfits more easily, and didn’t have to let go of any of the signature jewelry that I love. If you are ready for a change this fall, I highly recommend that you give Carver’s book a try.

Rating 4 stars out of 5

Copyright 2020

Liz​ is a technical writer by day and a humor writer by night. She lives in Minnesota with her two teenage daughters and their cats, Beau and Phoebe. ​When Liz is not reading, writing, or searching for new books to review, she can be found practicing yoga or enjoying time with friends and family — usually around a fireplace or a lake. She is savoring the time that she still has with her daughters under her roof, yet she secretly dreams of being an empty nester who can travel more and not have to worry about other people borrowing her socks.

TWSM Book Review ‘Beloved’

Beloved by Toni Morrison

 

I decided to reread my all time favorite novel, Beloved by Toni Morrison. This is one of those few “great books” that truly lives up to its reputation, having won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1988. In spite of the fact that I have read Beloved several times, it still captivated me. Beloved is a story of love, strength, pain, and redemption that is set shortly after the Civil War.

Beloved was inspired by the life of Margaret Garner, An African American woman who escaped slavery in Kentucky in 1856 by crossing the Ohio River into Ohio, a free state. Captured, she killed her baby daughter rather than have her taken back into slavery.

Sethe and her older daughter, Denver, are main characters in the novel. The “baby ghost” of Sethe’s slain daughter, Beloved, comes to live with them, creating all kinds of opportunities for revisiting what they have been through, the meaning of family, and their hopes for the future.

One of the most appealing qualities of Beloved is how Morrison shares both the incredible strength and the all too human weaknesses of her characters. The day to day reality of an African American woman who was once a slave is described in amazing detail.

“Quickly, lightly she touched the stove. Then she trailed her fingers through the flour, parting, separating small hills and ridges of it, looking for mites. Finding none, she poured soda and salt in the crease of her folded hand and tossed both into the flour. She reached into a can and scooped half a handful of lard. Deftly she squeezed the flour through it, then with her left hand sprinkling water, she formed the dough.” (Chapter 1) 

“Sethe had the amazing luck of six whole years of marriage to that “somebody” son who had fathered every one of her children. A blessing she was reckless enough to take for granted…” (Chapter 1) 

“And no one, nobody on this earth, would list her daughter’s characteristics on the animal side of the paper.” (Chapter 3) 

Although the brutality of slavery is depicted throughout the novel, Beloved is much more a story of enduring and overcoming suffering than a story of the suffering itself. It will make you laugh, cry, and want to hold those close to you even tighter. I highly recommend this book.

Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Beloved by Toni Morrison 

Copyright 1987, 2004 by Toni Morrison 

Liz is a technical writer by day and a humor writer by night. She lives in Minnesota with her two teenage daughters and their cats, Beau and Phoebe. When Liz is not reading, writing, or searching for new books to review, she can be found practicing yoga or enjoying time with friends and family — usually around a fireplace or a lake. She is savoring the time that she still has with her daughters under her roof, yet she secretly dreams of being an empty nester who can travel more and not have to worry about other people borrowing her socks.