But I Don’t Want to Pretend (This Never Happened) #BHBC

The past few weeks have been a whirlwind of life for me, and truthfully, time snuck past me. I am sure the Jenny Lawson, better known to many as “The Bloggess”, would understand why it took me a bit longer than usual to read her memoir, “Let’s Pretend This Never Happened”.

Source: BlogHer.com

 

A girl from texas, Jenny takes readers on an (ever-questioning, “is this real?”) journey through her life. Her roots are in a small town named Wall (hello, I connect as I was a toddler living in “don’t sneeze or you’ll miss it” Wall, Pennsylvania). I’d say her dad and sister’s roles in her early years are more explored than the relationship she has with her mother, but you can tell that her family experiences shaped her life.

Anyone who runs into a deer carcass sure has a story to tell, and tell she does. I related to many of Jenny’s stories about growing up in a small town. Throughout the reading, I laughed and I also shook my head. Not every story was completely believable, but I hear that’s how she writes.

Jenny and I have a number of things in common. We could tell you funny HR stories. We both have a daughter. We both have mother-in-laws who have couches you “aren’t really supposed to sit on”. We both spent our early years in Wall (and we can’t make that up). We both (hopefully?) make people laugh. We both have felt like we never really fit in. We both have Twitter accounts (she is @TheBloggess, I am @mrsgregwillis). We both blog. (You can find her blog at TheBloggess.com.) And, we both have (probably?) never read each other’s blogs.

I know, I know. I am a blogger and have never read her work. But that is all about to change. Now that I can say I really enjoyed her stories, I am sure I’ll enjoy her blogs. She’ll just have to forgive me if I am a few weeks behind.

All in all, Jenny’s memoir was a good, light-hearted way to zone after some crazy days the past few weeks. And, she may have even inspired me to get working on my 30 by 30 goal to have 4 chapters of a book written. We’ll see. At least I won’t be a huge competition for her…because my parents made sure I had a fun childhood, but not the kind of childhood where you wake up to a dead squirrel. Bread bags boots, however? Check!

If you want to read more, head over to the BlogHer.com discussions we’ll be having on the book (and feel free to join in). Or, follow Jenny, or heck, pick up a copy of the book yourself!

Disclaimer: This is a paid review for BlogHer Book Club but the opinions expressed are my own.

“A Good American” #BHBC Review

I’ll admit it, I am a huge nerd for historic fiction, especially the kind of fiction that takes me through the Midwest. You know I am not a Midwest girl, but I just love the allure of plains. Anyhow, as a good American myself, I connected well with “A Good American” (by Alex George), the latest book I got to review through BlogHer.

Source: Blogher

George presents quite the journey of a Germany immigrant family (the Meisenheimers) starting with Jette and Frederick’s “snap” decision to leave their home country and make America their own. You see, their son was conceived out of wedlock, and Frederick was not the man that Jette’s mother would have chosen for her to marry. They hid their pregnancy for about 7 months then upon being discovered, decided to flee to America for the freedoms we know (and love). Once arriving in America, Jette and Frederick have to make the new country their own, and just like their happenstance meeting in a garden, destiny and fate have complete control over the events that happen to them and their family in the free world.

The journalistic narration by grandson James travels with the family from “love at first sight” through generations of cultural change (tied mostly to the family’s bar turned burger joint, a town staple) and drama. Every chapter stirred my emotions—laughter, anger, sadness, laughter again—because I could relate to many of the trials and triumphs the family encounters in their years as Good Americans. There are secrets that you won’t even learn about until the very last pages, leaving you on the edge of your seat. Every family has their secrets, right?

Speaking of secrets…I know I am being super secretive with this review, but you have to trust me—you don’t want the surprises spoiled. I love, love, love stories like this. George was so descriptive and I could literally see the novel unfold as I read it (all in one day—I loved it so much). Add this book to your 2013 “Must Read” list, and you will not be disappointed. In the meantime, you can check out the conversation from myself and others over at BlogHer.

Disclaimer: I participated in this review for BlogHer. While it’s a paid review, all opinions, as always, are 100% my own.

Finding the Willpower

A new year brings new goals and resolutions.  For me, it has been a renewed energy to meet the goal I have been working on, losing weight. After a holiday plateau, I have admittedly struggled mentally.  Good thing BlogHer sent me The Willpower Instinct to review. Perfect timing.

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This book, written by Kelly McGonigal, Ph.D., takes readers on a journey of self-control…essentially how it works, why it is important, and ways to (kid you not!) get more of it. She teaches a Stanford University course titled “The Science of Willpower”, and this book uses many of the principles.

McGonigal asks readers to think about “the three powers”: I Will, I Won’t, and I Want and how these three will help or hurt your goals…whether it be weight loss, getting out of debt,  or starting a new career.

For the purpose of this review, I took an overall perusal of the lessons first (not the recommended path) and for the past two weeks dug deep into the first two chapters and engaged in the exercises (willpower experiments) suggested. The book, ideally, would take 10 weeks to read. As an avid reader, that takes willpower to take it slow! 😉 But, McGonigal does it for a reason. Once you get into the experiments and reflect on the microscope questions she presents, you will understand.

In Chapter 1, the hardest thing for me to add to my busy life was meditation. I tried to add five minutes at the end of my workout or before my shower,  but I love my sleep. This hasn’t been easy, but on days that I do it right, I definitely feel I have more willpower and self-control.

This past week, I have been working on analyzing my stress spikes and sleep (which has not been great this week, thanks crud). The lessons have been befitting, mainly because I often let my stress reactions protect me from what is best for me.

I know the lessons ahead of me will be beneficial too, such as investigating how social networks play on willpower (where are my living healthy buddies? Bueller?) and looking at giving in and failures. So far, I have liked what I have dived into and hope that (based on my quick read) I continue to devote the next 8 weeks to this journey.

I mean, c’mon. Look at what this next week holds for me. How perfect!

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Hopefully you will follow along the next few weeks as we discuss this book more over at BlogHer. I am excited to share my journey there and hope it will lead to added weight loss, too! You can follow Dr. McGonigal on Twitter (@kellymcgonigal) or pick up your own copy at your favorite book retailer (suggested retail is $26). I am sure all of you have a goal you’d like to reach this year…what a great way to work on it!

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a paid review through BHBC, but all opinions are 100% my own.

“Reflected in You” #BHBC #spon

If you’re in the mood for a steamy romance, do I have a good book to share with you.

Reflected in You is the second book in the Crossfire trilogy by Sylvia Day. Eva leaves the West Coast for a posh life in New York and meets the stunning, seductive Gideon Cross. The two begin a sizzling relationship in the first book (Bared to You) and then begin to fight their inner demons of the past in Reflected in You.

The characters have broken pasts, ones that often get in the way of their intimacy and trust. Add two exes from out of the blue into the mix and things get a bit crazy. I found myself cheering for Gideon one moment then hating him the next, shaking my head at why Eva would even dare stick around.

Passion, desire, and a twist kept me on my toes throughout the book. Perhaps it was Gideon’s addictive personality or my wish to rescue Eva (I related to her on many levels), but I was able to read this book in one weekend.

Without wanting to give too many secrets away, this series definitely delivers on comedy, romance, and heartbreak. The third book (I hear) comes out in May 2013, so if you are like me and easily get addicted to books, you might want to wait another month or so before moving from Bared to You onto Reflected in You (just kidding, sort of, I have NO patience!).

Throughout the next few weeks, you can keep an eye and ear out on what other bloggers thought of this book over at the BlogHer Book Club site dedicated to Reflected in You. We’ll be talking about various topics as we discuss the book.

Trust me when I say (and many other readers agree–Reflected in You is a #1 on the NY Times Book List!) that this book is a good read for the ladies this winter.

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Disclaimer: This is a paid review for BlogHer Book Club but the opinions expressed are my own.