Summer 2013 Books

This summer I attempted to get as much read as possible before my little one comes and all my free time will be consumed in loving him. Just so you understand ahead of time I am not a fast reader. I grew up needing special classes to work on my reading skills when I was in elementary and early middle school. For this reason I am a horrible speller (without spell check I would be seriously lost) and there are times I still can’t pronounce a word right. So my ability to get four books read in a single summer is AMAZING for me.

Now back to the point of this post…

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Book Reviews From 2012

images (6)I have just started reading books from WWII and While We’re Far Apart was a great starting point. I am a huge Lynn Austin fan. I read pretty much every book she writes because they are always so thrilling and I am never really sure where her stories will go. This book was no exception

To me this book had three stories intermingled into one another. First is Jacob Mendel; a Jewish widower living in New York and dealing with the grief of losing his wife in a terrible accident along with waiting to hear from news of his son who is in Hungary. He rents out the upstairs apartment to a man named Eddie Shaffer who has two children. Esther the daughter is upset with her father who is about to leave her and her younger brother Peter to go to war. Their mother Rachel was killed in the same terrible accident as Mr. Mendel’s wife.

Eddie attempts to have his children stay with his mother while he goes away when Penny, the daughter of the next door neighbors to his mother offers to watch the children for him. Penny is in love with Eddie and thinks that by watching his children Eddie will want to marry her when he returns from the war.

My feelings about this book are so parallel to this reivew on that I just figured I would share it instead of copying it into my own reivew saying the same thing.

This book raises so many important topics. It takes place in Manhatten during WWII, so it touches on how the war affected those left behind, the constant worry and wonder with limited info due to a much reduced communications system than we have now, rations, hunger, the way the servicemen were treated and greeted – all military were very valued during that time. It’s also a coming of age story. Age is explored from many perspectives – from the young to the old. I love in this book how valued and respected old Mr Mendel becomes to his young neighbors. He needed them too, but most touching to me was how much he had to offer – a lifetime of experiences and they appreciated that. I learned so much about the Jewish faith. This book really delves deeply into Jew’s beliefs – their diet, their holidays, their habits, the different ways in which they were grouped and treated. VERY interesting. We also get a slight look into how the holocaust affected Hungarian Jews, following the true timeline of what occured. I loved the addition of the Swedish guy who appeared in Hungary to save so many Jews from almost certain death. I didn’t realize that he was a “real” person until the very end where the author recognized him as a hero.


My last little note is how much I loved that this book was not all about the typical romance story. There is a touch of romance intertwined into the story but in such a downplayed way its not enough to make you sick.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society was a truly charming book!! It’s based during the time right after world war II when London is trying to rebuild itself (1946). You can’t help but fall in love with the characters and all their little kinks that you learn about them as the story goes along. Its a unique book in that its entirely made up by letters revolving around a young author looking for her next book. Her name is Juliet Ashton and I promise you will fall in love with her by the time you are done reading this book. Juliet receives a letter from a man on Guernsey Island who came across her name in a book written by Charles Lamb, who just happens to be his favorite author. They correspond to each other and Juliet is opened up to the literary society club on Guernsey, made up on the side of the road to get out of being punished for being out passed curfew. They call themselves the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. (I have stolen this last sentence from goodreads description) Juliet begins a remarkable correspondence with the society’s members, learning about their island, their taste in books, and the impact the recent German occupation has had on their lives. Captivated by their stories, she sets sail for Guernsey, and what she finds will change her forever.

The book is made up into two sections; the first being while Juliet is still in London and only writing to the society on Guernsey and the second while she is actually staying on Guernsey Island herself.

All this great description being said, I truly found that I am not a fan of books made up of letters. Though there were parts that made me laugh out loud and others that I learned valuable information from, I just find that I was lost trying to figure out who was who for a long while. It truly is a charming story with great characters and if you like letters then I think you would enjoy the story. There is also rumor that the movie will be coming out soon and the best part Kate Winslet will be starring as Juliet!


“I have a history of making decisions very quickly about men. I have always fallen in love fast and without measuring risks. I have a tendency not only to see the best in everyone, but to assume that everyone is emotionally capable of reaching his highest potential. I have fallen in love more times than I care to count with the highest potential of a man, rather than with the man himself, and I have hung on to the relationship for a long time (sometimes far too long) waiting for the man to ascend to his own greatness. Many times in romance I have been a victim of my own optimism.”
― Elizabeth Gilbert

I came across wanting to read this book a lot later then most. Julie Roberts starring in the movie of this book I believe made a lot of women want to read the book just like a lot of movies do. I however watched the movie and honestly wasn’t in love with it. I thought it had some good scenes, but it didn’t make me want to run out to the store and buy it. When after reading the Happiness Project  however I found Elizabeth’s book recommended by Gretchen I figured I would give it a shot, and I am so glad I did.

Eat, Pray, Love the book is by far now one of my favorite reads ever. It brought me on a roller-coaster of a emotions right along with the actual roller-coaster the author was traveling on. Her descriptions of every situation she is going through is so well written that I can actually place myself in her shoes for a moment and feel the pain or happiness she is describing. I have no idea how she manages to do it (and I am sure I am not the only one who feels this way); but she finds a way to write sentences that could be torn out of her book and placed into my own journals.

“Happiness is the consequence of personal effort. You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it, and sometimes even travel around the world looking for it. You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestations of your own blessings. And once you have achieved a state of happiness, you must never become lax about maintaining it. You must make a mighty effort to keep swimming upward into that happiness forever, to stay afloat on top of it.”
― Elizabeth Gilbert

The Happiness Project By Gretchen Rubin

It was the end of 2011; decisions of my new years resolutions were upon me. I wasn’t exactly sure what I wanted just that I was craving a change. That craving found me ordering a few books off of Amazon. Little did I know that one of the books was exactly the craving of change I had been looking for. It drew me in like a parched land in need of water. Within the first page I found what I had been craving; By the first chapter I knew I would be creating my very own Happiness Project!
The book starts out by Gretchen explaining how she realized that she needed more happiness in her life and that if she wanted that to be she was going to have to make it happen for herself. She gives the reader her personal commandments and her secrets to adulthood all before she digs into her year of happiness. She also gives you an idea of what her year was going to focus on. The way she structured her book is truly what I believe what drew me in so much. Laying everything out for all to see is so helpful. Its funny I never realized how much I crave order and structure until reading this book. A salve to my unknown wound.
Every chapter is a month and within each month she explains what that month of resolutions is about and how she went about them. What I love most about this book is that she relates her personal commandments and secrets of adulthood into her writing so you understand where she is coming from. Also I love that she doesn’t just say everything went fine she writes about the good and the bad and I actually think that when things didn’t go according to how she expected she learned more. If she had only written about the good parts of her experiment I wouldn’t have started my own project. It would have been to tough to try and perfect a project in that way. The unknown of her failure would have been hard to compete with; For that I am so thankful she wrote about both the good and the bad.
The end of the book she has a two page explanation of what happened after her year was up and I think it was just the best way for her to summarize how she felt. I love this book; I highly recommend it to anyone who would like to become happier themselves. You don’t have to devote a whole year to happiness as Gretchen did or how I am planning on but you could simply do a weeks worth at a time.
Being happy is something you must do for yourself and this book has opened the door for me. I will forever be grateful to Gretchen Rubin for writing this book!