Reading Spaces, Uncategorized

Reading Spaces: White Bookshelves

This week’s Reading Spaces is dedicated to the humble white shelf! I love a good white bookshelf, it’s like a picture frame for your beautiful books! And it works with a variety of decor styles. I can’t wait until I can have a wall of white bookshelves like these examples!

All images via Houzz

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Reading Spaces, Uncategorized

Reading Spaces: Unusual Bookshelves

For the longest time, I’ve always described my personal decorating style as beachy glam. Lots of white, blues, and greys with seaside and metallic accents. Recently though I realized that there’s such a thing called Transitional style and that pretty much describes my decor as well. Houzz has a nice definition of Transitional style here. Because of my style preferences, I’m a big fan of white furniture and of course, white bookshelves. I also love simple furniture with lots of straight lines. But for the person whose style is a little more edgy and modern, I’ve put together a few ideas for unusual book storage solutions. Some of these bookshelves look like modern art!

All images via Houzz

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Reading Spaces, Uncategorized

Reading Spaces: Summer Lounging

Summer will be here before we know it and I’m already dreaming of whiling away lazy summer days with a good book. Truth be told, I burn easily so there isn’t a lot of difference between reading during the summer and reading during any other time of year. But that doesn’t stop me from fantasizing about basking in the sun, preferably on one of these comfy porch swings!

All images via Houzz

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Reading Spaces, Uncategorized

Reading Spaces: Children’s Room

One of my very good friends is having her first baby this summer. And that’s got me thinking a lot about how raising child is so different than when we grew up. 1995 is roughly considered to be the year the internet really became a thing for the average consumer in America. I was five years old at the time. We didn’t get an internet-connected computer until I was eight. I grew up part of the last group of children that really didn’t have an internet-connected computer at home during their formative years. The last group where playtime meant books and toys and going outside. Yes, we had a tv. But it’s not like it is now, where families have multiple tvs, computers, tablets, and smartphones in the home and on their person. A recent NPR interview with Adam Alter, the author of Irresistible, a new book about how technology is designed to be addicting, featured a section on usage guidelines for parents of young children. You can listen to that interview here.

I always give at least one book as part of my baby gift. I think it’s important for babies to be read to and for the love of reading to start early so then when they learn how to read, they continue picking up books and reading on their own. It’s no accident that readers are leaders. Where this very long train of thought has lead me to is these lovely baby and children’s rooms and playrooms that use books almost as a form of art. Children’s books are often colorful and beautiful, so why not display them? I love the way the books are displayed in these photos, turning the child’s space into a reading space where books are all around. Children are little sponges who pick up many ideas about what’s valuable in the world from their parents. Having books and dedicated spots for a child to read teach the child that reading is a valuable activity and fosters a love of books.

All images via Houzz

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Reading Spaces, Uncategorized

Reading Spaces: A Towering Pile of Books

I was sick recently and how I passed one of the days consisted of rearranging my bookshelves and creating my TBR stack. I posted a picture of it on Instagram here, but the pile is about 3 feet tall. It’s definitely become a problem in the last year or so that I have more books than fit on my bookshelf. This was the result both of loosening up on my ban against buying books and actually reading some of the books on my shelf which were the start of a series which read to me buying the rest of the series and then loving it so I kept them all. Anyway. I am very particular about how I like the house to be. A towering stack of books with no home does not fit that vision. But. While browsing Houzz looking at images of reading spaces, I found quite a few pictures where the stack of books just worked and even added something to the space. And, the advantage of a stack of books is that any space automatically becomes a reading space. Just hopefully you don’t decide you want to read the book at the bottom of the pile.

All images via Houzz

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Non-Fiction, Personal Development, Self-Help, Uncategorized

Getting to Yes

Getting to Yes by Roger Fisher and William Ury

Since its original publication nearly thirty years ago, Getting to Yes has helped millions of people learn a better way to negotiate. One of the primary business texts of the modern era, it is based on the work of the Harvard Negotiation Project, a group that deals with all levels of negotiation and conflict resolution. Getting to Yes offers a proven, step-by-step strategy for coming to mutually acceptable agreements in every sort of conflict. Thoroughly updated and revised, it offers readers a straight- forward, universally applicable method for negotiating personal and professional disputes without getting angry-or getting taken.

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I thought I was a pretty good negotiator. Good, not great. But sufficient. Until I read this book. Boy, do I have a lot to work on!

I feel like Getting to Yes will be a book I come back to many times. I found myself reading a section and then stopping and rereading it because the concepts felt so foreign I had to take extra time to process them.

The major premise of this book is that the way most people negotiate is flawed. Most of us negotiate in one of two ways: by driving an overly hard bargain to get as much as you can from the other person for the sake of “winning” or negotiating too complacently. The book calls this time of negotiating “positional bargaining”.

Getting to Yes posits that there’s a third way to negotiate that people can learn and use to find outcomes that leave both parties feeling mutually satisfied. No particular name is given to this type of negotiation, but it has four main components:

  1. Separate the People From the Problem
  2. Focus on Interests, Not Positions
  3. Invent Options For Mutual Gain
  4. Insist on Using Objective Criteria

This book was pretty eye-opening to me and it made me think of the negotiation styles of people I know well and people in power and it did made me realize that the best negotiators I could think of were using the tactics in Getting to Yes.

This isn’t a very long book, but it’s definitely a must-read even if you’re not in a sales or negotiation profession. The tips in here are applicable to all kinds of problems.

 

Fiction, Non-Fiction, Reviews, Uncategorized, Year in Review

2016: The Year of the Good Book

2016 IN REVIEW:

2016 was a lot of things to a lot of people, but one thing it was to me personally was The Year of the Good Book. I may have had whiplash from the terrible things, bad news, and even worse luck that rained down on us this year, but at least I had many wonderful books for comfort!

HOW MANY BOOKS READ IN 2016?

– 75 books

FICTION/NON-FICTION?

–   52 Fiction /    24 Non-Fiction

MALE/FEMALE AUTHORS?

–     35 Male /   23 Female

OLDEST BOOK READ?

-The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

NEWEST BOOK READ?

The Honor Was Mine by Elizabeth Heaney

LONGEST BOOK READ?

The Dark Tower by Stephen King

SHORTEST BOOK READ?

The Heart of the 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman

ANY IN TRANSLATION?

In Praise of Darkness by Jose Luis Borges

BEST BOOK READ IN 2016?

This was so hard for me to do in The Year of the Good Book so I’m cheating a little on this answer:

Best Stand-Alone book: Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

Best Trilogy: Red Rising series by Pierce Brown

Best Series Longer Than 3 Books: The Dark Tower series by Stephen King

MOST DISAPPOINTING BOOK IN 2016?

Winter Street by Elin Hildebrand-Ugh

MOST BEAUTIFULLY WRITTEN BOOK IN 2016?

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

MOST SURPRISING (IN A GOOD WAY!) BOOK OF 2016?

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline – I had no idea what kind of book I was signing up for, but I thoroughly enjoyed it!

MOST THRILLING, UNPUTDOWNABLE BOOK IN 2016?

Red Queen, Red Rising, The Girl on the Train, Library of Souls, Shatter Me, The Dark Tower series

BOOK THAT HAD THE GREATEST IMPACT ON ME IN 2016?

The Go-Giver by Bob Burg and Rejection Proof by Jia Jiang

BOOK THAT HAD A SCENE IN IT THAT HAD ME REELING?

Every book in The Dark Tower series, Red Queen, Morning StarCity of Mirrors

BOOK I MOST ANTICIPATED IN 2016?

The City of Mirrors by Justin Cronin and The Last Star by Rick Yancey

MOST MEMORABLE CHARACTER IN 2016?

All the main characters from The Dark Tower series: Roland, Susannah, Eddie, Jake, and Oy

HOW MANY RE-READS IN 2016?

One, Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

BOOK I READ IN 2016 I’D BE MOST LIKELY TO REREAD IN 2017?

Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard – King’s Cage comes out in 2017!

BOOK I RECOMMENDED TO PEOPLE MOST IN 2016?

The Success Principles, The 5th Wave, All the Light We Cannot See, The Martian, Red Rising, Red Queen, The Passage, The Dark Tower

FAVORITE NEW AUTHORS I DISCOVERED IN 2016?

Pierce Brown, Victoria Aveyard, Leigh Bardugo, Stephen King

MOST BOOKS READ BY ONE AUTHOR THIS YEAR?

Stephen King, with 8

FAVORITE COVER OF A BOOK I READ IN 2016?

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Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley

FAVORITE PASSAGE/QUOTE FROM A BOOK I READ IN 2016?

“There’s nothing fated in our stars. No meant-to-be in any of it. We are accidental people occupying an accidental planet in an accidental universe. And that’s okay. These seven billion billion atoms are good with that.”-Rick Yancey, The Last Star

“The road and the tale have both been long, would you not say so? The trip has been long and the cost has been high… but no great thing was ever attained easily. A long tale, like a tall Tower, must be built a stone at a time.” -Stephen King, The Dark Tower

“All his life he had wanted to be known by just one person. That’s what love was, he decided. Love was being known.”-Justin Cronin, The City of Mirrors

“Justice isn’t about fixing the past, it’s about fixing the future. We’re not fighting for the dead. We’re fighting for the living. And for those who aren’t yet born.”-Pierce Brown, Morning Star

“Survival is insufficient.”-Emily St. John Mandel, Station Eleven

DID I COMPLETE ANY READING CHALLENGES OR GOALS IN 2016?

Yes! I read 75 books, up from my original goal of 50 books for 2016.

BOOK I CAN’T BELIEVE I WAITED UNTIL 2016 TO FINALLY READ?

Many-Red Queen, Red Rising, Station Eleven, The Girl on the Train, Six of Crows, The Dark Tower series

Fiction, Mystery, Thriller, Uncategorized

The Girl on the Train

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

EVERY DAY THE SAME
Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning and night. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. Jess and Jason, she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.

UNTIL TODAY
And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel goes to the police. But is she really as unreliable as they say? Soon she is deeply entangled not only in the investigation but in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?

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I have a weird OCD habit where I have to mark off where halfway is in the book I’m reading. I really don’t know why I’m so compelled. It usually doesn’t create an issue, except in this case where it revealed the fate of a character. And knowing the fate of that character without any context made me suspect all along that they were the one responsible for Megan’s disappearance. And sadly I was right. So most people talk about the big twist in this book, but for me, it wasn’t really a twist because I was already suspecting that.

Still, this was a great book. I read so much and so often that it really takes a lot for me to have that craving to finish a book. Because 99% of the time I read every night before bed even if it’s just a few pages. So since I know when I get to read the book next, the intervening time doesn’t bother me so much. But with this one it did. When I got to the middle of the book, I was irritated that I had to go to bed because I had work the next day. And then all day long I couldn’t wait to get home and read the rest of the book.

The concept of this thriller was unique in my opinion…Rachel, the narrator, riding the train back and forth to London and observing the people who live in this house. Until one day she sees something bad.

Rachel was a character I wanted to reach into the book and shake. An alcoholic and a person who has trouble leaving things alone, I constantly wanted to yell at her for being stupid. But she didn’t bother me all that much.

I liked that there were actually three narrators for this novel and all of them were women: Rachel, Megan, and Anna. And the three narratives work together to cast suspicion, remove suspicion, cast suspicion, and ultimately reveal the true suspect at the center of the investigation.

I’m planning to see the movie soon. I think Emily Blunt is a good choice for Rachel. Emily is pretty, but in a sort of unconventional way and she has a mournful face that is a good choice to play an alcoholic. I’m not familiar with the other actors and actresses, but am looking forward to seeing how this book was translated to film.

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Fantasy, Fiction, Uncategorized

Magonia

By Maria Davhana Headley

Aza Ray is drowning in thin air.

Since she was a baby, Aza has suffered from a mysterious lung disease that makes it ever harder for her to breathe, to speak—to live.

So when Aza catches a glimpse of a ship in the sky, her family chalks it up to a cruel side effect of her medication. But Aza doesn’t think this is a hallucination. She can hear someone on the ship calling her name.

Only her best friend, Jason, listens. Jason, who’s always been there. Jason, for whom she might have more-than-friendly feelings. But before Aza can consider that thrilling idea, something goes terribly wrong. Aza is lost to our world—and found, by another. Magonia.

Above the clouds, in a land of trading ships, Aza is not the weak and dying thing she was. In Magonia, she can breathe for the first time. Better, she has immense power—and as she navigates her new life, she discovers that war is coming. Magonia and Earth are on the cusp of a reckoning. And in Aza’s hands lies the fate of the whole of humanity—including the boy who loves her. Where do her loyalties lie?

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This book has one of the most beautiful covers I’ve ever seen. Every time I would see a review for this book, it would remind me that I wanted to read it, if only because the cover is so striking. It finally came up as a Kindle deal so I was able to grab a copy of it.

Magonia wasn’t anything like I was expecting, but that isn’t a bad thing. It was billed as Neil Gaiman meets John Green and it is certainly reminiscent of The Fault in Our Stars (Green) and Stardust (Gaiman). Though the actual style of the writing reminded me more of a cross between John Green and Tahereh Mafi.

SPOILERS

I really liked how Aza’s illness was tied into her being Magonian and her lungs being more set up like a bird’s. I also liked how the knowledge about Magonia was plucked out of actual historical references. I liked that Jason, a main character in a YA novel, suffers from anxiety. And I loved the relationship between Aza and Jason.

END SPOILERS

Overall, this was a fun and exciting book that kept me reading and not wanting to leave the iPad at home in case I had a few minutes to read a little more. There’s apparently a sequel to this novel that just came out. Advanced reviewers seem to say either they liked it a lot less or a lot more than the first one. Hoping the sequel comes up on Kindle deal soon so I can get it!

 

Reviews, Uncategorized

The Honor Was Mine

A very special post today on Isle of Books, as we remember the fallen on the 15th anniversary of 9/11. For all those who serve at home and abroad. For all those civilians who have lost their lives to terrorists. And for all those who gave their lives in service to their country. We remember you.

The Honor Was Mine by Elizabeth Heaney

When therapist Elizabeth Heaney left her private practice to counsel military service members and their families, she came face-to-face with unheard-of struggles and fears. Emotions run deeply—and often silently—in the hearts of combat veterans in this eye-opening portrait of the complex, nuanced lives of service personnel, who return from battling the enemy and grapple with readjusting to civilian life.

Presenting the soldiers’ stories—told in their own words—as well as her own story of change, Heaney offers an intimate perspective, not of war itself but of its emotional aftermath. Some of these stories scrape the bone; others are hopeful, even comical. Every one reveals the sacrifices of those on the front lines and the courage, grace, and honor with which they serve.

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(Book provided in exchange for an honest review)

When I was first contacted about reviewing this book, I admit I was very apprehensive. I don’t normally read memoirs. I almost never read books about war. And I never read books about the soldiers who fought in those wars.

I’m so glad I said yes to this one. The Honor Was Mine is a profoundly touching look at the soldiers who fight for our country.

In reading this book, I realized how little I really knew about our military. It’s only within the past couple years that I’ve gotten to know a few active duty and recently returned military service members. But even that is not on the level of what this book takes you to. She takes us deep into the complex emotions of those that have served and those that have stayed behind.  In particularly moving section, the author writes, “When soldiers deploy, there are theoretically three possibilities: (1) they come home, (2) they come home changed, or (3) they don’t make it home at all. But in reality, only the last two options occur.” The Honor Was Mine is a book about a war and the soldiers who weather the storm of change.

The author’s own personal journey as a military counselor is intertwined with the many stories of service members and their families. Heaney takes us into a side of the military that is rarely glimpsed by the public. We get to know a little bit about how the bases operate, what life is like for soldiers “downrange”, the military spouse community, and most strikingly, the work that is done to return a deceased soldier’s effects to their family. This last was especially eye opening. I never thought much about what happens to the belongings and I especially didn’t consider that someone, somewhere, was taking the time to wash and dry their clothing, polish their shoes, and scrub their belt buckle clean.

The content it itself is tremendous, but so is the writing. The author has a great command of language and the organization of the book and the chosen subheads result in a book that is hard to put down.

This book should be required reading for all Americans! I hope this book gains the attention it deserves!

 

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