Saturday, February 2, 2013

21st century.

A while back, I debated to pros and cons of reading actual books vs. e-readers. And while I still truly love reading a good old fashioned book, actually holding the book and flipping the pages and all the delights that come with that, I have made the switch.

And you know what? It's not so bad.

In fact, it's pretty great.

I am shocked to hear myself say that but as it turns out, there really is something to these e-readers. As someone who likes to have a book with me at all times, just in case, it can be sometimes cumbersome to carry around an actual book in my purse all the time. Especially if it's a longer book or a hard cover, my purse can get awfully heavy. My tiny little Nook fits nice and easily into my bag without adding a ton of weight. So that's a bonus.

My nook has a non-glared screen (unlike a computer) so it doesn't hurt my eyes if I choose to read for a long time. While it's still not the same as reading off an actual page, it's not as distracting as I thought it could be. I've made the transition to reading on a screen rather seamlessly, and the added bonus is that the Nook has a back light so if I don't have light access or I'm with others who've gone to bed, I can still read.

My other favorite part of having an e-reader is that I have constant access to my personal library. As of now, I have a whole list of books waiting for me to read. New books. When I was reading regular books I would sometimes finish a new book but then reread an old one or two while waiting to get to the library or waiting til I have money to purchase a new one. Now I have books delivered electronically and instantly, allowing me to ever expand my library. Plus with sites like Book Bub, I can get cheap or free books, really cutting down the cost of new reading materials.

So I've taken the plunge and joined the 21st century. and I'm quite enjoying it.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Yes, Fifty Shades of Grey.

It's hard to really go anywhere or talk to anyone lately without Fifty Shades of Grey coming up.

It's been called the book of the year. Chances are almost everyone you know, including your mother or your grandmother, has read it. And wanted to discuss it with you....

Initially when I heard about this book series I was confused, concerned and didn't really know what to think. I had planned to swear off them, but when my sister decided she wasn't a fan and passed along the first book to me, I thought, what the heck?

Turns out, I got hooked. The Fifty Shades of Grey series by EL James turned out to be so much more than I had anticipated. Yeah, it's shocking. There's no question about it. But it ends up being so much more than a shocking S&M relationship and how far it can be taken.

The first book certainly hits the shock value factor. And I think it's part of the point. I would venture to guess a good majority of people don't really have any knowledge of what goes into a relationship like Christian has. And if you do, well, power to you! So sure, reading those very descriptive details was shocking. But once you get passed that and pick your jaw up off the floor, you realize how much more there is. It's an amazing love story. I am of the school that relationships that matter are difficult. Not in a bad way necessarily, but if it's that important,there will be serious obstacles to overcome. The love that Christian and Ana find is simply amazing. Not without it's many complications, obviously, but they overcome each and everyone with honesty, trust and love. It's really wonderful to read and see come to life in your mind.

With the second and third books, the story lines become more fascinating than I would have every imagined. The shock value dies away and the twists and turns of the intricate plots take over. As I read my way through the second and third books, I was enraptured. These books becomes serious page turners, with fascinating hooks and twists I never saw coming. The writing flows almost seamlessly (there were a couple of word choices that irked me but that's just personal preference) and Christian and Ana truly come to life as the stories become more in depth. It goes from an "erotic romance" to a mystery and a thriller and it sort of jumps around between genres without feeling like it's being pulled in too many directions at once. I couldn't wait to see what would happen next and how Christian and Ana would handle it.

Fifty Shades of Grey is, at it's surface, a shocking trilogy bringing to light a very taboo subject, but in it's depth, a great love story and a thrilling read.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Review: Gunn's Golden Rules

Manners matter. Whether it's holding the door open for someone behind you, saying "bless you" when someone sneezes or simply following the golden rule, behaving kindly toward others should be second nature. And it's always welcome. I am always appreciative of someone who holds a door for me, offers me a seat or any other random act of kindness. I try to act in the same way. Of course I don't always succeed (I am human after all) but remembering your manners doesn't only make the person on the receiving end happy, it makes you happy too. When you make someone smile, you can't help but smile back, can you?

Well Tim Gunn is a big promoter of manners. As evidenced by the fact that he wrote Gunn's Golden Rules: Life's Little Lessons for Making it Work.

Now I have to say, I love Tim Gunn. I love watching him work with the designers on Project Runway and watching him champion them on, help them through tough times and offer advice.

Gunn's book sounds just like him. So much so that while reading it I heard his voice in my head reading the words to me. (Which, by the way, was hilarious.) I enjoyed this book. Not only is it an etiquette book, which is find an interesting topic here in the 21st century, but he also inadvertently offered me advice on life, dating and behaving in public.

This book is written in a clear and concise way without a lot of fluff and stuffing. it's easy to read and follow and the chapters flow well and tie in to each other pretty cohesively. I enjoyed hearing Gunn's thoughts on life and manners, and I was certainly amused throughout the book with his stories.

That being said, I was a little surprised by some of the stories. They painted some of fashion's most famous people in a rather harsh and unflattering light. At times, it felt a little bit like a bash session, gossiping over the water cooler about "Can you believe what she said?" and "Did you hear about he behaved?" I realize they were examples of people who feel overly entitled and let that get in the way of behaving well, and the stories were, of course, amusing. I just found it interesting.

Overall, I truly enjoyed Gunn's Golden Rules and I believe he had a lot of intelligent things to say. I also believe his advice is helpful and his suggestions are legit.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

The Help.

I know I'm about 100 years late in this but..... I finally read The Help.

I remember when it came out last summer and how big the craze was. It was all I heard about for a while and I've definitely had it on my reading list since then. But other books came into my possession, time passed and it still hadn't been crossed off. Then the movie came out and I couldn't see that without reading the book first, obviously.

The book was just as good as everyone had said, and therefore, as good as I had anticipated. I had a hard time putting it down to be honest. I just wanted to find out what was going to happen next and I couldn't get enough of the stories. I also thought that it was interesting that it was told from various viewpoints, especially since those viewpoints are so distinct and individual. That said, I thought they flowed quite well together and they were sewn together with excellent and flowing writing. The writing itself was very accessible and engaging. As were the characters. The characters were so well fleshed out that they came right off the page and became real life.

Because of that, The Help this book made me angry a lot of the time. As someone who doesn't really understand inequality- whether its sex, skin color, religion, whatever- it's frustrating to experience such blatant and deep founded inequality and racism. I understand of course that that's just how it was in those times and they didn't know or didn't choose to know better. But I appreciate that I had such a strong response because that means the writing was successful. It didn't fall flat and because of that, I'm sure many people aside from myself had strong reactions.

Although I'm another 100 years late in telling you, I enjoyed the movie as well. I thought it was a successful portrayal of the book and it was exciting to see the characters brought to life.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

National Book Week.

It's National Book Week. The rules are: Grab the closest book to you. Go to page 56. Copy the 5th sentence and write it here. Don't mention the book.

Here's mine: ‎"her only saving grace- the only positive thing to come out of the whole experience- was that she'd apologized in his office."

What's your quote??

Also, I'm currently reading two books on very different ends of the spectrum. I'm reading a lovely little romance novel by Nicholas Sparks. It's sweet and touching much like other works by Sparks.

Then, and it couldn't be more different, I'm reading Devil in the White City. If we're getting technical I'm actually re-reading it. I "read" this book my senior year of high school, but not really and I never finished it. I decided now is a time I can actually enjoy and appreciate this book so I'm giving it another go. So far, I'm quite fascinated. Plus I always enjoy anything that let's me experience my Chicago home town pride.  

Monday, August 1, 2011


"Write when you’re inspired to write."

I came across this quote in a post from It was discussing quality over quantity- don't just pump out post after post of really nothing to say. Wait until you have something important to say and then write about it.

Lately, I'll be honest, I haven't felt very inspired to write. Whether it's because my job as a fitness instructor keeps me busy, that it's summer and I've been outside playing, I just have been inspired my anything or a combination of all of these, I just haven't been able to buckle down and get words out. Until now.
As far as reading goes, I feel like I've been reading interesting books but nothing that's completely taken hold of me so that I can't put it down and can't stop discussing it with other people.

The last book I finished was a Cathy Kelly novel, Best of Friends.  I enjoyed this book. The characters were likable and believable. I enjoyed the interwoven story lines and how each character relied on each other to make it through and different points through the novel. I also enjoyed that this was also a story of women finding their own strength and making something of themselves, either in a big or a small way. But unlike other Cathy Kelly novels I've read, this one didn't completely 100% suck me in. I liked it, but I wasn't in love with it. I don't know whether that's my fault (being lazy, preoccupied or something) or if this novel just didn't totally gel with me. It took my a while to get through,  which isn't necessarily a bad thing. Just a fact. I had a good time reading it though, so I think that 's all that matters.

I'm currently reading a book where I'm having a similar reaction. It's Windfall by Penny Vincenzi. Previously, when I've read Vincenzi's work, I was hooked. Again, I like this book. It's interesting. There are plot twists I never saw coming and characters with fascinating story arcs. I react to the plot lines as well as the characters, so I'm connecting with this novel, I'm just, again, not absolutely pulled in. I don't force myself to stay awake past the time I should because I just can't put it down and I don't need to pull the book out at every opportune moment to find out what happens next, even if it's only for five minutes. That said, I am enjoying it. It's well written, albeit a little confusing with a multitude of characters to keep track of, and intriguing. It's good. Not over the moon amazing, but good.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Review: Balancing Acts

Balancing Acts by Zoe Fishman tells the story of four women who meet up again at a 10 year college reunion and form a friendship like they never expected. Ten years after they've graduated, Charlie- a yoga instructor, Bess- a tabloid writer, Naomi- a single mom and web designer and Sabine- a romance novel editor, meet up at a New York get together for the college class. Though the women were not necessarily BFF in college, Charlie convinces the other three to try yoga with her. With that, these women's lives begin to change in new ways, both separately and as part of their newly formed group. They begin to open themselves up to new experiences, let down walls to allow people in and start to see the world in a new light.

From the first couple of pages in, I was totally hooked. Fishman's writing is accessible and relatable. As each character was introduced I found myself drawn to them, wanting to learn more about their different lives and careers. Fishman does a great job and creating uniquely distinct characters and it's clear that each woman has her own strong personality that shines through both narrative description as as well as through the dialogue.

From a personal aspect, I love that the story as a whole revolves around a yoga class. As both a fitness instructor and a person who practices yoga, I was instantly connected to the idea of the yoga class. Charlie, who left her job on Wall St. to open a yoga studio convinces her fellow classmates to try out her studio by signing up for a six-week yoga class with just the four of them. Initially skeptical in their own ways, Sabine, Naomi and Bess agree and as the weeks progress they find themselves getting more comfortable with the practice, with each other and within themselves. Displaying the changes yoga can inspire both physically and mentally/emotionally is accomplished quite well throughout the novel and I was pleased to see that.

I had trouble putting this book down. I carried it with me every where and was reading whenever I could. Normally I like to savor books and take my time, but I just couldn't wait to continue the story and find out what would happen next or where Fishman would take these characters. I become 100 per cent invested in the characters, which kept me engaged in this novel from cover to cover.

Zoe Fishman

Balancing Acts proves to be an inspirational story for anyone who loves the restorative power of yoga and of true friendships.