Humanity

Review: The Buddha in the Attic


The Buddha in the Attic
The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book was chosen for the Book Club Read this month. (http://www.bountifulbookclub.blogspot.com/) I don’t often attend, but usually try to read the book, if it’s available through the Pioneer Library, my main resource for my books. (http://pioneerutah.lib.overdrive.com/B9A44FC8-1126-4EBC-AB38-7E0F204B5EB2/10/50/en/Default.htm) I was pleasantly surprised to find this one available, and it was a quick read. Although, I would not classify it as easy. In fact it was rather heavy.

The story was told from the mindset of the Japanese Mail Order Brides / Picture Brides (kind of reminded me of the Borg on some levels) taking place just prior to Pearl Harbor being bombed. They told of what promises and hopes they had in mind, and their realities, and shattered dreams, they tell of their treatments, and always being on the outside and then move into the suspicion, going into hiding, and then the disappearing.

Overall it was very interesting, really opened my understanding much more. Despite it being a short read, and with the risk of redundancy, it was very heavy and heartbreaking. Nonetheless, it’s a read I recommend just once.

(Actually finished 20 January 2014)

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Review: The Book Thief


The Book Thief
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’m not sure what I had expected when starting to read this book. I honestly didn’t know what it was about, just that it was a popular read and that they made a movie out of it. I was hoping it would be decent, as I often don’t enjoy ‘popular’ books. I have to say I was very pleased with this great read. Another surprise was that it was another telling of the horrors during World Ward II & occupied Germany.

I enjoyed the fact that it was told in a narrative manner from the point of Death, as he jumps all over Europe, collecting souls. Follow the story of a young refugee Leisel, the curious and kind hearted young girl, who simply loves books, her only way to obtain them, was to steal them. Her other great love in life, were the people closest around her.

For whatever reason the past year I have found that I have accidentally picked up a handful of World War II books. I obviously love Historical Fiction and find it very rewarding to continually learn more about us as a people, the good and the very bad, and finding the humanity in the horrid situations.

I really enjoyed the different style of the storytelling. I thought it was well written, flowed well and well worth the read. I highly recommend it. However, towards the end, and points in-between, make sure to have a box of tissues.

Now I can watch the movie… Yes, I’m sure, it’s not as good as the book – it never is.

(Actually finished 9 February 2014

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Review: World Regional Geography


World Regional Geography
World Regional Geography by Douglas L. Johnson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I really thought this book was fabulous! I know it’s a text book and required reading. But I found it informative, engaging, and fascinating! It was so fun learning more about cultures,economics, governments, historical data, landmarks, climates, industries, cultural attributes, you name it. I thought that the book was thorough and comprehensive in teaching. I felt that much of the focus had a lot to do with sociology and cultures played into the natural landscapes of the world and how we were able to effectively or ineffectively trade, grow and develop. I found myself constantly preferring to read my text book than my fluff books, and I feel that says a lot about how well this book was written! Highly recommend to everyone. I know it took a long time to finish. It was quite comprehensive, and I tested out of the class. As soon as I finished this class my reading changed to my next class and had to refocus my efforts in finishing the two textbooks allocated to that class instead. Again, fascinating read, even if it’s not for school!

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Review: Way to Be!: 9 Rules For Living the Good Life


Way to Be!: 9 Rules For Living the Good Life
Way to Be!: 9 Rules For Living the Good Life by Gordon B. Hinckley
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Absolutely loved the Way To Be!, just as much as I adore President Gordon B. Hinckley! It was wonderful to read this book again, to hear his voice and feel he pure love that exuberates from him. How I’ve missed this great man. I’ve read this book a few times and will read again. Always new applicable points and views! I highly recommend for anyone of any background, faith, religion, etc. Just basic and profound views and points, of being a good person – just because you should try to be a good person.

My uncle wrote on his coffin, “Do good because doing good is good to do. Not because of threats or promises of Heaven or Hell.” I love that. I think that this book helps mostly guide on simply BEing a good person!

President Hickley stated in the book, “Rise above mediocrity, above indifference. Become involved and speak with a strong voice of that which is right. ”

I originally took fantastic notes while making my journey through this book. But looking back. I feel like I highlighted the whole book! 😐

Nonetheless, the 9 Be’s we should all remember are as follows:

9 Be’s:
Be Grateful
Be Smart
Be Involved
Be Clean
Be True
Be Positive
Be Humble
Be Still
Be Prayerful

Finished the book 1 October 2013.
I highly recommend this book to all, over and over again! Enjoy and BE an amazing contribution!

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Categories: Beauty of the World, Book Reviews, Career, Cause, Education, Family, Health & Nutrition, Humanity, Life, Literature, Passion, Purpose, Relationships, Service, Spirituality, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Review: Briar Rose


Briar Rose
Briar Rose by Jane Yolen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I first read this book about 17 years old (16 years ago). This is a book that sticks with you. You know the type, the kind that randomly will run through your head or something else will trigger your thoughts that will end up drifting back to you. For the last 16 years I have considered this on my top books list. It still is for the record. But how I remembered the book and how I internalized it this time were drastically different. But I know it’s the same book nonetheless.

I didn’t remember from before:
* The way Gemma’s story was intertwined with ‘today’ and told in bits and pieces.
* I don’t remember so much detail about the holocaust camps
* I didn’t remember a thing about the Prince!

For whatever reason this book came to mind so much this year that I felt compelled to read again, I was enthralled to find a copy of it on Amazon. (I love Amazon).

Since this was a book-book, it did take me a little longer to get through. Most days I found myself wishing I could simply stay home in my quiet peaceful and clean home enjoying the coolness of the weather and finish this delightful story once again that has lingered in my mind and heart since the last time I read it 16 years ago. I certainly wasn’t disappointed in it, many others re-reads were highly disappointing.

I loved meeting all the characters and hearing their bits and pieces of Gemma’s history with their own. However, most of them were very short. However, “The Prince’s Story” seemed very long! It’s went on for chapters. Not that it’s bad and it’s interesting, and nauseating at the same time. Not because of the writing, but because of what happened. Ah history… but it’s been interesting to see how much his story is elaborated upon.

Overall I still absolutely love Jane Yolen, and look forward to reading more of her books. I love her style, her rhythm, and great talent for story telling.

I tend to have been drawn to many books around WWII, I felt years ago and still that Ms. Yolen has a unique talent for relating the hard stories. Highly recommend!

Favorite Quotes from the Book:

Fairy Tales always have a happy ending.’ That depends… on whether you are Rumpelstiltskin or the Queen.”
― Jane Yolen, Briar Rose

“Time may heal all wounds, but it does not erase the scars.”
― Jane Yolen, Briar Rose

“Stories,” he’d said, his voice low and almost husky, “we are made up of stories. And even the one’s that seem the most like lies can be our deepest hidden truths.”

― Jane Yolen, Briar Rose

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Categories: Book Reviews, Cause, Family, Humanity, Life, Literature, Passion, Relationships, Uncategorized, Women | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Review: I Am Number Four


I Am Number Four
I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed the first part of this book. I found that most of it was really interesting, it was engaging and had a great pace. However when I stopped over the weekend, it was hard to re-engage and the relationship, banter and conversations between John & Sarah bugged the crap out of me! The authors conversation writing left much to be desired. Much was written to more of a young adult crowd. Mostly because that’s the maturity level and thinking level of the main character. I did really like most of it. I just lost interest and momentum when putting the book down. Granted when I picked it back up there was a battle against the bad aliens that went on forever and ever! Then, at the end it just drops you off with no real closure. I see it was a good stopping point, but the is no closure at all. Grr.

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(Finished on 5 November 2013)

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BLESSINGS ABOUND with UTA!!!!


BLESSINGS ABOUND!!! 

Last week… Sorry this was accidentally saved as a draft…

I lost my UTA Transit Pass this morning after taking a different connection than usual to try out. I got confused was at the wrong stop (wrong side of the street) and missed the bus to work. I ended up walking four miles because that was faster than waiting for the next bus. (It never caught up to me.) During my walk my pass must have fallen out and was lost. However, my nice brisk walk was rejuvenating and quite enjoyable!

English: by me UTA bus

English: by me UTA bus (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My transit pass is a perk from being a Salt Lake County Bicycle Ambassador. I called reported that one missing and they are sending me a new one. This pass has been a tremendous blessing! I also had no idea I was even getting one for being an Ambassador, until it was handed to me! I was super excited! And so grateful for it daily!!!

In the meantime, I had no cash on me, and evidently also left my debit card at home from paying the bills the other day!  So, my Co worker Kristal, was sweet enough to loan me $6.00 so that I could get home. Thank you!

Then when I went to get on the first bus (Park City Connect – which Rocks!) I asked the driver how much the fare was. He looked at me strange and I have a sympathetic look and said my pass was lost this morning. He looked at me and said “Sweetheart, keep your money and enjoy your ride.” Boy was I excited and grateful!!! Then, on my connection I go to pay in the next one asked again how much it is. He asked why was I asking. I again said that I lost it this morning during my commute. He also said to keep my money that he recognized me, and there was no reason to waste my money when he knew I had a pass. Wow!! So grateful!!! Thank you UTA!! And thank you Heavenly Father for blessing me with kind Bus Drivers!! 🙂 🙂

Salt Lake Bike Party

Salt Lake Bike Party (Photo credit: Der Blaue Reiter)

See, I really should ride the bus more often (as long as I can make the 470/903 Connections anyway, otherwise I hate the world when I drive. Not to mention, it was GREAT study time, and honestly my original plan to study while on transit. Too bad, I need my car to go to the gym during lunch! Maybe I’ll start leaving it at work overnight… maybe, that makes me nervous.

Normally during good weather,  I bicycle 18 miles each way to work from Bountiful to the mouth of Parley’s Canyon (I’m a wimp and need to get over the cold). Some days I cheat and take the UTA Trax up the steep hill to the University of Utah, then continue riding down Foothill Blvd to my office. I also use UTA when I’ve ridden too far and I’m exhausted – they’ll always take me home! 🙂 It’s a fantastic ride and makes my day go by so much better! I feel better, I have more energy and my brain works better.  Not to mention I get in my daily work out and my commute! For me Bicycle Commuting is the way to go! Not to mention I help make a difference at not being one of the vehicles creating more fumes for our valley that holds them in so well. I’m a huge advocate for Bicycle Commuting and love being part of the Bicycle Ambassador Program. Key highlights of our program is to create awareness about Cycling, and definitely promote Bike Safety and knowledge of laws and resources available. One of our main goals with our education program is to help people get over the fear of cycling to work. We help educated on gear, techniques, routes, you name it! We will even ride with you on your first practice run for your commute. It such a highlight for me and I will talk to anyone that’s interested.There is a lot more that we do, but that’s the basic gist of it. If you have any questions about our program, please feel free to reach out to me.

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Review: If I Stay


If I Stay
If I Stay by Gayle Forman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Wow, this was definitely a book that makes you ponder your own life and feelings.

I enjoyed that most of it was back story, I feel that the plot of Mia’s decision moved well, with her reliving her life through memories. It makes me wonder how many of us really have that same decision, do I take the easy road and move onto the next life? Or fight for a little more life? A little bit more love? More trials, tribulations, and joys that make it all worth it.

I feel that the author was very talented in telling the story, but could use work on her dialog. The length was just about right. Anymore, would have felt that it dragged, which it didn’t. She kept a fairly decent pace and rhythm. Overall very interesting read. Heartbreaking and triumphant story.

Finished 18 November 2013

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Review: Love, Life, and Elephants: An African Love Story


Love, Life, and Elephants: An African Love Story
Love, Life, and Elephants: An African Love Story by Daphne Sheldrick

Dame Daphne

Dame Daphne

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When I saw this book recommended from my library, and needing a new biography to read, I jumped on it. Being the Granddaughter of an Elephant Trainer and having a great love for the wonderful gentle (in my experience) giants, I was ecstatic to read this! Perhaps I thought this book would be more like the stories I have heard all my life of my Grandfather & his Elephant friends, and the additional memories of my Father working with him and my own memories. Or perhaps I thought it might be similar to Water for Elephants, which I also loved. Perhaps I thought I’d hear more of the stories that I heard from my former in-laws of their lives in Africa (Angola, Congo & Botswana) before coming to America as refugees….

To my surprise this was uniquely not like any of what I had expected.  Dame Daphne is definitely an interesting person, who

David Sheldrick

David Sheldrick

has lived an extraordinary life and I feel made a greater impact on the world than she realizes, let alone Kenya, and the rest of the African continent and it’s largest population. While there were something’s she shared in her life, decisions and actions that I personally don’t agree with she is still a stellar woman. Who undoubtedly ADORED her second husband David, who helped build her ultimate legacy as well as his.

In the reading of the book, I felt that at many times it dragged on and on. That Dame Daphne obviously prefers the company of animals to humans, and that the relationships with them, how brief some may have been were much more significant than those of anyone outside of David and her two daughters. That being said the stories of the animals, which are the basis of this writing, seemed never to end and went into considerably too much detail, which made me want to skip a lot, although I never did. But then it felt like a chore to persevere through the book rather than go along for the ride.

English: Baby elephants in "The David She...

English: Baby elephants in “The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust”, Nairobi, Kenya. The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust has, between 1987 and 2009, successfully hand-reared over 85 newborn and very young elephant orphans through its Nairobi Nursery. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This being said, there were many wonderful parts of her story that ultimately teach us lessons and leave us yearning to make a difference in the world around us. To follow our hearts, our passions and find our greater purpose here on Earth. Sadly most of the greatest parts of this book were in the last few pages. However, I’m sure that without reading the entire epilogue that they would have not been as dramatic or left such a deep impression. I feel that reading this book has left an impression on my heart that will stick. A further love of the African Wildlife, and fascination of Africa, more rooted desire to visit there someday and find my own way to serve there and here at home.

Avril Jenson

Avril Jenson

Dame Daphne Shledrick

Dame Daphne Shledrick – http://http://youtu.be/dqvDHx0vJrI

Passages that really stuck out were about Elephants and their amazing memory. A few of my most vivid memories are those with the Elephants, myself, my Grandfather & my Father. I’d always heard this my whole life… Until I was a teenager I didn’t fully comprehend. I remember going to The Hogle Zoo with my family, where my family had worked. My father was a boy/teenager when he’d worked at the zoo with his father. But I remember the elephants come running and seemingly so excited to see my father. Normally the elephants would ignore the tourists unless they were giving them food. But all my father had to do was walk up to the fence, say softly “There’s our girl. Hey Toka.” She immediately turned and ran to my father trying to reach him over the ‘moat’ around her pen. She seemed to be smiley and giddy as a child, mimicking my fathers similar reaction. My father hadn’t been there in years, and had been a boy. But I knew then Toka, Toni and Hydori all remembered my father, and associated the love and joy that my Grandfather (Avril Jenson) gave to them for all those years with my father as well. As you can imagine the times of going to the zoo with my Grandfather were even greater, with similar but more intense reactions of love and excitement for my Grandpa, who simply loved and adored these amazing creatures.

Dame Daphne relates a similar experience when one of her elephants joyously runs to enthusiastically greet a former caretaker from 30 years in the past. Her closing statement of the book Is that she has learned her lives greatest lessons from the elephants, wherein which no matter the wrong that had been done to them they had such a high resolve to forgive the trespasses against them, without the ability to ever forget. What a strong lesson in that simple statement! We as humans have the ability for things to slip from our minds, to actually forget many things after a great or small wrong as besought us, yet forgiveness is such a huge thing for us to obtain or give, and we can let it go, we can forget it ever happened and go on with life! Imagine never being able to ever to simply forget, but having to consciously forgive and take the higher road, to give others the chance to grow, learn and become better individuals, even though they might never do so.

She also elaborated on things such as a conviction that Elephants must be able to communicate telepathically. This, I find simply fascinating! I’m anxious to follow the studies through the rest of my life to see what we are able to figure out about their higher level and ability to communicate. In addition she also made reference to the fact that the animal kingdom seems to function at a higher level of understanding, in a much older and adjusted world. As if they have been given blessings and understandings than any of us humans could ever comprehend. Thinking on this, I believe she is right. We already know that God has only given us so much knowledge in this life so far, because of our cardinal selves, and the fact that we haven’t been able to raise ourselves high enough yet for further enlightenment. What a cool time that will be!

Despite the sometimes long and drawn out seasons of this book, I still highly recommend.

If you are interested in learning more about the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust and how you can be involved go to their website to learn more: http://www.sheldrickwildlifetrust.org You can also follow them on Facebook, & YouTube.

david-sheldrick-wildlife_152012217521.jpg_article_singleimage

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Review: The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work


English: A table illustrating statistics menti...

English: A table illustrating statistics mentioned in the source’s journal article (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work
The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work by Shawn Achor
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was pleasantly surprised!! I thought it would be some mumbo jumbo, feel good stuff. But it’s actually full of some really interesting research, and application points. I tried some on various days… I think it helped for sure! Granted one of them was me laughing at a picture on my digital photo frame of that Coke drinking chicken at the hostel in Hawaii! lol he he

Coke Drinking Chicken

Coke Drinking Chicken

This chicken is the maintenance guys pet and loves to drink coca-cola. It was a sight to behold!

Honestly though, great read, great points, great research and application points. I thought the author was engaging and entertaining. I really felt a change in myself as I progressed through this book. A change in my attitude, my life, my circumstances, and overall happiness.

One of my biggest mantras in life is “Happiness is a Choice” I love reading books that back this up! Great read, highly recommend for everyone. I immediately bought an audio and print versions of this upon completion.

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English: Happiness cause percentages based on ...

English: Happiness cause percentages based on Sonja Lyubomirsky’s The How of Happiness. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

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Review: The Help


The Help
The Help by Kathryn Stockett
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’m one that has a really hard time giving in to read really ‘popular’ books… so I procrastinate and procrastinate simply because I don’t want to simply follow the crowd. Well I have to admit on this one, it was a simply amazing book! What courage, dedication and resolve these strong women showed in the face of adversity. I don’t know that I would have had the same courage and conviction, if I were in any of those roles, to be the difference, I pray that I would, but I just don’t know.

The writing style was well done in this book, easy to follow and most definitely engaging! Once I got into it, it did take a minute, I couldn’t put it down. I found every opportunity I could to read, and found myself laughing and crying all the way through. Definitely heart wrenching.

I am curious though, I know it was based on a true story. But if that’s the case and this is the story about them writing their story, and their story in the book is titled “The Help” then where is the other book??

I wish I would have had the few minutes to write the review when I finished this book. However, I delayed because I wanted to give it the time and dedication in writing a review it deserved, and unfortunately I’m writing it 3 months later and not giving it the love I wanted it because it’s faded a bit.

Regardless, fantastic read everyone should put on their list, popular or not.

(Actually Finished June 3rd,2013)

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Review: The Five Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace: Empowering Organizations by Encouraging People


The Five Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace: Empowering Organizations by Encouraging People
The Five Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace: Empowering Organizations by Encouraging People by Gary Chapman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’ve been a fan of Gary Chapman and his 5 Love Languages since I was introduced to them at the age of 18 in 1999. How grateful I am to my friends and their recommendation! It’s been one of the best blessings in my relationships & life!

Naturally because of my admiration of Dr. Chapman

English: Gary Chapman speaking at an Associati...

English: Gary Chapman speaking at an Association of Marriage and Family Ministries conference in 2010. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

‘s work I was intrigued with this idea and concept. I found that it was very applicable and fun learning more about each of the 5 languages and how to more effectively communicate appreciation to my colleagues that I spend so much time with, even if I am a bit of a hermit at work. I am very aware of those that assist me and so appreciative of their efforts! I also know that I am happier in my workplace and with the efforts that I also put forth when I know that I’m also appreciated. I’m very hard on myself and expect a lot out of myself. Unfortunately I’m not always my own best friend. Positive reinforcement and appreciation goes a LONG way with me!

My love languages are acts of service and quality time, which are not always easy to express or receive in the work place. Especially with me sticking to myself until I don’t feel like I’m the new girl trying to prove that I am capable and make a difference.

I think this book is a great asset to have under your tool belt and I can definitely see the the many positive affects that it might place in motion when implemented throughout a company, albeit slightly awkward at first.

The first 3/4 of the book, was great and hard to put down. It moved quickly was engaging and fascinating. It all remained fascinating and very easy application steps and follow. The last 1/4 of the book moved very slowly. But still really great book! Highly Recommend. I actually immediately bought myself a audio and print version of this book upon completion! 🙂

(Actually Finished August 8th 2013)

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Review: The Sea of Monsters


Rick Riordan at the 2007 Texas Book Festival, ...

Rick Riordan at the 2007 Texas Book Festival, Austin, Texas, United States. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Sea of Monsters
The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I know, I’m late in jumping on the Percy Jackson band wagon, and it’s official. I LOVE this series!! Rick Riordan rocks. I love his style, he is talented and has such a fantastic imagination! I love how much he teaches us in each book of Greek Mythology and of core principals. Great read! Highly recommend to everyone of all ages… 😛 I can’t wait to read the next one, but spacing them out to continue enjoying the adventures!

(Actually Finished June 2nd 2013)

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Review: The Goose Girl


The Goose Girl (novel)

The Goose Girl (novel) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Goose Girl
The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I wasn’t sure what to think when Kylene recommended this to me. Honestly I took a look at it and said yeah, I probably won’t be super into it, but probably won’t hate it. Kylene hasn’t led me astray yet with decent books, so I thought I’d give it a chance, besides I don’t get too many recommendations from people, just the online library that certainly does lead me astray! In addition, I was surprised to find so many friends who had already read this unknown book. So I put the book on hold and found it surprisingly engaging from the first chapter. It was fun to learn about the fantasy and folklore of people who have underlying ‘language skills’ of the animals, birds, people, wind, fire, etc. Fascinating concepts frankly. I found myself connecting quickly with the Princess Anidori, and certainly falling in love with her prince as well. I love the depth the book displayed so elegantly of the princess. She was highly capable and incredibly loving, she took her bad situations in stride, but never gave up, she was enticing, witty, engaging and smart! Great book, I highly recommend as well. I’m excited to read the rest of the series, and grateful the story goes on!

(Actually finished July 7th 2013)

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Review: Les Misérables


English: Jean Valjean, monsieur Madeleine

English: Jean Valjean, monsieur Madeleine (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Les Misérables
Les Misérables by Victor Hugo
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I read Les Miserables between 12-14 years of age. I have to say this was one that I remembered much differently. This is the primary reason I’ve enjoyed going back and re-reading many of the books that I read 15+ years ago. I enjoy seeing how my perspectives have changed.

Now, this being said, this is a story that we are all very familiar with. Seeing that it is a classical literature art piece, and then adapted for stage and film. Not to mention the phenomenal music score.

Unfortunately, I think that I like the stage/film versions best. It takes the very best of this very long book and all levels of it’s wordiness and helps you take away the greatest lessons it teaches. I know, normally I’m not a fan of abridging. But I felt that because of the extended length of this even if it’s been abridged takes away much from the lessons Mr. Hugo wanted to teach and instill within our souls.

I found that with the extensive length that I would get distracted by random annoyances. I also was disappointed by the parts that I felt that really had the greatest affects on the characters were not elaborated upon as much as other parts continuing on describing things that in the big picture didn’t play a vital detail. That was frustrating.

I also have come to realize more and more lately that I have a very hard time with ‘Love at First Sight’ or the like. I was so annoyed and mad through the sections that went on an on about what’s his bucket’s (I know, I should know – writing this review a few weeks after finishing) love for Cossette, when they’d never even carried on a conversation! He’d only seen her, and basically stalked her. Then Cossette conveniently falls in love with him because she notices him back and enjoys his behavior, mind you he’s terrified of her father and she plays games, like, Oh, Father, I didn’t even see whom you are talking about… etc, etc. Gag me! When authors expound and go on and on about their undying love for when they have never even had a conversation I want to do violent things to people! Gag me!

On the positive note, I do enjoy the handful of references to songs that the people have integrated into their lives, makes the whole stage/movie versions of this a bit more reasonable to see how they were able to more realistically convert and retell this story.

The story finally started getting good around page 1,200. The battles, the mercy… although still I was saddened the parts that I really love were not as well expressed. 😦

Taking an overall look at this story and what we learn from it, I love the story of trials, tribulations and overcoming ourselves and allowing love and mercy to ultimately work in our lives, for the greater good of ourselves, our loved ones and those who despise us. I love how one simple act of mercy changes the entire life and outlook of one man. Of that change of heart the changes and good he is able to deliver to the world and make it a slightly better place. I love seeing the selfless acts of service and sacrifice and how no matter how things don’t work out completely for him he continues to pay it forward in all that he does. Even in the end when Valjean shows a parallel act of mercy to the one man who hates him most in this world, Inspector Javert, whose whole life purpose almost seems that it is to destroy Jean Valjean, Javert can’t handle it. He doesn’t take the chance, he can’t allow the love and Mercy in his life, and kills himself. Likewise, how do we respond when shown the same love and mercy? What do we do with it? Cossette’s young husband’s attitude changes so drastically himself when he finds out of the wrongs Valjean has done in his life, but his heart softens and overflows with love in an instance when he finds out the other side of Valjean’s story of love and sacrifice.

I think ultimately we need to take a good hard look at this story and what we learn from it, how it applies to us, how we can improve our own self beings and implement into our daily lives. Obviously, with my annoyances, I still highly recommend this great classic.

(Actually finished August 23rd 2013)

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Review: This I Believe: Life Lessons


This I Believe: Life Lessons
This I Believe: Life Lessons by Dan Gediman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Well I certainly didn’t realize how short this was! It was a lovely little pick me up. I really enjoyed the short stories and the different lessons people shared. I think my favorite line was “What do I have the courage to change today?” Definitely recommend. 🙂

(Actually finished August 8th 2013)

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Review: In the Courts of the Sun


In the Courts of the Sun
In the Courts of the Sun by Brian D’Amato
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I was so excited to read this book! It was right up my alley, with bits of that I really love to learn/read about! Action, adventure, thrills, Mayan History, Apocalyptic and prophecies… Unfortunately not! I had to read the first couple chapters a few times. I was SO lost! Granted it does start you off with some dude possessing some ancient dude and them having an internal battle, literally, of who is going to have control of the body. Really!? Then he takes you back in time leads you forever through the back history which was interesting albeit a bit misguided on some facts. But I wanted to like this book so much I kept going and for a while it was interesting and engaging. There is much talk of this ‘game’ that you never fully understand that they go on and on about but never really explain it. A quarter way into this book (pg 200+/-) you pretty much want to kill yourself so you don’t have to continue the torture. I hate not finishing a book. I will force myself to finish nearly anything. However, Frankly I just can’t take any more of this book!! 😐 First off he drags on and on and ON! About stupid crap that doesn’t matter and rambles around then jumps ahead and then looses you then decides to take a huge jump back and examine something in GREAT Length. He also likes to give the impression that he is an expert on many subjects when it’s obvious he actually knows NOTHING about it – this the case with the Mormons / LDS Church. I can understand a thing or two incorrect about a people that you are in fact not a part of. But his constant insistence that he’s an expert about them then gets major SIMPLE things about the people and religion so grossly incorrect I can’t take it anymore. (Yes, I’m a Mormon). Regardless, I can’t take the pain and suffering anymore or wasting anymore of my life….

(Actually finished August 28th 2013)

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Review: Business Ethics 2009 Update: Ethical Decision Making and Cases


Business Ethics 2009 Update: Ethical Decision Making and Cases
Business Ethics 2009 Update: Ethical Decision Making and Cases by O.C. Ferrell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really enjoy my text books! I don’t know if there was a big movement to improve the required reading material for higher education, or if it just progressed with time, or I’m just more interested… Regardless I’m not complaining! I though the book was set up very well and held my interest, provided great points, learning objectives and offers a great applicable case studies that help you more fully understand the points.

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Review: Ensign – June 2013


Ensign - June 2013
Ensign – June 2013 by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I honestly love the fact that we have The Ensign available to us!! It never ceases to amaze me how each month it’s filled with articles that I swear, were written just for me! In addition its material is not always applicable to me, but also put forth in such a manner that I am able to internalize the doctrine greater. Resulting in feeling closer to the Lord and the Gospel. 🙂

http://www.lds.org/ensign/2013?lang=eng

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Review: One Big Thing: Discovering What You Were Born to Do


One Big Thing: Discovering What You Were Born to Do
One Big Thing: Discovering What You Were Born to Do by Phil Cooke
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’m grateful that I found this book when I did…. Has it changed my life drastically? No, but it did help pull me out of the rut I was falling into. I’d been working in a position that was very unhealthy for me and was slowing killing my spirit and self-belief. I’ve always felt that my life has great purpose and design, that my presence here needs to make a difference on the world… even if it’s just with one or two individuals, ultimately through service. I think more than anything this helped remind me of that and my individual worth. I was surprised but not upset to find many Christian references, beliefs and scriptures. That helped remind me. The book was interesting and flowed well. I felt like there were a few repetitive points, but also felt like I needed to hear them again, so I didn’t mind so much.

A few years ago my path became clouded and I’ve felt like I’ve not been progressing towards my greater purpose. My career fell. My marriage crumbled. My dreams and goals seemed further off than ever before. For the past four years, I’ve moved from job to job doing what I had to. While I still don’t have my dream job I’m moving closer and happier with what I do, thanks to Mr. Cooke’s recommendation – found the purpose I serve in this position and how I serve the greater good for now… Just you wait – someday – I’ll make that difference! Or rather, BE that difference!

One last thing, a dear friend told me many years ago, that “A true friend is the one who knows the song of your heart, and sings it back to you when you have forgotten.” For me that is what this book ultimately felt like.

Thank you!

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Review: A Week in the Woods


A Week in the Woods
A Week in the Woods by Andrew Clements
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It was cute. Found it as an available title from the Pioneer Library, I needed something to listen to while I worked that wasn’t heavy. It was easy to get into and a very quick read – it took me only a few hours one day.

Honestly, it was cute. I thought it was well written and very relate-able on many levels. Had great self reflection of the main character that would simultaneously have you looking within yourself. Many lessons of life, situations, attitude and judgement. Great job. Highly recommend. 🙂

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Review: CHICKEN SOUP FOR THE SINGLES SOUL


Chicken Soup for the Cold

Chicken Soup for the Cold (Photo credit: texascooking)

CHICKEN SOUP FOR THE SINGLES SOUL
CHICKEN SOUP FOR THE SINGLES SOUL by Jack Canfield
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Honestly, I love the Chicken Soup For the Soul Books – Probably why I keep reading them…

Five years ago I had just gotten married, moved into a new home and was trying to enjoy the benefits I always heard about that come with being a ‘newlywed.’ Most of that ‘enjoying’ was me hanging on to a nice moment here and there, learning that all I had hoped for was far from reality. At that time I had put a Chicken Soup for the Soul book in our ‘bathroom reading materials.’ Little did I know at the time from that point I would find myself stowing away in the bathroom – reading these great short stories! What a blessing that had been to me then, to have 5 minutes of joy in a life and marriage that wasn’t what I’d always hoped and didn’t bring half the smiles this little book gave me. How grateful I was though, I honestly think that this book helped me survive, it was at least one of those sweet tender mercies from the Lord that helped me survive, others were my sweet little Jada (my niece – how I miss her!) and my amazing and simply wonderful neighbor Rhonda, who helped pick up the pieces of my broken heart. I wish I could find or at least remember which ‘Soup’ that this was… About the same week that I finished my ‘Soup’ my ex-husband also asked for a divorce.

I was given this particular “Soup” shortly after my divorce four years ago, I chuckled to myself and said well I guess there is a version for every stage! Secretly I’ve hoped that once I finished reading this one that my chapter of being ‘single again’ in my own life would also come to a close… While it hasn’t been the same week, I’m hopeful. I’m so grateful for this book, the progression through different stages of singleness and the healing and heartbreaking stories alike. I felt like I had a support group this past four years, which was absolutely needed as I found myself alone and isolated from what friends I thought I had, in a strange new place and navigating career suicide with my move. I found myself having to rebuild my life nearly from scratch, re-evaluate who I am, what I believe and what impact I currently have on the world around me and what I want to change to be the difference. I purposely slowed down at reading this book, only allowing myself to read one or two entries a week, and sometimes less. I felt that I needed the time to process others stories and my own mind and heart. I honestly think that this book helped me from truly assisted me in my will to not become bitter and vengeful, but more grateful that he let me go and had the courage to do so, allowing me to have a much better chance at happiness. From experiencing my bad marriage and my loneliness before hand to my life now and my attitude towards myself. I’m so grateful for the experience. I truly am happy with who I am, happy with how I give back to the world and make an impact, and know that frankly I was an amazing wife, and might someday again have that chance, but I love hanging out with myself and now really comfortable in my own skin. All of this is intricately entwined together as this has been a long and sometimes painful, and mostly joyful growing experience, and has been a nice little journey and chapter of my life. Thank you Jack Canfield for your guidance through this minefield. 🙂

Ps. If I decide to marry again one day, I look forward to it with joy. But in the meantime I’m loving each moment of being single!

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Review: The Legal and Ethical Environment of Business


The Legal and Ethical Environment of Business
The Legal and Ethical Environment of Business by Terence Lau
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Really fascinating! Again, I’m grateful that the books I’m required to read for my degree are actually interesting. I continually find myself putting down the other books I’m reading or listening to so that I can go back to these. They are easy to understand, very logical and straight forward. The wording is strangely captivating as well as their application stories. The books are concise and do not ramble on saying the same thing over and over. They teach you what you need to know, in a manner that sticks and moves on. Highly recommend for all.

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Review: The Ensign – March 2013


The Ensign - March 2013
The Ensign – March 2013 by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Ok, I know I haven’t been fantastic at staying on top of reading the Ensign every month for the past few months. I have defiantly felt the lack of it’s influence in my life, and on my spirit. I’m grateful I listened to the prompting to start reading it again this month! At this moment I’m committing once again to read the Ensign each month for the rest of this year and go back and read the first two issues. This really was a fantastic issue and deeply touched my spirit and uplifted my heart. It felt that almost each article once again had been written just for me! I love how that works! 🙂 It makes me feel that maybe I’m not completely alone in the world with my struggles and trials, and let’s be honest – mental issues at times! Great Ensign! I highly recommend! It also helped to encourage me and really kinda slap me upside my head on subjects that I’ve been slacking on or other areas in my life where I need improvement… and that improvement is easy! I just have to do it! I know I can, and I know that God will bless me for doing so! I fully know that life isn’t always peaches and cream if we just follow the commandments… but I know that God does bless us in those tiny but significate daily tender mercies! Those tender mercies are what strengthen and keep us encouraged as we face trials and tribulations they are what help make it through and so that they are mere, and it came to pass moments, and not thus came the downfall of Jennifer…

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Review: Mere Christianity


Mere Christianity
Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Yet another CS Lewis I really enjoyed! I really enjoyed how deep he delved into subjects, very controversial subjects! I kept wanting to take experts from the book and just give that as my reply to certain subjects that are current hot topics in the world. Highly recommend to all! Even if you are not Christian, it gave some great insights, and more ammo for me in other areas. 😉

Topics I book marked:
Theology on desires – healthy & unhealthy; Lifestyles; Appetites w/ Food & Sex; Marriage; Charity; Faith; How Christ molds us; Hope; Faith; and more. Great read!

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