Book Review – The Supernatural Power of Forgiveness

The Supernatural Power of Forgiveness – by Kris and Jason Vallotton

You guys! You know how, sometimes, you read a book and every single word resonates with you so deeply and you’re forever changed because of it?? This book was that for me.

It felt like it was written for me – so many of the discussions and topics applied to my life right now. I could not put it down, but at the same time there was so much information that I totally felt overloaded. I know I will read it again and again because there is so much information, you need at least a couple reads to get it all. It’s a short read (under 200 pages) but it takes a while because there is so much information.

Surprisingly…Forgiveness is not the only focus of this book. It talks about everything else too – loving yourself, building healthy relationships, learning your value, standing up for yourself, forgiving yourself, it talks about abuse/trauma, mental health struggles, infertility…all things I can relate to. It also talks about porn addiction, substance abuse/addiction and divorce – things I can’t relate to, but that might be relatable to some of you.

It was just such a good book. It is Christian, and there are verses in it – but it’s not over powering and it is clearly written and easy to understand. My pastor gave it to me when I came to him with questions about forgiveness…and I am so, so thankful I read it because it answered questions that I didn’t even know I had.

So…IF you are Christian, or agnostic, or open to Christian material – I totally, 100% recommend this book. It is life changing, and it is really well written and easy to read. I know I will be coming back to it over and over again as a reference because it – literally – covers every topic (and in under 200 pages!). Definitely recommend!


Book Review Catchup

I’m majorly behind on my book reviews…so here they are: short and sweet.

Peach Blossom Pavilion – Mingmei Yip

This book is of a similar theme to some of my favourites – Memoirs of a Geisha, Pearl, etc. It’s the tragic yet powerful story of a child in China who finds her fate well out of her control, and rises to the challenge heroically to make something worthwhile out of something horrible. It was very good, and I definitely recommend.

Goodbye and Amen – by Beth Gutcheon

I like other books by this author…but this one was just – difficult to read. I couldn’t get into it, I found the way it was written was challenging and not engrossing. Overall a mediocre book, and I don’t recommend.

Shannon – Frank Delaney

This was quite a book. Initially, I couldn’t get into it – but over time I really did. It awakened in me a deep interest in Ireland (one of my bucket list places to visit!) and over all is a good read. I picked up for $3 from Dollar.ama…so it’s definitely worth that!

The Haunting of Maddy Clare – Simone St. James

This was a strange book…a story of 1920s ghost hunters trying to free a town from the grips of a powerful spirit haunting it. It was definitely interesting and page turning….but it was weird and kind of depressing.

The Piano Teacher – Janice Y.K. Lee

Again, an Asian love story (I so love books set in Asia!). This one was beautiful, but tragic, and the ending left me very frustrated and wanting more.

The Sparrow Sisters – Ellen Herrick

Ah, this book. It was like a fairy tale of modern times, but also a bit of a thriller/suspense and thoroughly addicting. Definitely recommend! (Also: this is my 150th book I’ve reviewed on this blog!! Crazy, right?? 150 books!)

What are you reading?? Any recommendations?

#WordyWednesday – We Need to Talk about Kevin by Lionel Shriver

Spoiler Alert – if you haven’t read this book, but plan to, please don’t read this. I try really hard to never spoil books when I do a review – but this one, I just can’t contain it.

This book is the epitome of a parent’s worst nightmare. While I believe it is fiction, Shriver writes so eloquently that it appears to be a true story.

This is a story about motherhood, about parenthood, about mental illness and about guilt.

It’s about a boy, filled with rage and hatred from his very birth, who mercilessly murders his family and his classmates.

It’s about a Mother, filled with guilt about her son’s heinous crimes.

It’s about a Father, blinded by love for his only son and unwilling to see the warning signs.

Mostly it’s about a woman – a woman who never really wanted kids, but loved her husband so much she gave him what she knew he wanted. A woman who was given a child who bore such a natural hate and aversion to her, right from birth, that it shattered her. A woman who was admittedly selfish to the core, and unable to connect with the child she perceived had ruined everything. A woman who was broken, and confused, and hurt, and trying to make the best of a terrible situation. A woman who was dedicated to this child, despite the heinous crime he had committed. A woman determined to punish herself for her mistakes, certain they led to her son’s murder spree. A woman sometimes so completely normal, so completely broken, so completely uncertain that it’s hard not to relate, on some level, to her. Yet, she is very easy to hate…she actually welcomes it.

What is most interesting to me is how happy, healthy and successful they were before they had children. They thrived. But, she was determined that her husband was not happy enough – so she decided to have a child. That child became the very thing that tore their marriage, their love and their happiness to shreds – and later, ripped her husband and her daughter from her life.

Kevin is portrayed as a sociopath. Uninterested in almost everything, even from toddler hood. He is untouchable because he forms no connection to anything. He simply exists, completely in control of every single situation. His malice shows itself multiple times through his childhood, but his Father is completely blinded to his sons odd and alarming behaviour and fiercely defends him. In the end, his father paid with his life for his intentional ignorance. It’s very easy to hate Kevin, but at times – he shows himself as so very human.

In the end, I find the book is about two sociopaths – one more severe than the other. Eva was not a killer – but she was unstable, prone to selfishness, bitter, angry, hurt and, yet, completely unwilling to change anything. Her husband was the counter balance – constantly siding with Kevin, disregarding anything Eva said, and committing her to the role of “less than” which only fueled her dislike for her child. Even though he paid with his life, Franklin was as much part of the problem as Eva was. Then there was Kevin – a killer. While Kevin and Eva were not the same, I think Kevin recognized, in his Mother, a lot of his traits that made him a sociopath and led to his killing spree. He was just a more dangerous version of her…and through their connection, she was as close as it got to someone who actually understood him – and therefore spared her from the killing.

As you can see – this book has given me so much food for thought. Initially, I found it very hard to get through because of the way it was written but around the midway point it picked up and I just couldn’t put it down. It’s definitely interesting, terrifying and thought provoking…but I won’t recommend it because I know it is not for everyone.

Wordy Wednesday – Book Review

The Edge of the Earth – Christina Schwarz – June 2017 – Genre: Drama/Mystery

This book was haunted, like an 18th century house. It was unique, interesting, and yet – I felt like everything wasn’t completely resolved as they finished it. I didn’t enjoy the depressing under tone, although I did like the story. It was well written and did suck me in, but I wanted it to be happier than it was.

Still Missing – Beth Gutcheon – June 2017 – Genre: Mystery

Oh my god…anyone who loves a small child, have a stiff drink before you read this because this book contains every parent/caregivers worst nightmare. It is scary, exciting, devastating and completely terrifying – and yet an excellent read. I was up into the wee hours of the night finishing it, because I just HAD TO KNOW what happened.

Between Friends – Kristy Kiernan – May 2017 – Genre: Drama

This book could be a little raw for some of you – so please keep that in mind before reading – it is about infertility, surrogacy, and the complicated relationship that develops between friends connected by surrogacy. It was a good read, but I found it both predictable and a bit cliche. Honestly – I probably wouldn’t recommend it.

Drowning Ruth – Christina Schwarz – July 2017 – Drama/Mystery 

In this book, the author presents a deeply emotional topic in a way that is both admirable and enthralling. She weaves the story in a way that first leads you to believe the character is insane, then not insane but selfish and a little psychopathic, to realizing she is just a normal person experiencing an impossible turn of events who is trying to do the right thing at great personal cost. I didn’t love the way some things didn’t resolve – but I did not feel the story was left unfinished by any means. I would definitely recommend this book – but please note it includes baby loss in it.

Book Reviews – Aug/Sept Edition

I’ve been reading up a storm lately – but I haven’t done a book review in a while. So here are my most recent reads and what I thought:

The Lake House by Kate Morton – *****

I LOVE Kate Morton. This book, like her others, held both mystery and drama. It was well written and easy to read. She has yet to disappoint me. Definitely a good read if you like mystery, drama, romance and historical fiction all wrapped into one!

Circling the Sun – Paula McLain – *****

This was my first Paula McLain book. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and couldn’t wait to get my hands on the Paris Wife. It gives you a unique perspective of Africa, and women’s rights. It is a beautiful story, with a powerful heroine.

I Let You Go – Clare MacKintosh – *****

Let me first say, this is not at all my kind of book. I would never have picked it up on my own – but my Mom read it and insisted I read it too. I obliged … and can I just say holy shitballs? It wasthe most mind blowing thing I have read in SO LONG. The twist…oh the twist….I have never been so shocked and confused in my reading life. Definitely a must read – it will blow your mind!

The Paris Wife – Paula McLain – *****

I could not wait to get my hands on this one after Circling the Sun, and I was not disappointed. It was the wonderful but sad story of Ernest Hemingway’s first wife. So well written, so enjoyable to read. Definitely recommend it.

The Pleasures of Men – Kate Williams – **

I bought this one off the cheap rack at Chapters. I am usually pleased, but I have to say I didn’t enjoy this one. It was strange, and unpleasant. There was no happiness in this book, and when I finished I actually felt a little blue.

The Isle of Wings – Karen Altenberg – ****

Another Chapters cheap rack find – but with better results. It was a hauntingly beautiful tale of a remote island plagued with infant deaths, and a minister determined to show the natives the light. A good read, and certainly unique! I enjoyed reading up on the history of St. Kilda afterwards.

The Royal Nanny – Karen Harper – ****

An interesting and well written story about the real Royal Nanny – Mrs. Lala. The story is beautiful and exciting, but also sad (like any good book should be!). It’s historical, educational and well written. Based on a true story.

The Illegals – Lawrence Hill – ****

I was so excited to read this one – I loved Book of Negroes and had high hopes for it. Let me tell you – this was not at all what I expected! It was excellent – well written and a good, powerful story. But it is a bit strange – the places where the story takes place are fake, and it is written in the future (2018, 2020, etc). Yet it references the rest of the world in actual…so at first, I thought I had just never heard of these places. In the back of the book it refers to the two places being made up. So again, it was odd – but good, and the story is powerful and absolutely applies to real places that exist.

Book Review – The Kite Runner

Once again, Khaled Hosseini, has managed to merge sadness with happiness, poverty with privilege, humanity with sainthood, life with death… weaving it together in a way that makes your heart ache with pain and swell with love all at the same time.

I am truly amazed at his talent with words, knowledge of the human condition, and his ability to weave it all together like the edges of a well made basket. While the story itself is haunting and tragic, it’s peppered with humour and love and beauty. Like his other two books, it is an incredible piece of literature – not for the faint of heart – but worth every single second you spend reading it.

It’s the kind of book that when you are finished, you feel like you have been on a long, tiresome journey and have emerged with a stronger, more developed soul. I would recommend this book, 100%, to anyone who is willing to read through some emotionally difficult parts to reach the most rich, most luscious snippets of what it is to truly be a human. Fantastic…as always.

Book Review – Dreams of Joy

So I stumbled upon Lisa See when I was at the dollar store one day and there was here book there for $3. I bought it thinking, hey – it’s $3! It was called “Peony in Love”…and it was amazing.

When I was perusing my normal used book shelf haunts, I saw “Dreams of Joy” and recognized the author immediately. I carried it home determined to delve into it’s luscious pages right away – excited for the possibility of another “Peony in Love”.

I was not disappointed. Lisa See has a way of writing that is mesmerizing and brings you right into her world. I would break from reading, and have to blink away my imagination because if I didn’t, I would still be in the story. She is such a vivid and well written author, and I truly love reading her books.

Above all, it gave me an insight into her characters lives that cannot be rivalled. Not only did I see what Joy say, and smell what Joy smelled but I also got to feel what Joy felt. It was such a great read and really gives you a look at the world in the 1950s Amerca and China- and, more importantly, how lucky we are to be born in the generation we’re in.

Book Review – The Sisters of Versaille

Five minutes ago I put down this novel – one I have been consumed with over the last three days.

It’s the tragic story of five sisters and King Louis of France – and it is so very sad and awful (and Boleyn-ish).

If you check my book list – you will see a pattern in my reading tastes showing books of this or similar time periods. I can’t get enough of them – I find them fascinating and refreshing and immensely humbling.

It amazes me, as I read the words, how literally every family has a touch of tragedy – real tragedy – in it. I’m not talking about your sibling being loved more, or not being treated equally, or peers being bullies (while I agree these are all still issues) – I am talking about untimely deaths of parents and children, true poverty and illness, children sold into slavery and prostitution, cruelty beyond comprehension…

It’s humbling. While I am aware this novel is fiction, loosely based on historical accounts, if you take the time to research a bit you will see how prevalent true, raw suffering was.

It reminds me how very lucky I am to be who I am, where I am, in the time I was born in. It also makes me acutely aware that not all in this world are as lucky as I am – and that it’s time to make some changes.

Book Review – Come Away With Me – Karma Brown

I just finished Come Away With Me by Karma Brown – and it is with a mixture of sadness and hope that I add it to my shelf of “read” books.

The book itself is a tragic tale of a couple of newly weds expecting their first child, who are in a car accident that changes everything. In an attempt to repair what is left of them and their marriage, they take off on the trip of a lifetime.

The end of the book has a twist I didn’t not see coming (and I am notorious for trying to predict twists, but I truly wasn’t expecting one). It has a haunting quality, but it is also beautiful, charming and hope filled.

It’s a sad, yet sweet, and leaves you feeling better than you expect when you first embark on it. It’s a remarkable example of the power of survival and the strength of a person.

Truly a worthwhile read!

Book Review

Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden

I’ve had this book on my shelf for a year and hadn’t read it – and this weekend, when I was looking for something new to read, I stumbled upon it at the back of my shelf and decided to try it.

Wow. What a fabulous, emotional, hauntingly beautiful book about a life style that is all but extinct.

The book was so well written, at times I found myself forgetting that this wasn’t my life – it was just a book I was reading. It was heart breaking and there were moments where I felt immense despair reading it, and other moments where I experienced excitement and happiness. However, there really isn’t much joy in this book – it’s a haunting memoir about a young girl whose life is filled with tragedy and suffering and follows her flowing with the changes, and overcoming them. It’s refreshing in a sense that Chiyo overcomes immense heart ache and pushes forward when so many others would give up – and no matter how often she is beaten down she still continues. I also had to note that Hatsumomo and my sister in law have a striking number of similarities….lol.

Overall, it is a fantastic book that I would highly recommend to most people – especially women. I aspire to have a sliver of the courage and staying power that Chiyo has when I face the incredibly less tragic obstacles in my life. It reminds me how truly blessed I am!