Bookish Posts · Uncategorized

My Bookish Goals for 2019

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It’s that time of year again . . . 

Everybody is making New Years Resolutions 

 

I don’t make resolutions. I don’t know about you, but those feel like too much pressure to me. There’s also the easy to fall into trap of making unattainable resolutions or ones that society deems acceptable. 

 

Ahem, I’m looking at you . . .

“I’m going to get bikini body ready for summer.” 

“I’m going to make $1 million this year.”

 

No judgment if those are your goals and you have specific and healthy steps to attain them, but I’m thinking more specific and personal this year. 

That’s why goals work so well for me. Goals seem to take the pressure off, while also encouraging me to focus on what’s truly important to me. 

 

So let’s get into my Bookish Goals for 2019 

 

  • Read only 100 books in a year (max of 120) 

Why? In 2018 I read 160 books, but the focus was more on quantity versus quality and savoring the reading experience. Limiting myself a bit also allows me to focus on other areas of life. And let’s be honest, 100 books in a year is still a lot.

  • Request/be accepted for 5-7 NetGalley books per month 

As many new book bloggers do, I requested & got accepted for way too many ARC books from NetGalley. While this is great (FREE BOOKS), I didn’t have as much flexibility to read what I wanted when I wanted. The reading schedule was REAL

  • 7 months or more of an average of 4.0 star rating

Why? This was my goal in 2018 as well. It helps to put my focus on reading books that I think I will really love. 

  • Participate in the Book Riot 2019 Read Harder Challenge 

I’ve been doing this for the past few years and really loved being introduced to books I never would have known about. I’m not forcing myself to finish the challenge or read books that I know I will strongly dislike just for the sake of completing the challenge. 

  • Participate in the 2019 Reading Women Challenge 

I just recently found out that this Reading Challenge existed, but I’m super excited to participate. My reasoning is similar to the Book Riot Challenge. 

  • Focus more on *POC/AOC, **county of origin, and LGBTQIA+ content in books 

I’ve had these goals for the past few years, but I’m continuing with them. I usually aim to hit 20% for each goal. It helps keep my reading well rounded and I am introduced to books I never would have found otherwise.

*POC- People of color (usually the main characters), AOC(Author of Color).

**Country of Origin: Countries other than the U.S., Canada, U.K., Australia 

 

Do you agree or disagree with my goals? What are your reading goals for the year? 

Let me know in the comments. I’m always really interested in what people prioritize in their reading journeys. 

 

Bookish Posts

My Top 20 Books of 2018

Because there are waaaaay too many AMAZING BOOKS to limit the list to only 10 

 

Click on the title link to go to my review of each book to hear all the reasons why it’s an awesome book!

In no particular order . . . my favorite books I read this year 

 

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  • When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir by Patrisse Khan-Cullors, Asha Bandele  |  Add to Goodreads

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  • Well That Escalated Quickly: Memoirs and Mistakes of an Accidental Activist by Franchesca Ramsey  |  Add to Goodreads

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How many of these books have you read?

Which did your add to your TBR?

What are your favorite books that you’ve read in 2018?

4.5 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · mental health · non fiction · psychology · Self Help

ARC Review | Are u ok?: A Guide to Caring for Your Mental Health by Kati Morton 

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Are u ok?: A Guide to Caring for Your Mental Health by Kati Morton

Published: December 11, 2018

Publisher: De Capo Lifelong Books 

Pages: 256

Genres: non fiction, mental health, psychology, self help

Rating: 4.5 stars

Recommend to fans of: improving yourself. greater access to mental health services, compassionate professionals

Foodie Vibes: healthy foods, for your specific health needs, that fuels your mind and body 

 

Synopsis:

A licensed marriage and family therapist and You Tube personality, Kati Morton answers the most commonly asked questions about mental health, including when to get help and where to find it.

Everyone struggles with mental health issues from time to time, but the greatest level of misunderstanding comes from knowing the difference between mental health and mental illness, figuring out whether we need professional help and, if so, how to find it. Are u ok? walks readers through the most commonly asked questions about mental health and the process of getting help. From finding the best therapist to navigating harmful and toxic relationships and everything in between, licensed marriage and family therapist and YouTube sensation Kati Morton clarifies and de-stigmatizes the struggles so many of us go through, and encourages readers to reach out for help. What are the red flags of a mental health issue? How do you go about making a first therapy appointment? How do you know if your therapist is a good fit for you? What are the best ways of talking about mental health with your family, friends and colleagues? There are so many questions and concerns, and in the down-to-earth, friendly tone that makes Kati Morton so popular on YouTube, Are u ok? informs and reminds us that we can get through the difficult times and we are never alone.

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, De Capo Lifelong Books, and Kati Morton for an ARC ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me. 

Are u okay? is a comprehensive easy to understand book about the therapy process. The text includes information about what it is, explanations of acronyms, types of therapy, different professionals, what to expect with the actual therapy session, navigating insurance & payment, advocating for yourself and more. There’s even a quick bullet point summary of the vital information in the appendix. It’s a very approachable read. It’s great for someone who doesn’t know much about the therapy process or those looking to learn more about mental health. People who are familiar with therapy can still learn from the book, but some topics will already be known to them. 

I liked the writing style. It’s factual but informal to make those unsure about the therapy process feel comfortable. Also if you’ve watched Kati Morton’s videos on YouTube, her unique voice definitely carries over into her book. However, I can see where some people, possibly the older generation, might not be as comfortable with this more casual tone. 

Overall, I think there’s a lot of great information that can help a lot of people. Everyone can learn something from her book. A wonderful resource for people who are considering therapy or know someone considering therapy. 

Also definitely check out her YouTube channel for all things mental health. 

 

Add to your Goodreads TBR

 

Kati Morton’s YouTube Channel 

 

 

 

 

Come say hi!

Twitter: @BooksAndLife1

Instagram: @BooksLifeAndEverythingNice

Goodreads: Amanda (Books, Life and Everything Nice)

Facebook: @BooksLifeAndEverythingNice

 

3 Star Books · Book Reviews · Medical · memoir · mental health · non fiction · psychology · religion · Self Help

Mindfulness Matters: A Guide to Mastering Your Life by Pax Tandon

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Mindfulness Matters: A Guide to Mastering Your Life by Pax Tandon

Published: June 28, 2018

Publisher: Red Feather

Pages: 224

Genres: non fiction, psychology, memoir, self help, alternative medicine, spirituality

Rating: 3 stars 

Recommend to fans of: alternative medicine, preventative care for your body, taking charge of your life from all aspects

Foodie Vibes: well balanced healthy diet to fuel your mind, body and soul

 

Synopsis:

Get the insider’s scoop on how to attain a fully flourishing life. Encompassing deep dives into mind, body, and spirit, you will be introduced to the science of positive psychology, engage with the practice of mindfulness, learn how to build an optimally efficient body, and commit to an elevation of your spirit. This is flourishing in action! Whether struggling with anxiety or depression, searching to fill a missing void, or just interested in everyday self-care, you will learn to identify opportunities for growth and seamlessly integrate life-changing practices into daily habits. Replete with powerful affirmations and practice exercises throughout, you will be able to build the framework that fuels and furthers your evolutionary journey for years to come and changes the trajectory of your life forever.

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, Red Feather and Pax Tandon for an ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me. 

Mindfulness Matters is a fun, kind, lighthearted book that covers a lot of topics. If you want to know the author’s thoughts on basically all aspects of life ranging from physical and mental health to dating and even alternative medicine, you will find it all here. 

There are many topics in which I agree with her. The focus on sleep hygiene is great. I’m even going to take her suggestion and look into an app to filter out blue light. Also her focus on compassion which will help prevent anger is much appreciated. Most of the book highlights the importance of self care in some manner. 

A lot of the book is the author telling her story. While it’s interesting and informative, I found it difficult to apply to my life. There were also parts that I absolutely disagree with. While she meant well, talking about post traumatic growth as an option instead of PTSD felt a little invalidating. Also I wish the mentions of hot yoga came with a health waring. Hot yoga can be wonderful, but also not safe for people with certain health conditions. Great for her, but not for all. While incredibly interesting, I’m not sure that all of the information was scientifically accurate, so a reminder to all to do their own research before making health, wellness, and lifestyle changes. 

Obviously I have some strong concerns on the book. Enjoyable, informative, and highlights the benefits of alternative medicine and lifestyle choices. Just be cautious when making changes for yourself based on someone else’s lifestyle. Do what’s right for you.

What’s your favorite self care activity?

3.5 Star Books · Book Reviews · Medical · memoir · non fiction

Dispatches from the Heart: Transplanting One Heart and Transforming Many Others by Ed and Paige Innerarity

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Dispatches from the Heart: Transplanting One Heart and Transforming Many Others by Ed and Paige Innerarity

Published: June 6, 2018

Publisher: River Grove Books

Pages: 202

Genres: non fiction, memoir, medical

Rating: 3.5 stars

Recommend to fans of: using faith to get through a difficult time, heartfelt stories, inspiring reads

Foodie Vibes: healthy foods that protect your heart

 

Synopsis:

Ed Innerarity was a regular guy: He liked to fly fish, ride his bike, and laugh with his family, and he attended church every Sunday. He also had a heart condition called cardiomyopathy and needed a new heart. Ed refused to even consider a heart transplant until his doctor gave him two options: Get a heart transplant or check in to a hospice care facility. He didn’t want to die.

Dispatches from the Heart is a compilation of emails from friends, family, and the authors themselves describing Ed’s journey through the heart transplant process. Full of compelling, inspiring, and often witty insights into this life-changing event, Ed and Paige share the challenges and triumphs they both faced before, during, and after Ed’s life-saving surgery.

This book is a tribute to those who helped make a second chance at life possible, an invitation into the intimate inner dialogue of a family ever changed, and a beacon of hope for those who may be part of a similar journey.

 

Review:

I won this book for free through Goodreads Giveaways. Thank you to Goodreads, the author and publisher for the ebook copy. As always, an honest review from me.

Dispatches from the Heart is the life journey of Ed, who needs and ends up receiving a heart transplant in his 60s. The touching insightful memoir highlights the importance of healthy life choices. Even if they can’t prevent illness, they can help the person live their best life during the struggles and potentially slow the progression of the health issue. Ed has cardiomyopathy, a genetic condition in which the heart gets weaker and less efficient over time. Due to his family history he got tested and knew he would eventually succumb to the same disease his mother passed away from. 

The book is a unique look into the journey a lot of families go through. Knowing you need an organ transplant, but not knowing if you will get one. His story is told through different forms: passages from him and his wife looking back, emails from him or his wife, email responses from loved ones, photos, song suggestions, and occasionally short descriptions of the medical terminology. It gives an authentic look what the family was going through during this difficult time. The family looks towards their faith a lot during this challenging time, as they do throughout the rest of life as well. 

I liked that he highlights the important of pre-hab while on the waiting list for a cardiac transplant. It shows the importance of strengthening your body before the transplant, so you can have the best chance for a good outcome. 

While the outlook is extremely positive, it may be difficult for people who are struggling with the transplant process, because they may not see themselves in his process. While he struggled, as well as his family, it wasn’t shown that much. That’s fine. Completely his choice what he shares, but it could alienate some people who are struggling to deal with and relate. 

Overall, an enlightening, inspiring book that shows Ed’s journey in the organ transplant process. A great read for someone who may know someone going through something similar and wants to know more about it. 

5 Star Books · Book Reviews · memoir · mental health · Uncategorized

Surviving Myself: How an Eating Disorder, A Car Crash and a Stroke Taught Me to Love My Life and Finally Live It by Dina Pestonji

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Surviving Myself: How an Eating Disorder, A Car Crash and a Stroke Taught Me to Love My Life and Finally Live It by Dina Pestonji

Published: July 19, 2018

Publisher: Tellwell Talent

Pages: 350

Genres: memoir, mental health, autobiography

Rating: 5 stars

Recommend to fans of: memoirs about strong women, life lessons, authentic eating disorder representation

Foodie Vibes: homemade Indian food surrounded by family

 

Synopsis:

GROWING UP, DINA PESTONJI was afforded all the comfort, love and affection anyone could ask for. She should have been a happy, carefree girl. But from the age of 10, she felt uncomfortably “different,” like an ugly brown duckling in a sea of perfect girls with white skin and blue eyes.

In this powerful, brutally honest memoir, Dina vividly describes the losing battle that engulfed her mind and body—one with a hateful, self-loathing and cruel inner critic.

Consumed by a misguided obsession with fitting in, being exceptional and “perfect,” she unknowingly allowed a deep self-hatred to set in over the years—a hatred that not even her acceptance at the swankiest schools nor a dream job in California could change. Only after surviving a horrific car crash and a paralyzing stroke while still in her 20s, did she begin to see herself for who she really was: strong, independent, a fighter…blessed.

Surviving Myself, is the captivating, emotionally charged story of the author’s journey to self-acceptance and inner peace, narrated with the refreshing candour of a close friend. Alternately humourous, shocking and heartbreaking, it is also the story of a family’s overflowing love.

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, Tellwell Talent and Dina Pestonji for an ebook copy for review. As always, an honest review from me. 

The title pretty much sums up the book. Dina struggles with an eating disorder in her teen years, constantly feels different from her peers, gets into a car crash, moves abroad several times, and has a stroke. All before the age of 30. That’s a lot of information for a person to get in 30 seconds, not to mention experience in 30 years. 

Her story is remarkable, inspiring and so relatable. Even if you haven’t dealt with all of the challenges that she has, you will still be able to relate to a lot of her feelings. Feelings of isolation, loneliness, loving your family but wanting to prove your independence, frustration, finding your place in the world, hopelessness and courage. The writing is so relatable. It’s like listening to a really smart mentor give you all the life lessons you need to know. I would read another 350 pages of her experiences and insight. 

The only aspect that slightly annoyed me was reading the younger years. Maybe age 10 and 11. Since it’s in 1st person, the writing is from a pre teen’s perspective. Makes sense for the story, but not my favorite age range to read about. These are only minor details though.

Overall a fantastic memoir that really resonated with me. Do yourself a favor and give Surviving Myself by Dina Pestonji a read!

 

Which of Dina’s experiences can you relate to?

memoir · What You Missed Wednesdays

What You Missed Wednesdays: Memoir Edition

What You Missed Wednesdays is exactly as it sounds!

Book reviews of each week’s genre of choice that you might have missed, and I think you should really hear about.

3 Books a Week with 3 Words/Phrases to Describe Them 

Click on the title of each book to be taken to my full review.

I hope you find new books that you’re excited to add to your TBR!

 

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Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover

5 stars

Power of education, surviving difficult childhoods, strong

 

 

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So Close to Being the Sh*t, Y’all Don’t Even Know by Retta

4 stars

Hilarious, pick me up, relatable

 

 

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Believe Me: My Battle with the Invisible Disability of Lyme disease by Yolanda Hadid

5 stars

Impactful, validating, educational

 

 

Well there you have it!

Another edition of What You Missed Wednesdays.

Keep coming back each Wednesday for more Can’t Miss Books!

 

 

Which book(s) are you now adding to your TBR?

 

4.5 Star Books · Book Reviews · Christian · memoir · non fiction

Scars and Stilettos: The Transformation of an Exotic Dancer by Harmony Dust

 

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Scars and Stilettos: The Transformation of an Exotic Dancer by Harmony Dust

Published: May 1, 2018 

Publisher: Monarch Books

Pages: 231

Genres: memoir, non fiction, Christian

Rating: 4.5 stars

Recommend to fans of: inspiring memoirs, Christianity helping people, sex industry workers looking for support/to get out of the life

Read with food: anything you find delicious and nourishing because you deserve to enjoy life in a healthy way

 

Synopsis:

At thirteen, after being abandoned by her mother one summer and left to take care of her younger brother, Harmony becomes susceptible to a relationship that turns out to be toxic, abusive, and ultimately exploitative. She eventually finds herself working in a strip club at the age of nineteen, and her boyfriend becomes her pimp, controlling her every move and taking all of her money.

Scars and Stilettos is Harmony’s stark, honest, and ultimately hopeful story of how God found her in that dark, noisy place, led her back out, and prompted her to help others who are trapped as she once was. It exposes the realities of the commercial sex industry and inspires hope that freedom and healing are possible for those involved. Harmony has since graduated magna cum laude from UCLA where she also completed an MA in Social Welfare, and now leads Treasures, an outreach and support group to women in the sex industry and victims of sex trafficking. Through the Treasures Trainings, she has provided training to help launch outreaches in over 120 cities on six continents.

 

Review:

I won this ebook for free through Goodreads Giveaways. Thank you to Goodreads, the author and publisher for the copy. As always, an honest review.

If you’re like me you’ll walk away from Scars and Stilettos inspired, a little ad, and wanting to tell everyone you know about Harmony’s story. She grew up in a very unstable and abusive home. She learned at a young age that her worth depended on other people’s opinions of her Boyd. Eventually she got into stripping to support herself and her pimp boyfriend.

I appreciated Harmony’s honest. She didn’t sugarcoat her life, nor did she give such graphic details purely for shock value. I found it interesting to learn why someone might get into the sex work industry, her life outside of her career, and what she really wanted for herself. Turns out, she was incredibly unhappy with her career and many other aspects of her life. The inspirational part begins when she starts going to church and slowly building her self esteem. The writing was inspiring, showing how her positive choices and help from others in her life led her to where she is today. Harmony now runs Treasures, a non profit outreach group for women in the sex work industry and victims of sex trafficking. I honestly can’t say enough great things about this memoir.

There are very few criticisms of Scars and Stilettos, except that I wish there was more about her transition after quitting stripping. The book seemed to skip over some of that.

Overall, an inspiring story that can help a lot of people.

 

 

About Treasures:

Our mission is to reach, restore, and equip women in the sex industry and victims of sex trafficking to live healthy, flourishing lives, and train others to do the same across the globe.

 

  • If you’ve been inspired by Harmony’s book and want more information about her organization, check out her website for the non profit Treasures

 

  • For a list of ways to get involved in a big or small way click here

 

  • Treasures even has an Amazon Wish List that makes it super easy to to help purchase items the organization needs to help so many women 

 

5 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · historical fiction · Literary Fiction

ARC Book Review | Rust & Stardust by T. Greenwood

 

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Be sure to read until the end of the review for a fun, bonus question!

 

Rust & Stardust by T. Greenwood

Published: August 7, 2018 

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Pages: 352

Genres: literary fiction, historical fiction

Rating: 5 stars

Recommend to fans of: fictionalized versions of real life, books about kidnappings, the 1950s

Read with food: a nice milkshake preferably from a diner

 

Synopsis:

Camden, NJ, 1948.

When 11 year-old Sally Horner steals a notebook from the local Woolworth’s, she has no way of knowing that 52 year-old Frank LaSalle, fresh out of prison, is watching her, preparing to make his move. Accosting her outside the store, Frank convinces Sally that he’s an FBI agent who can have her arrested in a minute—unless she does as he says.

This chilling novel traces the next two harrowing years as Frank mentally and physically assaults Sally while the two of them travel westward from Camden to San Jose, forever altering not only her life, but the lives of her family, friends, and those she meets along the way.

 

Review: 

I won this book for free from Goodreads Giveaways. Thank you to Goodreads, the author and publisher for a copy. As always, an honest review.

Rust & Stardust was very loosely based on the real life kidnapping of Sally Horner in the late 1940s. Her story is also the inspiration for the book Lolita. The author took her story and imagined what might have happened in her day to day life while she was kidnapped. Sally was held for several years. I enjoyed the fictionalized version of what her life experiences might have been. Initially I didn’t realize the story was based on a real girl. I enjoyed it before and after learning this fact.

The storytelling is beautiful, haunting, and absolutely captivating. For a book about such a horrible topic, I couldn’t put it down. The author eludes to Sally’s terrible experiences, but doesn’t go into great detail which I appreciated. We learn more about Sally’s emotional state than anything else. Also each chapter alternates with different characters’ points of view, so we see the impact her disappearance has on her family as well.

The only part that frustrated me was the adults who were to scared or too unsure to help Sally. It was a different time and a different era but still frustrating none the less. Also, there are mentions of kidnapping and sexual assault. It wasn’t graphic by any means, and most of the story wasn’t about that. But I still wanted to mention it.

I was captivated by the writing right from the beginning all the way to the very last sentence. I highly recommend reading this amazing book.

Random Question of the Review:

How long does it take you to read a book?