Year of the Bookwormz: 2011

52 weeks. 2 friends. 1 challenge.

Book #10: Fabookulous March 28, 2010

So Long, Insecurity (You’ve Been a Bad Friend to us) by Beth Moore

A letter from Beth:

Dear Friend,

We’re insecure. You and me and every woman. Lately I’ve been realizing more and more that chronic insecurity is a cultural epidemic, but almost no one is talking about it. And it ticks me off.

We’re insecure about everything from our looks to our worth as women, from our relationships to our futures, and everything else in between. You name it, and we’re probably insecure about it.

Let’s be honest here. Insecurity makes us miserable. It cripples us. It makes fools of us. It makes us feel worthless. Insecurity has been a bad friend to us. The bottom line is that it’s self-sabotage.

Girlfriend, listen to me. Our insecurities are lying to us. It doesn’t have to be this way. It’s time to say, “So long!” to insecurity. How? First we have to understand it, and the good news is that insecurity is understandable. The even better news is that insecurity is curable.

It’s time we girls help each other out so we can be the best wives, mothers, sisters, daughters, and friends that we can possibly be. Let’s have a chat, you and me, through these pages. I’d be honored if you’d join me on my quest for real, lasting, soul-deep security.


Once again, one of my favorite bible teachers will blow you away! I took my sweet time with this book to absorb the material. Beth Moore will make you laugh at embarrassing examples of an insecure woman as well as offer you tips on how to fight it when you feel yourself starting to show fears.

Security/insecurity can be such a taboo topic. Insecurity can become so intertwined with who you are, you may not even realize it. Magazines, television shows, the Hollywood glitz…they all make us feel inadequate and believe in something as status-quo that is, in fact, the farthest thing from it. I made the decision several months ago not to renew my People magazine subscription when it’s up in June, as a personal decision to not feed these images to myself anymore.

That’s not to say insecurity stems only from the desire to impress strangers by what we look like, what clothes we wear, what car we drive. Are we even insecure about reading a book on insecurity?? No, no…insecurity goes far beyond the outward and the material. What about you? What makes you insecure? What struggles do you hide behind? Your career? Your house? Your marriage? Your relationships? If we’re absolutely honest with ourselves, we are sure to find insecurities that we hold onto and take measures to protect and keep hidden.

Why do we do that? We might not even realize we’re putting these burdens on ourselves that are not only unnecessary, they are curable! Why do we choose to live life with fears and feelings of inadequacies? We can be secure in the women we are knowing God created us to have strength and dignity. This is the message Beth walks us through and guides us with throughout this book.

I do, however, believe there is a difference in being a secure woman in God, confident in who He created us to be and who we are in Him, and an arrogant woman who gives credit to herself rather than God for her achievements and who she is. I think it’s important to give glory to God always and not ourselves and that’s where the line is drawn. Without God, we are nothing.

I recommend this book for everyone because whether you discuss it with others or not, we all have insecurities. But don’t limit yourself to a life where you feel you don’t thrive…pray about them, work through them, and get rid of them once and for all! You are beautiful, inside and out, and you don’t need society or others to tell you that. Let your Creator tell you. After all, it is Him who designed you.

5/5 stars!
Happy Reading,



Book #19 LibraryLove

The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

Book description~ What if you could change your life without really changing your life? On the outside, Gretchen Rubin had it all—a good marriage, healthy children and a successful career— but she knew something was missing. Determined to end that nagging feeling, she set out on a year-long quest to learn how to better enjoy the life she already had.  Each month, Gretchen pursued a different set of resolutions—go to sleep earlier, tackle a nagging task, bring people together, take time to be silly—along with dozens of other goals. She read everything from classical philosophy to cutting-edge scientific studies, from Winston Churchill to Oprah, developing her own definition of happiness and a plan for how to achieve it. She kept track of which resolutions worked and which didn’t, sharing her stories and collecting those of others through her blog (created to fulfill one of March’s resolutions). Bit by bit, she began to appreciate and amplify the happiness in her life.

In a piece of “stunt journalism” (think Julie/Julia Project), we follow Gretchen’s year-long journey toward enjoying her life more. She blogs along the way and we see her progress as she tackles mini goals each month.  Gretchen wants to show more gratitude and generally improve her mood and productivity. I know a handful of folks that I’d LOVE to send this book to who would truly benefit from Gretchen’s perspective. The book was thought provoking because it made me realize how many folks out there live their lives in a constant state of damage control and procrastination. But why is it that hard, really, to follow through with commitments? Or to say no when we know we absolutely cannot follow through?

This book made me realize just how much I love my life and how much I show gratitude to those important in my life. I realized how it’s common place for me and my friends to regularly seek out new experiences, making our lives a richer place. The main factor to happiness for me is surrounding myself with positive, caring, considerate people and to “weed out” those who are a toxic force and energy drain.

I had a very hard time relating to Gretchen in this book. We couldn’t be more opposite. Anyone that knows me, knows I cannot procrastinate. I just missed that gene somewhere along the way and sometimes it’s REALLY annoying. I’m proud to be a highly effective and self motivated person. Most of the topics Gretchen covers in her book felt unrelatable for me- I love getting things done; I’m efficient in doing them. I’m organized and love giving back to others.  I have an amazing social circle of close friends that requires effort from both parties. I’m on time or early; I’m reliable. I consider people’s feelings and remember their birthdays. I’ve had to be self sufficient at a young age, and one of the things I’m most thankful to my parents for- teaching me to be independent and learn how to make good decisions based on the foundation I was given. I’m a work in progress just like everyone else. But I am aware and so thankful for my life. I show it regularly to those in my network.

It’s hard for me to criticize one woman’s quest for happiness- happiness is subjective to each of us, as are the things we deem important. I appreciated her insights and if nothing else, how people are drawn to a smiling face and to positivity and friendliness.

I will share a few criticisms: this book was too verbose. Gretchen went into too much detail over minutiae. Gretchen also cut and pasted blog comments strangers left on her blog. Sure it’s nice to hear what they are saying and how they can relate. But in a published book? C’mon.  I felt it was filler. She could have just said “visit my blog to see what others had to say about each of these topics” and be done with it.

Happiness isn’t just how we feel or how we act. We also have to be reactive to those around us. We can’t change other people but we can also change how we let them effect us and muddy our moods. We can also lead by example, which I try to do whenever possible. I thrive on learning from others and love that I’m surrounded by amazing people who I can learn so much from every time we interact.

This book, for the most part, boiled down to a summary of psychological research on happiness which I was familiar with through much of the reading I had to do for college, mixed with her personal anecdotes.  There were two significant takeaways for me:

#1: Keep a contented heart

#2: Whatever love you might feel in your heart, others will see only your actions

Why not try a little harder to put on a smile? Try a little harder to show your loved ones how much they mean to you? Why not try a little harder to appreciate what you have? Only good can come of it.

3/5 stars
19 down, 33 to go!
In progress- The Elegance of the Hedgehog (audiobook) and Sarah’s Key
Library Love


Book #18 LibraryLove March 21, 2010

The Opposite of Me by Sarah Pekkanen

Book description~ Twenty-nine year old Lindsey Rose has always lived in the shadow of her devastatingly beautiful fraternal twin sister, Alex. Determined to get noticed, Lindsey is finally on the cusp of being named Creative Vice President of an elite New York advertising agency, after years of 80 plus-hour weeks, migraines, and profound loneliness. But during the course of one devastating night, Lindsey’s carefully-constructed life implodes. Humiliated and desperate, she flees the glitter of Manhattan and retreats to the time warp of her parents’ Maryland home. As her sister plans her lavish wedding to her prince charming, Lindsey struggles to maintain her identity as the smart, responsible twin, while she furtively tries to put her career back together. But things get more complicated when a long-held family secret is unleashed that forces both sisters to reconsider who they are and who they are meant to be.

Honey on popcorn and the champagne chagrin. Be sure to ’86 the tart lingonberries at the Ikea discount breakfast! From page one I was hooked and couldn’t put this book down.  I literally laughed OUT loud before chapter two! I often criticize books AND movies for not ‘hooking’ me soon enough. I absolutely cannot say that about The Opposite of Me.  I was so jealous of my friends who had a clear schedule to devour this book the day it came out in print. Unfortunately, I had to wait to start this, the book I’ve been waiting since July 2009 to read!!! I was in the middle of reading/reviewing another book when Pekkanen’s debut novel became available in print! Despite my body telling me otherwise, I sacrificed sleep because I could not WAIT to see what happened to Lindsey on her trek back home.

Pekkanen’s novel, The Opposite of Me, is the story of solidarity in family, and how things that separate us, often bring us back to one another, despite our attempts at the contrary.  In the book we follow Lindsey and Alex, two sisters who at first, perceive themselves as complete opposites (hence the title, har har). As the story unfolded, at least for me, it became a tale about two sisters who couldn’t be more similar. Yes, yes, I KNOW that is contrary to the title- it’s called dramatic irony, folks! You have to read to find out 🙂

“Have you ever felt like a stranger in your own skin?” Lindsey asks. I loved pondering Lindsey’s question as the story unfolded.  I won’t spoil the twists and turns because you will LOVE navigating them on your own. But I loved the rich character development and internal conflict Lindsey dealt with, as she felt like the ugly duckling in the shadows of her stunning sister Alex, until things shifted unexpectedly. Pekkanen does such an artful job of crafting the characters, their struggles, and drawing the reader in with multiple parallels and peaks of rising action throughout the story.  I felt like I was following along on  “Lindsey-cam”  the whole way through, seeing and feeling life through Lindsey’s eyes, as it unfolded for her AND me. I especially cringed/laughed at the OH SO EMBARRASSING scene where Lindsey’s eyes squint open to adjust to the light and standing right in front of her is…Mr. Dunne!! I laughed while simultaneously cringing in embarrassment for her! I cannot IMAGINE how small I would feel in her shoes at that moment!! I especially loved the scene at Tony & Joe’s that Lindsey facilitated for her ‘new friend’. It reminded me of a scene from Pattie Stanger’s Millionaire Matchmaker. Loved every moment!

A few of the other highlights for me- Lindsey’s ‘Clark Kent’ quick convenience store changes, going for the Hail Mary w/ the rooftop picnic and its awkwardness setting in, and Lindsey’s magic 8-ball manhunt then stumbling upon some interesting new  information that further cemented Lindsey’s perception that she and Alex really didn’t know each other at all…or did they?

I just HAD to know why the MRI tech was making the sign of the cross,  and cried at the moment of stark florescence of the MVA’s  lights on Alex’s head.  I couldn’t read fast enough, but wanted to pace myself and enjoy each moment. I loved Lindsey’s strength in helping build Alex up. I loved Alex’s strength in helping build Lindsey up.  Right before the reader’s eye, it becomes clear that Lindsey is that brown chipped and painted brick wall of the fixer upper- she’s just waiting for the right person to nurture, restore, and appreciate her. Who knew pizza men could be so dang charming?? 😉

Friends who I recommended this book to were glued to the pages. I received harried texts along the way because the suspense was agonizingly delicious!

I’m sad this book is over and feel the need to share plain bagels and ginger ale with my sister. I am so honored to call such a talented author, Sarah Pekkanen, my friend. She was featured in People magazine with a fantastic review. Jennifer Weiner gave her the ‘Golden Touch’ by being one of her biggest outward supporters. I was bursting with excitement at Sarah’s debut book signing event and after party. I’m just bummed that I have to wait ANOTHER year for her next novel 😉

Run, don’t walk, to your nearest bookish establishment and buy your copy of The Opposite of Me today! Oh and then take 2-3 days off and clear your calendar so you can read this without interruption! Sarah, cheers to you and all of your success as your book goes back to print after just ONE week! You’re a rock star. I am so thrilled to be on this ride supporting you every step of the way. Three final words: Roadtrip to Philly!

5/5 stars

18 down, 34 to go!

In progress, The Happiness Project




Book #17 LibraryLove March 18, 2010

Testimony, the Unabridged Audiobook by Anita Shreve

Book description~ At a New England boarding school, a sex scandal is about to break. Even more shocking than the sexual acts themselves is the fact that they were caught on videotape. A Pandora’s box of revelations, the tape triggers a chorus of voices–those of the men, women, teenagers, and parents involved in the scandal–that details the ways in which lives can be derailed or destroyed in one foolish moment.

Cause. Effect. Guilty until proven innocent? Innocent until proven guilty? These ideas along with so many others were central in Anita Shreve’s fast-paced and intense novel, inspired by the Duke Lacrosse scandal of 2006.  In Testimony, the reader was hearing first hand accounts from the 15 different people, each involved in some way, in the high school sex scandal caught on tape, after an Avery Academy boarding school dance. Testimony proved how a single action caused a life to veer in a direction it was never meant to go. Can watching a video tape clarify motives, intentions, and who provoked whom? As the reader, we  hear the testimonies of parents, administrators, law officers, students and teachers, trying to get to the bottom of the “truth”.  Shreve carefully and wonderfully examined the  impulses that swayed the lives of (seemingly innocent) students, their needs,  desires, and fears. Were the students driven in malice? Or just testing the waters of right and wrong ending in demise? What I loved most about Testimony, although the first 15 minutes were quite graphic, was how thoroughly it investigated and explored the idea of “the truth” and “perception”. It examined ways in which our best intentions can lead to our worst transgressions, using all the various points of view, age differences, and relation to the scandal itself, to explore the minds and actions of the youth. The realism in action, consequence, and dialogue was unreal. I’ve never seen an author, even Jodi Picoult create 15 real and plausible characters that WORKed in one novel alone.

Silas and Noel’s stories were particularly emotional for me.  I wanted to smack Sienna- she was “all about the PGs”. Rob was my favorite. I felt sad for Irwin more than anyone- can you imagine  the anguish of holding his secret in everyday? Unimaginable.

Not everyone embraces audiobooks. I’ve really enjoyed picking particular books to listen to on my iPod instead of read. Time is precious for me, as I have such little down time and need to read 35 more books in 2010!  I love using my morning commute and cleaning/cooking time to listen to these books using such great new technology.  This book translated SO well to audiobook.  Shreve is artful with her character development, their voices,  and inflection. This particular audiobook was a full cast. Each of the 15 characters had a different voice-over artist representing them.  I felt like I was sitting across the interview table from each of the folks involved. I felt like I was sitting in the administrator’s office as the horrible news was delivered to the parents of the students involved.  I felt like I was reading Rob’s letter to the “researcher”.

Anita Shreve is one of my newest favorite authors and I can’t wait to read more of her work. I’m curious to hear what my book club babes think of this thought-provoking and controversial book, as half of us will have read it, and the other half will have listened. I don’t think I’d feel as invested in the story and characters if I hadn’t listened to the audiobook.

Thanks to my sweet apple turnover w/ powdered sugar for picking this great book! Hope you liked it as much as I did.

5/5 stars

17 down, 35 to go!

In progress, The Opposite of Me




Reading challenges::20 in 2010:: March 17, 2010

Filed under: Reading Challenges — bookworms2010 @ 9:19 am
Tags: , ,
Anyone need a reading challenge to get inspired this year?
It’s not too late to start!
Bart over at Bart’s Bookshelf is hosting this fun challenge.  Here are the challenge details:
The aim is to read a total 20 books over ten categories, in 2010. (Was this challenge based solely around the name? I’ll let you decide!)


  • Read 2 books from each category, making a requirement of 20 books total.
  • The categories are intended to be loose guidelines only, if you decide it fits, then it fits. (Apart from those marked **)
  • Categories marked with ** have tighter rules, and these must be followed.
  • Each book can only qualify for one category.
  • Crossovers with other challenges are allowed.
  • Books read from 01/01/2010 to 12/31/2010 are eligible.

So, on with the categories

  1. Young Adult: Any book classified as young adult or featuring a teenage protagonist counts for this category.
  2. T.B.R. **: Intended to help reduce the old T.B.R. pile. Books for this category must be already residents of your bookshelves as of 1/11/09.
  3. Shiny & New: Bought a book NEW during 2010 from a bookstore, online, or a supermarket? Then it counts for this category. Second-hand books do not count for this one, but, for those on book-buying bans, books bought for you as gifts or won in a giveaway also count!
  4. Bad Blogger’s ***: Books in this category, should be ones you’ve picked up purely on the recommendation of another blogger count for this category (any reviews you post should also link to the post that convinced you give the book ago).
    *** Bad Bloggers: Is hosted by Chris of Stuff as Dreams are Made on.
  5. Charity: Support your local charity shops with this category, by picking up books from one of their shops. Again, for those on book-buying bans, books bought for you as gifts also count, as long as they were bought from a charity shop.
  6. New in 2010: This category is for those books newly published in 2010 (whether it be the first time it is has been released, or you had to wait for it to be published in your country, it counts for this one!)
  7. Older Than You: Read two books that were published before you were born, whether that be the day before or 100 years prior!
  8. Win! Win!: Have a couple of books you need to read for another challenge? Then this is the category to use, as long that is, you don’t break the rules of the other challenge by doing so! ;)
  9. Who Are You Again?: This one isn’t just for authors you’ve never read before, this is for those authors you have never even heard of before!
  10. Up to You!: The requirements for this category are up to you! Want to challenge yourself to read some graphic novels? A genre outside your comfort zone? Something completely wild and wacky? Then this is the category to you. The only requirement is that you state it in your sign-up post.

The requirements for this category are up to you! Want to challenge yourself to read some graphic novels? A genre outside your comfort zone? Something completely wild and wacky? Then this is the category to you. The only requirement is that you state it in your sign-up post.

Enjoy and if you do his challenge, stop over here and let us know how you’re doing!!




Book #16: LibraryLove March 15, 2010

Waiting for Daisy by Peggy Orenstein

Waiting for Daisy is about loss, love, anger and redemption. It’s about doing all the things you swore you’d never do to get something you hadn’t even been sure you wanted. It’s about being a woman in a confusing, contradictory time. It’s about testing the limits of a loving marriage. And it’s about trying (and trying and trying) to have a baby. Orenstein’s story begins when she tells her new husband that she’s not sure she ever wants to be a mother; it ends six years later after she’s done almost everything humanly possible to achieve that goal, from “fertility sex” to escalating infertility treatments to New Age remedies to forays into international adoption. Her saga unfolds just as professional women are warned by the media to heed the ticking of their biological clocks, and just as fertility clinics have become a boom industry, with over two million women a year seeking them out. Buffeted by one jaw-dropping obstacle after another, Orenstein seeks answers both medical and spiritual in America and Asia, along the way visiting an old flame who’s now the father of fifteen, and discovering in Japan a ritual of surprising solace. All the while she tries to hold onto a marriage threatened by cycles, appointments, procedures and disappointments. Waiting for Daisy is an honest, wryly funny report from the front, an intimate page-turner that illuminates the ambivalence, obsession, and sacrifice that characterize so many modern women’s lives.

What does it mean to be a mother? To what lengths would you go to be one? Would you sacrifice your health? Life? Marriage? Your own sense of self? And more interestingly, what are the impacts on your husband through the process of being treated for infertility? My husband and I plan to have children some day. But a couple’s personal time line is so not public information. And conversely, I wish more people would be sensitive towards couples that decide they DON’T want to raise children, whether they biologically can or not. It’s so frustrating to see and hear how ostracized a couple can be if they decide children are not part of their plans. But what if children WERE part of your plans but you waited beyond the point of healthy conception?

My knowledge and understanding of fertility/infertility are so minute. So, in my typical fashion, what better time to expand my personal horizons than during this, The Year of The Bookwormz? This year’s reading challenge is a personal goal to learn more about topics I don’t know about, through books. I also had some extra time to read as I traveled to visit my family out-of-town over the weekend. My sister’s cat especially enjoyed “helping” me read. 🙂

I also appreciated the intellectual conversation on this topic with my sister and brother-in-law, both medical doctors, who had interesting insights from a medical and scientific perspective. The topic intrigued me after reading Baby Proof by Emily Giffin over the summer (who by the way I cannot WAIT to meet during her 2010 book tour)!

Baby Proof‘s premise challenges the idea of a married couple deciding not to have children.  It begs an interesting question, are children all a woman wants?? And discusses whether some couples have kids because they genuinely want to invest in raising children, or because they feel pressure from mothers, grandmothers, and female friends because it’s just “what you do after you get married”.  I couldn’t wait to learn about the topic by reading Waiting for Daisy and was amazed at just how far one woman would go for a baby.

In Waiting For Daisy, Peggy so candidly, shares her six-year struggle toward motherhood. Peggy and her supportive husband Steven, try every medical possibility to conceive a child.   As a woman over 35, she experiences major difficulty every step of the way. Despite her struggles, I loved this book and felt like I was watching Peggy and Steven’s life as a fly on the wall, traveling between two continents. Peggy, a well-known journalist so  forthcoming with her heart wrenching experiences, had me in awe. I cannot image wanting a baby so badly that I’d have gone to the great lengths Peggy goes through. She puts her health, well-being, mental stability, financial stability, marriage, and career on the line.

I have some very strong opinions on the topic of fertility treatments. As this is a public forum, won’t do it here, because those feelings and views belong to my husband and I in privacy. What saddened me the most in reading this book, was how unregulated the cash cow fertility industry is!! I was horrified to read how things went from bad to worse for Peggy and Steven. Below is a brief excerpt from Peggy’s book that I felt extremely apropos:

“I felt like the high roller whose new friends disappeared when his stake was gone. The caring brochures, the chummy smiles, the warm affect of the clinic “team” seemed abruptly stripped away, revealing nothing more than a cold-blooded business. We had wanted so desperately to believe that we had ignored the sales pitch in the compassion, the coercion in the photographs of babies and sunflowers. But I finally got it- these guys may have been doctors, but they were also salesmen. I may have been a patient, but I was also a consumer. I was undergoing a procedure, but I was also making a deal- and they were making a buck”. ~ Peggy Orenstein

I give Peggy so much credit for writing this book. What a strong woman for enduring those most difficult 6 years and basically throwing away the second half of her 30s. I don’t want to give away too much, but this book will be a testament to Peggy’s strength. This book will be a truly amazing gift for Daisy to look back and reflect upon, as her earliest scrapbook.

Such a thought-provoking topic. I wish more people took the time to learn about the political, societal, and social impacts of the fertility industry, even if it doesn’t apply to them!

~5/5 stars~

16 down, 36 to go!

In progress: The Opposite of Me and Testimony (Audiobook)




Book #9: Fabookulous March 14, 2010

Home Safe by Elizabeth Berg

Book description: In this new novel, beloved bestselling author Elizabeth Berg weaves a beautifully written and richly resonant story of a mother and daughter in emotional transit. Helen Ames- recently widowed, coping with loss and grief, unable to do the work that has always sustained her- is beginning to depend far too much on her twenty-seven-year-old daughter, Tessa, and is meddling in her life, offering unsolicited and unwelcome advice. Helen’s problems are compounded by her shocking discovery that her mild-mannered and seemingly loyal husband was apparently leading a double life. The Ameses had painstakingly saved for a happy retirement, but that money disappeared in several large withdrawals made by Helen’s husband before he died. In order to support herself and garner a measure of much needed independence, Helen takes an unusual job that ends up offering far more than she had anticipated. And then a phone call from a stranger sets Helen on a surprising path of discovery that causes both mother and daughter to reassess what they thought they knew about each other, themselves, and what really makes a home and a family.

“Maybe Freud didn’t know the answer to what women want, but Elizabeth Berg certainly does,” said USA Today, and that special gift of understanding shines through in this remarkable new novel. Home Safe is an exquisitely rendered story about mothers, daughters, and finding new richness in the stages of life, in one’s family, and in oneself.

I just finished this book and I have to say, I was very disappointed. The cover jacket’s summary of the story (the book description posted), I felt, was extremely misleading. About 2/3 in, I was still waiting to read what the book claims happened. I feel very misled.

I didn’t feel like I got to know the characters. The main character was all over the place and her flash backs to other events and times in her life seemed random at times. Something that was very distracting throughout the ENTIRE book was the amount of punctuation! Commas, semi-colons, colons, I mean REALLY?! They are all over. The sentences seem to run on and on separated by punctuation. It felt rushed and sloppy. While I was reading this book a friend noticed it on the table and said “Oh I love Elizabeth Berg, is that good?” And I said “No, not really. What’s with all the punctuation?” and she said “YES, I noticed that too!” I feel bad being so harsh because apparently she is a bestselling author. Until this book, I had not heard of her or read her books.

Something else that I found annoying was  EVERY TIME her daughter spoke to her/addressed her mother, she said “Mom, mom.” Why is she saying mom twice? I have no clue what that was about and it got annoying.

I was very disappointed with this book, found the ending disappointing, and felt the story was incomplete. I had the feeling it was rushed through just to release another book and the author just went through the motions putting words to paper. I had high expectations and maybe that’s where I made a mistake. I read the cover jacket, which I do not feel is an accurate description of the story. Very odd book and very odd characters. Sorry, I don’t recommend this book…

2/5 stars…