The Surviving Trace by Calia Read Review

The Surviving Trace by Calia Read

Will is my fiancé. The shy man I met years ago in college. The person I’m supposed to spend the rest of my life with. 

 This is the life I’ve always wanted until finding a picture of four men changes everything… Étienne says he’s my husband and the year is 1912. He can’t stand the sight of me, but I don’t know why. 

 Oh, and he’s one of the men from the picture. 

 I’ve done the impossible and have become trapped in time and I know Étienne is my key to going home. 

 The more time I spend with Étienne, the further I fall for him until I’m questioning which time I belong in and if the life I left behind is the one I truly desire. 

 All I know for certain is I need to survive time. 

 I need to survive love. 

 And I need to make it out on the other side alive. 

This book made me escape to 1912 so well. I felt like I was there. The setting was laid out so beautifully and not overdone at all. I could see it and I could almost touch it. The culture of the time period was easily understood, and I really enjoyed seeing what it was like for Serene to go back in time. Overall I really, really enjoyed this one and am highly anticipating the next book, (yes, it’s a series) but I do have a couple of complaints. First, let’s dive into what I loved.

I loved Etienne. Totally hated him at first, but once I got to know his character and understand the reasons for his actions, I was a fan. I also really loved the aspect of a girl from our current time going back in time to 1912. Serene’s thoughts and actions were spot on and I’m pretty sure I’d feel the same way if I went back to a time when women were perceived so differently than they are now. That’s probably my favorite aspect of the book overall. The setting sounded so beautiful and I could intensely picture it in my head. As well as the clothing described, I was just all in with the quick but detailed descriptions written by Read.

Unfortunately, I did have some beef with this book. The sex scenes were just a little too much for me. I don’t know if I’m becoming a prude in my old age or what, but I found myself glancing over them in order to get to the next part. In my opinion, the sex scenes weren’t integral to the story, so when reading them I just became bored. Also, there were a few times when I had to question the timeline and who was related to who. I got a tad confused and had to go back to other pages in order to figure out what was going on.

For both of those reasons listed above, I put my big girl pants on and gave this book a 4 star rating. I only knocked off one star because I really, really did love everything else about the book aside from those two things. If you are looking for a summer read that will take you to a different time, this is your pick!

To see purchase options for The Surviving Trace through Amazon, CLICK HERE.

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The Surviving Trace by Calia Read Review

Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics by Dan Harris Review

Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics by Dan Harris

 ABC News anchor Dan Harris used to think that meditation was for people who collect crystals, play Ultimate Frisbee, and use the word “namaste” without irony. After he had a panic attack on live television, he went on a strange and circuitous journey that ultimately led him to become one of meditation’s most vocal public proponents.

Here’s what he’s fixated on now: Science suggests that meditation can lower blood pressure, mitigate depression and anxiety, and literally rewire key parts of the brain, among numerous other benefits. And yet there are millions of people who want to meditate but aren’t actually practicing. What’s holding them back?

In this guide to mindfulness and meditation for beginners and experienced meditators alike, Harris and his friend Jeff Warren, a masterful teacher and “Meditation MacGyver,” embark on a cross-country quest to tackle the myths, misconceptions, and self-deceptions that stop people from meditating. They rent a rock-star tour bus (whose previous occupants were Parliament Funkadelic) and travel across eighteen states, talking to scores of would-be meditators—including parents, military cadets, police officers, and even a few celebrities. They create a taxonomy of the most common issues (“I suck at this,” “I don’t have the time,” etc.) and offer up science-based life hacks to help people overcome them.

The book is filled with game-changing and deeply practical meditation instructions. Amid it all unspools the strange and hilarious story of what happens when a congenitally sarcastic, type-A journalist and a groovy Canadian mystic embark on an epic road trip into America’s neurotic underbelly, as well as their own.

A couple of years ago, my dad told me about this book on meditation, and how even 5 minutes a day could help reduce stress. I was not interested at the time. I was a brand new, church going, bible bumping Christian, and I was sure meditation went against my new lifestyle in some way. Well, fast forward to a couple of weeks ago when I was chasing my daughter around my parent’s house and found her in their room. On my dad’s nightstand was this book, Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics. I picked it up and took it home with me.

I still poses the core belief that I had a couple of years ago, but over the last couple of years I’ve been able to return to my more liberal self, whom I was previously made to believe I had to diminish because of my spiritual beliefs. (Side note: The minute religion or spirituality turns into someone telling you what you need to believe politically is the minute you need to get the heck out of there.) I knew I now had more of an open mind and might be able to learn something new about this topic that my dad found so interesting.

After only a couple of pages into this book I realized that meditation is nothing like what I previously thought. I was under the assumption that meditating was some kind of spiritual and religious affair, praying to a God of a religion I didn’t believe in/practice, which really turned me off. I couldn’t have been more wrong. For some people meditation can be spiritual, but the process Dan Harris is trying to get across is not spiritual. I think of it as a brain exercise, a way to change your reactions internally and help you cope with the everyday stresses of life.

I think this book does a really great job of explaining meditation to the average person. In my mind I feel like I understand what it is and what it does, but for me to explain it in writing is proving to be extremely difficult. I give Dan Harris and his writing cohorts credit because this is not an easy topic to write about. To sum up what I’ve learned about meditation through this book, it is the act of focusing your mind on a single thing in order to clear it of everything else. And once you realize that your inner self is chatting again on a completely different topic, Dan would say that you’ve won because you have realized you have a thinking mind and it is thinking.

See what I mean? Totally a hard thing to explain in writing. But the Harris, Warren and Adler team really do a great job of explaining meditation in layman’s terms. For this reason, I really enjoyed the book. I feel like if I would’ve picked up any other book on meditation, it wouldn’t have explained it in an average Joe type of way like what’s done in Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics. While I did enjoy that aspect of the book, there were a few moments reading when I felt bored, which ultimately lead to my 3.5/5 star rating.

Now, the question you are all wanting answered, did this book convince me to meditate? In short, yes. I haven’t tried it yet, though, and I have a few qualms I am going to need to sort out internally before I try. Meditating forces you to really connect (or disconnect?) with the inner voice inside your head. Unfortunately, the inner voice inside my head usually annoys the crap out of me. I often joke with people that I annoy myself, and it’s true. Dan Harris would most likely say that that makes me the perfect candidate for meditation. It makes me want to try, but it also makes me apprehensive and, as you can imagine, a skeptic.

For the most part, I did enjoy this book. I was able to move past the boring parts and stick with the interesting informative sections. Harris has another book called 10% Happier, and I plan on reading that one as well.

To see purchase options for Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics through Amazon, CLICK HERE.

I also wanted to add a link to Dan Harris’s website, which has a short video with an introduction to meditation. To see that, CLICK HERE.

 

Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics by Dan Harris Review

Off Topic Tuesday

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Happy Off Topic Tuesday, everyone! Today 5171 Miles Book Blog and myself are chatting a bit about our ultimate hopes and dreams. Kind of an open ended topic, so I’m really excited to see what Sabrina and Ashley have to say. Make sure to click on the link and head on over to their blog to read theirs.

My ultimate hopes and dreams. If you would’ve asked me this question a couple of years ago, my answer would’ve included having babies and running an in-home daycare so I could stay home with my babies. And after said babies got older and went to school, I planned on working at a daycare or preschool. Those were the majority of my ultimate hopes and dreams career-wise. Now, I’m not saying that those hopes and dreams are bad. In fact, for a portion of my life, they made me teary-eyed just at the thought. But something has happened to me over time and those dreams have faded and new ones have created a home in my heart.

I’ve never pictured myself going to a university. Maybe it’s because I got married at 19 or maybe it’s because the on campus college lifestyle has never appealed to me. Even the thought of getting a bachelor’s degree online didn’t do anything for me because I was never passionate enough about anything to spend that money. But now? Oh man, now I am so passionate that I’m willing to put my daughter in daycare two days a week so I can climb my own ladder. Yes, you are reading it right. I am going back to school starting this fall to pursue my new dream of being an English teacher.

The thought came to me about a year and a half ago when I was living out one of my previous dreams as an in home daycare provider. It wasn’t pure baby bliss like I thought it was going to be. I was lonely, depressed. My babies were cute and adorable and challenged me, but I missed adult interaction and being challenged on an intellectual level. What? Yes, an intellectual level. Something this non-AP, non-gifted, extremely average student would never say. I thought if I could combine three things I absolutely love, like reading and writing and kids, I couldn’t go wrong. And I’m still not positive about that. I might hate being an English teacher. But, I’m hopeful and I’m determined. And when I set my mind to something, I don’t let go until I see it through.

Aside from my future career, I have many other hopes and dreams. Most include spending time with the people I love. I would love to go to Chicago with my parents, sister, brother in-law, husband and daughter and go to a Cubs game all together. I would love to go to a taping of The Ellen Show with my mom and sister. I would love to take my daughter back to the little corn field town where I grew up and eat at all of my childhood favorites. I would love to have another baby. I would love to buy a house and make it a home. I would love to be at peace with everyone in my life, so that when I leave this earth, I can do it smiling. I would love to be with my parents as much as I can be for the next half of their lives. I would love to visit beautiful places while standing next to my husband, always holding his hand. The people I love, they ARE my hopes and dreams. Loving them well is my ultimate hope and being with them is my ultimate dream. ❤

Don’t forget to head over to Ashley and Sabrina’s blog to read about their ultimate hopes and dreams. CLICK HERE to find theirs.

 

Off Topic Tuesday

You by Caroline Kepnes Review

You by Caroline Kepnes

When a beautiful, aspiring writer strides into the East Village bookstore where Joe Goldberg works, he does what anyone would do: he Googles the name on her credit card.

There is only one Guinevere Beck in New York City. She has a public Facebook account and Tweets incessantly, telling Joe everything he needs to know: she is simply Beck to her friends, she went to Brown University, she lives on Bank Street, and she’ll be at a bar in Brooklyn tonight—the perfect place for a “chance” meeting.

As Joe invisibly and obsessively takes control of Beck’s life, he orchestrates a series of events to ensure Beck finds herself in his waiting arms. Moving from stalker to boyfriend, Joe transforms himself into Beck’s perfect man, all while quietly removing the obstacles that stand in their way—even if it means murder.

A terrifying exploration of how vulnerable we all are to stalking and manipulation, debut author Caroline Kepnes delivers a razor-sharp novel for our hyper-connected digital age. You is a compulsively readable page-turner that’s being compared to Gone GirlAmerican Psycho, and Stephen King’s Misery.

Oh my gosh, I loved this book. It was a much needed genre switch up for me since I’ve been reading lots of romance lately. I needed this thriller (or dark comedy?) and it delivered. It did something to me, though, that still honestly kind of creeps me out. Caroline made me love Joe. The creepy stalker. Yes, I love him. I need more of him. What the heck, Kepnes?! Yes, he is a creepy stalker but he also made me laugh out loud while reading, which is not something I do often.

The synopsis spins this in a way that makes you expect this to be intense and thriller-y and creepy. It didn’t feel like this to me for the entire book, though. The thing that I kept thinking while reading was how entertaining it was. I was enamored the whole time. I was flipping pages like there was no tomorrow. I was rooting for Joe, but I wasn’t rooting for Joe. I was rooting for Beck, but I wasn’t rooting for Beck. I was rooting for Peach, no, scratch that, I was never rooting for Peach. That girl drove me nuts. Basically, Kepnes has this ability to keep you on your toes the entire time in this one.

It’s really hard to believe that this is Kepnes’ first novel. Mind boggling, in fact. Her writing is GENIUS. It’s like butter. She makes you forget that a crazy, creepy stalker/killer is in the front seat for this ride. You are in the palm of Joe’s hands and you don’t hate it. Not even a little.

If you are a fan of dark humor and tend to be a cynic, you just might enjoy this one. I found it to be hilarious and am really looking forward to reading the second installment, Hidden Bodies, which is already on my hold list at the library. If you’re interested, definitely read this one soon because the TV adaptation is coming out on Netflix later this year.

To see purchase options for You through Amazon, CLICK HERE.

 

 

You by Caroline Kepnes Review

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi Review

WBBA Paul Kalanithi

At the age of thirty-six, on the verge of completing a decade’s worth of training as a neurosurgeon, Paul Kalanithi was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. One day he was a doctor treating the dying, and the next he was a patient struggling to live. And just like that, the future he and his wife had imagined evaporated. When Breath Becomes Air chronicles Kalanithi’s transformation from a naïve medical student “possessed,” as he wrote, “by the question of what, given that all organisms die, makes a virtuous and meaningful life” into a neurosurgeon at Stanford working in the brain, the most critical place for human identity, and finally into a patient and new father confronting his own mortality.

What makes life worth living in the face of death? What do you do when the future, no longer a ladder toward your goals in life, flattens out into a perpetual present? What does it mean to have a child, to nurture a new life as another fades away? These are some of the questions Kalanithi wrestles with in this profoundly moving, exquisitely observed memoir.

I had this book on my TBR (To Be Read) list for months. Nothing draws me into a book more than the promise of an emotional kick, which I knew would easily be forced upon me in this memoir. Let me tell you, I was not wrong.

Paul Kalanithi’s story is one for the books (pun intended), not only in his death, which is tragic, but also in his life and who he was as a person. He continually aimed to be better in every way possible. A better surgeon. A better husband. A better friend. A better human. He never let himself become complacent in any area of his life. He was always asking questions, all different kinds of them. And he never gave up on finding the answers.

I’ll be honest here and say that this started off as an easy read. Kalanithi’s writing is cathartic in a way, somehow making you feel at ease while he ponders the trajectory of his life and what he should now do with it after being diagnosed with cancer. I thoroughly enjoyed learning about the medical school processes and what types of thoughts go on inside a surgeon’s brilliant brain. It’s really an insight that I would love to get more of.

The ending proved true and kicked me where I was weak. I get tears in my eyes just thinking about those last few pages. This is a book that I would someday like to revisit. It definitely puts things in perspective and reminds any reader that life has curve balls being thrown in multiple directions at all times. And it’s short. So, so short.

I wish I could read more by Kalanithi. The world lost an admirable inhabitant much too soon. RIP, Paul Kalanithi.

To see purchase options for When Breath Becomes Air through Amazon, CLICK HERE.

 

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi Review

Pieces of Eight by Whitney Barbetti Review

Pieces of Eight by Whitney Barbetti

Six was always there, even when I didn’t want him.

But he couldn’t hold me together, and I couldn’t be his penance.

Loss is a phantom limb. No one can see it, but the ache torments you in the night, distracts you during the day, and leaves you fragmented. I’m half a heart, half a soul, and nothing could cure the pieces he’d left behind.

Losing him was safer than loving him. Because the love that kept us coming back again and again was nothing short of madness.

But then, isn’t mad love the most honest?


Pieces of Eight is the sequel to Six Feet Under and the final book in the Mad Love duet. It should not be read as a standalone. Triggers include mental illness, self-harm, and addiction.

I stayed up until midnight to finish this thing. On a WEEK NIGHT. Like, I had to get up early for work the next day. Little old me, who usually passes out on the couch before 9 every night, didn’t even realize the time on the clock while reading because Mira and Six sucked me in like the violent tornado that they are. And I loved every single minute.

You listened to me gush and mush and basically bow to Barbetti’s feet after finishing Six Feet Under. Now that I’ve finished the conclusion to this pretty little duet, all that’s left to do is gush and mush some more. Mira’s growth in this second book is astounding and inspiring. I want her to be my best friend. I want to hug her and love her and see her genuine smile. She overcame so much to get where she ends up in this novel and I’m just so dang proud of her and honored to have witnessed her journey. (Mira is a fictional character, but sometimes a character is written so well that I just pretend they are real so that my heart doesn’t completely break. Don’t harsh my mellow, y’all.)

In all honesty, the character development and writing in this duet is some of the best I’ve ever read. It’s comparable to some of my favorite reads as a teenager, but darker, which appeals to a more (but not entirely) grown up Kacy. This is a series I will remember forever. This is a series I will go back to. This is a series where both physical copies will be on my Christmas list and when I finally hold them in my hands, tears will well in my eyes in memory of this adventure.

“He’d been there through the dark. And instead of pulling me into the light, he’d held me in the dark, letting me choose the light for myself.”

I have a bajillion highlights on my kindle, but I don’t want to give too much away on my review. It’s worth experiencing on your own. The ending to this story is perfect. When I read it, I immediately felt closure mixed with happiness/sadness knowing that my time with Mira was done. I can’t sing enough praises about this duet and what this author did with this story. It’s everything, Mira is everything, and can we all just agree that both of these covers are everything? Everything everything. I’m a fan for life.

Remember, you must read Six Feet Under before reading Pieces of Eight.

To see purchase options for Pieces of Eight through Amazon, CLICK HERE.

Pieces of Eight by Whitney Barbetti Review

Six Feet Under by Whitney Barbetti Review

Six Feet Under by Whitney Barbetti

Six wasn’t the hero I needed.

But he was the man I wanted.

And it was my selfish craving, the desire to own him, that would be our undoing. 

No one tells you that love is a disease. An infection that tears your heart apart, leaving you half the person you were before. A malady that leaves open wounds. An invisible disorder tracing scars in the places you couldn’t see if you weren’t looking for them. 

I was sick, but love didn’t heal me.

Instead, it festered in my marrow, and drove me to unforgivable mistakes. 

Six was my first mistake, but he wouldn’t be the last.


Six Feet Under is the first book in the Mad Love duet. Its sequel, Pieces of Eight will release May 9, 2018. If you’ve struggled with mental illness, self-harm, alcoholism, or drug use this story may be triggering for you. If you are still recovering or are susceptible to relapsing, please reconsider reading.

Say hello to one of my favorite reads of 2018. Six Feet Under is so good, I’m not even sure I can adequately review it. The character building is phenomenal. I feel like I know Mira inside and out. I know what makes her tick and what doesn’t. I understand the decisions she makes because I understand her. I feel her pain, her reluctance to happiness, and her turmoil over her past. I feel it all because Whitney Barbetti did some seriously genius character development in this novel. Genius, I say! I’m here for everything Mira related forever and ever because she just might be my most favorite heroine ever. Yes, you heard me correctly. Getting to know characters like Mira in the way that Barbetti has allowed us is why I love reading.

“I didn’t like people. Being around people meant I had to rely on someone. For conversation, for companionship, for something deep and emotional that meant I’d have to carve out a piece of my own heart when they left. Because they’d leave. They always did. And losing people turned me into a Mira I hated. A Mira who wasn’t inappropriately funny or cunning. A Mira that was absolutely insane with need, annoyingly so. She said pathetic things and groveled. The very idea of that Mira made me ill.”

Not only do I have a deep, deep love for Mira, but of course I freaking love Six, too. I’m fairly certain it’s impossible to not love him. I don’t know him as well as I know Mira, but I know how he loves her and is tender with her tattered heart. He stays. He fights. He is my favorite type of hero. My one piece of beef with this book is that I wish I had a better understanding of why Six is the way he is, but I’m holding out hope that I find out in the final book of this duet, Pieces of Eight. Which I started reading as soon as I finished this one because I basically didn’t have a choice. The ending in this book leaves you needing more, so I’m warning you now to be ready to grab that second book immediately.

“His love wasn’t selfish like mine. His was a gift, willingly given.”

This is not a light-hearted summer read. This deals with serious issues and the warning stated in the synopsis is real. Mira is a complicated character with a complicated story. I have learned things from her that I will carry with me for life. I love her, and I think there are a lot of people who can benefit from her story. To Whitney Barbetti, thank you for writing this. In getting to know Mira, you have given me something that I’ve been yearning for. And the writing here is freaking amazing. I have no words about it. I can’t wait to see what this author does next. I’m here for ALL OF IT.

To see purchase options for Six Feet Under on Amazon, CLICK HERE.

P.S. Barbetti also has a shop on Etsy with lots of fun extras related to this series. Check it out HERE.

If you’re looking for the link to Pieces of Eight (the 2nd book in the duet) CLICK HERE.

Six Feet Under by Whitney Barbetti Review