Mental Dumbbells – October 2012

It has been a busy month over here. The Etsy shop opened (THANK YOU for all your kind words on the store), I finished a half marathon with my mom in San Francisco, the Fruit Butter eBook I wrote is launching on November 1st (YAY!), I’ve started a few house projects that will be posted next month, and I read 8 books!

The last few months have been slow in the reading department so I was determined to step it up this month. I cut out a lot of TV watching to make more time for reading and it was well worth it. I haven’t missed a single second of housewife drama or SVU reruns. I’ve even considering cancelling my cable again. When I was living in the apartment I had cut out cable for several years to save money, and found that I didn’t really miss it. I used Netflix and Hulu to watch all my favorites. However, when I moved into my new home, I got a great deal on a cable package, so I splurged and signed up. Now that the deal is over, I may give it up, it’s just so expensive.

Then I’d have more time to read…there were lots of good ones this month.


The Girl Who Swam to Atlantis

I scored this book for free through the kindle store and was pleasantly surprised. It was the story of a young girl’s summer vacation in 1957. Throughout the summer she learns to swim in an effort to gain her fathers attention/approval; but ends up finding a friend and her own inner strength, as well as the secret of where her mother disappeared to. I liked the story and it wasn’t a difficult read, though it didn’t suck me in the way others did this month. Each time I put it down, it took me a few pages to get back into the story.



Wild (From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail)

I can’t remember where or when I purchased this book, but I had seen several articles with Cheryl and was intrigued. I have a a soft spot for biographies, so it’s probably not a surprise that I really liked this book. I enjoyed her writing style; she seems like a fun person to sit and chat with. I can also, somewhat, relate to her search for something more in her life. I thought the story was inspiring as I’ve often dreamed of taking off on an adventure at various points in my life. Who knows, maybe I will one day. Although it won’t be the PCT…I’m not that badass.



A Lucky Child: A Memoir of Surviving Auschwitz as a Young Boy

I read Elie Wiesel’s book a few years back and was very moved by it. So much so, that it still sits on my shelf. Thomas wrote a great book and I would recommend it to everyone. It’s such an amazing personal account from a man who lived through the Holocaust and not only survived, but went on to do some incredible things with his life. It doesn’t just focus on his childhood experiences in Auschwitz, but also what came immediately after and later in life as he grew up. Very inspiring.



Shut Out

Cheesy clearance book I bought for $1 at the library bookstore. I needed something light after the last few books. This book is about a group of high school students, dating the school Jocks. To stop a rivalry between the Soccer and Football team, the girls decide to go on a sex strike. There is a sweet love story that hides in the book…but I was more bothered that I was reading about high school age girls going on a  sex strike. I think I would have liked the story a little more if the setting had been college or twenty-something’s.



The Total Money Makeover Workbook

As a single gal, I think it’s a very important for me to have solid finances. This concern multiplied when I bought a house. I don’t have a second income to rely on if I lose my job, and I can’t settle with living paycheck to paycheck anymore. I need an emergency fund to cover things like my broken AC, the washer I had to replace, or the garbage disposal that randomly died earlier this month. It’s not just me that I have to think about too, I have my pup. I watched my parents pay a lot of money for unexpected surgeries for their dogs, and that scared me. The way things were, I couldn’t afford to do the same for my pup if it became necessary. It would break my heart if I couldn’t help him, simply because I didn’t have the money.  Since I’ve recently opened the shop, I also needed to start getting my business finances in order. So I picked up two ‘money’ books this month. My favorite financial author is David Bach, I’ve actually read all his books so I have a good background on the topic. However, I think you can always learn something more, so I picked up the Dave Ramsey workbook.

I wanted to buy the Total Money Makeover book, but it was out of stock at BN which is why I bought the workbook. First let me say that I did learn quite a bit from the workbook. I now have a detailed budget set up, have a new debt plan in place, and I’m even following some of his budget tips. However, I wish I had waited and bought the book as opposed to the workbook. There were lots of little quizzes and word play activities that felt childish. I get what he was doing, trying to switch on the light bulb over people’s head, but I think I would have personally benefited more from the book. 



The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous & Broke

This is the second ‘money’ book I picked up this month. I bought this book primarily because it offered something different. A lot of the advice in this book would counter what you find in other financial books, but she wrote this for a specific demographic and I appreciate that. While I’m not broke, I am young…and sometimes rather fabulous. I’m also trying to change my career which was discussed at length in regards to finances, as was buying a car (which I’ll need to do in the next year or so). It did touch on retirement but not as much as other books. It was written in a question/answer format which was very easy to read and reference.



Cleopatra’s Daughter: A Novel

LOVED LOVED LOVED this book. It’s fairly long, around 430 pages and I read it in one afternoon, it was that good. I could not put it down. I read while cooking, eating, walking, when I should have been working, etc. It’s a historical fiction novel that chronicles the life of Cleopatra and Marc Antony’s children, particularly their twins, Selene and Alexander. The author does take some liberties with the story for the benefit of the reader, which she explain at length in the end. However, it was mostly factual and beautifully written. I have been a fan of Greek Mythology and Roman History since I was in high school, but I think the way it was written would be entertaining to those that are just looking for a good story. Did I tell you that I LOVED this book? Yeah.



The Well and the Mine

I bought this book at Costco thinking that it was a mystery book. In part it was, but there was so much more to the story that I didn’t expect. It follows a family living in a coal mining town in the 1930s. The story is written chronologically, but told through the eyes of each character. For example the little girl, Tess, tells you about what they were doing at school, then her sister picks up the story from her viewpoint as they make their way back home. I’m probably not explaining that well, but it was a very interesting way to tell each characters personal story while progressing through the bigger family story. This was another book that I really enjoyed, because it was fascinating to hear about a world that I know so little about.



*The book links in the post are affiliate, but I was not provided with any of these books to review. All the opinions are mine and I paid for each book out of my own pocket.

Mental Dumbbells – September 2012

This was another month light on pleasure reading. Like last month, I’ve been scouring small business and web design books and I think it will be better to create a separate post in the future of all those books. When I pull those from the list, I finished 2 books this past month.

I’ve missed reading random fiction lately, so I hope to pick that back up in October.


The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Sometimes when I’m wandering aimlessly around Barnes & Nobel, I find myself in the high school reading list aisle. I keep wanting to read more of the classics and inexpensive copies are usually set out right around the start of the school year. I’m not sure if this specific book is considered a classic, but I was surprised that it was originally published in 1999 and I had NEVER heard of it.

I really enjoyed this book. It’s the life story of a boy transitioning into high school as told in a series of letters from the boy to an unnamed person. He’s unedited, funny, and genuine. I found him endearing and in his own way, an enlightened old soul.

I believe this book just came out as a movie this past month. I’m not sure how they would do that given the writing style, so I may have to check it out.



Blog, Inc.: Blogging for Passion, Profit, and to Create Community

As a long time fan of the blog, Oh Joy, as well as Joy’s design work, this was a no brainer. I snapped it up as soon as it was available. There is a TON of information in this book. I’ve been managing various blogs for the past 4 years so I’ve read a lot of blogging books. This book contained much of the traditional info, but I still found plenty of new to me stuff making it well worth it. I loved reading the interviews the most since there’s always something new to learn from other successful bloggers and business owners.



What have you been reading lately?



*Book links are affiliate, but I was not provided with these books or paid to share my opinion.

Mental Dumbbells – August 2012

Truth be told I read a lot of books this month, but I’m not going to share them all right now. I’m currently working on starting my own business, and redesigning the CMD website, both of which are new ventures to me. So in turn, I’ve been reading dozens of books about WordPress, web design, and small businesses. I think it will probably be a good idea to do a separate post with my thoughts on those books at a later date.

When I take those out of the mix, I finished 3 books this month. 


Turn to Me (Kathleen Turner Series)

Last month I read the first book of this series, No Turning Back. I liked the story so I followed up with the second (the third is coming out in December). The author did a good job of picking up where the first book left off. There is plenty of action right up front and the story builds on the love triangle to the point where I can’t wait to read the third book. I’m rooting for the other guy. 


72 Hours (A Thriller)

This was a surprise winner. I borrowed it from someone else who I believe got it for free via the site I shard in this post. The premise is a man on death row tells the world that he’ll pay millions to whoever kills a specific woman. As you can imagine, everybody comes after her. It was an interesting concept for a story and well told. LOTS of action and it draws you in from page one. I think I finished this book in one afternoon.


To Be A Runner: How Racing Up Mountains, Running with the Bulls, or Just Taking On a 5-K Makes You a Better Person (and the World a Better Place)

Running does not come easy for me, it never has. Lately the idea of running at all has been…blah, but I have a half marathon in 6 weeks so I’m trying to boost my motivation. I picked this book up on a whim while I was walking past the sports aisle at the bookstore. Overall I really liked this book. the author was entertaining and I loved some of the life lessons mixed in with his stories. It didn’t fully inspire me to get those running shoes back on, but in reality, that’s something I have to do for myself. 


Mental Dumbbells – July 2012

It has been absolutely beautiful out lately. I captured this amazing sunset on Friday night while I was out walking my pup. He was unimpressed with my Instagraming skills, but I showed him anyway.


On Saturday I was up early to pick up my CSA box and run some errands before heading over to my parents house to celebrate my Mom’s birthday. We went out to dinner at Outback then we went and wandered around the Wild Animal Park. She has a yearly pass which allows her and a guest free parking and entry. We had to check out little Monroe who is 1 year old and apparently enjoyed jumping on his mom’s head while we were there. Who knew little gorillas were so fun.


Itty Bitty Bat-Eared Fox is about 6 weeks old and still living in the nursery…sooo adorable!


We also got to see a lioness up close, which was amazing. Unfortunately my phone was dying and I couldn’t get any good pics of her.

Otherwise I’ve been working (too much), reading (not enough), and running. I’m down about 40 lbs and getting ready to run my first ‘official’ 5k in 12-ish years later this month. I say official because my standard workout these days is about 4-5 mile jog/walk so technically I’m doing a 5K all the time, but this will be the first one since 2000 that has been part of an official event.

I’ll be back this week to catch up on a few home DIY projects and this weeks CSA haul…but first let’s recap last month’s reading. This month I read 5 books which bring the 30 in 30 tally up to 20. Only 30 more to go before my birthday in May!


What have you guys read lately? Anything worth sharing?


Paris, My Sweet: A Year in the City of Light (and Dark Chocolate)

I’ve been more than slightly obsessed with Paris since I was in high school. I took French in College and dreamed about the day that I would get to visit. I’ve had a few chances and still haven’t been which is a sad fact. It’s probably why I love these types of books. I really enjoy reading the true story of a young woman offered a chance to move from New York to Paris (for work) and her adventures along the way. Most of the adventures are all about sweets and chocolate. What could be better? If you’re visiting Paris soon, it also has a whole list of resources for the best places to enjoy delicious desserts.




No Turning Back

This one was actually a recommendation from my mom. We both have Kindles and keep an eye on the Free Kindle Books Blog. If you use the kindle software, you should follow that blog because he posts dozens of free books a day. This book has been featured for free a few times. In my opinion, this story was incredibly similar to the Shades of Grey series, except this had far less sex. If you enjoyed the story hidden in between the sex scenes in the Grey series, then I would expect you would like this too. It has a great mix of humor and action.



The First 50 Pages: Engage Agents, Editors and Readers, and Set Your Novel Up For Success

Yet another book about writing. Any inspired writer wants to know how to get their manuscript noticed by Agents/Editors. This outlined exactly what should be included and the first 50 pages and gave me lots of inspiration that I hadn’t seen in other books. The author does talk about his other books a few times (which gets a little annoying), but otherwise it’s been a great resource direct from the source.



Fifty Shades Darker (Fifty Shades, Book 2)

Fifty Shades Freed: Book Three of the Fifty Shades Trilogy

So apparently you can’t just read just one of these books. However, since I was a little torn after the first one, I waited to hear from others if these were any good, then borrowed the books.  I liked the second book the best since there was much more story and action (although not at all lacking on the steamy scenes). By the third book the sex scenes were getting boring since they were busier than rabbits. However, I loved the ending of the trilogy.

There is an epilogue for the last book that provides a few extra chapters where you get to learn more about Christian.  The very last one tells you of the couple’s first meeting from Christian’s point of view. I really hated where this chapter was placed in the trilogy. I loved Christian at the end of the 3rd book, but then reading about that first meeting was a reminder about how much of an ASS he was. I didn’t need to end the trilogy with that image of him in my head. Just a warning if you haven’t read it yet.


Mental Dumbbells – June 2012

It’s time to play catch-up now that I have a few days off. Last minute I decided to take Thu/Fri off of work since the 4th is an office holiday. That gives me 5 days off in a row, the longest vacation I’ve had since Thanksgiving. I can’t tell you how much I need some time to decompress. Wednesday was a nice lazy day that involved some good food, errands, and a glorious 2 hour nap. I hope to make some progress on the Foyer and Spare Bedroom over the next few days, not to mention a fun weekend of shopping and a Baseball game.

First up is June’s reading recap. Last month I finished 7 books which brings the 30 in 30 count to 15 done, and 35 to go. 


Food Revolution, The: How Your Diet Can Help Save Your Life and Our World

LOVED this book. In fact the entire time I was reading it, I kept thinking how great this would have been as a textbook in high school health class to give kids a basis in healthy eating. There is a strong push in the book to stop eating meat, but that’s not the only message. I still eat meat; although it very rare that I eat red meat and I try to only purchase organic/cage free chicken and eggs. I was incredibly impressed that the son of the Baskin Robbins founder wrote this book and that it contained so much great information on living a healthy lifestyle.I took away a lot of great information from this book and would recommend it to EVERYONE.



On Writing: 10th Anniversary Edition: A Memoir of the Craft

This book was recommended to me in my last writing class and it has quickly become one of my favorite writing books of all time. In fact, even if you’re not a writer, if you like Stephen King, you’ll enjoy this book. It’s a good blend of advice and memoir, as he offers tips throughout the book as he tells you his life story.



The $100 Startup: Reinvent the Way You Make a Living, Do What You Love, and Create a New Future

I am very intrigued by those that are self employed, mostly because I hope to be working for myself someday soon. If I recall correctly, Tim Ferris recommended this via Twitter, and since I’m a fan of his, I wanted to check this out as well. This book gave me some detailed ideas on how to start a profitable venture, as well as real world case studies. It offered encouragement to follow a dream and turn it into a living, which is something I needed right now. It was an easy read that I’ll keep around as a reference book going forward as I embark on my own startup.




I have been a fan of Robin Cook for a long time, he’s my FAVORITE medical thriller writer. I also love his series on Jack Stapleton and Laurie Montgomery. This was no exception and I really enjoyed the book. Jack and Laurie work in the medical examiner office and are recently married. Other Cook books go back to before they met, so I’ve been following them for a while. In this story, Laurie is coming back to work after an extended maternity leave and ends up in the middle of a murder/kidnapping. Classic Cook, good fiction if you like Medical Thrillers.



Don’t Blink

Another favorite writer and a good story. I like that Patterson collaborates with other writers, it gives the story a fresh edge. This one involved a mob lawyer murder, a sports star hiding a secret, and a journalist. Classic for Patterson, it had short, action packed chapters which made it an easy read. Warning: If the title and info graphic doesn’t give you a clue, there is some gruesome stuff about eyeballs…it caught me off guard and grossed me out, so I thought I’d let you know.



Tick Tock (Michael Bennett)

I borrowed a few Patterson books from my mom so he’ll likely be a reoccurring theme. The same structure holds true for this one, short & action packed chapters. I think it took me only a day to zip through this one as well. This one followed, new to me series star, Michael Bennett. While it was gruesome (it is a murder mystery after all), it also involved a great storyline about him and his kids (he has a bunch of them – adopted). I would read the whole Bennett series just to hear about their family. I like this book better than ‘Don’t Blink’ since the main character reminded me of Alex Cross.



Most Talkative: Stories from the Front Lines of Pop Culture

I didn’t actually plan to finish this book in June since I bought it on the 30th; however, I was hooked from the first page. It was an easy/fun read that I finished in one day. I never used to like the Housewives (still don’t for the most part), but I LOVED how Andy asked the tough questions at the reunions. I started watching the seasons so I would understand what was happening in the reunions. Later I learned he was also a VP at Bravo (I thought he was just an on air personality) and I was intrigued. I love reading biographies in general and this was no exception.




*Disclaimer: All the links are affiliate, but all opinions are my own. I was not comped with any of these books.

Mental Dumbbells – May 2012

Wow, looking back I read A LOT this month. I suppose setting the goal of finishing 50 books in the next year was a strong motivation to read 8 books this month. However, in doing so, I have realized how much I’ve missed reading over the past few years. Now, instead of watching TV, I find myself curled up on the couch with a book. I’m loving every second of it.


The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun

Since I’m on my own ‘Happiness Project’ of sorts this was an easy buy. I liked following Gretchen’s progress throughout her year, and she had some goals that I hadn’t even thought of. Easy, and fun read for anyone that is looking for motivation to make a few changes in their life.



Imagine: How Creativity Works

I was feeling a little lacking in the creative department early this month so I picked this up on a whim while browsing Target. It was an interesting read that goes into the neuro-science of creativity (without being as boring as it sounds).



The Imperfectionists: A Novel (Random House Reader’s Circle)

I think I need to read this book again to really get everything out of it. I honestly didn’t get it for the first half, but once I figured out that it was telling the story of a newspaper based in Rome from start up to closing through the eyes of everyone involved, it was actually quite brilliant. Very well written. It reminded me of a puzzle that I want to go back and do all over again.



Water for Elephants: A Novel

This one had been on my kindle for a long time. I bought it when it was on some sort of super sale and just never got around to reading it. I love the LOVE story…but I hated the animal cruelty.  I almost put it down a few times because some of the animal stuff is just awful, probably true, but awful. Is the movie as graphic as the book for the animals? I haven’t seen it yet, and I’m just not sure I could handle it. [Although I did imagine Rob Pattison as the ‘hero’ throughout, so that wasn’t too bad a visual].



The Skinny Rules: The Simple, Nonnegotiable Principles for Getting to Thin

LOVED this book. I probably have 15 different ‘diet’ books on my bookshelves, but this one actually made sense for me. I’ve been following the eating plan now for about a week and I’ve lost 10 pounds so far. Yes, it’s mostly water weight, but it’s still 10lbs. The rules are easy to understand (not necessarily easy to follow), but outline a healthy eating, weight loss plan that works for me. I can also see building on this once in maintenance mode and using it as life long healthy lifestyle.



Enough Already!: Clearing Mental Clutter to Become the Best You

Eh, not my favorite book this month. Probably because I’ve heard most of it before. I suppose it’s one of those books that you need to read at the right time, because it just didn’t sink in for me this month. However, I did like the format and will keep it so that I can reference the different sections (i.e relationships, work, family, money, etc.) as I need them in the future. 



Mud, Sweat, and Tears: The Autobiography

Also LOVED this book. I’m a big Bear Grylls fan so I didn’t even think twice when I saw it at Barns & Nobel. I finished it in a few days and enjoyed the whole story. He shares bits from his life from childhood to now, and the writing is similar to how he talks on his TV shows which I found endearing. He’s funny and incredibly honest throughout. Definitely recommend if you’re a fan…or if you just want to hear amazing stories of someone that has climbed Everest, and survived SAS training. 



Fifty Shades of Grey: Book One of the Fifty Shades Trilogy

Ugh…I don’t know what to say about this book. I’m sort of sorry I spent money on it out of sheer curiosity. Alyssa Milano’s tweet probably sums it up best…


Ok, let me try my recap…

Little miss innocently ignorant, meets gorgeous arrogant asshat…they have lots of hot (mostly kinky) sex.

I’m sorry but even though I kind of like the arrogant asshat in the end (what is wrong with me!), the writing in this book sucks. I almost put it down after chapter 2 because I was so annoyed by the bad editing…and I hadn’t even gotten to any of the ‘juicy’ parts yet. There’s a really interesting love story in there, if you can get past the porn. I can’t bring myself to buy the second book since I’m still partially pissed that I spent money on this one. Has anyone read the 2nd book? Is it worth it?



What are you reading right now?

Mental Dumbbells – April 2012

This year is flying by, I can’t believe we’re already done with April! Reading for April started out pretty slow, then I finally decided to crack open The Hunger Games trilogy and I finished all three books in three days.

But first I started with…

Unlimited: How to Build an Exceptional Life – Jillian Michaels

I read this book at the start of the month, right after I finished the four agreements. While they are not related, I thought they were great to read together. Overall I really loved this book and I plan to hold onto it for future reference. It wasn’t a diet book, like one would expect when you see Jillian, but instead was a book about potential. It had a ton of great tips on how to change my mindset on certain experiences in life and how to move forward. It also contained exercises that I find myself using even a month later. I particularly enjoyed the goal setting, pyramid exercise. I highly recommend this book.


ProBlogger: Secrets for Blogging Your Way to a Six-Figure Income

I think I’ve been very honest about the fact that I’ve been trying to come up with ways to bring in some extra money while I try to get out of my current work situation. I haven’t monetize the blog so far, with the exception of adding Amazon affiliate links to some items. However, I do my research and you can’t get much better than Problogger if you are a blogger. Another great resource book that I expect to reference for as long as I continue to blog. The nice thing is that it isn’t written like an affiliate marketing ad as some blogging books are, this one was honest and had great examples.



Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

I started school this month and this was one of the recommended books. While it’s particularly helpful for anyone that enjoys writing, it was also an entertaining read. I think my favorite part was about giving yourself permission to write shitty first drafts. All of a sudden I was able to silence that inner critic and just get my thoughts on paper. Writing (even for the blog) became much easier after understanding that concept.



The Hunger Games

Ok, so I may be one of the last people on earth to finally read this book. I was also a little slow on reading the Twilight series. I actually bought this months ago since it was super cheap online. Verdict: I really liked the first book. It was interesting and kept my interest throughout. Although, are these seriously young adult books? I guess times have changed. I thought this book was a lot violent for young adults until I read the last book in the series. Compared to Mockingjay, this really wasn’t all that bad if you don’t mind the kids killing kids thing. (insert sarcastic face here) I still haven’t seen the movie yet, but I intend to.  I give Suzanne Collins a lot of credit, she came up with an incredibly novel idea.


Catching Fire (The Second Book of the Hunger Games)

I liked this book a little less than the first one; however, I like that they continued with another Hunger Games (I feel a little disturbed saying that). Since the hunger games finished in the first book I was a little worried about this story getting boring. At the same time, the whole second round of hunger games was disturbing. However, I can’t deny that I purchased this on my kindle within minutes of finishing the first book since I wanted to keep reading.


Mockingjay (The Final Book of The Hunger Games)

My least favorite in the series, although I did like the very ending (which I’ll keep a secret). I kept wanting to yell at the characters in this book, scream some sort of sanity through the pages. There was a lot of gore, and it just wasn’t as exciting as the others, in my opinion. I’ve read books about war, the best part of this series was the dynamic of the Hunger Games since that was a new concept so I was a little disappointed in this last book. However, I am looking forward to the movie simply because I just don’t see how they’ll get away with PG-13.



What have you guys been reading? Any suggestions?

Mental Dumbbells – March 2012

I felt like I really needed to step up the reading this month since I’d like to finish at least 50 books by the end of the year. So far I’ve finished 13, so I’m right on track. This month I finished 6, and with exception of one somewhat depressing storyline, I liked all of these.


The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest

My FAVORITE series of all time. I had actually read the first two books last year, but stalled on reading the third because I wanted to buy a specific edition to complete my set. The version I wanted didn’t come out until about a month ago so I quickly picked it up. For anyone who’s read the series, you know there is a major cliffhanger at the end of the second book. Since I couldn’t get my hands on the third right away, I ended up watching all three movies in one sitting (the originals, not the US version) on Netflix. These books are actually what sparked my love for writing again.

In my opinion they are definitely adult books, there is some seriously graphic and violent stuff in this series. I also think that if you plan to see the US movies then you need to read the books first. I’ve seen the first US movie and it was good, but I loved the detail in the book so much. You’ll understand the movie much better if you’ve read the book first.


Pop Tart

After Hornet’s Nest I wanted something light. This was a clearance book I picked up at BN for under $5. It’s the story of a makeup artist to a Hollywood pop star. It’s a book I would have enjoyed on the beach, had it not been March and rainy. There are some times when you’ll want to smack some sense into a few of the characters but otherwise an enjoyable read.


Your Farm In The City

I don’t know that I would have called this a fun read really, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. Lots of great information about urban farming and it does dig into the concept of raising animals. I can’t have my own chicken coop but maybe someday.



I am, without any doubt, a dog person. I had a cat growing up, I don’t think she really cared much for me. But my dogs, they are more like my kids. With this said, I cannot read a book where the dog dies, it breaks my heart and I end up a crying mess. Even if the story is really great, if the dog dies, I won’t read it. It’s the reason why I haven’t read Marley and Me yet. So, I cheated a little when I saw this book and I read that last few pages in the store to make sure the dog lived to the end. It only makes the story better to know that he does.

I still cried at times, especially when they told you Oogy’s story, but you can’t help but love him and his family. Such a sweet story (with a happy ending!).


Apologize, Apologize!

I don’t know what to say about this book. I really didn’t know anything about it when I picked it up. I bought it at a library book store for a few bucks because I liked the cover (not the cover below, I had a different version). There’s a lot of heartache in this book and I ended up being angry and depressed by the characters most of the time. I can’t even recall the ending, but I do seem to think it redeemed the book a bit. The writing was well done which is one reason why I kept reading. This one was a little like watching a train wreck, I didn’t really like what I was reading about at times, but I just couldn’t look away.


The Four Agreements

I just finished this book yesterday and have to say that it ranks as one of the best books I’ve ever read. Not because it was well written, it could have used a bit more editing. However, the message was something I really needed right now in my life. It basically outlines 4 agreements in which to live your life and every one resonated with me. This is one of those books that comes into your life at the perfect time and has made a profound effect on how I’m viewing my life and my future.

It’s a tiny book, just over 100 pages, and a quick read. If you’re trying to figure out how to let some things go in your past and how to change that, sometimes detrimental, internal dialogue then check this book out. If you’re ready to think a little differently, it will make a big difference.

*An interesting tidbit: I’ve actually owned this book for years and years. However, I never felt ready to read it until the other day. I usually scan the shelf, pick it up, read a few pages and put it back. I’m a strong believer in the saying “When the student is ready, the teacher appears”. I was finally ready to absorb the message in this book a few days ago and randomly walked to that bookshelf to find something else. It caught my eye and I read the whole thing in two days.



What have you been reading? I need some suggestions for April.

Mental Dumbbells – January 2012

I’ve been trying to come up with some witty intro all day, but it’s Monday, and my brain hurts.

When I set my 2012 goals, I really wanted to work on reading more and watching TV less. So far so good since I haven’t really sat in front of my TV at all this month. My DVR is giving me that little flashing message which I’m pretty sure means it’s going to self destruct anytime. It’s been fun disappearing into a good book lately.


One of my first rentals, when I got my Library card earlier this month, was a design book that I’ve had my eye on for a while.

Domino: The Book of Decorating: A Room-by-Room Guide to Creating a Home That Makes You Happy

There was always something about this book that intrigued me, but I could never bring myself to buy it. I was a big fan of Domino magazine, and the book had the same great information. It walked me through the design process, and I think it would be great for anyone that was just starting design or a hobbyist. I thought it was an excellent resource and had some really great inspiration pictures; but I own other books that covered the same basics so I probably won’t buy it for myself.



This book is a testament that even with the library, I will still pay for books. I had heard so many great things about this book that I was bummed when my library had it on hold. It wouldn’t be available for a few months, so I checked the kindle price ($12.99), which was a little steep for me. However, I found it a few days later at Costco for a few bucks cheaper so I bought it. I’m a sucker for Costco’s cheap book prices.

Verdict: LOVED IT! It also scored a reading record since I finished it within 3 hours. It’s an easy read and hilarious, exactly what everyone told me it would be.


Bad Things Happen

Another Coscto book purchase, mainly because I liked the cover and the story idea. It was a murder mystery that had a few really good twists and turns. I’m usually the person that figures out the ending pretty early on and this one caught me off guard again and again, totally didn’t see it coming. The book does drag a bit, I wish it had been a bit shorter, but overall a good story for a rainy weekend.


Beautiful Boy: A Father’s Journey Through His Son’s Addiction

Earlier this month I made a trip to my local Barnes & Noble, looking for a specific computer book that they didn’t have at my library. Turns out they were also having a big clearance sale…lucky me.

I picked up this book for about $5 and it was worth every single penny. I really love biographies and this was a very well written story about a dad dealing with his sons addiction. It was gritty and beautiful. It was also really interesting to read since his son is the same age as me and I recognized a lot of the world his son lived in.


What the Dog Saw: And Other Adventures

This was another book that I picked up at the BN clearance for about $5.

I was impressed with the first part of the book, interesting accounts from news articles that the author had written in the past. The story about the infomercials was really fascinating. However, I was so bored in the second section that I stopped reading it. I also found that I was scanning a lot when I read, as I felt some were so way over told. Lots of information, some was fun, some put me to sleep.

I’m a little sorry I paid for this book, but a few of the articles that I read were good enough to at least rent the book if you wanted something fun to read.



What have you read this month?

Simplify Life – Getting A Library Card

When I was growing up, my mom taught me all about the joys of the local library. I LOVED reading and trips to the library were a little like being let loose in the kids version of ‘Supermarket Sweep’. In fact, I still wish I could just run through with a cart, sweeping things off the shelf. I could (and often would) spend hours sitting on the floor, among the stacks of books, barely able to make it out of the building before finishing the first one.

Through High School and College, I burned out. Reading turned into a chore. I never found time to read the things I really wanted, when stacks of Psychology and Statistic books loomed nearby.

After college, work took over and life just got busier. I have stacks of books all over my house and filling up my Kindle, but it’s a struggle to make the time. However, since this journey is all about starting over, living a life you love…I decided to go back to my roots.


I LOVE you Public Library!

The other evening I tracked down a library nearby and got my new library card. Since it was a brand new card, I was limited to just a few items this trip, but next time I can check out up to 30 books!


The greatest thing about the library is that it’s FREE. If my closest branch doesn’t have what I want then I can order it from another branch for as little as 25 cents. No more expensive book purchases for me this year, and I can browse almost any book or magazine I want.

This also got me thinking about how much I would like a library in my own home someday; although that contradicts the concept of simplifying a bit.

This is dream home material. :::Sigh:::


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