Becoming by Michelle Obama

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Honestly, Becoming was not really on my radar of “Must Reads” until I saw the number of people on the “First Book Of The Year” post that planned to read this as their first book of the year.  Seven of the ninety-nine participants had this book in their photo – far more than any other book chosen.  So.. who am I to argue with the logic of the worlds book lovers?  ;P

~Sheila

Michelle Robinson grew up on the South Side of Chicago in a home that was shared with her Aunt’s family as well as her own.  She and her brother Craig were raised in a loving home with parents that did not dictate their comings and goings or saddle them with curfews – they believed that you installed good habits and good examples in your home and your children will make their own decisions based on their upbringing.

It worked.  Craig, who loves sports and could open up a conversation in any room, was accepted into Princeton.  As his little sister, Michelle, followed suit taking an interest in Law and also made her way to Princeton.  Later, while working in a position at Sidley Austin in Chicago, she would meet a young attractive colleague named Barack Obama.  And the story of a journey to the White House would begin….

I listened to this book on audio while working on house projects.  The book is narrated by Michelle herself and I would highly recommend anytime you choose to read a Memoir/Biography go with audio if they are narrated (and they often are) by the author.  There is just something about the authors voice being put to their life story that takes it to the next level.

I was not disappointed with Becoming.  Michelle’s modest upbringing, her friendships, relationships, and even her struggles to fit in sometimes with an all too white-washed society was all very real.  I admit to cheering at some of the stories such as while in College a mother had her daughter removed due to Michelle’s color and I think “some day that lady can recall that she had her daughter moved away from a young girl that would someday become the First Lady.”

I found the book moving, and I enjoyed hearing of Michelle’s life as a child, to her schooling, to meeting Barack; her struggles with politics, Barack’s drive and the family struggles as it led to the decision to run for President.  To both of them I found a renewed appreciation for what they took on – come what may.

Overall – quite an enjoyable journey – one I recommend that you take as well if you have not already.  This is a delightful look into Michelle’s drive and the First Family.

Also recommended:  First Women by Kate Andersen Brower and The Residence by Kate Anderson Brower

Elevation by Stephen King

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Chosen as our January book club read…  small in size but it is King.. and our adventure began…

~Sheila

Scott Carey has always been a big man but something is changing.  He doesn’t know why, but he is losing weight.  Not in the usual… clothes are getting lose, change in appetite and diet or even illness… Scott was losing weight according to the scale but his outer appearance looked the same.  He can be fully dressed with rolls of quarters in his pockets or stripped down to just his boxers and the scale would read the same.

As the scale seemed to dip a couple of pounds a day no matter what he ate he knew that whatever was going on, he knew he did not want to be poked and prodded.  He trusts a handful of people with his secret, and chooses whatever this is, he is going to make the most of it and he wonders what happens when he reaches 0.

Confession:  I like to sink into a book.  I like to spend time with the characters, getting to know them and developing the scene.  While Elevation, in its short stature (146 pages) does a good job on putting together a cast you want to know more about – you do end up feeling a little short changed (pun intended) as the story moves along as rapidly as Scott’s weight loss.

In the end, it is a good read – but not a great read.  King Fans, by all mean read it, yet go in looking at it as a delicious small dessert – sweet and then gone all too quickly.

 

5

Sheila DeChantal

Now Blogging and Talking Life, Food, Happenings at:  Iguessimdoingthis.com

Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty

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There are a group of authors that when they write a book – I don’t need to know much about it.  I know from experience it is going to be good.  Liane Moriarty is one of those authors.

~Sheila

 

Nine Strangers sign up to attend a 10-Day Health Resort Retreat called Tranquillum House.  All have different reasons for attending:  lose weight, find themselves, reboot, peace, etc.  After all, how could one really resist an add that promotes a 10-Day Mind and Body Total Transformation Retreat?

At first, everyone pretty much keeps to themselves.  Beyond the (mandatory) daily smoothies, meditations and special diet they eye one another suspiciously.  Then they began to talk – too much according to the Proprietress, Masha,  who hand picked the retreat attendees.  Masha seems to have an underlining agenda and methodically moves her guests through the 10-days almost as though they were puppets being worked by her hand.

As the retreat moves along and the guests start to have questions – they all pinpoint on one.  Should they run while they still have the chance?

“Women and their bodies! The most abusive and toxic of relationships. Masha had seen women pinch at the flesh of their stomachs with such brutal self-loathing they left bruises. Meanwhile their husbands fondly patted their won much larger stomachs with rueful pride.”

I tend to listen to Moriarty’s books rather than read them as she has an amazing narrator.  Caroline Lee, who narrated Moriarty’s other books:  The Husband’s Secret, Big Little Lies, Truly Madly Guilty) has just the right amount of snark for Moriarty’s often fun and quirky characters.

Nine Perfect Strangers started out differently than the others I have listened to.  The start up felt – well slow, and it took me a while to get into what was happening.  Usually her books grab me right away, this one took a wee bit longer… once everyone arrived at the retreat, it started to get interesting.  What was going to happen?  Everyone was so different…  why did Masha act so strange?  What the %$*@ was in that smoothie she insisted that everyone drink every day?

shut-up-it-just-got-interestingIn the end, I enjoyed the story.  There were a few laugh out loud moments and once again Moriarty has created something unusual using trendy topics and real life issues.  Recommended for Moriarty fans and I highly recommend if you have not tried her on audio to do so.

5

 

Sheila DeChantal

Now Blogging and Talking Life, Food, Happenings at:  Iguessimdoingthis.com

 

The Name Of The Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

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A book long ago (more years than I care to admit…) recommended to be by a friend who referred to this book as one of her favorite books.  That alone was enough to cause me to seek it out and place it on my shelf where it sat, was occasionally pulled off, and then put back due to lack of time to pursue such a large read.

Little did I know it was buying its time until it became my First Book Of The Year for 2019.  
Thank you Christy…  for this adventure.

~Sheila 

A Young man, Kvothe, wishing to learn the art of magic and its many forms as he is handed a series of hardships that land him in the position of an orphan with nothing but his name and the clothes on his back, the shoes on his feet, and a gift of music in his heart.

Daringly, dreaming well beyond his means, he uses his whit and charm to find his way into the School of Magic scraping up any means he can to pay his tuition as it comes due.  Naturally gifted, he is challenged time and again by those who oppose him as well as his own gift of getting into trouble.

Now many many years later, we find Kvothe who has been discovered working as an Innkeeper under another name.  And here.. is where we find his story..

I have stolen princesses back from sleeping barrow kings. I burned down the town of Trebon. I have spent the night with Felurian and left with both my sanity and my life. I was expelled from the University at a younger age than most people are allowed in. I tread paths by moonlight that others fear to speak of during day. I have talked to Gods, loved women, and written songs that make the minstrels weep.

You may have heard of me.

I finally finally finally picked up this book to read.  It has been on my shelf for years recommended and neglected until… as I contemplated what would be the First Book of 2019… and my mind fell on this one.
Yes, there are similarities to Harry Potter (orphan, parents killed, looking for the killer, a magical school, constant trouble…) but do not let this discourage you as this is not Harry Potter by any means.  More complex comes to mind, a darker tale than what young Harry started with for sure and a whole different world development.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book going back and forth between book and audio (so I could paint while listening) and digging in deep to this grand story.  Recommended to those like me who enjoy a good Fantasy Adventure.  If you have not read Rothfuss I recommend that you do.  Talk of this series becoming a feature film are in the works and I for one, do not want to miss the journey.

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5Sheila DeChantal

Now Blogging and Talking Life, Food, Happenings at:  Iguessimdoingthis.com

The First Books of 2019

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Happy New Year!  It’s 2019 and this year more than quite a few in the past, I feel ready to start with something new.  Among many other subjects, I am excited to dig back into reading as well – starting with this first book of 2019.

Thank you to everyone who participated this year.  It does my heart good to see the many book lovers share their reads from all over the world.  From people in my home town, all around Minnesota, the US – and even beyond. I know for sure we have Africa, Australia, and New England.   Thank you so much and happy reading.

See if you can find me and my book choice in the collages.  ;P

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Did you find any to add to your own reading list?   I think I have several to mention to Book Club!

One book shows up SIX times!  Do you know which book it is?

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

Anonymous

A Short Film About Disappointment by Joshua Mattson

Batter Off Dead by Maymee Bell

Becoming  by Michelle Obama

Becoming Mrs. Lewis by Patti Callahan

Bellewether by Susanna Kearsley

Birds Of A Feather by Lorin Lindner

Bone House by Brian Freeman

Book Thief by Mark Zusak

Boy Swallows Universe by Trent Dalton

Broken Ice by Matt Goldman

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Clockmaker’s Daughter by Kate Morton

Confessions Of An Ugly Stepsister by Gregory Maguire

Cooper’s Charm by Lori Foster

Covers of Snow by Jenny Milchman

Daring To Hope:  Finding God’s Goodness In The Broken and Beautiful by Katie Davis Majors

Don’t Let Me Down by Erin Hosier

Eleanor of Aquitaine: A Biography by Marion Meade

Fixation by Steve Smart

Foundryside by Robert Jackson Bennett

Ghosted by Rosie Walsh

Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer

Hanover House by Brenda Novak

I, Eliza Hamilton by Susan Holloway Scott

I’d Rather Be Reading by Ann Bogel

Island of Glass by Nora Roberts

I’ll Be Gone With The Dark by Michelle McNamara

I’m Too Young To Be 70 by Judith Viorst

In The Middle Of The Mess by Sheila Walsh

It’s Not Supposed To Be This Way by Lysa Terkeurst

Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann

Kings of the Wyld by Nicholas Eames

Learning To See by Elise Hooper

Logan and Luna Find The Magic Tree by Cristina Hanif

Marilla of Green Gables by Sarah McCoy

Mary Queen Of Scots by John Guy

Monday Mornings by Sanjay Gupta

My Mortal Enemy by Willa Cather

Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Once Upon A River by Diane Setterfield

Paris By The Book by Liam Callanan

Pieces of Happiness by Ann Ostby

Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Jane Sherron De Hart

Shadow Of The Moon by M M Kaye

Six Four by Hideo Yokoyama

Sleeping Beauties by Stephen King and Owen King

Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel

Small Great Things by Jodi Piccoult

Sold On A Monday by Kristina McMorris

Sometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney

Stay Sexy and Don’t Get Murdered by Karen Killgariff

Thanks A Thousand by A J Jacobs

The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle

The Best of Us by Robyn Carr

The Child by Fiona Barton

The Crooked Path by Irma Joubert

The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware

The Dire King by William Ritter

The Eighteenth Century WYANDOT:  A Clan Based Study by John Steckley

The Girls at 17 Swann Street by Yara Zgheib

The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai

The Great British Bake Off by Linda Collister

The History of Love by Nicole Krauss

The Hunting Accident by David Carlson

The Flight of Gemma Hardy by Margot Livesey

The Letters of Sylvia Plath by Sylvia Plath

The Library Book by Susan Orlean

The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman

The Light Between Worlds by Laura E Weymouth

The Lines We Cross by Randa Abdel-Fattah

The Name Of The Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

The Prayer of Jesus by Kevin Jackson

The Shimmering Road by Hester Young

The Twelve Tribes of Hattie by Ayana Mathis

The Way of Love by Ted Dekker

The Wife Between Us by Green Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

There There by Tommy Orange

These Is My Words by Nancy E Turner

Tuna Melts My Heart by Courtney Dasher

Us Against You by Fredrik Backman

Useless Magic by Florence Welch

Voices In The Air:  Poems for Listeners by Naomi Shihab Nye

What You Did Not Tell by Mark Mazower

Where The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

Woman 99 by Greer Macallister

You Don’t Own Me by Alafair Burke and Mary Higgins Clark

Did you find me and my First Book?  ;P

Thank you all again for participating.  I enjoy this so much.  If you missed out and wish to participate you can still send me your book choice today (sdechantal@gmail.com) I can add you to any that come in tomorrow.  If you submitted a pic and you do not see it, please let me know and send it again.  With all the pics that come in by Email, Facebook, Messenger, Text…  It would be easy for me to miss something.  😉

Happy New Year and may your 2019 reading take you on new adventures beyond your dreams!
Sheila

 

My One Word For 2019

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As in past years… I spend a part of December choosing my word for the next year.   For quite a few years now I have chose to this as opposed to a New Years resolution.  I make a big deal out of choosing my word making sure it is something I will carry with me for a whole year and utilize and apply to my life.  Some years the word just falls into my lap… other times (like in 2018) I find I feel I have to work at it.

2018:  I chose EXPERIENCE.  I wanted to experience new things and really get out and live.  I think I did… I took on a new position as a Marketing Director, I took part in Ragbrai and biked 7 days across Iowa, I made some very scary choices in my life and came out the other side – better for it.

2017:  SHINE.  Shine is probably my favorite word I have used and if people can have a life word (and I believe they can…. mine is SHINE.  2017 was a year of renewal.  A year I made choices to live and do and make a difference.  In 2017 I felt as thought the world was cheering me on and I came out of the darkness.

2016:  COURAGE.  This was a hard year but a productive one.  I moved forward with a shadow hanging over me.  I was scared of the world and of what my life now meant.  COURAGE was used often when I made choices to stay ahead of the darkness.  To find my way out and say yes to things when I would have much rather hid away.

2015:  EMERGE.  Emerge started out meaning one thing and by April meant something completely different after the tragedy of this year.  It was a hard year… and a hard word.  In the end… I was different.. but I did emerge.

2014:  EMBRACE Where it all began.

2019 has been a bit of a thoughtful process.  For a while I thought it was going to be PRESENT but I honestly didn’t love it.  Being present is definitely something I am working on, yes I didn’t feel it reached every corner of my life like I want a word to do so I searched on.  Today, I wrote down what my goals were for 2019 regarding:

Career

Health/Wellness

Family

Friendships

Hobbies/Interests

Plans

Then I looked at the words I wrote for each of these and while one word didn’t come out on paper… it did bring one my mind.  In each area I felt I needed to dig in more – put a little more of what makes me – well. me.  I thought about this last year of experience.  Of the job(s) that I took on and how this altered my life in good ways.. but altered all the same.  Some life things happened this year as well that made me stronger, but also more cautious…  and I really thought about what people in my circles say about me or use to describe me (energetic, creative, outgoing, adventurous, funny, honest, strong, unique) and I began to wonder if that was all still true and how much I hope it is.

That all said… my 2019 is SPARK.  I want to spark in all I do…  if I can create that spark…  I think the fire of all within me will catch again – in good and positive ways.  I am hopeful that living that way – I can create sparks in others.

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Oh, and PS…  I believe we can have a life word as well.  Mine, is SHINE.  My best word. 

I hope you will consider choosing your own word for 2019.  If you do – I would love to hear what is in the comments.  Looking for some words to stimulate ideas for yours?  Here is a great list.