Life changed for everyone the day the boxes arrived. The world awoke to a wooden box with a single string inside. Before long, the phenomenon of the strings and their purpose became clear–each string is a measure of the amount of life that remains for each person.
While some were encouraged by the length of their string, others were given the harsh truth that life would end sooner than they’d hoped. Before long, the world began to dichotimize into Long Stringers and Short Stringers. Those with longer strings called the shots and limited those with shorter strings to “safe” roles in society.
Things became more complicated for those relationships where one learns they will far outlive the other, and society is rocked as it begins to wrestle with the terms of the strings and how each person should live out the remaining days or years.
This is a thought-provoking tale of
-an archetect who is afraid to tell his family of his fate
-a politician who uses the strings as a campaign ploy
-an editor who learns to cherish her partner and their moments together
-a college student who bravely chooses to serve his country in his final days
-a doctor who is near retirement
-a teacher who refuses to open her box
Each of these people are connected to a support group for those with short strings. Together, they ask the tough questions–now that you know your time is short, how will you spend it?
This story was equal parts engaging and thought provoking. I fell in love with the characters and questioned my life right along with them. Erlick beautifully wove some of life’s most important questions into a story about likeable characters. This was my favorite book of 2022 so far, and a debut novel for this author.
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Over the past two summers, I’ve been taking classes for my Master’s in English. So many of those courses required me to read works of literature selected by an instructor. While many of them were enjoyable reads like Station Eleven, there was a missing element to my reading life: Choice.
This is my first summer since 2020 where I have had the freedom to select my book choices and so I decided at the beginning of the summer that I would chase the reading fads–just because I can. I turned to TikTok and blogs that I follow for recommendations and so the three books that I read while in England came highly recommended by social media’s elite readers and all for great reasons.
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo
Title: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo
Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid
Publisher: Atria Books
Being an A-List celebrity came at a great price for the glamorous Evelyn Hugo. Not only did she abandon her heritage by bleaching her ebony locks, but she also abandoned the notion that love can be genuine through her long list of failed marriages.
For most of her life, marriage had been a tool she used to gain fame, but one love came in unexpected ways and changed Evelyn’s life for the better.
In her final days, Evelyn seeks out a young journalist to share her life story with, but is the world ready to learn about the real Evelyn Hugo?
Title: Book Lovers
Author: Emily Henry
Nora Stephens is the cutthroat agent of a book-turned-Hallmark movie set in Sunshine Falls, NC. When her pregnant sister, Libby, suggests a trip to the town that served as the backdrop for the famous novel, Nora is hesitant to leave her New York life behind for a few weeks. She decides to take her work with her to enjoy some quality time with Libby.
While immersed in the quiet setting and working in the local coffee shop, Nora runs into her editor nemisis from the city: Charlie Lastra.
As an avid reader, Nora is aware of the archetype she is playing and the tension that is being created with Charlie throughout the summer. Despite all of his advances, Nora refuses to fall for Charlie and tries to distract herself by going through the bucket list that Libby created for their summer.
Before the summer ends, Nora learns of the real reason behind the trip and must decide her own path moving forward. She must decide if the corporate life in the city is worth losing those people she cares about most. What Nora saw as a summer adventure before Libby’s labor turns into a crossroads that forces Nora to make the choices she’s been avoiding with her busy life.
Author: Colleen Hoover
Verity Crawford was a bestselling author. WAS. As a result of a terrible accident she was left unable to communicate or control much of her own body. Her publisher and husband sought out Lowen Ashleigh, a struggling writer, as the solution to the writing contract that was broken prematurely by the disabled author.
Lowen met Jeremy Crawford on her way to discuss the deal with her publisher. A man was struck by a car on a busy New York street spraying blood all over Lowen. Jeremy helped to clean her up and prepare for her meeting without knowing her identity. Still in shock, Lowen attends the meeting and agrees to take over Verity’s series as a ghost writer and to bring closure for Verity’s beloved readers.
In order to finish the series, Lowen must spend a few weeks in Verity’s home going through her notes and reading her earlier works. But when Lowen finds a journal written by Verity she can’t stop reading. Within those pages, Verity admits to horrific crimes and truths that chill Lowen to the core. Before long, Lowen notices some strange activity going on in Verity’s bedroom and realizes that someone is lying to her about why she is there.
The stranger that Verity gets the closer Lowen gets to Jeremy. Their relationship begins to flourish, but he is still married to the woman who can’t interact or love him back. Lowen realizes that if she would share the journal with Jeremy, that she could have him all to herself. If he can see the true Verity that Lowen had met in those pages, then he may find room in his heart for her.
All three of these books mastered the art of a good plot twist. They all caused me to think about my life and to measure it against the values that I hold dear. I’m so happy that I decided to listen to the recommendations on these books because each one was engaging and kept me invested until the end.
As my trip came to a close, I picked up The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman. It’s a British bestseller. I love going to Waterstones and looking at the top fiction and non-fiction books in England. Every summer I try to read a top 5 book. The Thursday Murder Club has been a fun read and I’m nearing the end so look for a review in the next week or two. You can see what else I’m reading and my own reviews of books on Goodreads.
With a subtitle of How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living An Awesome Life, the expecations were high from the beginning. I approached this book with the end of the school year behind me. Each summer, I try to get rid of all the awful habits I formed while on survival mode during the school year. The reason this title spoke to me was because I needed a good pep talk to reignite my motivation after a pretty difficult year of teaching.
This five-part book explores the elements of self-love:
How You Got This Way
How to Embrace Your Inner Badass
How to Tap into the Motherlode
How to Get Over the BS Already
How to Kick Some Ass
The gut punches came right at the start as Sincero explores the psyche of self-sabotage and the creation of obstacles to our productivity. The power of being present is something we have control over, but first we must manage our natural tendencies toward snoozing through life.
The tools for embracing our badass may seem simple at first, but Sincero gives stories and practical steps for breaking out of the self-destructive cycles. A strong focus on self-love is the theme of the book, and many examples are provided for ways in which you can love yourself more each day.
Falling back in love with your life and the God who made you is the premise here, and when I got to the last page I felt like I just got a kick in the seat of my pants from an old friend. Jen Sincero does a great job of motivating through tough love and strong truths. I came away from this book with affirmations and goals to live the most badass life I could imagine.
I gave this book a 4/5 stars. I tend to prefer novels and fictional books, but a good non-fiction every now and again has the power to change your life. While I’m not sure much of this book was earth shattering in my journey, I did feel pumped up to get to work on myself.
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Jude knows what is to be raised by parents who were never present. Most of her childhood was spent reminding her career-drive mother of her own existence. Which is why she decided to be the most involved and approachable mother to her twins, Zach and Mia. Along with her husband, Miles, Jude builds a comfy life for her beautifully happy family in an affluent community.
Across the stream, within a collection of indigenous people’s mobile homes, Lexi is being raised by Aunt Eva. Determined to break the generational curse that landed her own mother in jail, Lexi vowed to create a better life for herself.
During their freshman year, Lexi and Mia hit it off and became inseprable friends. Each girl was exactly what the other needed and throughout high school they shared a special bond that grew only stronger with time. Jude opens her family’s home to Lexi and welcomes her as one of her own.
Senior year brings its usual pressures for the teens. Jude has worked hard to set her twins up for the perfect college and Lexi begins to complicate those plans when she falls in love with Zach. Jude is torn between wanting her children to be happy or succesful at the college of her dreams.
One night, after a wild senior party, tragedy strikes Jude’s family and she is thrust into unspeakable terror. In the days following she must choose once and for all how to protect her family at all costs.
This is a story about friendship, love, growing up, motherhood, loss, and redemption. There are so many aspects of life covered in this novel as it spans a couple of decades–the childhood and adolesence of Jude’s children. At times, it was easy to relate to Jude as a mother who wants the best for my girls, but at other times I saw the dangers of her “helicopter” approach to parenting and the way that affected her relationships. Night Road is a tale that cautions us to cling to those we love, but not so tightly that we strangle them.
I gave this book at 4/5 star rating. Although I can get behind anything by Kristin Hannah, there were parts of this book that seemed forced or unexplored. Without giving away too much of the plot, there was a trial that landed a teenager in jail for something I just don’t think is realistic. I found myself losing a little interest once I got to this portion of the story and I was less invested from there on out. But…Kristin Hannah is still a phenomenal writer in my opinion so the writing style kept me entertained. And her typicl twists and turns continued to surprise me until the final page.
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I took a short hiatus from the Enneagram study to spend time catching you up with my travels and life. Today, I am returning with the next installment of The Enneagram series using The Road Back to You by Ian Morgan Cron as a guiding text.
I’ll be the first to admit that The Love Hypothesis is not a book I would’ve gravitated toward on the shelf. Romance isn’t my cup of tea, but the marketing ploy for this book’s release was on-point and blasted all over social media. After viewing so many reviews and posts, I decided to give The Love Hypothesis a shot. And while this wasn’t my FAVORITE book of all time, it did help revive the Romance genre in my collection.
Olive was a lonely Ph.D student who spent most of her time in the lab or with her best friend, Anh. When Anh admits that she has caught feelings for Olive’s ex, Anh fears that going for Jeremy will be an act of betrayal toward her friend and ultimately decides to just let him go. Olive couldn’t care less, she was too busy with trying to invent a test for early detection of prostate cancer to bother with love interests. One late night she resolves to prove to Anh that she has moved on by grabbing the nearest guy and laying a big, wet kiss on his lips.
Only…this wasn’t just any guy. This was Doctor Adam Carlsen.
Carlsen was a god in the Biology world and the most feared advisor in Olive’s program. Once she realized who she was kissing she was embarassed and apologized profusely. But Adam was not as upset as she’d expected–in fact he was devising a plan to play this off in both of their favors.
Over the next several weeks, Olive and Adam began to con their friends and colleagues into thinking that they were dating. They met publicly for coffee dates to be seen by all the right people. In doing so, they got to know eachother, and yep, you guessed it…they started falling in love.
Although elements of this story were predictable, there were parts that I really enjoyed. I loved the way that the author brought nerdy humor to the page. From page one, I was engaged with her writing style and felt connected to Olive with her wit and struggle in academia.
**Chapter 15 was a bit of surprise. The story took a quick hiatus from lighthearted, playful plot to very erotic and graphic sexual scenes. (Like, probably the most X-rated text I’ve ever read. Again, I’m not really into Romance so I cannot even compare it to another text or say if it was appropriate for the genre. But, I would say this is not a book for teens for sure!)
All in all, I would rate this book a 3.5 out of 5. I enjoyed the read, but there was room to improve the predicability and authenticity of the plot. In the future, I would read other books by Ali Hazelwood. This type of book would be a great vacation read or something light to take on a long roadtrip or trainride.
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Jude is a young girl living in Syria. Her love for family and home are challenged by the political turmoil in her town and the violence erupting in the streets. When her mother finds out that she is expecting another child, Jude’s father sends his girls to live with family in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Ohio might as well be another planet because at first Jude and her mother are treated like aliens. They try to assimilate into American culture all while clinging to the most important parts of their Syrian life. Friendships are hard for Jude at first, but as she develops her English skills in an ESL classroom she meets other students who have left their homelands behind for the promise of safety.
A story of coming-of-age during immigration to America is what sets this lyrical book apart from others in the genre.
A couple of things to note if considering this book for a young audience:
-Jude starts her period and begins wearing a hijab. The language here is not very graphic, but may not be suitable for elementary school readers.
-Violence is not depicted explicitly, but Jude’s brother, Issa, is involved with a Syrian rebellion and she worries for his safety often.
It’s been a long time since I’ve read a book from the Newbery List. As a high school teacher, middle grade fiction is not a genre I gravitate toward and so this was something different to break up my ensemble of YA and Literary fiction. Because this book was written for a younger audience it was a quick read. Additionally, it is a book written in verse which limits the word count on each page. This is a good option for reluctant readers because the plot is easy to follow and the words-per-page are manageable and help propel the reader quickly through the story.
I gave this book a 4-star rating on Goodreads. If you like my reviews and want to read some more, follow me on Goodreads. Also, if you follow me you can see which reviews are soon to come. If you are looking for a recommendation on what to read next, I’d love to connect on the app!
We all have that one friend who is an Enneagram Seven. These are the people who make us smile during tough times. They always seem to see the silver lining and pack their schedules full of events and adventures to indulge their desires as an adrenaline junkie. For me, some of best friends are sevens. Because (as a One) I tend to overthink and find security in following rules, I admire those who swallow their fears and live with a sort of lightness that I could never achieve.
As I read this chapter about Enneagram Sevens I am reminded that just because they seem outwardly optimistic, that Sevens struggle as all of us do with negative emotions. The difference between Sevens and the rest of the Enneagram numbers is that Sevens tend to use energy and experiences to mask the effects of pain, fear, and failure. I am reminded as I read this chapter that although I turn to my Seven friends for comfort in my difficult times that I must allow them space to be negative too.
Reading about Enneagram Sixes this week was difficult.
In the past, I have typed myself as a Six. However, when I’m feeling good and at my best I gravitate more toward a One. This week, personal struggles have brought out some of my most unhealthy traits. In the midst of conflict I tend to exhbit some of the unhealthy attributes listed below. This sentiment of being a Healthy One and Unhealthy Six is not totally aligned to the Enneagram as illustrated in The Road Back to You by Ian Morgan Cron, but whether or not every page is accurate I am loving the way that this book is giving language to my emotions and experiences.
As I continue on my journey of understanding each of the nine Enneagram types, I cross the threshold of half-way this week . I am using Ian Morgan Cron’s book, The Road Back to You, as I explore the attributes of an Enneagram Five, also known as the Investigator.
My father is an Enneagram Five.
There is no doubt in my mind that my genius, computer programmer, quiet, and anti-social father fits the description of a Five to a T. He is the perfect balance for my emotional overloads as a One. Growing up with a Five as a father was amazing. I always felt heard and supported. I also learned to give him solitude and spaces where he could go to recharge. So all of the descriptions below resonate with me and helped draw up the image of my very first superhero…DAD!
Here are some other Enneagram numbers to check out: