Book Talk: Happiness for Beginners by Katherine Center

Book Talk: Happiness for Beginners by Katherine CenterHappiness For Beginners by Katherine Center
Published by St. Martin's Griffin on March 2015
Genres: Adult Contemporary
Format: Paperback
Source: Library
Amazon/Twitter
Goodreads

 

 

 

 

Want an “at a glance” look at what I thought? Check out my Review On A Post-It or my “Final Thought”

 

A1

Helen is 32, has been divorced for a year and just really wants to get her crap together and bounce back from this. When her younger brother, by 10 years, suggests a 3 week wilderness survival expedition she jumps on the opportunity as a way to get her life back on track and prove she can still be happy and strong after all this. What she doesn’t know is that her brother’s best friend, who she’s known since they were younger, is also going which Helen is not happy about because she wanted to be anonymous on this trip while she worked on her life. And when she gets there? The group is definitely not made up of the people she expects but they end up teaching her a lot about herself.

a2I need to start a 3 good things notebook — reminds me of something two of my friends did back and forth for quite a while!

a4This book had been raved about by a bunch of my friends — specifically Estelle and Anna. I am happy to report that I LOVED it. It was just what I needed to read right now where my particular headspace was at. It was funny but really hit these serious notes about growth and change that resounded within me so deeply. I found myself really reflecting about life while reading this and even after finishing it.

I loved the characters from the main ones to the more minor ones in her wilderness group.  JAKE JAKE JAKE ILU, man! They made me laugh and made me think. I feel like *I* learned a lot from them. I LOVED the romance as it wasn’t super typical. I totally shipped it. TOTALLY. And I also really loved the setting — I’m not the MOST outdoorsy girl but I do love the outdoors and I loved how we saw the wilderness and the beauty which contrasted with how grueling this program was.

I could go on and on about how excellent this book is and what I specifically liked about it but I want to touch on Helen’s journey because where I’m at right this moment? It hit me right in the feels. I am so the person who thinks I need to like Eat, Pray, Love my way out of a funk and change my life and BECOME HAPPIER.  I am all about FINDING MYSELF. I wouldn’t have signed up for a crazy outdoor thing like this but I am SO this type of person. I just always get caught up in thinking I need this life-changing experience to CHANGE or to grow/find myself/get out of my rut and be happy… when really, as Helen finds out, we can learn, cultivate happiness and grow in smaller ways (as well as these grand ways) when we shift our thinking about what happiness really is and how we can find it. I also am the type who gets really disappointed when said HUGE THING doesn’t produce the results I expected. I just SO understood where Helen was at to even contemplate doing this wilderness program so her journey resonated with me the whole way through. It kind of shook me at the core how entangled I felt in her journey.  I felt so proud of her and all she learned.

 There were some things about the book that were kind of predictable but it didn’t really affect how I felt about the book because of how much it entertained me and how much I feel like it really hit me on a personal level. The other thing is I SO wanted more wilderness stuff but it wasn’t like a problem if that makes sense?

a6RATING-beyondloved[Keep Reading]

Book Talk: Little Mercies by Heather Gudenkauf

Book Talk: Little Mercies by Heather GudenkaufLittle Mercies by Heather Gudenkauf
Published by Harlequin on June 2014
Genres: Adult Contemporary
Format: ARC
Source: For Review
Amazon/Twitter
Goodreads

I received this book for review consideration from the publisher. This in no way swayed my opinion of the book. Pinky swear!

 

Want an “at a glance” look at what I thought? Check out my Review On A Post-It or my “Final Thought”

A1
Ellen is a social worker and an advocate for children who has seen some PRETTY awful things — neglect, abuse and just pure evil. She finds herself fulfilled in protecting these children and tries to balance her career with her husband and children. On a day where her attention is elsewhere she finds herself on the other side of her job as her daughter’s life is in jeopardy and her role as a mother could be shaken up. At the same time, a little girl named Jenny finds her way into Ellen’s life. Jenny’s on her own because of some decisions her father made and she isn’t sure she wants to go home…at least not without finding out what she came for.

a2This would make a great book club book! (It even prompted this post!)

a41. I love how this took a issue that has been in the news and humanized it: I don’t want to say what the THING is because I want you to be as surprised as I was with how the events unfolded. I’ll just say it’s something that has been in the news and I’ve seen heated debates over. It’s easy to say these statements about the situation but as you read the story you find yourself sympathetic (at least I did) to the main character because I know it’s something that could happen to me easily. It’s those split second moments that change things and I felt the gravity of her situation. I found it was good to read this one because I am SO quick to judge when I see things.  Would be SUCH a good book for book club!

2. I couldn’t put it down at all: I had to know how it was going to turn out for both storylines. I was reading it furiously at the pool. There’s enough drama and tense situation that it’s easy to get caught up in. Ellen is being looked at like the very parents SHE has to investigate in her job as a social worker and I honestly loved seeing her perception of her clients change in some ways as she navigates the same system they have.

3. It was SUCH an emotional book: You know those books where you can just FEEL that punched in the gut feeling the character does? That was me with Ellen. I really felt for her and it was AGONIZING emotionally to see how everything played out for her. And then, the other story with Jenny, really got me too. I loved the interactions between Jenny and Ellen’s mom and I just felt those warm and fuzzies. There’s just a lot of emotional family related things going on in this book and they struck a chord with me. I think also it was emotional to me because you watch Ellen have to endure all this and it’s the biggest wakeup call of her life…and sometimes it’s sad that we don’t get that wakeup call until something serious happens.

4. While I enjoyed it, I found it to be pretty predictable and some things were of the “isn’t THAT convenient” variety: I wouldn’t say the fact that it was pretty predictable put a damper on how much I enjoyed the novel but I didn’t feel like it surprised me at all. It was more the heavy coincidences that put a little bit of a damper on it — the stories tied together a little TOO neatly and full circle for my personal taste. A little contrived in a sense?

 

a6RATING-LIKED

factors+ plot, enjoyability, emotional connection, well written, how absorbed I was
little predictable, some situations feeling contrived/too convenient

Re-readability: Probably not!
Would I buy a copy for my collection? No, sadly because it wasn’t a favorite or one I’d reread, but I’d recommend it as a book club read?

a5people looking for a good book club book, people who like fiction that take relevant topics from the media and humanize it, people who generally like women’s fiction,

a8I found myself absorbed with this one at the pool! It takes a story that always breaks my heart from the news and really adds this human element to it where things aren’t always so black and white. You’ll feel yourself conflicted and challenged to shift your snap judgments or at least that’s what happened to me. This book was a read that gripped me from the moment the LIFE CHANGING MOMENT happened and didn’t let go until I knew the conclusion.

 

review-on-post-it

little-mercies-heather-gudenkauf

a8j* Have you read this one? What did you think? Similar or different from me? I would LOVE to hear regardless!
* If you haven’t read it, is it something on your radar or that you think you will read?
*Have you read any other Heather Gudenkauf books? I have another one of hers that I’m excited to start!
* How did you feel about Ellen and what happened? Do you think it was the right call in the end?
* On a personal note, did you relate to her with how easy it is to get caught up in life and not pay attention? I’ve never had something like that but I’m a person who is very much like Ellen in the beginning of this book.


The Perpetual Page-Turner

 

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