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I’d Rather Love Life Than Hate Cancer: One Woman’s Journey with Cancer by Julie K. Barthels

I'd Rather Love Life than Hate Cancer

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I received a free copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.

In honour of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Thanks Julie for bringing it to my attention. 

This is Julie’s memoir about her experience with an aggressive from of breast cancer. She starts off with what her life looked like before the diagnosis, from training for a half marathon, to her career path as the Clinical Director at a rape crisis centre and then to a private therapy practice. This all started with a letter written in the middle of the night to her oldest daughter. Not knowing if she would survive, she wanted to tell her all the life lessons she might miss out on.

This is a 120 page book that packs a punch. It took me a while to write this review, I wanted to sit with this after I had finished it: I wanted it all to soak in. She starts off with a the process of being diagnosed and the stress of it all; but, what Julie brings to the table is her attitude. She took this horrible thing that had invaded her body and saw what this experience could teach her about life (in the end what it could teach us all).

The book is broken down into many chapters, all looking at different lessons she has learnt from the whole ordeal: acknowledging the negative presence the cancer is in her life, but then choosing to not to let it define who she is. Julie’s memoir is unbelievably inspiring. The whole thing started with her cancer, but the lessons she talks about are universal.

Although the memoir is centred around a cancer diagnosis and treatment, Julie brings it all back to how it can relate to generalized life lessons- how she came to love her body even with the cancer; the balancing act between the body, mind and soul; and how this pushed her to refocus on the things that are truly most important to her. I think this is something we could use some help with, a little more balance in our lives. Even when our world is turned upside down, there are still things to be grateful for. Whether it is in our own lives, or just gratitude for our families.

Christianity is a main topic throughout the memoir. She is a Christian, and this helped her through it all. A few of the lessons come back to faith, but Julie leaves it open to other beliefs. The God you pray to or not, does not influence what you can get out of this book. Obviously her faith is a very important part of her and has helped her to be a better person: helped her to see the good in life, even when you are diagnosed with aggressive breast cancer. I am not a Christian, but I still got a lot out of this book.

Reading this book, gave me a sort of calmness. It made me want to be a better, more positive, more forgiving person. I made we want to look for the good in life, no matter what was is going on.

If you are interested in a short but powerful memoir, about cancer, and really just life, I urge you to pick this up.

 

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I’m Back!!

Hello booknerds,

I am happy to say I am home from vacation, it was so much fun, but very busy and I am glad to be home. Also I missed all my bookish conversations with all of you guys:)

I read a total of one book while on planes and trains. What can I say I was tired. I’m hoping jump right back in, now that my jet leg is finally gone.

Not much else to tell you guys but I’m glad to be back and I hope to start posting again right away.

Here are a couple of pictures :

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Vacation Plans

Hello boys and girls,

I am off on a vacation to Italy, and I’ll be gone for two and a half weeks. I will do my best to keep reading, and I’ll try to check my e-mail while I’m there. I’m bringing with me three e-books from Netgalley so I should be coming back with some reviews to be written and some stories to be told 🙂

 

Talk to you all soon

On This Bookish Day: August 30- Mary Shelley is Born

**Sorry I got really busy and forgot to post this, I am a day late**

Hello bookworms,

Welcome back to On This Bookish Day, where one day of the month I will honour an important literary date in history. I’ll tell you a little about the author and review one of their books.

So, on this bookish day:

August 30 – Mary Shelley is born, 1797

Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley is most known for her novel Frankenstein. Shelley was raised by her father, William Godwin, a political philosopher. Her mother died one month after her birth. Godwin provided his daughter with an informal education, and promoted his own political beliefs.

Mary began a relationship with Percy Bysshe Shelley, who was still married at the time. They left and traveled through Europe, and when they retuned Mary was pregnant. They faced isolation, and the death of their daughter, who was born premature. They eventually married, after the suicide of Percy’s first wife, in 1816.

In 1818, the couple left for Italy, where she gave birth to three more children. One survived. In 1822 her husband died in a sailing accident, when his boat sank in a storm. A year later she returned to England, and focused on raising her son, and her writing/becoming an author. Mary Shelley died at the age of 53, most likely from a brain tumour.

A few random facts:

  • Mary’s father disowned her at the age of 16, due to her romantic relationship with Percy Shelley. When Mary returned pregnant he wanted nothing to do with her.
  • Rumour has it that Mary’s father had Percy’s first wife killed. So that his daughter could marry Percy, to make it a legitimate relationship.
  • When Mary started writing Frankenstein, she was just 19. She was 21 when it was published.

Frankenstein

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So I think everyone is pretty familiar with this title. It is the story of Dr.Frankenstein who designs a monster, and brings it to life.

I am slightly intimidated by the classics, always afraid of long, boring writing or being unrelatable. This was actually a pretty fast easy going read. I did find the writing style to be a little flowery, but it wasn’t over the top so that I was bored reading descriptions. The story flowed quite well, with a bit of a lull in the middle, but it’s not too long. I would recommend if you feel stuck at the very beginning with the letters, just power through, by page 50 you’ll be hooked.

I found the characters very interesting throughout this book. This story changes points of view, throughout the entire novel I felt sympathy for the monster. The main character Dr.Frankenstein, was a perfect dislikable character for me. I hated him for a good part of this book, but it was in a positive way. I found Victor Frankenstein to be completely self-centred, and ignorant to other people’s feelings.

This is so much more than a book about a monster. This is book explores prejudice, in a very different way. Although the prejudice is towards a monster, I find it is easily relatable to any marginalized group of people. I would say that is why Frankenstein had remained a classic for all these years. It is timeless. Unfortunately it seems to be a problem that sticks.

Have you guys read this classic? If so what should I read next? 

 

Savage Joy by Robert Dunn

savage joy

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I received a free copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.

This is the story of a an aspiring writer in the mid 1970’s. Cole has recently been hired on at The New Yorker, working in the typing pool, and living in a $90 a month East Village apartment. He then meets a neighbour, who is a musician and soon sucks him into the punk rock scene of New York City. This book tells the story of Cole and four friends and their lives around literary parties, band problems, and the city life.

I really enjoyed this book. It took me about two weeks to read it, but I don’t mean that as a criticism, I was savouring and enjoying the experience. I’m usually big on reading quickly, and I like fasted paced books. But this was a perfect slow burn for me.

My favourite part of the book was the atmosphere. Every time I picked up this book, I was completely enveloped into the time period. In my head I could picture New York City, mid 1970’s. The characters, the speech, the descriptions. It felt like I was there, which I don’t experience very often in books. For atmosphere it reminded me of the show Mad Men, the time period and the setting. It was great.

Savage Joy is a character driven book. The main character is Cole, the book primarily tells his story. Cole learning about the new life he has started in the big city, and now exploring this foreign world of punk music and the CBGB. It was so interesting for me to learn about the music scene in this way. We get to see it from Coles eyes, how the lives compare, the music world and the literary world. It seemed as though he was almost torn between the two, fascinated by the band, and his dream to be an amazing author. It also follows the stories of the band mates as well. It show’s the drama and stress of band members touring together and the power struggle between the members.

I loved watching the characters evolve through this story. The way they interact and their relationships changing. It felt very natural to me, new friendships change as people learn. Also there was a lot of new things for them: music, a tour, new jobs, there was a lot going on for everyone. It was a fascinating read all around.

All of the characters were so different, and they blended so well. A naive writer, relaxed musician, rebellious girl from a good family, responsible girl that looks like a rocker, and a young religious man exploring life.

Anyone interested in the 1970’s CBGBs should pick up this book. You will be taken back to New York City and feel like your exploring a new world.

University Required for Blogging?

Hello everybody, I have a bit of a random chat this time. But I received my first negative comment on one of my posts (figured it was about time). I don’t find myself particularly bothered by the fact that someone doesn’t like my opinion/blog whatever it may be. What I was annoyed by was the fact that they asked me about my education. They asked if I went to university because the blog post was badly written. In case you were curious it was my bookish post about Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

Ok, so I want to start off by saying, I don’t care that they don’t like my blog. But my personal opinion on that is: then don’t read my posts. If you have something constructive to say, go for it or disagree with me. I can take it. Implying I am uneducated isn’t helping anyone. They then went on to tell me that I lacked insight because I described the character of Sherlock Holmes as fun. According to them he is intended to be stoic.

So the real purpose of this post… What does everyone think about education and blogging about books?

I have never thought to ask a blogger about their education. Does it really matter what degree they have, or don’t have? I don’t think it changes an opinion about a book. An arts degree, for example, may influence how you analyze it or break it down. But I don’t think it changes how personal experiences evoke different emotions when reading.

The truth of it is, most people read for pure entertainment, not to sit down and discuss the themes and symbolism. In the end most people reading a review just want to know if it is worth their time. Was it entertaining? Did you learn something? Was it predictable?

In the end we all read, blog and review differently. I guess just do what you want is what it all comes down to. I know I won’t be changing anything based on that comment.

Have you guys had similar questions? How do you reply, or not?

Trouble Purse Sued by Marianna Heusler

Trouble Purse Sued.jpg

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I received a free copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.

After what seems like a series of unfortunate events at the St. Polycarp school, a teacher and interim principal end up in the middle of a mystery. In an attempt to save the school from being shut down by the archdiocese, Mrs. Hopwood decided to donate a recent inheritance of vintage clothing, to auction off in a fashion show. Things get very complicated for the two women from that point on.

Okay, so I must admit, I figured going in this, it would be a fun little mystery, entertaining but no huge surprises. But I was pleasantly surprised….By how much I liked this book. I have read a lot of mysteries and thrillers, and have gotten pretty good at guessing the endings. Not this time!!

I will start with the characters. There are a lot of characters in this book. It took me 30 pages to get them all sorted out and keep them straight in my head. But they were all very well written. The main character, Mrs. Hopwood, felt like such a realistic character to me: definitely flawed, and in complete honesty, a little annoying. Mrs. Hopwood is really self involved, has a slight hoarding problem, and can be obsessive. In spite of all that, I loved her character. Even though she is far from perfect and I don’t see myself being her friend, I was rooting for her the whole way. The other character I want to mention is Mrs. Johnson, a teacher out of her comfort zone with a million things going on she isn’t exactly equipped to deal with. She ends up in over her head with her new position as the principal, and her friend Mrs. Hopwood off trying to solve a wild mystery(not helping the situation). The discussion of her home life, having twins and a bad back made the character believable. Even when the s**t hits the fan at work, yes the family stuff doesn’t stop and wait for you to get caught up.

The mystery itself was great. As I said there are a lot of characters who are intertwined very gracefully. At the beginning it all seems like a lot of people, all doing their own thing. As the story moves along you start to see the picture coming together, and it happens so slowly you don’t really notice it at first. People’s past and present all sort of mix slowly to create the perfect mystery. I didn’t see the conclusion coming at all; I was vigorously flipping pages to see where it was all going to end up.

As you may have guessed, I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a good mystery. Very entertaining and engaging! This happens to be the fourth book in a series but can definitely be read as a stand alone. I also hope to get the chance to pick up the rest of the books in this series. It was just so fun and I would like to see more of these characters, maybe how they all got to where they were in this one.