Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Book Review: Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen

Sydney hates being the number 2 child, and not just because she's the youngest. Her mom has always been so proud of older brother Peyton, and her Dad doesn't seem to see her at all. Even when Peyton goes to prison for a DWI that paralyzes a teen, Sydney is still overlooked by her parents. Tension builds within Sydney as her privacy in the community disappears and Peyton's best friend Ames begins to get a little too close for comfort.

When Sydney decides to leave her private school to go to the local public high school for a bit of anonymity, she is enveloped by Layla, her brother Mac, and their cozy band of family and friends. Sydney meets with an acceptance she has been searching for and finds in a family pizza restaurant.
To me, the Chathams were like that merry-go-round out  in the middle of nowhere in the woods. I hadn't been aware they'd existed; it was pure luck to have stumbled upon them. Now that I had, I couldn't forget and go back to the way I'd been before. Just knowing they were out there changed everything. Especially me.

This story made me want to laugh, cry, and shout out "Exactly!" Getting to know Sydney, Layla, and Mac would have made my high school years magical.
"Relationships evolve, just like people do. Just because you know someone doesn't mean you know everything about them."
"Just because a person isn't talking about something doesn't mean it's not on their mind. Often, in fact, it's why they won't speak of it."
When faced with the scariest of things, all you want is to turn away, hid in your own invisible place. But you can't. That's why it's not only important for us to be seen, but to have someone to look for us, as well.

Saint Anything an amazing story. I love Sarah Dessen's writing - the truth in each story, the agony of emotions the characters express and the reader feels, and the ease in which simple words become a world I could be living next to any day of the week. Sarah Dessen writes about the community that readers live in, emotions they feel, and stories they can sink in to. Sarah Dessen is the friendly neighbour I wish I knew.
That was just it. You never knew what lay ahead; the future was one thing that could never be broken, because it had not yet had the chance to be anything. One minute you're walking through a dark woods, alone, and then the landscape shifts, and you see it. Something wondrous and unexpected, almost magical, that you never would have found had you not kept it going. Like a new friend who feels like an old one, or a memory you'll never forget. Maybe even a carousel.

I highly recommend Saint Anything as a great read. You may just have found yourself a new author, too!

From just Beyond My Bookshelf...

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Book Review: The Twilight Wife by A.J. Banner

None of us is bound by the past.

Kyra Winthrop, after barely surviving a diving accident, remembers very little of the last several years of her life. She can't remember the accident, her time in the hospital, or even her married life. She is fortunate to have a patient husband, a few good friends, and a wonderful island she can recuperate on.
But is this enough to give Kyra the life back she once had?

The Twilight Wife is a good, fast-paced story full of mystery. I enjoyed the well-created, suspense-filled scenes. The twists and turns kept me engaged, and I loved the scenery of the remote island in the Pacific Northwest. I correctly guessed some of the plot line early on, but I really enjoyed the mystery behind why it happened that way. It was good to read a book that brought shivers to my spine.

A.J. Banner has packaged up a nice stand-alone novel in The Twilight Wife. There was one passage that was of particular interest to me. It resonated deeply within me, and I felt a connection to the character as I read further.

What makes a woman so sure of herself? She has to know who she is, and to know who she is, she needs knowledge of her past. She remembers falling in and out of love, making a decision to marry or remain single. She remembers the choices that define her. But I don't have that advantage.

Thanks go to Simon & Schuster Canada and A.J. Banner for providing a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

Publication: December 27, 2016
ISBN: 9781501152115

Don't forget to check out more by this author!
A.J. Banner graduated from high school in southern California and received degrees from the University of California, Berkeley. Her first novel of psychological suspense, The Good Neighbor, was a #1 Kindle bestseller, and was named by Harper’s Bazaar as the next Gone Girl. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and five rescued cats.

Cross-posted on Goodreads

From just Beyond My Bookshelf

Sunday, 12 February 2017

I Am Coming Back, People!

Hello to my fellow book junkies that amaze me with viewing my little blog!

I just wanted to say sorry for being so erratic in my book reviews. I have been reading lots but not posting much. I worry too much about what others might expect of me. I used to write for the love of it until my health began to lead me astray. I am working hard at getting myself better, both physically and mentally, so I can amaze you all with my reviews...and hopefully much more to add to the blog in the future!

So bear with me as I start writing up the hundreds of book reviews I have hand-written notes for.

I love you, my crazy book lovers!



Saturday, 20 August 2016

Book Review: In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware

Nora is invited to a hen (bachelorette) party, but it’s been ten years since she’s seen or talked to the bride-to-be, Clare. After contacting Nina, the only other person she knows on the invite list, Nora begrudgingly agrees to go to the party, only to find out that Nora’s ex and the groom-to-be are one and the same.

As Nora tries her best to appear happy, her old friends and anew acquaintances remind her of why she left town after graduation without looking back.

  • Clare – Nora sees, after only a few minutes, that Clare hasn’t changed much from her stuck-up, popular days
  • Flo – very high strung, intense, and trying to become a replica of Clare; appears as the most psychologically unbalanced member of the party
  • Nina – outspoken and uncensored Nina still hasn’t learned to watch what she says before she says it; the part of her that was once envied is now seen as her downfall 
  • Melanie – too wrapped up in her six-month old to enjoy anything or be a team player 
  • Tom – seems to fit right in as one of the girls 
  • James – Nora’s first love that she thought she’d gotten over, and now he’s to marry Clare

In a Dark, Dark Wood is very readable with lots of suspense and thought-provoking moments slipped in throughout the story. It is very well crafted and I will definitely enjoy returning to it.

I wish to thank Simon & Schuster Canada and Ruth Ware for providing me with a review copy for an honest review.

Cross-posted on Goodreads

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Book Review: Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

Louisa Clark, aka Lou, comes from a close but poor family, is in an okay long-term relationship with her boyfriend, has a steady job that helps contribute to the family finances, and lives in a close-knit village where she has lived a cozy life. But is her life too cozy? Is she really as satisfied with her life as she thinks she is?

When the diner where she waitresses closes its doors for the final time, Lou wonders where she can turn to get a job. She lives with her mom, dad, grandpa, sister, and five year old nephew. They have barely made it with the added wage and tips that Lou helped bring in, and now her sister wants to spread her wings and needs money to do it. No formal training or a strong career path, Lou is left worrying about what she’s going to do.

Will Traynor is wealthy, educated, and pissed off at the world. So when Lou begins work as his caretaker, Will does nothing to hide his cantankerous, ill-humoured, and disparaged self. He has been resentful of still being alive since the day a motorcycle ran him over in front of his house and left him a quadriplegic from a spinal cord injury. Beside themselves with worry about his deepening depression, Will’s parents have hired Louisa to clean around his house, keep him company, and try to cheer him up. But Lou finds she has a lot more to deal with than Will’s negative self-image the longer she stays into her 6-month contract. In the end, will Lou be able to figure out what Will really needs to be happy? Does she even know what her own happiness looks like?

Jojo Moyes takes some very emotional subject matter, two very opposing personality types, and one helluva plot line, dumps them all into her magical writing blender, and produces the most outstanding, tear-jerking, heart-pounding emotional ride that I have read in quite a while. From the snazzy outfits Lou wears that make you laugh to the vulnerable moments at the bedside that bring tears, you will fall in love with these characters as they find out what loving each other really means.   

Cross-posted on Goodreads


Thursday, 3 March 2016

The Boy Who Died and Came Back by Robert Moss

In The Boy Who Died and Came Back by Robert Moss, we learn how Robert’s three near-death experiences affected who he was at the time, how he came back from the brink of death, and why each death made him who he is today. This personal narrative takes us through previous life investigations, shamanic journeying, travelling through time and space, and stepping into the world of conscious dreaming. This is a book that teaches beyond what the past was and what the future will be. Robert brings definition to how we can live in the now and why it can be so important.

Robert praises those who have influenced him throughout his work. From Carl Jung, Psychiatrist and father of Analytical Psychology, to Michael Harner, Anthropologist and founder of the Foundation for Shamanic Studies; from Tom Porter, Bear Clan elder of the Mohawk Nation at Akwesasne, to Jane Roberts, author and voice to the spiritual leader, Seth. Robert also met with great storytellers through his dreams where he was educated that the recollection of past lives can heal, and contemplating suicide can “exile a part of our soul to a realm of the dead.” Travelling deeper through the veil of time and place, he met people or characters that meant something to the story that was yet to unfold. He was taught through other languages, signs, and people in the dreams that he was the storyteller of their stories. After the death of his father, he received messages from his father’s spirit to help those left behind. It became Robert’s calling to teach others what he learned through his dreams.

An amazing piece of this book is in the telling of Robert’s joining with his first animal spirit. It is a moving description, and is helpful for those who may not have experienced Shamanism for themselves. He also speaks of “anamnesis,” or soul remembering, which was the recollection of his memories of his past lives. This helped him become prepared to meet with all of his guides and teachers who would take on the physical form of what he was able to mentally receive. Robert tells us that the ego only allows through what makes sense to us in this reality. It blocks other time and space communications which is why we tend to forget our dreams. Through practice and training, we can learn to open a portal to the multiverse and learn from what our “outside” experiences can teach us now. From what we learn and create within our dream world, we can manifest and recreate our life in this reality. 

The time between deep sleep and coming awake, the hypnapompic state, and when just about asleep, the hypnagogic state, is the place of our communication and adventures between multiple universes. Robert speaks of how you can learn to achieve this state while awake and with purpose. He teaches his students to consciously dream so they can work out how to dream better, and take what they learn from those dreams and manifest them into reality. He tells us of the positive attributes of dreaming in groups or communities where several people can meet up, share, and learn by consciously dreaming together. By setting intentions, sharing dreams can help to create positive outcomes for individuals and communities.

This entire book is an adventure in knowledge and seeking answers, from the simplest to the most difficult questions of life. Robert mentions that the most important teacher or guide to life for each of us may be “a self on a higher level.” We can rise to our higher self to watch a slow motion movie of our situation to give us the time we need to make the proper decisions or take the right route to our destinations. In reality we are on a constant pace that is almost impossible to keep up with. With a little help from our wiser and somewhat removed self, we can learn to see our options in life from a clearer view.

Robert tells of his own connections with his higher spirits. He heard enlightening tales and stories that gave him understanding and a desire to find out more. There is much to learn from the communication between dreams, old songs, folklore, and the many simple messages each day that we miss or take for granted. Throughout his life, Robert learned that it was important to listen to what goes on around us each day, and that dreams are a form of communication with our past and present about the more important time of now. We can also learn so much from other cultures. The ancient and indigenous people before us shared dream webs within their communities to create change and healing amongst their people. What worked in the past can be something that helps better our future. 

I learned so much by reading The Boy Who Died and Came Back. It was my first time touching on the subject of Shamanism so it was a whirlwind of information and crazy adventures for me. But the further I read, the more questions it answered. I enjoyed hearing that the guides I have met in my meditations will be with me always. And as we hurry along our fast-paced lives and forget them in the back of our minds, our guides, spirits, and fellow dream consciousness will be waiting to give us signs that it is time to slow down, take notice, and listen to the messages all around us. It is comforting to know I am not alone on this long journey of life, and I look forward to practicing conscious dreaming and walking with my guides. I am also thoroughly excited to read some of the other spiritual books that Robert Moss has written. Why stop now when I can learn more from such a great conduit of knowledge.

Originally Posted in the May 2014 edition of Becoming Psychic Magazine
Cross-posted on Goodreads