Monthly Archives: January 2016

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

It’s Monday! is a weekly meme now hosted over at Book Date that allows bloggers to post a sort of wrap-up of the past week while also looking to the week ahead. Without further ado…

Last Week: Honestly, I’ve just come through one of the hardest weeks I can ever remember. I’ve been sick since Thursday, so I took off work to rest and recuperate. I didn’t want to start using my sick/vacation time quite so soon in the year, but it is what it is. We also had several personal emergencies, which led to us being in crisis mode much of the week. Living that way for a prolonged amount of time is really draining. But there was some good in the week. On Friday, my book club gathered at Travinia Italian Kitchen and Wine Bar for our monthly meeting. The tenderloin medallions with crispy fingerling potatoes were so good, as was the decadent chocolate cake I ordered for dessert. Will definitely go again, even if it is more expensive than I can typically afford.

Looking back, I actually read more than I thought I did. Most of it was short and/or targeted toward children or YA, but it was all good, so that’s a plus.




Currently Reading:

  • Many Waters (Time Quintet #4) – Madeleine L’Engle
  • Holding Company: Poems – Major Jackson
  • A Clash of Kings (A Song of Ice and Fire #2) – George R.R. Martin

Many Waters (Time Quintet, #4) Holding Company: Poems A Clash of Kings  (A Song of Ice and Fire, #2)

Looking Ahead: I recently read a pretty great book about mindfulness, compassion, and how we can learn to control some of our body’s responses to stress. Thanks to the generosity of the publisher, I get to give away a copy to one lucky US reader. I couldn’t get the Rafflecopter thing to embed correctly on my review post, so just enter here:

Just “log in” with an email address and choose any of the entries that appeal to you! 🙂

I don’t have many plans for the week, other than feel better, get back into a productive groove at work, and regain some normalcy in my life. For reading, here’s a couple things I hope to get to.

Mr. Lemoncello's Library Olympics  An Acceptable Time (A Wrinkle in Time Quintet, #5)



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Review and Giveaway – Into the Magic Shop

Into the Magic Shop: A Neurosurgeon's Quest to Discover the Mysteries of the Brain and the Secrets of the Heart

Back in college, one of the first people I met was a girl named Sarah. We met at orientation, but I left thinking that we would never be friends. Our personalities just seemed too different. She looked every bit the hippie, with long flowing skirts, healthy snacks, and a soft voice. Luckily, first impressions don’t often mean much, and we went on to become great friends. Today we live about an hour apart, and every so often the roommates and I drive over to visit or we host her at our apartment. She’s very much what I first imagined her to be – she eats vegan, loves nature, drinks organic tea, and has a thirst and love for traveling and cultures. She spent a couple of years as a Peace Corps volunteer in Africa. But what I most associate with her is her love of yoga. She recently went through training to become a yoga teacher, but her love for yoga has always been strong. During our visits, we inevitably end up trying to twist ourselves into pretzels as she looks on, correcting our forms and teaching us the meaning of “Namaste”.

Why do I bring this up in a review, you ask? Well, this book strongly reminded me of Sarah. While most people associate yoga with those seemingly impossible poses, a lot of yoga actually has to do with self-awareness and relaxation. Sarah always starts a session with us by having us relax our entire bodies, relax our minds, and open up our hearts. This brings about a quietness of the mind and a feeling of serenity that plays well into the other exercises. I may laugh and complain about yoga, but I’ve never left a session feeling anything other than content and at peace. Those relaxation techniques really work and are great on a daily basis to help cope with stress or get in touch with my inner self.

James Doty, author of Into the Magic Shop, learned these techniques as a young boy. He didn’t call them yoga, he never struck a pose or burned incense or balanced on one leg while stretching his arms toward the sky. Regardless, the effect was the same. Growing up in an unstable environment, living well under the poverty line, and dealing with stresses no kid should ever have to face, Doty was understandably angry. He often got into fights and had plenty of inner turmoil to grapple with when he was alone. He latched onto a magic kit he owned, learning how to create allusions and perform tricks that gave him a modicum of control.

One day while riding his bike around town, he discovered a small magic shop and decided to explore. The proprietor’s mother, in town for six weeks, was holding down the shop while her son ran errands. She must have sensed something special in Doty – she agreed to teach him a special kind of magic if he promised to come to the shop every day for two hours. The magic she taught him? Relaxation techniques. How to control his anger. How to open his heart. How to become self-aware. How to make goals and visualize success and envision a future he thought was beyond his grasp.

Doty went on to overcome many difficult obstacles in his quest to become a neurosurgeon. In medical school and after, he learned that those techniques from his youth actually had the power to change neural pathways, that by learning to control their stress reactions, patients could actually assume some measure of control over the body’s physiology. He also realized that those techniques actually improved his performance as a surgeon. Combined with compassion and tenacity, Doty brought hope to his patients and began to change the conversations regarding patient/doctor relationships .

Part memoir, part science, part self-improvement, Into the Magic Shop has the potential to be a useful tool for both doctors and those of us who could just use a little anger management or stress control in our daily lives. I was reminded a little bit of Atul Gawande’s Being Mortal, but Into the Magic Shop is a unique creation. And thanks to the generosity of the publisher, I get to give away a copy on the blog today (US residents only, unfortunately). Enter here for your chance to win – maybe the tricks in the book can help bring peace to your own life. And for those of you naysayers, I dare you to at least give these techniques a try. After all, what’s the worst that could happen?


Filed under Reviews

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

It’s Monday! is a weekly meme now hosted over at Book Date that allows bloggers to post a sort of wrap-up of the past week while also looking to the week ahead. Without further ado…

Last Week: I should not be at work right now. I should be home adventuring, questing through Ferelden. Romancing Alistair. Interfering in dwarven politics. Making crucial, heartrending choices. Gathering armies to defeat the Darkspawn and the Archdemon. Instead, I’m sitting here at my desk nursing a headache and wondering if lunchtime will ever come. I’ve loved all the time off, especially all the time I’ve spent playing Dragon Age: Origins (see above!). Other people are glad to be back at work, but I’ve never really suffered from cabin fever, so I’m wishing it was still last week.

When I wasn’t adventuring, I was reading, of course. Katie and I are reading through the Time Quintet together. A Wrinkle in Time is one of my favorite books, I read it over and over and over as a kid. It’s still a go-to comfort book. But for some reason, I’ve never read the other four books. So I’m making up for that now.


Currently Reading:

  • A Wind in the Door (Time Quintet #2) – Madeleine L’Engle
  • The Grilling Season (Goldy Bear Culinary Mystery #7) – Diane Mott Davidson
  • The Essential Bernie Sanders – Jonathan Tasini

A Wind in the Door (A Wrinkle in Time Quintet, #2) The Grilling Season (A Goldy Bear Culinary Mystery, #7) The Essential Bernie Sanders and His Vision for America

Looking Ahead: As I mentioned in my previous post, after my break in December, I almost decided not to come back to this space. As of now, it’s still up in the air. Like I said before, I love reading and I love writing – this is a great space for that. But sometimes it feels too saturated, like I’m not saying anything new, original, or unique. And I’m not quite sure how to do that. Any thoughts from you all – something you’d like to see more or less or? Something I should address? I’m going to continue here at least for a while, but I’m not sure what’s next.

I do know that my break was reinvigorating and just straight-up fun. I haven’t had a chance in a while to just read what I want or to choose not to read. So my goal for the year is to cut back on all the silly obligations I’m making up for myself. Cut back on challenges, from read-alongs, from reviews for publishers. Play more games, watch more movies, hang out with friends. Life is short, so I’m going to read what I want.

A Swiftly Tilting Planet (A Wrinkle in Time Quintet, #3) Many Waters (Time Quintet, #4) An Acceptable Time (A Wrinkle in Time Quintet, #5) A Clash of Kings  (A Song of Ice and Fire, #2)


Filed under It's Monday! What are You Reading?