How to Be Brave by E. Katherine Kottaras

BLOG“Life will turn us upside down, and it will still be okay.”

After the death of her mother, Georgia takes a look at her life and how she wants to live it. Prompted by a letter her mother left her, she makes a list of fifteen things that she would like to do but never had the courage to try in the past, calling it “The Do Everything Be Brave List.” As she begins checking things off her list, she finds that actions have consequences and that things don’t always turn out the way we hope. That being brave shows you, just how strong you can be.

How to Be Brave is a heart-warming debut novel about self-discovery, and finding your courage and voice in the world. Georgia is a very likeable main character and her intention of living life bravely and thinking positively is sweet and inspiring.

The novel is a mix of light-hearted and dark as it does touch on some deep and serious issues such as depression and suicide. I wish the list would have been more thought out and personal, providing a better understanding of who Georgia is and what she desires in life. The list itself did not feel like the focal point of the novel, although that appeared to be the objective. Overall, I found How to Be Brave to be a nice and enjoyable read.

Favourite quote: “… being brave isn’t about living every minute exhilarated. It’s about waking up and knowing that despite the worry and the sadness and the deep, dark fear, you’re going to go for it anyway. That you’re going to try anyway. That you have a choice, and you’re going to choose to live, today, bravely.”

*ARC provided by NetGalley. Publication date: November 3, 2015.

A Whole New World by Liz Braswell

BLOG“You can choose to be something more…”

What would happen if in Disney’s Aladdin, Jafar got the magic lamp and summoned the Genie first? How would the story unfold? A Whole New World answers these questions by telling the story from this perspective. Upon summoning the Genie, Jafar’s first wish is to be the sultan of Agrabah, and his second is to be the most powerful sorcerer in the world. His third wish, yet to be seen. As his rule grows stronger and more terrifying, it is up to Aladdin and the deposed princess Jasmine to unite the people of Agrabah in a rebellion, and take back their kingdom.

A Whole New World is the first book in the new YA series, Twisted Tales. It takes classic Disney stories and changes one key element, altering the narrative and sending it in a completely different direction. Continue reading “A Whole New World by Liz Braswell”

Fall Reading List: Top 5 YA Novels

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So many books, so little time. Great YA selections coming out this fall, and these are the ones that caught my attention:

1. Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy
18304322“Self-proclaimed fat girl Willowdean Dickson (dubbed “Dumplin’” by her former beauty queen mom) has always been at home in her own skin. Her thoughts on having the ultimate bikini body? Put a bikini on your body. With her all-American beauty best friend, Ellen, by her side, things have always worked . . . until Will takes a job at Harpy’s, the local fast-food joint. There she meets Private School Bo, a hot former jock. Will isn’t surprised to find herself attracted to Bo. But she is surprised when he seems to like her back.

Instead of finding new heights of self-assurance in her relationship with Bo, Will starts to doubt herself. So she sets out to take back her confidence by doing the most horrifying thing she can imagine: entering the Miss Clover City beauty pageant—along with several other unlikely candidates—to show the world that she deserves to be up there as much as any twiggy girl does. Along the way, she’ll shock the hell out of Clover City—and maybe herself most of all.” Continue reading “Fall Reading List: Top 5 YA Novels”

Top 5 Books On My Fall Reading List

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There are a lot of great books to get excited about this fall. Here are the ones I’m really looking forward to (not including YA novels, which really deserve a list of their own):

1. Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling
22716447“In Why Not Me?, Kaling shares her ongoing journey to find contentment and excitement in her adult life, whether it’s falling in love at work, seeking new friendships in lonely places, attempting to be the first person in history to lose weight without any behavior modification whatsoever, or most important, believing that you have a place in Hollywood when you’re constantly reminded that no one looks like you.

Mindy turns the anxieties, the glamour, and the celebrations of her second coming-of-age into a laugh-out-loud funny collection of essays that anyone who’s ever been at a turning point in their life or career can relate to. And those who’ve never been at a turning point can skip to the parts where she talks about meeting Bradley Cooper.” Continue reading “Top 5 Books On My Fall Reading List”

Louder Than Words by Todd Henry

BLOG“Your work tells tales. It speaks about you, your values, your hopes, your ambitions, and ultimately what you deem worthy of your energy and attention.”

The world seems to be filled with a lot of noise, with numerous people, organizations, products vying for attention.  So how does one stand apart from the noise and makes oneself heard?  Author Todd Henry believes it is finding your unique and authentic voice, which will enable you to reach a wide audience and convey your message.  In his book Louder Than Words: Harness the Power of Your Authentic Voice, he outlines the steps to finding your unique expression.

In developing our authentic voice and not conforming or playing it safe, we are able to get our message across and reach a larger audience.  The points and strategies discussed in Louder Than Words are well presented and organized.  The questions we must ask ourselves are regarding our identity (who are you?), our vision (where are you going?), and the mastery of our craft/expression (how will you get there?). The author also talks about the things that hold us back such as fear, our narrative, personalizing rejection, and setbacks that we face.  All points, strategies, and exercises are accompanied by helpful stories and examples.  Louder Than Words is an excellent resource for individuals and companies/organizations who are looking to find and develop their own unique voice.

Note: You can find chapter summaries and additional resources for Louder Than Words on the author’s website.

Favourite quote: “You have to let go of your fear of what you think you must be so that you can embrace the possibility of what you might be. It is deeply ingrained in the human condition to simultaneously crave recognition and camouflage. We want our unique abilities to show, but deep down we fear that we’re really not so great. These two forces battle within us, and then paralyze us. As a result, we show enough of ourselves to differentiate us from the competition, but not so much as to isolate us. We follow the heard when it’s expedient, but shun them when the stakes are low.”

This Is Your Life, Harriet Chance! by Jonathan Evison

BLOG“This is your life, Harriet, what it’s become.”

Harriet Chance’s life has not turned out the way she would have liked.  At seventy-nine years old she finds herself alone and her relationship with her two children is strained and complex.  Her husband Bernard had passed away two years earlier, and has begun to re-appear from time to time, being only visible to Harriet.  When she learns that Bernard has won an Alaskan cruise as a result of a draw he entered before his death, she decides to embark on the journey.  At the start of the cruise she learns a long kept secret that shocks her, and forces her to take a look at the events in her life that shaped her reality.

This is Your Life, Harriet Chance! takes us through key moments and events, big and small, that have influenced and ultimately determined the course of Harriet’s life.  The book skips around to various years, and over time we get to see the significance of these events.  Harriet proves to be an endearing and flawed character as we are given a tour of her life through an all-knowing narrator that provides insight and commentary.  We learn of incidents during her childhood, her marriage to Bernard and relationship with her children, Skip and Caroline, as well as the period of Bernard’s declining health and the struggles that came along with it.  As each little story is revealed we develop a clearer picture of who Harriet is, the difficulties she has faced that have influenced her life, and the way her own disappointments influenced her treatment of her children.  It is a book about choices we make and how they affect those around us, the things we believe about ourselves that influence our decisions and the road we take in life.  It is about taking responsibility for our actions, forgiveness and letting go.  Presented in a unique and interesting way, This is Your Life, Harriet Chance! is a portrait of a woman and a life lived.

*ARC provided by NetGalley. Publication date: September 8, 2015.

Books to Read When You’re Feeling Stuck

“Uncertainty is the only certainty there is, and knowing how to live with insecurity is the only security.”

photo-3At a certain point, everyone finds themselves in a very uncertain place in their lives.  The idea of where you should be conflicts with the reality of where you are, made all the more frustrating by the fact that you’re unsure of where you really want to be.  And it is at this uncertain and confusing time that our fears and insecurities surface, making it all the more difficult to move forward.  It sucks.  But, it’s okay.  If this is where you find yourself at the moment, you are most certainly not alone.  Take it easy, be kind to yourself, and browse through this selection of books.  I hope they provide some inspiration and guidance you may be searching for.

1. Leave Your Mark: Land Your Dream Job. Kill It in Your Career. Rock Social Media. by Aliza Licht
Aliza Licht, a global fashion communications executive for DKNY provides advice, tips and personal stories about pursuing a career, following your passion, and making a positive change in your life.  Continue reading “Books to Read When You’re Feeling Stuck”