Wednesday, August 9, 2017

The Sleep Solution, Why Your Sleep Is Broken and How to Fix It by W. Chris Winter, MD

    The Sleep Solution: Why Your Sleep Is Broken and How to Fix It

 In my family, out of the four of us, only my daughter sleeps well. I knew the importance of good sleep for both physical and mental health and wanted to make some positive changes, so I picked this book up.  I was immediately impressed--it is funny and presents the scientific information in an easily readable, interesting way.  I was wary though, because a lot of nonfiction books start that way and quickly become wordy and boring, but not this book.

     If I was concerned about sleep before, I really am now.  The author really stresses how important sleep is to our health and in ways that I didn't know about.  I work in an elementary school and I see day after day, children coming to school with HUGE black and red tired eyes.  I've seen children sent home from school because they kept falling asleep in class.  Parents need to know the information presented in this book and structure their children's days so they can get the sleep they need.  This does also apply to adults, so many adults don't want to follow a routine be disciplined enough to do what needs to be done to get a good night sleep, but then they complain they are tired.  My advice--READ THE BOOK AND FOLLOW W. CHRIS WINTER'S ADVICE.  It will change your life.

     Before I read the book, I had a home sleep study and was diagnosed with Sleep Apnea.  While I was reading the book, I started CPAP therapy.  I can not stress what a difference therapy made in my life.  I spent years in a tired fog, struggling to get through my days.  I feel so much clearer headed, I no longer wake up with headaches every morning (I thought it was allergies and went through years of, probably unnecessary, injections.) and have the energy I need to, not just get through my days, but to enjoy them!  Even though I was diagnosed before I read the book, I still was able to gain a lot of good and useful knowledge.

     A great, informative book that everyone should read!

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

A Dance with Dragons, A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 5 by George R.R. Martin

A Dance with Dragons (A Song of Ice and Fire, #5)

I finally finished this one all 959 pages!  I actually started it a year or more ago and stopped about half way through.  What's the hurry I thought, it's not like George R.R. Martin is going to release the next book anytime soon?  I originally wanted to read the book before I watched the show it was based on, but that didn't happen, finally I decided that I was going to finish it during summer break. A problem I had reading this is that it is just so HUGE!  I had trouble holding it upright while reading in bed and it was too heavy to bring to appointments and on trips, so it sat at home unread.

I love this series!  I love George R.R. Martin and his complex, detailed wonderful world!  I do wish there was a bit less misogyny, but I do understand that it is a medieval world and like our own medieval history, women were treated that way.  It doesn't make it any more pleasant to read about however.

Anyone who enjoys the show should read the books, they are so much better.  There is so much in the books that they just couldn't put on screen.  Well worth the time spent reading it.  This book represents, for me, why I read.  It takes us away to a different, time and place and immerses us in a detailed, interesting story.  I spend a lot of time just thinking about the story--a true sign of a good book!

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Self-Help Read! You are a Badass--How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life by Jen Sincero

You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life
I picked this book up at Target on a post-Christmas shopping trip.  (Yes, that does, in fact, mean that it took me 7 months to read.)  The New Year's timing and the catchy title both caught my interest and I fell prey and picked it up.  I was, of course, in that New Year's self-improvement mood and thought that I should try to make some positive changes in my life and the book would be a good place to start.  I took a while to read this book for several reasons, one is that I intended to take it slow.  I wanted to think about what she wrote and maybe have a chance to internalize the suggestions before I moved on.  

I both liked and disliked the book.  I liked the love your self theme and think positive thoughts advice that are the main stay of each chapter.  I disliked the new age Source Energy prosperity doctrine.  A lot of the Source Energy advice reminded me of what Christians are advised to do by preachers every Sunday in church, just substituting Source Energy for God and Jesus.  I don't believe we all are willed by God to be rich or that everyone can be rich or that everyone needs to be rich to be happy.

In addition, a lot of the advice seemed like the same old advice handed out since Normal Vincent Peale wrote The Power of Positive Thinking in 1952, just presented in fun, hipster, quirky way.

In the end, not a total waste of time, but not quite what I hoped it would be either.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

August Read! The Light of Paris by Eleanor Brown

The Light of Paris

I bought this as my backup vacation book (it wouldn't be much of a vacation if I ran out of things to read).  My parents took me to Paris when I was in my 20's, so the book intrigued me enough I picked it up, plus I read the author's other book The Weird Sisters and enjoyed it.

I liked the book okay.  It switched back and forth from the 1920's to 1999 timeline.  That didn't bother me (which it often does).  I enjoyed both timeline's stories and characters and the descriptions of Paris were great and fun to read.  What I didn't like was the constant, endless, and very repetitive self-doubt and self-criticism of both main characters.  ENOUGH ALREADY!

The author has an anthology of short stories about Paris and a Paris travel book coming out, but I couldn't find anything about a follow-up book.  I think there is another book that could be told about Madeleine's trip to Paris and her self-discovery.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

July Read--The Vampire Chronicles, Prince Lestat and The Realms of Atlantis by Anne Rice

Prince Lestat and the Realms of Atlantis: The Vampire Chronicles

My vacation read!  I purchased a paperback for my electronic-free camping and beach trip.  It is now beat up and dog eared after being drug all over Wisconsin!

I love Anne Rice--another great book!  I inadvertently skipped the book before it, Prince Lestat, now I need to go back and read that one.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

July Books! Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe

Image result for easton press uncle tom's cabin

I picked this book up for two reasons:  one, it is a great, historical novel and a book that I have heard about a lot, but have never read and two, because it is one of the books in the Easton Press 100 greatest books ever written.  I am collecting these gorgeous books and this one is one of 19 that I own, as of now.  I don't want these books just for show, I want to read them and learn from them.

As with all books written long ago, it took me a while to get used to the writing style, but it wasn't too difficult.  The book is an piece of our country's' history and I'm glad I read it.  The character's stories were interesting and tragic, all told with an aim to expose the true horror that was slavery.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

June Reads! A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman


I devoured this book!  It really touched me, I laughed out loud, I identified with Ove at times, and I was sad at times.  It did all the things a book should do.  I can't praise it enough!

My mom recommended this book it wasn't the type of book I normally read, but it sounded interesting.  Right after that I saw that the book club I attend, when I am able, to is reading it, so I decided it was fate and requested it from the online library for my Kindle app. Unfortunately, it took months to come in and I missed the book club meeting. Well, it finally came in and I happily started reading and pretty much didn't put it down until it was finished.

Ove intrigued me right away with his organized, persnickety ways.  The things that annoyed him seemed both funny and fairly reasonable, if not a bit over the top.   The story of Ove's life unfolded slowly a bit at a time through going back and forth between the present and flash backs of the past. Normally this would annoy me, but in this book I wanted to learn more about Ove, so the flashbacks were interesting to me as well.  To me, Ove seemed like he was on the high-functioning end of the Autism spectrum and I loved the relationship he had with his wife.

The author's style of writing tragic, unhappiness in a way that makes you laugh reminded me a bit of Angela's Ashes.  (Although, that book was a true story and this is fiction.)  I finished the book with a satisfied sigh, a bit sad at the end, but not unbearably so.  A great book about our relationships with other people and how we persevere after tragedy.      

I have heard there is a Swedish language movie of the book out.  I'm off to figure out how to watch it.

Monday, June 19, 2017

June Reads! The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

The book was difficult at times--so much brutality and bad things happening.  It was hard to read about, I can't imagine how horrible it would have been to live as a slave.  The courage Cora showed was inspirational.  I loved Cora's observations about people and the world and how things seemed to her.  A brilliant book!

Thursday, June 8, 2017

June Reads! The Chemist by Stephenie Meyer

The Chemist
I like Stephenie Meyer and yes, I liked Twilight and The Host.  I picked this book up when I was sick and just wanted a fun book to take my mind off feeling bad and this book fit the bill.  The main female character (aka The Chemist) reminded me a bit of a cross between Katniss Everdeen of the Hunger Games and Jason Bourne.  I liked that she was smart and scrappy and able to take care of herself.  I really liked the main male character, he was very likable, maybe almost too perfect to be realistic, but very fun to read about.  I enjoyed reading about all of the things The Chemist did to stay safe.  What I didn't like reading about was all the guns.  I realize that this is a thriller and there are armed people and shooting happening, it just seemed like gun overkill, with lots and lots of guns, gun stashes, gun practice shooting that was maybe not 100% necessary.  I also would have liked a bit more interaction between the characters and a bit less of the running.

Overall, an entertaining book that I enjoyed reading.

Friday, June 2, 2017

June Reads! The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking


I stumbled across the concept of Hygge after the New Year, determined to make changes to be happier. This book seemed perfect! I have recently been reevaluating my life and are making changes to be happier and healthier. So I order a copy and, first of all, I love the look of the book. The white cover, orange end paper, and adorable drawings in blue and orange make the book visually cute, warm, and comforting.

I loved the book! It was just the thing I needed. I have always believed in finding happiness in everyday life and in the small things--changes in season, good food, family, etc. and this book just kind-of solidified that view for me and put a name to it--Hygge! The book spells out how the Danes find happiness and while not everything will work for me, living in the United States, there is a lot I can take away from it. I plan to get my hygge on tonight by grilling out hamburgers and enjoying family time around a fire.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Memorial Day, pick-up trucks, and flags.

I live in what was once a quaint, quiet, farm town on a river.  Now-a-days it still has a bit of small, farm town flavor left, but mostly it is a bedroom community with subdivisions full of McMansions.

Our beautiful town square park!

Unfortunately, the main north/south road through town has been expanded from 2 lanes to 4 and now there is a veritable expressway running right in front of our quaint park.

Yesterday, I attended our town's Memorial Day service.  (I am ashamed to say, that until I had children in middle school band that played at the service, I never attended.)  It is held in our town square park between the above gazebo and the memorial to the veterans from our county that gave their lives in war.  The band plays, there is a singer, the mayor and other guests speak--it is a nice remembrance of the many who have died in war.

So I'm sitting in my lawn chair listening to the band and the various speakers on a beautiful day, when I suddenly can't hear what is going on because a vehicle is gunning his engine and roaring past the park (note that this is a 35 mile an hour zone--no engine roaring is necessary)  I am now distracted from what is going on and look over at the highway and this is what I see:

Image result for pick up trucks with flags in the bed

Amazingly this happens not once, but 3 times (yes, 3 different trucks!)  during the service.  I was left wondering if maybe these obnoxious, flag-waving trucks owners would find a better outlet for their patriotism by attending a Memorial Day service instead of the over-the-top, loud, flag display.  I don't have anything against flags or trucks.  What I don't like is when trucks are driven like the road through town (that passes parks and pedestrians walking) is their own raceway.  When drivers trick out their engines and then drive around at an ear-splitting roar, it is just plain rude.  Flags are a symbol of our country and deserve to be flown respectfully not used for an over-the-top patriotic display.  (And as long as I'm ranting--they shouldn't be worn as clothing or decoration either!)

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Dollars for progress; How to defund the Right!

My husband and I are solidly Progressive.  My husband grew up in a once booming manufacturing town among other hard working, Democratic people and I grew up in a rural, small town community among Republicans, the sole voice for the Environment and policies that help people not corporations.  For the most part, we try not to go around causing trouble and arguing about politics.  I dislike arguing and my husband works for a large corporation and would not benefit from progressive politics.  Lately, however, the election of Donald Trump as president has caused us to reevaluate. For obvious reasons people who care about how other people are treated, that people be able to earn a decent wage for a day of work, and for the environment would dislike the election of a person who has no political experience and who's policies and opinions range from moronic to downright dangerous.

So, now we need to take action.  Others have marched and protested, but that is not really our style. We have decided that we will do our best not to support companies that donate to Republican campaigns, that mistreat their employees or the environment, or support policies that favor the wealthy and corporations over people.  This will be a huge undertaking and will require a lot of research, but it is what we feel is the right thing to do.

We are starting with a product that sees its way into our house on a regular basis (after all, the current state of politics has driven us to consume more--so we felt it is the best place to start).


Environmentally, try to buy from locally-owned microbreweries, but first check into their political activities.  When buying from nationally distributed products here are the brands I found to be worthy of spending your hard-earned money on:

New Belgium Brewery produces Belgian beers for the forward-thinking individual. NBB is a wind-powered and employee owned craft brewer located in the United States, distributing throughout the western US. 100% of their political donations have been donated to the Democratic party.  They have extensive, positive environmental polices.  

Boston Beer Company brewer of Sam Adams beer.  Not only have they, almost exclusively, given to Democratic campaigns, the company is American owned.  They also reuse bottles in states that have bottle deposits.   

Heineken is a Netherlands owned company where the beer is brewed,  However, the United States distribution company give mostly to Democratic candidates and have environmentally responsible policies.  

Saturday, May 20, 2017

May Books

Love Warrior

This is a recent Oprah's Book Club selection.  I saw it on the list and thought it looked interesting for two reasons: 1, The description talks about a married women with kids and a family reevaluating her life and since I have recently turned 50, I have been thinking about what I want to do with the remaining time I have left in my life.  Granted, my marriage isn't in trouble, but who couldn't use a bit of attitude readjustment now and again.  Plus, it seems like there are so few books about a woman who is a mother AND also a real person (or maybe I just don't know about them.) And 2, I read that the author uses yoga in her self discovery and that also rang true to me since I have recently started practicing yoga and are currently obsessed with it.  

After I started reading, I almost immediately felt a bit like I had gotten the bait and switch.  A good third of the book was about the author's childhood/young adult hood and her struggles and while interesting and well written, it was not what I was interested in reading about.  (I had just finished Wild after all and this seemed a lot like that.)  Once we got to the story of her marriage, it got better and I truly enjoyed reading about the author's struggles and how she overcame them. I did, at times, wish the author had gone into more detail about their lives, I found myself wondering and wanting to know more--how often did she practice yoga? What did the husband do for work that allowed him so much time at home?  How were they able to afford for the author to stay at home all the while taking expensive yoga classes, attending expensive therapy sessions, etc.?  Money is a real issue in a lot of people's lives and often lack of money accounts for people not getting the help they need.   

Once I finished the book, I was left with more questions, so I went on the internet and **WARNING SPOILERS AHEAD!!!*** was again left feeling like I was on the wrong end of a book bait and switch.  The author ended up divorced from her husband and recently remarried a woman.  Wait, what?!  I'm not sure I would have wanted to read a book about a marriage that, in the end, failed anyway. 

Saturday, May 6, 2017

April Read!

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail
This book has been on my self since Oprah picked it for her book club. I started reading it, but wasn't able to get through the beginning where the author was describing the loss of her mother. I have recently been reading books on my Kindle app on my phone, but my phone died just in time for a 8 hour weekend drive to Kansas to see my daughter. So, in desperation I pulled this book out, and I am so glad I gave it a second chance! The book was so well written! I truly enjoyed learning about the author's unusual life, she seemed to me to be very much a free spirit. Just the descriptions of her childhood home with out central heat (in Minnesota!) were interesting. I liked the seamless way the author flashed back filling us in on the events in her life interspersed with descriptions on the trail and her hiking experiences. I can take inspirations from the braveness of the author for my own challenges. I plan to have a movie night and watch the movie soon!

May Books!

Red Sister (Book of the Ancestor, #1)
This is the first fantasy book I have read in a really long time. I normally read paranormal books, finding fantasy books too much work keeping all the world building information straight. This books, however, was easy to get into, the author introduced the world slowly and on a need to know basis that kept you reading and wanting to know more. I loved the character, Nona and the convent she lived in, both were unique and interesting. I'll be looking for the next volume--hopefully the wait won't be too long!