Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel

There is nothing about this book that I should like.  I am not a fan of science fiction.  I downright hate to read interviews.  But here we are.  I chose this book as a Book of the Month Club pick in July of 2016.  It sat on my desk, unread.  However, when I rejoined this year I decided that I was going to read ALL of my Book of the Month Club books and this one was first.  I dove in and was delighted.

It didn’t take long for the interviews to feel not like interviews.  The characters are very well developed just through the dialogue.  It helps that these interviews are “files” and debriefings” where characters are describing what happened to a mysterious man, who I just naturally started calling The Smoking Man.  He has that kind of feel about him.

When Rose Franklin was a little girl, she fell into a hole in the ground and woke up in a glowing turquoise cavern.  She was sitting in the palm of a giant’s hand.  rose eventually becomes a scientist and she begins to work on the hand.  First they seek out more parts, eventually assembling the robot while they work on decoding the glowing panels found with the hand.  The Smoking Man assembles a team to work on the giant and we learn about them each individually.

Then things get out of hand, no pun intended but it was a pretty good one.

Where did the robot come from and what does it mean for the future of mankind?  I’m going to have to read the next two books and let you know.


You Are a Badass at Making Money by Jen Sincero

I listened to You Are a Badass last year and I liked it but I didn’t really know what to say about it.  In the meantime, this book kept popping up: in blogs and on podcasts and randomly.  I kept ignoring it.  “I don’t need to make money,” I thought.  “I need to figure out what I want.”

Well, the answer to that is money.  Honestly, Sincero makes a really good point about how money is the thing that we all really want because it helps us to get all of those other things that we want.  I particularly like the argument that it’s not an “either/or” thing.  I don’t want either a new house or to pay off my debts, I want both.

Basically, I’ve been gushing about this book for a week.  Sincero operates under the law of attraction and listening to the audiobook got me super pumped up.  Each chapter ends with a money mantra, some action steps, and the fill-in-the-blank of, “I love money because.”  After a few months of feeling lost, this really helped me to pin down what I want and it got me back into the swing of pursuing my dreams.

A+, have suggested to about a million people already.

The Ultimate Happiness Prescription by Deepak Chopra

I have a bit of a thing for books about happiness and personal growth but this was my first Chopra.  It was on display at the library and it was so short that I couldn’t help myself.  It was a pretty quick read but it probably should be read slower, with some space in between the seven keys so that you can just work on them.

However, this was not my favorite book on the subject.  Sometimes it feels like wise men have to talk in circles until you’re confused and think they’re wise because of it.  I found with many of the chapters that I would start off completely on board and about half way through I would find myself going, “Wait.  What?”  I knew most of this already but as Chopra went more into each principle they somehow managed to become more convoluted.

My final opinion on the book was based on the last chapter and is kind of a personal thing.  Chopra implies that what we are all looking for is not necessarily happiness but enlightenment, a sense of being.  Okay…  Maybe?  I guess that for the most part I am just looking for a higher quality of life.  Like, I’m pretty cool with not being one with everything.  It also kind of seems like a cop out to promise that it’s the only happiness solution that you’ll ever need and then end it with enlightenment.  Like, enlightenment takes people years to obtain.

I’m also no saying that I didn’t get anything from this.  It was a nice reassertion that I need to observe and let things go and I have felt a bit better since reading it.  Still, not my cup of tea but it may be yours.

Enchantments by Mya Spalter

This book was recommended to me by a friend and I loved it.

Spalter does a great job with her introduction to witchcraft.  She covers a lot of material very well and in a few pages.  If you’re out of practice and looking to refresh or you’ve gotten a basic handle on a lot of stuff and want a little step up, this is a great book.  I have been studying for 22 years now and after a couple of years away this felt like a great refresher.  It reminded me of some things that I had forgotten about, got me excited about some new things, and made me laugh.

Spalter covers a wide variety of topics in her text.  Candles, sigils, oils, astrology, tarot, crystals.  She touches on a lot of things.  This is not a spell book but Spalter does give you the tools to develop your own magic.  Many of the chapters conclude with a short list of resources which also are pretty good.

Also, I just really liked her tone.  She’s very conversational, tells bad jokes and admits it, makes pop culture references, and basically manages to sound like someone you’d like to actually talk to.  She even includes some stories about working at Enchantments, the shop, that are pretty great for anyone who has worked in retail.

Excellent read.  Totally worth it.

Purity by Jonathan Franzen

Did you know that I love Franzen?  I can’t really tell you why.  I can’t read interviews with him or anything because he’s so… Franzen, but I like his books.  I listened to both The Corrections and Freedom on audio and enjoyed them immensely.  It took me a while to adjust to the narrator at the beginning of this one so it took me a while to actually get around to it. It was okay.  It wasn’t his best work.

Also, Franzen is definitely a sexual deviant with mommy issues, right?  Probably afraid of women, too.

What we have here is a long book about a lot of stuff that doesn’t quite manage to do any of the topics justice.

The main character of this book is Purity, or Pip, Tyler.  Pip is crashing at a house in Oakland that is about to be foreclosed on and working a dead end job with a renewable energy startup.  She had a crippling amount of student loan debt, a crazy and nearly reclusive mother, and no idea who her father is.  Then some Germans come to stay at the house and Annegret convinces her that she would make a great intern for the Sunlight Project, a Wikileaks-like nonprofit headed by the mysterious and charming Andreas Wolf.  There is a lot of talk about how the project could help her find out who her father is but the more interesting question might be who her mother is.

If I could sum it up, this book is about the things that mothers do to their children.  Mothers smother their children.  Mothers rely too much on their children.  Mothers make their children out to be the greatest things in the world.  Each of the three narrators, Purity, Tom, and Andreas, has major issues with their parents but mostly with their mothers.  Their fathers, on the other hand, are “good” or “important” or nonexistent.

There were times when I was listening to this book that I was really caught up in it but I do think it was missing something.  Maybe it was too big.  Maybe it wasn’t big enough.

Drawing Down the Moon by Margot Adler

When I started looking at Wicca again, this book came up in list after list.  It was on lists for beginners and it was on lists for “people looking to get back into paganism.”  When I started reading about Wicca and the occult way back in 1998 it was on all of the lists and that was before it got an updating.  I bought the book and it sat on my coffee table through a pregnancy AND a maternity leave and then it was moved to my bookshelf.  It just looked so big and I always have so many books to read.

Then I reached a point when I realized that I really DID want to start studying again.  I went back to the beginning and read the first that got me interested in the craft.  Then I read a book off the suggested reading from that book.  Then I decided that there was nothing to it but to do it and I grabbed up this massive tome and took to reading 10 pages a day very patiently.

Adler does a phenomenal job with this book.  It could use another update, just because things go so fast now, but it was full of all kinds of information.  This book isn’t necessarily aimed at the seeker and it gives a nice history of the Neo-Pagan movement.  Here were names that I recognized from my days hanging around the new age section in the B. Dalton and explanations of their backgrounds and beliefs.  Adler looks at a few of these different traditions and religions and there were some I had never heard of that fascinated me into rabbit holes.

Honestly, I feel like this book truly set me back on my path.  I feel like I’m not alone and in the stories she told second hand in this book I definitely recognized myself.  There is so much value in that, especially in a subject that is full of books that read like instruction manuals and have a tendency to make you feel like you’re doing things wrong if you don’t do them like the author.  This history and deep cultural dive was something else and is totally worth your time if you are interested in what Neo-Pagans are about.

A New Fear by R. L. Stine

A recent look through my TBR book has me desperately reading a lot of stuff while I can still get my hands on it.  You know that book that you meant to read twenty years ago when you were 12?  Well, you’re not getting any younger.  I love me some Fear Street, too.  Stine is great at writing thrilling horror stories.  If they don’t give me a little shiver, they’ll either leave me shaking my head at how terrible people can be to each other or chuckling about eyes popping out of heads and sizzling in the fire.  You know… perfectly normal stuff.

This story begins with the aftermath of the wedding between Daniel Fear and Nora Goode.  The Goodes and Fears are notorious for their feud and when Daniel introduces his new bride, his family freaks out and the Fear mansion burns down leaving Nora the only survivor.  But Nora is confined to a sanitarium where she gives birth to Nicholas. When she finds that Nicholas will be taken from her, Nora escapes.

Years later, Nicholas is in love and wants to find his fortune so that he can marry.  When he sees a vision that he thinks is himself in the woods and the vision says only “Shadyside,” Nicholas decides to try his luck there.  Will he learn about his family before it is too late?

I kind of devoured this.  That’s all I’ve got for you.