Publisher: Penguin

Book Review: This Is Where You Belong: The Art and Science of Loving the Place You Live by Melody Warnick

Posted October 17, 2017 by Hillary in Book Reviews / 0 Comments

ISBN: 9780143129660
Book Review: This Is Where You Belong: The Art and Science of Loving the Place You Live by Melody WarnickThis Is Where You Belong by Melody Warnick
Published by Penguin on July 4th 2017
Genres: Psychology, Mental Health, Self-Help, Personal Growth, Happiness, Social Science, Sociology, General
Pages: 320
Format: ebook
Source: bought
Buy on Amazon

In the spirit of Gretchen Rubin's megaseller The Happiness Project and Eric Weiner's The Geography of Bliss, a journalist embarks on a project to discover what it takes to love where you live

The average restless American will move 11.7 times in a lifetime. For Melody Warnick, it was move #6, from Austin, Texas, to Blacksburg, Virginia, that threatened to unhinge her. In the lonely aftermath of unpacking, she wondered: Aren't we supposed to put down roots at some point? How does the place we live become the place we want to stay? This time, she had an epiphany. Rather than hold her breath and hope this new town would be her family's perfect fit, she would figure out how to fall in love with it--no matter what.      How we come to feel at home in our towns and cities is what Warnick sets out to discover in This Is Where You Belong. She dives into the body of research around place attachment--the deep sense of connection that binds some of us to our cities and increases our physical and emotional well-being--then travels to towns across America to see it in action. Inspired by a growing movement of placemaking, she examines what its practitioners are doing to create likeable locales. She also speaks with frequent movers and loyal stayers around the country to learn what draws highly mobile Americans to a new city, and what makes us stay. The best ideas she imports to her adopted hometown of Blacksburg for a series of Love Where You Live experiments designed to make her feel more locally connected. Dining with her neighbors. Shopping Small Business Saturday. Marching in the town Christmas parade.      Can these efforts make a halfhearted resident happier? Will Blacksburg be the place she finally stays? What Warnick learns will inspire you to embrace your own community--and perhaps discover that the place where you live right now . . . is home.

From the Hardcover edition.


I have to be honest. I am the type of person that packs up and moves every three years. I don’t know WHY I just get that itch that my life would be better if I were SOMEWHERE ELSE. I am a freelance ghostwriter, so I can live anywhere and maybe that is the problem. I never give anyplace a chance. I am currently in Cleveland, and I have been here a record of 5 years. I am starting to get that itch again so when I saw this book as a daily Kindle deal I grabbed it in the hopes that it would have some clues on how to love where I live. I am tired of packing up and leaving so this was the perfect opportunity to get some insight on how to NOT give in to that itch.

What I Liked

First of all, I loved how honest she was about that itch in moving. I could completely understand. I thought it was me and that I had issues but reading this I realized that America is the most mobile country on earth. It seems that almost half of us pack up and move every three to 5 years. I felt a LOT better after reading that.

I also loved her background information. Providing background information can be dangerous as some authors into boring you to tears. But not Melody Warnick her insights and information was highly useful to a person such as me who after three years thinks that ANYWHERE else would be the perfect place.  I feel lots better knowing that I am just one of millions of Americans who think the same

I loved her checklists on how to make roots and feel like you belong. I realized that I do that here in Cleveland more than any other place I have lived. Maybe it causes with my Cochlear Ear Implants I can hear now, and I became more involved in the community. for example I joined a book club at the library. I go to bookish events, and I frequent my favorite used bookstore, and I have become great friends at the little health food store I found near my apartment. In every other place I lived, I never did any of that. So I realize now that suppose I get married and move I know what to do to put down roots wherever I end up, but you know what? For the time being, I am staying here in Cleveland because I feel like I finally have a life here and THAT makes all the difference.


What I Did Not Like

The only complaint that I have was I wanted to hear more of HER story and not research facts all the time. She gives us little looks into her life but not as much as some other authors do. I can understand some people need privacy and are not as open, but sometimes it felt as if I was reading a textbook. I went into it expecting more of a memoir type thing so maybe that why that bugged me.


I enjoyed this book and learned a lot from it. I learned how to put down roots, and I realized that while I may not be out placemaking, I do get involved in the community in some ways, and that makes all the difference. I think that’s why I  have stayed here a record of 5 years. My friends can’t believe that I would stay in Cleveland for so long, but I do like it here. I would recommend this book to anyone feeling that old familiar itch to move..move…move…. Trust me I have moved dozens of times, and no place is “better” if you don’t attempt to put down some roots. So if you are one of the people who has a VIP to Uhaul then go and read this book…you can thank me later.


Rating Report
Overall: five-stars

Book Review: Impossible Views of the World by Lucy Ives

Posted September 7, 2017 by Hillary in Book Reviews / 0 Comments

I received this book for free from publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

ISBN: 9780735221536
Book Review: Impossible Views of the World by Lucy IvesImpossible Views of the World by Lucy Ives
Published by Penguin on 2017
Genres: Fiction, Literary, Contemporary Women
Pages: 304
Format: eARC
Source: publisher
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A witty, urbane, and sometimes shocking debut novel, set in a hallowed New York museum, in which a co-worker's disappearance and a mysterious map change a life forever

Stella Krakus, a curator at Manhattan's renowned Central Museum of Art, is having the roughest week in approximately ever. Her soon-to-be ex-husband (the perfectly awful Whit Ghiscolmbe) is stalking her, a workplace romance with "a fascinating, hyper-rational narcissist" is in freefall, and a beloved colleague, Paul, has gone missing. Strange things are afoot: CeMArt's current exhibit is sponsored by a Belgian multinational that wants to take over the world's water supply, she unwittingly stars in a viral video that's making the rounds, and her mother--the imperious, impossibly glamorous Caro--wants to have lunch. It's almost more than she can overanalyze.   But the appearance of a mysterious map, depicting a 19th-century utopian settlement, sends Stella--a dogged expert in American graphics and fluidomanie (don't ask)--on an all-consuming research mission. As she teases out the links between a haunting poem, several unusual novels, a counterfeiting scheme, and one of the museum's colorful early benefactors, she discovers the unbearable secret that Paul's been keeping, and charts a course out of the chaos of her own life. Pulsing with neurotic humor and dagger-sharp prose, Impossible Views of the World is a dazzling debut novel about how to make it through your early thirties with your brain and heart intact.  

Well…that was a letdown. I  had such high hopes for this book also. I loved the synopsis of it on NetGalley and couldn’t wait to dive into it. The book was pretty good I kept waiting for THE BIG THING to happen and I clicked on my Kindle and.THE END.

I at first thought maybe my copy was missing a few pages, but a quick check on GoodReads and nope that was truly the end of the book. O.K

I now can’t decide if  I liked it or if I am pissed cause it didn’t end the way I felt it should. I mean I am not the author, so I dont have any say in how it ends, but I did feel that the secret that was revealed was..lackluster. I wanted SCANDALS and ACTION and all of that.  Instead, all I got was a divorce and an affair.

Looking back I realize that this is more of how the main protagonist grows. It is a character story more than it is a plot driven story. I dont have a problem with that, but I went into this with an expectation of something more so that makes me somewhat grumpy that I did not get it.

As a character study though it was excellent. We see how Stella grows and changes throughout the novel. The book goes deep into her psyche, so we are in her head the whole time. There were times I thought she was dumb but we have all been in her shoes including myself. She was perfectly flawed as we all are. I found that I could relate to her. I have never been through a divorce but I HAVE been on the losing side of unrequited love, and I found myself nodding my head and going I am glad it wasn’t just me that was so blind even though it was only a fictional person that I was relating to. It is amazing how stories even fictional ones can make us feel less alone.

Again there was nothing I did not NOT like about the book I was just expecting more from it as the synopsis made it seem that more would happen and it did not. I think if I had lower expectations or knew that this was more of a character study then I may have finished it with different feelings.


Rating Report
Overall: three-stars

Book Review: SuperBetter: A Revolutionary Approach to Getting Stronger, Happier, Braver and More Resilient -Powered by the Science of Games by Jane McGonigal

Posted October 15, 2015 by Hillary in Book Reviews / 0 Comments

ISBN: 9780698185500
Book Review: SuperBetter: A Revolutionary Approach to Getting Stronger, Happier, Braver and More Resilient -Powered by the Science of Games by Jane McGonigalSuperBetter by Jane McGonigal
Published by Penguin on September 15th 2015
Genres: Self-Help, Personal Growth, Happiness, Psychology, General, Games, Video & Electronic
Pages: 400
Format: ebook
Source: bought
Buy on Amazon

An innovative guide to living gamefully, based on the program that has already helped nearly half a million people achieve remarkable personal growthIn 2009, internationally renowned game designer Jane McGonigal suffered a severe concussion. Unable to think clearly or work or even get out of bed, she became anxious and depressed, even suicidal. But rather than let herself sink further, she decided to get better by doing what she does best: she turned her recovery process into a resilience-building game. What started as a simple motivational exercise quickly became a set of rules for “post-traumatic growth” that she shared on her blog. These rules led to a digital game and a major research study with the National Institutes of Health. Today nearly half a million people have played SuperBetter to get stronger, happier, and healthier.
But the life-changing ideas behind SuperBetter are much bigger than just one game. In this book, McGonigal reveals a decade’s worth of scientific research into the ways all games—including videogames, sports, and puzzles—change how we respond to stress, challenge, and pain. She explains how we can cultivate new powers of recovery and resilience in everyday life simply by adopting a more “gameful” mind-set. Being gameful means bringing the same psychological strengths we naturally display when we play games—such as optimism, creativity, courage, and determination—to real-world goals.
Drawing on hundreds of studies, McGonigal shows that getting superbetter is as simple as tapping into the three core psychological strengths that games help you build:
   • Your ability to control your attention, and therefore your thoughts and feelings    • Your power to turn anyone into a potential ally, and to strengthen your existing relationships    • Your natural capacity to motivate yourself and super-charge your heroic qualities, like willpower, compassion, and determination
SuperBetter contains nearly 100 playful challenges anyone can undertake in order to build these gameful strengths. It includes stories and data from people who have used the SuperBetter method to get stronger in the face of illness, injury, and other major setbacks, as well as to achieve goals like losing weight, running a marathon, and finding a new job.
As inspiring as it is down to earth, and grounded in rigorous research, SuperBetter is a proven game plan for a better life. You’ll never say that something is “just a game” again.
From the Hardcover edition.

my review

I am a huge gamer, and I also have been playing the Superbetter game ever since it came out. I had to admit that I really did not know HOW to play to get the most out of it, but after reading this book I feel as if I have a better grasp of the game.

She tells about how playing games can help us in real life everyday problems. I have to admit that I had never thought about taking my gaming obsession and applying it to real life problems. I mean really, How can World Od Warcraft help me when I am depressed. After reading this book, I realized that the skills in WOW like asking for help, working in a team, etc. can translate into the “real” world. I applied that to my life. I started asking for help and was surprised at how many people responded. It seems that there were a lot of people who wanted to help me but wasn’t sure how. I went back and started playing superbetter again and this time I knew HOW to play to get results. I got some of my friends to sign up for allies. And I can honestly feel that my depression and anxiety symptoms have become manageable.

I also love how she input tricks and power-ups into the book. Like for example anxiety and excitement is physically the same thing so if you feel anxious just make yourself think you are excited, and it becomes bearable. I tried this once, and it worked. I prefer to cut down on anxiety by the way of benzos but if you do not have access to them, then this is a good trick.

Another good trick is to breath in for 4 seconds and then breathe out for 8. This apparently does something to your nervous system and can stop anxiety and migraines and stuff. She admits that it is not perfect but most of the times she can get by without medication. I have wondered if this would help me. I am not to keen to try it though as even thinking about my anxiety gives me anxiety. I have learned that when I feel overwhelmed if breath like that then I can calm down.

I have added my power ups to the mix. Like I am trying to eat healthily so when I want junk food I eat a piece of fruit. When I feel horrible mediate and stuff like that. I still like all people with a serious chronic condition have bad days, but now they are fewer and farther spaced. I spend less time in bed curled into a fetal position not so patiently waiting for the end of time and more out and about and living. So the program works. I would recommend this to anyone with a  serious chronic condition. It is a great tool to make the living with your condition easier and enables you actually to make a life worth getting out of the bed.


The How of Happiness

Posted March 16, 2012 by Hillary in book review, Book Reviews, non-fiction, self help / 0 Comments

how to be happier
From GoodReads:
You can change your personal capacity for happiness. Research psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky’s pioneering concept of the 40% solution shows you how

My Review: This book shows you steps you can take to increase your own happiness. It explains that we have a set point for happiness and 40 percent of that is in own power to change. She gives readers a short diagnostic test that identifies in which area they would benefit the most from the happiness boosting exercise.
It lists and goes into detail several exercises that you can do. It also explains when to do them for optimal timing. That was one new thing that I learned. I thought you did them as often as possible but the author explains that some things if you do too often in can have a negative effect.
She also explains what will increase happiness and what won’t. She explains the hedonic effect. That is where we become used to what we have and it no longer gives us the pleasure that it once did. Once I read that I realized why something’s I used to get pleasure from I no longer did. The way she put it made sense.
I would recommend this book to everyone. I believe everyone can benefit from inducing more happiness in their lives. This book gives clear and concise details on how to make that happen.


Review: The Artist Way

Posted July 5, 2011 by Hillary in Book Reviews, self help / 0 Comments

Review: The Artist WayThe Artist's Way by Julia Cameron
Published by Penguin on March 4th 2002
Genres: Art, General, Individual Artists
Pages: 272

A stunning gift edition of the powerful bestselling book on creativity.The Artist’s Way is one of the bestselling gift books of all time. Beautifully packaged with a slipcase and ribbon, this tenth anniversary gift edition is the ideal gift for loved ones engaged in creative lives.

the artist way

I had been having serious writers block for the first half of the year. I tried everything I knew to combat it but to no avail. Then while reading book blogs I began to hear of a book called the Artist Way. I decided I had to check it out.

I have to say I was not disappointed with this book. It has been three weeks since I started the cornerstone of the book which is Morning Pages and Artist Dates. I can already see an improvement.

The book takes on a 12 step aura to help combat “creative blocks” It is not only for writers but for anyone who wants to live more creatively. That means even if you do not pursue any of the tradional creative outlets than this book can still help you.

Some people might be put of by the spiritual aspect of this book. I read some reviews where this was the case. I do not feel it is overly spiritual in in that case the spiritual overtones actually added a dimension to the book.

Overall people who are looking to be more creative  will enjoy this book.


Review:Getting Things Done

Posted April 11, 2011 by Hillary in Book Reviews, self help / 0 Comments

Review:Getting Things DoneGetting Things Done by David Allen
Published by Penguin on 2001-01
Genres: Business & Economics, Personal Growth, Self-Esteem, Self-Help, Time Management
Pages: 267
Source: library

In today's world, yesterday's methods just don't work. In Getting Things Done, veteran coach and management consultant David Allen shares the breakthrough methods for stress-free performance that he has introduced to tens of thousands of people across the country. Allen's premise is simple: our productivity is directly proportional to our ability to relax. Only when our minds are clear and our thoughts are organized can we achieve effective productivity and unleash our creative potential. In Getting Things Done Allen shows how to: Apply the "do it, delegate it, defer it, drop it" rule to get your in-box to empty Reassess goals and stay focused in changing situations Plan projects as well as get them unstuck Overcome feelings of confusion, anxiety, and being overwhelmed Feel fine about what you're not doing From core principles to proven tricks, Getting Things Done can transform the way you work, showing you how to pick up the pace without wearing yourself down.

getting things done

This was a re read for me. Back in the day I was an disorganized freak. I could find nothing to save my life. A friend recommended this book so I read it (can you tell I will read almost anything someone recommends?) Any way the book did help to some degree. When I remember to use the principals in the book that is.

In all seriousness though if you are disorganized and you miss deadlines and stuff or you miss very important events (like me) David Allen has some very good recommendations that can help you get a better hold on things.

I still remember when GTD was the latest fad. It is still going strong judging by the amount of GTD stuff on the internet and other book that have been written about it. One book about it is enough for me though.While I like the book and it concepts there is only a certain amount they can say without rehashing the same stuff over and over again. When they make a book that can actually do the organizing for me then I will be more interested.  In all fairness though the book does work so read it if you are looking to put some order in chaos.


Friday Night Knitting Club

Posted January 18, 2011 by Hillary in Book Reviews / 0 Comments

Friday Night Knitting ClubThe Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate Jacobs
Published by Penguin on 2008-01
Genres: Contemporary, Contemporary Women, Fiction, Romance
Pages: 372

The New York Times bestselling sensation that's "Steel Magnolias set in Manhattan" (USA Today)-now in paperback. Juggling the demands of her yarn shop and single-handedly raising a teenage daughter has made Georgia Walker grateful for her Friday Night Knitting Club. Her friends are happy to escape their lives too, even for just a few hours. But when Georgia's ex suddenly reappears, demanding a role in their daughter's life, her whole world is shattered. Luckily, Georgia's friends are there, sharing their own tales of intimacy, heartbreak, and miracle making. And when the unthinkable happens, these women will discover that what they've created isn't just a knitting club: it's a sisterhood.


it took me a week to finsh this book. Normally I can finish a book in a couple of days but this book dragged on and on. I should have just quit the book but I am one of those people who must stick to the bitter end.

My first problem is that there seems to be no plot in the first half of the book. I understand that the author was giving background information but I feel it could have been done within the confines of a plot that actually moves forward. The first half of this book was filled with non events and the reader couldn’t tell where the story was going.

I knew that that Jacobs was attempting to weave multiple issues into the story. However what she did write felt more like it was contrived of stereotypical ways than things that you can really believe. In my humble opinion believable characters can make or break a story.

This book really for me at least raised the question of how much background information one really needs. Or if there is a better way of implementing the background information or if this was really not my type of book. If it the latter that makes me sad because I heard good things about this book and really wanted to enjoy it, but I did not.


Armageddon In Retrospect

Posted September 17, 2010 by Hillary in Book Reviews / 0 Comments

This is the last of Kurt Vonnegut’s work.airThis book was published after his death by his son.

For readers who have read Slaughter House Five, this book will strike a familiar chord.  The majority of this book is short stories takes place during world War Two. It provides detailed snapshots of various scenes. Sometimes the same scene will be repeated but with different viewpoints. He combines his  humor with dark subject matter skillfully.

There are some stories in there that makes me sad that there were only published after he died. There is one story. Wailing Shall be in All Streets” that in its short form is on par with his life’s masterpiece “Slaughter House Five”

This not to say the rest of the stories are not good, they are, but some are simply some of the best writing he has done. I felt that these stories should have received more praise than what they had.

One story was written in a fantasy mode and it blew my breath away after I read it. I am not sure why they did not publish these earlier but I for one am glad we got one last finial look at some of his best writings.