What We Leave Behind

The Book Of Jonas A Novel By Stephan Dau Book Review


The Book Of Jonas by Stephen Dau is a powerful and haunting novel that exists in a place where there are no good or bad guys and where the effects of war are given a human face. Jonas is a teenage boy when his village is attacked. He survives by fleeing to the mountain where his father tells him to go in case of an emergency. A US soldier named Christopher follows him into the cave and offers him first-aid. Throughout the book, the story of Christopher and Jonas become forever intertwined.

Jonas is given an opportunity to live in the US. An aid group arranges everything, including a college scholarship. Jonas struggles to fit into this new world and is forced into therapy. He reveals bits and pieces of his life to the therapist but he is unable to face the truth until the very end.

This book is beautifully written and expertly executed. Stephen Dau is able to take a subject that is highly political, such as how soldiers could target the wrong village, and takes the reader through the desperation and longing of loss. Even going into this book with a preconceived notion about US occupation in foreign lands, which I did, it is difficult to pick a side. Impossible to say what is right. The characters are fully formed but vague enough that they could almost be anybody. It could be your neighbor or son. The toll that war takes changes everyone around it.

To join in on the discussion, visit the BlogHer Book Club.

This is a paid review for BlogHer Book Club but the opinions expressed are my own.

Looking Forward

I have felt kind of depressed and deflated lately. Being in the job market in a state with high unemployment is not ideal. Through this trying time, it helps to have something to look forward to.

Ascics GT-2170


My shoes are in and I am picking them up tomorrow. The current pair is being held together by string, so my feet, legs, and knees will be happy with this new development.

Game Of Thrones Show Season Two


This Sunday, season two of Game Of Thrones premieres. Based on the books in the George R. R. Martin’s A Song Of Fire And Ice series, this show has it all. I just finished the first book in the series, in which season one was based, and am dying to know how the story is continued. (If you have not read or watched this series, please do so. It is amazing!)

Howard Stern on America's Got Talent


The King Of All Media is coming to Florida! America’s Got Talent is holding their Florida auditions next week in St. Pete and I was able to get tickets. I have never been to a TV taping which should be exciting (what if I end up in an audience shot!) J and I love Howard Stern almost as much as we love cats, so the excitement is really overwhelming.

Book Review: Speak By Laurie Halse Anderson

Speak by laurie Halse Anderson


From Goodreads:

Freshman year at Merryweather High is not going well for Melinda Sordino. She busted an end-of-summer party by calling the cops, and now her friends—and even strangers—all hate her. So she stops trying, stops talking. She retreats into her head, and all the lies and hypocrisies of high school become magnified, leaving her with no desire to talk to anyone anyway. But it’s not so comfortable in her head, either—there’s something banging around in there that she doesn’t want to think about. She can’t just go on like this forever. Eventually, she’s going to have to confront the thing she’s avoiding, the thing that happened at the party, the thing that nobody but her knows. She’s going to have to speak the truth.

Speak is a powerful book that reaches the heights of the best in the Young Adult genre. The main character, Melinda, is starting her freshman year of high school as the book opens. She is alone, even though she grew up there, all of her friends hate her. During the summer, she called the police and busted-up a party. This one act turns everyone against her and she is left to navigate through the treacherous halls of High School as an outcast. Her life starts to spiral out of control from her parents to school work until it culminates and Melinda is forced to acknowledge the truth.

Any book dealing with rape is difficult but Laurie Halse Anderson is a gifted writer who reminds us what it is to be 13. What it is to have a secret that people might not believe, that might hurt people. Speak is both beautiful and powerful. It is a must read for anyone with a teen and would be an excellent book to open a dialogue about sexual assault for parents.

Speak was made into a movie in 2004 starring Kristen Stewart as Melinda. The movie is a great compliment to the book. Laurie Halse Anderson worked on the script which made it a fairly close adaptation.

Speak the Movie Kristen Stewart


As it can happen when books focus on difficult topics, Speak has been the target of book banning since it was published in 1999. Most recently, it was targeted by Wesley Scroggins who wrote an editorial for the News-Leader in Springfield, MO. In this op-ed, he characterizes Speak as “filthy.” and suggests that the book should be banned.

Banning books that deal with difficult topics is a ridiculous prospect. A good book, just like any art form, should make you think, and sometimes that requires dealing with difficult topics but it does not make them any less valuable. Young Adult literature is a great way to get a conversation started with teens who may be uncomfortable talking about sexual assault with their parents or peers. A book like Speak, shows these young adults that they are not alone and that they should use their voices to stand up for themselves. There is great power in that.

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) By Mindy Kaling

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me And Other Concerns Mindy Kaling.


I was so lucky to receive this book as a Christmas present from my awesome friend Becca (who is hilarious and if you like that kind of thing, you should follower her @RebeccaLucente).

So who is Mindy Kaling?

Mindy Kaling B.J. Novak The Office


Mindy plays Kelly Kapoor on The Office plus she is a writer, executive producer, and sometimes director on the show. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) is a collection of essays about her life and includes some observational pieces. Mindy is very relatable growing up as a nerdy comedy geek in Boston who lives for Saturday Night Live, Kids In The Hall, and the late night shows.

As a huge Office fan, I was very interested in how she started on the show. Her behind the scenes take on being the only woman in a writing room full of men plus being only 24 when she starts, makes it easy to remember how awkward that first foray into the working world can be. She even describes one episode where the show creator, Greg Daniels, asks her to leave. So she storms out, grabbing a case of water, and grabs a bite to eat. After awhile, she realizes that storming out of her dream job might not have been the best idea, so she goes back. Mindy does keep the case of water though.

If you are looking for a hilarious book by a TV star, Is Everyone Hanging Out With Out Me? (And Other Concerns) is a great book. Mindy Kaling is like your best girlfriend who tells stories that make your stomach hurt from laughing so much.

The Rules Of Inheritance: A Review

The Rules of Inheritance Claire Bidwell Smith


The Rules of Inheritance by Claire Bidwell Smith is a memoir of life and death. Claire is only fourteen years-old when her parents are diagnosed with cancer within months of each other. This book shows Claire growing and changing with their illnesses and how it impacts her life.

The book is written in a non-linear form that jumps from year to year and various stages of illness. It shows Claire as a teenager, losing her virginity, and trying to find a way to fit in. It takes her through different jobs and different men. The death of her mother when she is 18 and in her first year of college, is life changing. She is never again the girl she was before her mother dies.

Her mother’s death gives Claire time to get to know her father. The relationship is tender and sweet. One of my favorite chapters is where Claire and her father travel to Europe to where his plane is shot down in World War II. They meet-up with a historian and he introduces them to people who remember the war and the impact the American soldiers had on their lives. Finding a statue in tribute to the soldiers who died is touching and fitting way for her father to spend the last trip they take together.

The Rules of Inheritance is about a woman who loses her parents before she is 30 and how she emerges from the other side of grief. It is honest and raw, it shows the bad feelings and remorse. There is strength, love, and eventually peace. Claire ends up a woman who overcomes her grief and makes a career out of helping others cope with theirs.

I highly recommend The Rules of Inheritance for anyone who has lost or feels lost. It is ultimately hopeful and true.

To follow the discussions and learn more about Claire Bidwell, you can find the Rules of Inheritance on the BlogHer Book Club page.

This is a paid review for BlogHer Book Club but the opinions expressed are my own.

Things That Are Awesome

Regular readers know that I have a lot going on with recently being laid off. I am working so hard at keeping positive. This past week, I have had a lot of good news and wanted to share.


(Just kidding, I do not think I am famous now.)

I got my picture in the paper. (I am in the pink. The sign in the foreground, is the sign with my story on it.)



I spoke to the reporter and was quoted in the article.


I had so much fun and was glad to be able to participate.


New Books Speak Emma Pretties The Rules of Inheritance

One $50 gift card to Barnes & Noble and lots of browsing in store. I love to read and love to buy books. Book stores are my favorite of any kind of store and I can spend hours in one. (I do know that my choice in books is all over the map, no need to judge.)

Having more time on my hands and a goal of reading 100 books in 2012, I am digging right in. It’s a great way to spend time when you are avoiding spending money plus it takes my mind off my present lack of employment.

Ironman 70.3 Florida

I saw on a local blog that not only is Ironman Florida moving to my small town in Central Florida but they will be here for the next five years. This year, Lance Armstrong will be competing. My first thought is how can I volunteer for this?

I am just so proud that so many athletes will get to enjoy how beautiful Lake Eva is. I feel so lucky to run there regularly.

Ironman Haines City

Ironman 70.3 Florida

Anything awesome happen to you lately?

Unemployment Is Like Training For A Race

Being unemployed is hard work.

Unemployment Sucks Funny


Waking up each day, searching through job postings, and hoping that you get at least one interview is not as easy as it seems. The rejection and the feeling of dread that you may be unemployed for the long-term is stifling. I do feel lucky that I have friends who are keeping me updated when they hear of an opening and are helping me get my resume to the right people. It helps to know that there are people out there rooting for you.

Searching for a job is a lot like training for a race, I am putting in my time and hoping that it pays off in the long run. Hoping that each small piece, like networking, will help get me to the finish line.

The most difficult part of all this is the betrayal. My former job did notify my department of the imminent elimination but I was told in a meeting that they were creating a new position for me and that they did not want me to leave. I was even sent a rough idea of the new job duties and told to hold tight for an official job opening to come. That never happened and I was told that they were unable to get the funding for the new position on the same day I was informed about the lay off.

We cannot change the past but I feel like a fool. I should have started looking when they first spoke to us but I believed that they would want to keep someone who worked there for nearly five years and had been consistently successful. I was wrong.

You Done Goofed Feel Like A Fool


Having so much more free time has allowed me to focus on some long-term projects that I had little time for previously. I am the President of the Polk County Young Democrats and really want this group to have a better social media presence. Now I have time to spend on that Twitter account and the Facebook fan page to hopefully attract more members. It is so important to me to get young people involved in politics, especially in an election year. I know spending more time working on that goal is well worth it.

I am well on my way to one of my 2012 goals of reading 100 books.

The Ghosts of Varner Creek by Michael Weems New England Witch Chronicles By Chelsea Bellingeri Review 1Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver ReviewThe Hobbit by J.R.R.Tolkien


For now, I will keep moving forward and hope that this difficult time is temporary. That everything will work out in the end.

Why Women Need Fat: A Review



Why Woman Need Fat by William D. Lassek, M.D. and Steven J.C. Gaulin, PH.D is a diet book for people who are looking to lose weight and make long term changes in the way they eat. The book is broken down into three sections and does a great job of backing up its’ thesis of how dietary changes of the past forty years have negatively impacted us, in clear and easy to understand ways.

Part One: Why And How We Got Fatter

  • The change in the American diet over the last fifty years.
  • The differences between the American diet and those of women from other countries.
  • Ancel Keys argument that fat is the cause of heart disease which the authors disagree with.
  • The increase in use of polyunsaturated fat.
  • The 1977 Dietary Goals for the US.
  • The change in the American diet increased the consumption of Omega-6 fatty acids which increases weight.

Part Two: Why Women Need Fat

  • Why American women are heavier today than in the past
  • Omega fats being out of balance (too much Omega-6 and not enough Omega-3).
  • The importance of DHA and EPA in our diets.

Part Three: How To Achieve Your Natural Healthy Weight

  • It gives a list of different food groups the authors recommend eating.
  • Finding your natural weight. How to find out what it is and how to reach that point.

Why Women Need Fat is packed with information, especially part one where the how we got here is explained in great detail. I found the advice easy to follow and similar to what you read in other works where the focus is on eating less processed foods. The detailed arguments make it easy to understand why you should change your diet and then they give you all the tools you need to do so.

Overall, I would recommend this book to anyone looking to lose weight, in a natural and healthy way. This book is not gimmicky but a part of a long term change.

Have you read any books that changed how you eat?

For me, Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of The All American Meal was really eye-opening.

If you would like to discuss, Why Women Need Fat, you can jump over to the BlogHer Book Club where there will be a month of discussions.

This is a paid review for BlogHer Book Club but the opinions expressed are my own.

Things I Did While Too Sick To Run

I left the house one time this weekend and it was only because we were running low on food. J and I are on the up swing but still sick. Of course this would happen on one of the most beautiful days in a long time.

Getting out of the car at the grocery store, my body aches to put on my running shoes and run in Lake Eva Park but sadly my face is on fire and it seems like it will not be happening today. Have to rest up so I can feel well enough to run sometime this week.

All the time sitting around and feeling sorry for myself, did allow me to plan out my meals for the week. I have been slacking in this area and kind of winging dinners lately much to J’s chagrin. I do not do well with combining random items from our pantry and freezer. We usually end up eating eggs or tuna but after how miserable we both have been feeling, I thought eating real food for dinner this week would be nice.

All found on Pinterest (which may be my favorite place on the internet.)

Pasta with Pancetta And Vodka Sauce

Whole Wheat Roasted Red Pepper And Fontina Pizza With Balsamic Glaze

Spicy Merry Salad With Avocado And Figs

I was able to finish a really wonderful book called Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver.

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver


This book is really wonderful and special. It brings you back to those high school years where you can almost feel what it is like to be 17 again. When popularity and what other people think of you can mean everything.The difference here is Sam knows she is dead and has one day to live over until she can get it right. I highly recommend this book and had a hard time putting it down.

What do you do when you are too sick to workout? Do you plan out your meals?

The Swiss Cheese Theory Of Life



The Swiss Cheese Theory Of Life is a self-help book for people who normally would not be interested in self-help books. It uses the adorable metaphor of cheese (Swiss mainly, holes and all) to teach the reader practical life lessons about letting go of regret and positive thinking.

The set-up of the book is unique in that each chapter deals with a particular concept, such as perfectionism, and it outlines ways to identify if you are falling prey to this issue. It then utilizes quotes and cartoons plus the addition of real world examples from the authors therapy practices. It makes each concept easy to understand and provides lots of different ways in which you can make the improvements and identify ways you may be falling victim to that particular issue.

Concepts that stood out to me on personal level:

  • Being unable to go back.
  • Letting the past stay in the past.
  • Focusing on things that you cannot change is a pointless pursuit.
  • The chapter on positive thinking really struck a nerve. It is something that I struggle with.

Overall, I really enjoyed The Swiss Cheese Theory Of Life by Judith A. Belmont, MS and Lora Shor, LSW and took away a lot of lessons.

I have one copy of the book to giveaway. To win, please leave a comment on one time you turned a negative situation into a positive. For extra entries which you can do one each day, please share inspirational quotes or posters that helped you through a difficult time or your favorite cheese.  I will pick the winner via Random.Org on October 28th.

I was given a copy of the book to review and one for the giveaway. All opinions are my own.