Friday, January 31, 2014

Green Smoothies for Every Season

Title: Green Smoothies for Every Season
Author:  Kristine Miles
Publication Information:  Ulysses Press. 2013. 128 pages.

Book Source:  I received this book through the GoodReads First Reads program free of cost in exchange for an honest review. The book arrived as a hardcover edition.

Favorite Quote:  "If you have never had a green smoothie before, I can assure you that they taste a lot better than they look or sound."

Green Smoothies for Every Season is not a beginner's book, i.e. not for someone new to smoothies or green smoothies. The table of contents for the book reads: Introduction, Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter. The Introduction is about a third of the book.

The book in total has only about 50 recipes. The recipes themselves are simply a list of ingredient combinations because beyond that the directions for a smoothie are simple - Blend together and enjoy. You may have to rely on the instruction of your blender in terms of how and in which order to add ingredients.

  • The introduction includes a discussion on the health benefits and nutrients of green smoothies, seasonality of produce, and the use of other ingredients like sweeteners, herbs, and protein.
  • Each section starts with a list of the produce in season and its characteristics and benefits.
  • The actual recipes are set apart from the text by the fact that they are printed on green paper. So, by looking for the green sections, I can get to the recipes quickly.

  • The book has only a high level table of content.
  • Some recipe titles (which are indexed) are cute rather than informational. "Pacific Sunset" and "Don't Worry, Be Happy" are two examples.
  • Some of the recipes rely on produce and greens such as kumquats, passion fruits, dandelion greens, borage leaves, tender pea shoots, that may not be readily available.
  • The book only has about 50 recipes.

If you are looking for a resource on green smoothies, there are probably better sources out there. This one may not be staying in my cookbook collection.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Hare with Amber Eyes

Title: Hare with Amber Eyes
Author:  Edmund de Waal
Publication Information:  Farrar, Straus, and Grioux. 2010. 354 pages.

Book Source:  I read this book as this month's selection for my local book club.

Favorite Quote:  "How objects are handed on is all about story-telling. I am giving you this because I love you Or because it was given to me. Because I bought it somewhere special. Because you will care for it. Because it will complicate your life. Because it will make someone else envious. There is no easy story in legacy. What is remembered and what is forgotten?"

The 'hare with amber eyes' refers to one of the 264 pieces of a netsuke collection that belongs to Edmund de Waal's family. Netsuke are miniature sculptures from Japan. They were bought by one of Edmund de Waal's ancestors in the nineteenth century and brought to Europe. From there, they were given as a wedding gift to another family member.

They stayed with the family in Vienna until World War II. During the war, the family lost much of what it had - including their home - to the Nazis. A maid named Anna, however, managed to save the netsuke collection by secreting it away in her mattress while she remained in the house during the Nazi occupation.

After the war, she managed to return them to the Edmund de Waal's family. His uncle took possession and brought them back to Japan when he relocated there. Upon his uncle's death, Edmund became the caretaker of the collection. As a ceramist, Edmund de Waal's interest is in the art of the netsuke. As their inheritor, his interest is in preserving the history of the collection and thereby the history of his own family. As he says in the book, "Objects have always been carried, sold, bartered, stolen, retrieved and lost. People have always given gifts. It is how you tell their stories that matters."

I read this book as this month's selection for my book club. This book is a perfect example of why I so enjoy being in a book club. With the different backgrounds and interests in our book club, we end up with entirely different books depending on who is picking.

I don't think I would have discovered this book without this book club. I don't read much about art history, and I was not familiar with Edmund de Waal, his family history, or his work before reading the book. The book is long and quite detailed. I did find myself skimming through sections, but at the same time, I found myself doing research online to learn more. It is an interesting combination of wanting the book to move faster but yet wanting to know more.

I don't think I would have read the book if it were not a book club selection, but I am glad I read it. It made for a good story, and I learned a lot.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Saturday Night Widows

Title: Saturday Night Widows
Author:  Becky Aikman
Publication Information:  Broadway Books, Crown Publishing Group, Random House LLC, a Penguin Random House Company. 2013. 353 pages.

Book Source:  I received this book through the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program free of cost in exchange for an honest review. The book arrived as a paperback edition.

Favorite Quote:  "We had hit on common ground, the one remedy we shared - the company of like-minded worm as balm against trouble, a force for good in the battle with genies."

Becky Aikman is a journalist in New York City. She is from a small town in Pennsylvania. She is a graduate of the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism. She also was a young widow - losing her husband to cancer when she was only in her forties. As she set out to redefine her life, she put her journalism skills to work, learning about grief and about reinventing oneself and about finding those who could understand and share her journey.

The book begins with the statement, "I got kicked out of my widow support group." It begins with a description of what did not work for her - a support group in which most of the members were older and at a different point in life when they lost their spouses. Yes, all had lost a spouse, but for Becky, that is where the similarity ended.

She knew that there had to be others like her. So, she set on a quest to find them - through friends, acquaintances, and anyone she talked to. She assembled a group of five other women - all widowed at around her age. That was the common ground. They met once, and immediately found that connection of someone who understood their grief, who understood their struggle, and who understood their need for joy. The stories of their marriages and their families were all different; yet, the fact of being young widows - their grief and their belief that life still held joy - drew them together.

They agreed to meet once a week for a year as an informal support group. They met on Saturday nights because that was a time of week and of day where it was difficult to be alone and without plans. This book is a memoir of that year, and within that context, a memoir of Becky's journey.

Their monthly meetings ranged from a spa day and a museum visit to a trip to Morocco as the culmination of the year. They set out looking for support, and found friendship.

To me, this book is about friendship, in particular that special relationship you find when a friend understands what you are going through and offers compassion, advice, and sometimes a push to get you through.

I hope that no one ever has to experience the loss these women did.  I hope to never learn what that feels like. What I do understand is that friendship and that the fact that even "when the worst, no question, had already happened," you can find people to help you through and you can find joy. I feel like I got to know these women and the friendship they found. I feel like I would enjoy getting to know these women better, and I wish them all the joy in the future.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

The Prefect Score Project: Uncovering the Secrets of the SAT

Title: The Perfect Score Project:  Uncovering the Secrets of the SAT
Author:  Debbie Stier
Publication Information:  Harmony Books, Crown Publishing Group Random House LLC, Penguin Random House Company. 2014. 281 pages.

Book Source:  I received this book through the GoodReads First Reads program free of cost in exchange for an honest review. The book arrived as an advance uncorrected proof.

Favorite Quote:  "When I'm ninety years old and sitting on my front porch in a rocking chair, watching my great-grandchildren frolic around the yard. I'm not going to care about our scores. I may still be able to reel them off by heart, since that's the nature of the beast, but I won't care. I will remember the joy we had pursuing those scores, and the tussles we had, and the sadness we had, too."

The Perfect Score Project is part memoir and part a guide for succeeding on the SATs. Debbie Stier is a mother of two who set out to help her teenager Ethan as he readied for the entire standardized testing and college application process.

In her initial research to help Ethan, Debbie Stier was overwhelmed by the testing options and the test preparation tools available. How do you decide? How do you figure out what is going to work for your child? How do you make sense of the myriad of advice out there?

So, she decided to undertake a year-long project of preparing for and taking the SAT herself - a quest for the elusive perfect score of 2400. Some of the elements she looked into include:

  • Can your testing center impact your score?
  • How reliable are the materials of the commercial test preparation services?
  • What resources are available free of cost?
  • How do the big names in test preparation compare?
  • What would be her pick for a study strategy?

The book is an interesting mix of SAT tips and personal story. The setup of the book does a good job of distinguishing between the two. The personal story is presented as the main text. The section on SAT tips are set off by text boxes with bullets lists, bold headings, and titles. This makes it very easy to flip through the book and isolate the advice. I do wish the book had an index or list of some sort identifying the page on which a particular topic occurs. In other words, it is easy to flip through the tips, but it is challenging to find a specific one. [The galley I received does not have index; I have been told that the final print edition does have an index which will make the book much more usable.]

Having just gone through this process with my high school age child and getting set up for another go around in a year or two, I find myself nodding in agreement with the author's perspective - a mother's take on the SAT and about life with teenagers. I don't think I would ever undertake the project she did, but I did enjoy reading about hers.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Looking for Me

Title: Looking For Me
Author:  Beth Hoffman
Publication Information:  Viking, Penguin Group. 2013. 354 pages.

Book Source:  I read this book based on how much I enjoyed the author's book Saving CeeCee Honeycutt.

Favorite Quote:  "Sometimes it's not what we hold on to that shapes our lives - it's what we're willing to let go of.”

Looking for Me is a story of a family bound by love but driven apart by a lack of communication and by an unresolved tragedy. At the heart of the story is Teddi, a young woman from a small town in Kentucky whose passion is antiques. She sees beauty in old, forgotten and broken things. This passion leads to a career and full life in Charleston and also leads away from her family.

Teddi's mother tries to have Teddi take the safe route and make compromises that lead to a safe life. She seemingly does not understand Teddi's passion and fights her flight to a new life. Yet, as Teddi discovers, there is a lot she does not know about the woman her mother was - a woman with dreams like hers beyond the family she raised.

Josh is Teddi's younger brother. Since the day he was born, Teddi adored him. Josh always had an other-worldly feel to him and an affinity for nature and its creatures. As a young man, Josh disappears. His family is devastated, and remains so because they are never able to discover what happens to him.

The book starts the story in the middle. Teddi is living in Charleston, running her own antiques shop and surrounded by a host of colorful characters. The book then weaves in the back story that makes Teddi the person she is and moves forward as she tries to deal with changes in her life and her family.

This is story about family, about defining yourself, and about learning what to hang on to and what to let go of.  As Teddi's grandmother teaches her, "Each day was a gift and how we chose to unwrap it would determine our happiness." This book is a beautifully woven tale. I can't wait to see what Beth Hoffman writes next.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

The Reason I Jump

Title: The Reason I Jump
Author:  Naoki Higashida (translated by KA Yoshida and David Mitchell)
Publication Information:  Random House. 2007 (original). 2013 (translation). 176 pages.

Book Source:  I read this book based on reading a description in a newsletter from a local independent bookstore.

Favorite Quote:  "I've learned that every human being, with or without disabilities, needs to strive to do their best, and by striving for happiness you will arrive at happiness. For us, you see, having autism is normal - so we can't know for sure what your "normal" is even like. But so long as we can learn to love ourselves, I'm not sure how much it matters whether we're normal or autistic.”

Naoki Higashida is a young author of several fiction and nonfiction books. He is also an advocate for autism awareness. He was also diagnosed as severely autistic at age 5. He learned how to communicate, not verbally but through the use of an alphabet grid board. Since he could not communicate verbally, he turned to writing to let people know who he is and to offer a better understanding of his life and his world.

Naoki Higashida wrote this book when he was thirteen years old. David Mitchell (author of Cloud Atlas) and his wife KA Yoshida discovered the book in its original Japanese as another resource to use in understanding their own autistic son. They were so profoundly impacted that they decided to translate the book to make it available to a much wider audience.

The book is written in question and answer format. Questions like:

"What's the reason you jump?"
"Why don't you make eye contact when you're talking?"
"Why do you ask the same questions over and over?"
"Why do you flap your fingers and hands in front of your face?"
"Why do you repeat certain actions again and again?"

And many others.

In addition, the book is punctuated by short stories written by the author to offer a different insight.

The answers are specific to the questions. Yet, several themes and patterns emerge. What you see is the picture of an intelligent, articulate, and composed young man whose message comes across as "Please keep battling alongside us. We are the ones who are suffering the most in these scenes, and badly, badly want to free ourselves from our own chains."

This book has gotten a lot of mixed reviews. Some question the authenticity of the book, saying that it is not his words alone but rather writing facilitated by those around him. Some question the insight it offers as compared to others on the same subject matter. Some question the use of "we" by the author so as to seem to speak for all autistic people when the manifestation of autism is unique to each individual. Some question the fact that it is written not to help a person with autism but rather to offer understanding to those who live and work with an autistic person. Some question the fact that the book really offers no answers.

I am not an expert in the field nor do I deal with autism on a day to day basis. Yet, the book had a profound impact on me. Even if all the critics are correct in their interpretation, this book offers me an understanding and knowledge that I did not have before and from a perspective that I have not seen before.

Friday, January 17, 2014


Title: Longbourn
Author:  Jo Baker
Publication Information:  Knopf. 2013. 352 pages.

Book Source:  I read this book because I love Pride and Prejudice, and this book is described as Pride and Prejudice meets Downton Abbey.

Favorite Quote:  "Things could change so entirely, in a heartbeat; the world could be made entirely anew, because someone was kind.”

Longbourn is the home of the Bennett family from Pride and Prejudice. This is the story of the home help in that household - the housekeeper, the maids, and the footman.

I have several reasons why I did not enjoy the book. First, even though this is a book about the housemaids, I did not expect as much description of laundry and cleaning as this book contains. It becomes unpleasant reading especially as some descriptions speak of the hygiene and other habits that renders the cleaning necessary. Again, it may be central to the "downstairs" view, but I find the detailed descriptions unnecessary to the story of this book.

Second, a significant section of the book is devoted to a flashback providing one character's back story. This story becomes a story of war and of the horrific aspects of war. Again, the back story may be central to that character, but it is unexpected and jarring in what is otherwise a tale of home and family life.

Third, Mrs. Hill is the Longbourn housekeeper with secrets of her own. One she keeps to maintain her husband's position. The second she keeps for the sake of societal propriety. Again, both "secrets" and story lines seem not to flow with the book.

Fourth, the story of Sarah the maid and her lover is resolved rather quickly. The are separated, and he is on the run. Then, she finds him, and all is well. It seems a little far fetched.

The fourth relates to Pride and Prejudice. This book portrays most of the characters from Pride and Prejudice as relatively unlikable. That may well be the "downstairs" view of them, but to me, it becomes a deterrent to enjoying the book.

Overall, I am able to set aside the fact it is based on Pride and Prejudice and its treatment of those characters. Even otherwise, I am unable to enjoy the book.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Man Who Walked Away

Title: The Man Who Walked Away
Author:  Maud Casey
Publication Information:  Bloomsbury USA. 2014. 240 pages.

Book Source:  I received this book as a publisher's galley through NetGalley free of cost in exchange for an honest review.

Favorite Quote:  "Home is never more home when he is leaving, and he is always leaving, tugged like a balloon into the air."

The Man Who Walked Away is loosely based on the life of Jean-Albert Dadas, who lived in nineteenth century France. He suffered from an illness now known as dromomania - an uncontrollable urge to wander. He would repeatedly set out from his home on foot and find himself in cities far away before he regained conscious thought.

In this book, we meet Albert, the wanderer. We also meet Doctor, who is not named yet is a specific person. He works at an asylum and attempts to diagnose and help Albert. As such, the book takes us to a point in history when the identification and treatment of mental illness was just beginning. Albert's story is put in the context of the stories of the other asylum patients and in the context of the Doctor's own story.

That struggle to define Albert's life and the lives of his other patients is what occupies Doctor. Albert struggles to understand his illness and just cope. Interestingly, I find Albert and Doctor to be similar on many levels. Doctor attempts to help Albert put his life together, and Doctor himself struggles with things in his own past. The book leaves many of these issues unresolved, as is understandable when dealing with mental illness. There are no easy answers. Sometimes, there are no answers at all.

The book is about a curious piece of history that I was unfamiliar. The book is just a little too abstract for my taste. Most of it seems to be the musings of two minds - Doctor and Albert - somewhat untethered like Albert himself. I find myself reading the book from an academic interest and as a curiosity without really getting involved in the story.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Ties That Bind: Stories of Love & gratitude From the First Ten Years of StoryCorps

Title: Ties That Bind:  Stories of Love & gratitude From the First Ten Years of StoryCorps
Author:  Dave Isay
Publication Information:  The Penguin Press, Penguin Group, a Penguin Random House Company. 2013. 202 pages.

Book Source:  I received this book through the GoodReads First Reads program free of cost in exchange for an honest review. The book arrived as a hardcover edition.

Favorite Quote:  "StoryCorps is based on the belief that we can discover the most profound and exquisite poetry in the words and stories of the uncelebrated people around us, if we just have the courage to ask meaningful questions and the patience to listen closely to the answers."

Before reading this book, I was not familiar with the StoryCorps project . I am so glad that I read the book and learned more. I will now follow the project and perhaps, at some point, be a part of it.

The StoryCorps project began in New York City in 2003. It is a nonprofit whose mission is "to provide people of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to record, share, and preserve the stories of our lives." In ten years, almost 50,000 interviews have been recorded and preserved as a part of our history - "an invaluable archive of American voices and wisdom for future generations".

The original idea was to create a soundproof booth in which, with the assistance of a facilitator, you can interview someone important in your life. At the end of the session, the participants get a CD with the recorded interview, and StoryCorps submits a copy for preservation to the Library of Congress. This means that generations later, someone could hear the words of their ancestors.

Just reading that description brings tears to my eyes. My father passed away a number of years ago, and I would have loved to have that memory of him. I have many memories, but I often find myself wondering what he would have thought about something, and as I get older and more understanding, wondering how he made it through some things in his life. Now, having learned of the idea, I hope to use it to capture the legacy of the people important in my life.

This is not the first book to come out of this project, but I have not yet read the others. I now probably will. This book focuses on stories of people we call family - whether born or created through love. The individual interviews are only a couple of pages long. They don't tell a complete story because that is not the intent. They capture a conversation with a lifetime behind it.

Some touched me more than other because of where I am in my life and my own experiences. All left me thinking that this is a memory I want to one day capture for own life. A beautiful glimpse into an amazing project.

Friday, January 10, 2014

The Painted Girls

Title: The Painted Girls:  A Novel
Author:  Cathy Marie Buchanan
Publication Information:  Riverhead Books. 2013. 368 pages.

Book Source:  I received this book through the GoodReads First Reads program free of cost in exchange for an honest review. The book arrived as an autographed hardcover edition! Thank you GoodReads!

Favorite Quote:  "It is about being born downtrodden and staying that way. Hard work makes no difference ... My lot, the lots of those around me, were cast the moment we were born into the gutter to parents who never managed to step outside the gutter themselves.”

The Painted Girls is a book that can be read on many different levels.

At the highest level, it is a picture of a time and place in history. It is the late 1800s in Paris - the time of the Paris Opera, of Emile Zola, and Edgar Degas. The book takes literary liberties, combining certain actual events and people to bring them together in one story.

At another level, this book is a story of two young women taking different routes but both trying to find a way out of poverty to a better life. In this, it is the story of Antoinette and Marie as individuals trying to climb out of their life of abject poverty. Antoinette finds a young man and work in the theater but descends further into the "downtrodden." Marie finds some success at the Paris Opera and catches the eye of artist Edgar Degas and becomes immortalized as the Little Dancer Aged Fourteen. Yet, how successful is either one of them at attaining what they dream about.

At another level, The Painted Girls is the story of family - sisters in particular. Antoinette is the oldest of the three and de facto mother and protector to her younger sisters. Marie is the middle sister, who fears the path her sister has chosen, partially because she fears what would become of her if Antionette leaves. On the periphery is Charlotte, the youngest of the three.

The book alternates between Antoinette's and Marie's point of view. Occasionally, there are excerpts from the newspapers of the time with snapshots of history as they pertain to the story. What is odd is that the reader does not see Charlotte's point of view. If the story is the of these sisters, then I feel that is missing from the book.

The book is dark and sad, but the story is vividly depicted. Some parts of the story are a little slow, but I persevered through them. The ending brings all the stories together and does a little show and tell about what happens to each of the sisters.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The Goldfinch

Title: The Goldfinch
Author:  Donna Tartt
Publication Information:  Little, Brown, and Company. 2013. 784 pages.

Book Source:  I read this book based on a friend's recommendation.

Favorite Quote:  "None of us ever find enough kindness in the world, do we?"

The goldfinch is a small bird. The Goldfinch is a small painting created by
Carel Fabritius in 1654. The painting is of a small bird chained to its feed box. It is considered to be a masterpiece of tromp l'oeill illusionism. Viewed from a certain angle, the viewer may think that the bird is real. The painting is also one of only about 15 works created by the artist, who died very young. Shortly after painting this piece, he died in a explosion of a gunpowder store in the city of Delft in the Netherlands.

The painting is a key character in the story of Theo Decker. Theo is thirteen years old as the story begins. He is being raised by his mother; his father has recently abandoned them both. Theo and his mother are caught in an explosion, which leaves his mother dead and Theo traumatized. He walks away physically uninjured but altered forever. He also walks away in possession of this painting.

The book proceeds to tell of Theo life - taken in by friends, claimed by relatives, alone, finding and losing friends, living his life as an adult, and repeatedly turning to self-destructive behaviors as an escape.

The book definitely consists of distinct sections centered around different phases in Theo's life. He travels through his life, never finding solace to recover from the trauma of losing his mother. The Goldfinch travels with him, and takes on the role of Theo's anchor.

This book is almost 800 pages long, and one of the saddest, most depressing books I have ever read. If that will deter you as a reader, then this is definitely not the book for you.

That being said, I really liked the book. It has some of the qualities of a train wreck - terrible things happen to this young man; yet, as a reader, you cannot look away. Regardless of the bad choices he makes, I care about Theo and what happens to him. This makes the almost 800 pages fly by, waiting to see if at some point, he finds peace and joy in his life.

At one point, Theo remarks, "As much as I'd like to believe there's a truth beyond illusion, I've come to believe that there's no truth beyond illusion. Because between 'reality' on the one hand, and the point where the mind strikes reality, there's a middle zone, a rainbow edge where beauty comes into being, where two very different surfaces mingle and blur to provide what life does not:  and this is the space where all art exists, and all magic."

This book, in its reading, hits that middle zone.

Monday, January 6, 2014

The Deepest Secret

Title:  The Deepest Secret
Author:  Carla Buckley
Publication Information:  Bantam Books. 2014. 429 pages.

Book Source:  I received this book through the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program free of cost in exchange for an honest review. The book arrived as a paperback advance reader's edition.

Favorite Quote:  "But sometimes, the worst part is knowing - having all the ugly, undeniable facts spread out in clear view, and not being able to do a damned thing to change any of them."

What would you do to protect your child? How far would you go? That is the question at the heart of The Deepest Secret. Eve and David have two children. Melissa is teenager dealing with the struggles of growing up. Tyler is a young man with a disease that will probably be fatal before he reaches the age of 20.

The Lattimore family lives on a quiet cul-de-sec on a quiet suburban street. Tyler's condition is a rare sensitivity to light, one in which exposure to light could potentially kill him. There is no cure. David and Eve have created a home environment designed to keep Tyler safe - dark curtains, night activities, requests to neighbors about using lights, and restrictions on Melissa and Tyler.

David's job keeps him away much of the time. Eve is completely dedicated to Tyler's needs, and to shepherding Melissa through the teen years.

One day, an accident threatens the world Eve has so carefully built. Her decision and actions come from a need to protect her child, and yet have catastrophic effects for her and for those around her. By her decision, she creates a mystery and wreaks havoc in the lives of another family. In the ensuing events, the police get involved, and Melissa and Tyler get involved. It all spirals out of Eve's control.

The chapters move back and forth between the points of view of the different main characters - Eve, David, Tyler, and a few bring in some different perspectives. Eve is a mother trying to protect an ill child, mother her healthy child, and hold her marriage together. As she says, "How is a parent supposed to balance the needs of a healthy child against a fragile one? It can't ever be equal - not the time, nor the resources, nor the hours lying awake in the dark consumed by tangled thoughts - but the love can be exactly the same. The love has always been split precisely down the middle, an effortless divide."

David is away from home working most of the time. He struggles with the love for his family and the feeling that life has become about Tyler's illness to the exclusion of everything else - at least for Eve.

Tyler is the young man with a death sentence. Yet, he is also a teenager rebelling against the rules set by his mother to keep him safe.

The central theme of what you would do to protect your child touches the heart of any parent. The struggle between what is the right thing to do for your child versus what is the right to do period is Eve's dilemma. That emotional turmoil carries this book through the over 400 pages. I won't say where it ends up, but I don't think it could have ended any other way. I am glad that it did not.

Friday, January 3, 2014

The Secret - Hero

Title: The Secret - Hero
Author:  Rhonda Byrne
Publication Information:  Atria Books, Simon & Schuster Inc. 2013. 227 pages.

Book Source:  I read this book based on enjoying the author's other works.

Favorite Quote:  "This is your story, but only you can live it. This is your Hero's Journey, but only you can take it."

The Secret - Hero is the fourth book in the series in Rhonda Byrne. The first was the international bestseller, The Secret, which was preceded by the movie of the same title. Then came The Power, The Magic, and now this book.

The essence of this book is that we are - each of us - the heroes of our own story, and it is up to us to make of our story what we will.

The book is organized into four sections - dream, hero, quest, and victory. Chapters within each section explore each idea further. Each chapter presents the author's text. Intertwined in that text are the stories of twelve contributors to the book. They come from different walks of life, but each in his or her own way has found success. Quotes from them and occasional other quotes reinforce the ideas of each section.

I enjoy the idea, and the book. I do not care for the organization of the book. I started by reading the book as written.  I kept losing the thread of the author's words and then each of the individual stories.

Then, I went back and read it the way it makes more sense to me. I went through the book several times, following each thread separately. Read this way, the same picture develops but from a different perspective. I find myself more involved in the book and the ideas as I read one point of view from beginning to end.