Only Love Is Real: A Story of Soulmates Reunited by Brian L. Weiss M.D.

I’m not going to lie…I definitely only read this book because I saw Kylie Jenner post about it on Instagram. I’m not ashamed to admit that I love and absolutely keep up with the Kardashian/Jenners and all that they do. This time I’m so glad I decided to screenshot her recommendation.

I’ve been wanting to read this for awhile, but have had other books already on my list that I wanted to finish first. Now that I’ve finished it, I wish I would’ve read it sooner because it’s absolutely confirmed so many of my beliefs.

I really don’t want to spoil anything for anyone that hasn’t read it, but to summarize Dr. Weiss is a psychiatrist and hypnotherapist who uses past life regressions to treat his patients. In his first book (which I’ll be reading next) he was able to help a woman deal with traumas and anxieties in her current life by taking her through a past life regression. In this one, he began working with two patients who had recently experienced losses of people who were close to them when he discovered that the patients (who did not know each other in their current lives) may have been acquainted in past lives.

This book was so interesting, I literally read it so fast and really didn’t want to put it down.

I’m someone who already believes in soulmates, past lives, reincarnation, destiny etc. so maybe that’s why I felt so drawn to this story. At one point, Dr. Weiss describes his findings as being magical and honestly they really are.

I’m not necessarily someone who believes in God, but I do feel that I am spiritual and I do believe in a higher power and that your soul will continue on once you die. I believe that you have past lives and that our souls are reincarnated into new bodies. I believe that we come in contact with souls that we’ve met before on our journeys. All of this is kind of confirmed in this book.

Personally, I feel that I’ve experienced meeting one of my soul connections. When I met this person, I felt immediately that I knew them my whole life and possibly even longer. They felt familiar to me, and when we were together in person I always felt safe and comfortable. Almost like having that person feel like home. Even before reading this book, I looked into our connection with astrology and found that my Vertex is conjunct his Venus. Vertex conjunctions are said to represent karmic relationships with people from past lives.

After reading this book I feel even more so that this person was destined to be a part of my life in some way, and honestly when I look back at our time together I do recognize that he’s had a huge impact on my own personal growth. We aren’t currently in contact with each other and sometimes it feels like a part of me is missing, but after reading this book I feel like maybe this is just part of our journey. Maybe we knew each other in a past life and something difficult happened that is keeping us apart this time. Maybe we’ve fulfilled our purpose with each other in this life and we’ll meet again in the next. Maybe we needed to do more work separately before coming back together.

The one thing that I’ve really taken from the book is that the possibilities of your lifetime are limitless. There’s always another opportunity. There’s always growth that will happen. Your life and your soul are limitless. It’s kind of amazing.

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to find a hypnotherapist now to do my own past life regressions and see if I recognize any souls. It’s just so interesting. Maybe I will eventually, maybe we all should.

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

I really enjoyed this book. I watched the Hulu adaptation probably about a year ago and really loved it, so I’ve had this book on my list to read for awhile.

The show did a really good job adapting the story for the screen. There were definitely a few changes made, but I don’t think they messed with the story much at all. I did think it was interesting that the author never specifically mentioned Mia and Pearl’s races, yet the show made the decision to make them African American. It’s interesting to me that they did this because I feel like it hinders where the story could have gone.

***MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD***

Something that was really interesting in the book was how Izzy felt that Mia could have been a better mother to her than Elena. She loves spending time with Mia, she listens to the things that Mia teaches her, she even at one point says that she fantasizes that Mia is her mother.

Honestly because I watched the show first I pictured Mia and Pearl as being African American, so reading this was the first time that I realized that oh, if she thinks she looks enough like Mia to possibly be her daughter than that means that Mia must be white.

I’m sure that race was changed in the show to draw even larger differences between Mia and Elena. I thought Kerry Washington was perfect in the show, so I wouldn’t change it, but when adaptations do this I feel like we need to question the change and why it was made. Wouldn’t it have been more shocking to Elena that a woman who looked like her chose this lifestyle? Did we really need to make a black woman this sort of nomad who’s perceived by Elena as being unstable with the way she lives her life? The book already deals with elements of race, so did it need this added layer of racism?

It’s definitely interesting to think about and adds more to the discussion when reading the book, but I can’t help but wonder if doing this was really necessary to the story.

Also, I feel like it really hinders them from creating a second season of the show. At the end of the book, Izzy is headed to Mia’s parents’ house. She knows everything about Pearl and Mia’s brother and her parents from the file her mother kept and she’s looking for Mia by going to her parents.

If I was a writer for the show and wanted to create another season, I could definitely see a situation unfolding where Izzy (who’s around the same age as Pearl) tells Mia’s parents that she’s the baby. It would definitely create a conflict and force all of the characters to come together again, but since they have different races this wouldn’t be something that they can do now.

Maybe they have other ideas, and I don’t think the show has been renewed yet, but I do wonder if this was part of the conversation. Anyone else think the same?

Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance

Like almost every other book I read, I watched this movie first. I thought that the movie was good, the actors played their roles really well, and the story was interesting. However, I felt that there was probably way more to this story than what they were portraying. Boy, was I right.

My aunt and I were talking about the movie and how we both wanted to read the book. She actually surprised me by sending a copy to me in the mail (special shout-out to Aunt Angie!).

***MAJOR MOVIE AND BOOK SPOILERS AHEAD***

I was surprised when I started reading that the book wasn’t set up like the movie. It didn’t start in the present with a major conflict that the main character was dealing with, it just started from the beginning of J.D.’s life.

It threw me off at first, but I liked it way better. Starting from the beginning really allowed us to see everything through J.D.’s eyes. We got all the background on his family in Kentucky, his Mamaw and Papaw’s move to Ohio and everything that led up to his childhood. It really helped to set the scene and give the reader the sense of hope for a better future by getting out of Kentucky.

If you’ve read the book or seen the movie, you know that his grandparents getting out of Kentucky wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows. They never lost their “hillbilly” side and had very strong and aggressive personalities. It made his mothers life very difficult, which in turn made J.D.’s life difficult.

This sort of rut that they were stuck in is something that I think needs to be talked about more. I don’t think people realize it, but when you grow up in circumstances where you’re told this is all you’ll ever amount to and this is what you should expect from life, it’s really hard to get out of that. J.D.’s mom was smart and did well in school, but as he mentions ended up pregnant and divorced before she was even out of her teens. She was just a product of her environment and once she was caught up in it, she didn’t find her way out.

J.D. was on that path as well because he was also stuck in that environment. It wasn’t until he took control of his life and moved in permanently with his Mamaw that his life started to change for the better. Through a series of choices that he made, without any real goals, he became the exception to the rule. He made it to Yale. He made it out of poverty. He was able to improve his life and recognize that he wasn’t the norm for people who grew up the same way.

He also recognized that he didn’t do this on his own. He needed help and he needed people to help him figure out how to get that help. It was actually shocking to me as well when he realized that he could spend less going to Yale than he did going to a local college. It makes sense when you think about it, because there’s plenty of financial aid for people who need it when they go to college, and of course ivy-league schools have lots of money to give. It made really wonder how many people haven’t even tried because they didn’t think they could afford it. How many people were told that they couldn’t accomplish going to a better school because they would end up with too much debt?

Since I watched the movie first, I was shocked to find out that the entire conflict in the movie wasn’t even mentioned in the book. J.D. wasn’t interrupted during his dinner to find out his mother had overdosed and had to drive all night to make it to the hospital. He didn’t take her to a rehab where he had to pay with multiple credit cards. He didn’t catch her trying to use at a dirty motel.

There were mentions of similar situations, but nothing so dramatic as what they portrayed in the movie. It actually made the movie feel cheap and like a disservice to J.D. real, true story. They used his family’s problems to create a dramatic situation that took away from his accomplishment. They made it about Amy Adams, when it should’ve just been about how he got away from her.

It’s not often that I’m disappointed in movie adaptations, but this one is pretty bad in my opinion.

Everything he wrote about was real and interesting. It’s eye-opening and inspiring to see how someone from a totally different background can accomplish more than they ever thought was possible. It really does show that opportunity is out there, but it’s not as accessible as we think.

This was truly a great book and great story. I really hope that everyone who watched the movie takes the time to read the book.

Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood

I really don’t know why, but it took me forever to get through this book. I think it may have been because it was so similar to the show that it wasn’t really interesting to me, or didn’t really add anything to the story enough for me to stay interested. Honestly though, that’s a compliment to the show because it means they did really well with the details!

I will say, the story did get a lot more interesting once we got to the murders and what Grace did remember. I did also like that we got to see Dr. Jordan meeting with more people that knew Grace and that he went to the house where the murders took place.

I expected the hypnotism to be more exciting in the book, but I guess it can’t be too sensational if it’s supposed to be believable. The acting in the show was perfect and made this scene so creepy!

One thing I really didn’t like was how both Jeremiah and Dr. Jordan kind of fled after the hypnotism. It seemed like both of them were trying to be helpful and then it was like they both just gave up. I really thought that they would help her get out sooner, but I guess since this is fiction based on a true story we wouldn’t be able to have her get out of the penitentiary earlier than she actually did.

It was also disappointing that Dr. Jordan’s memory was affected in the war, resulting in him being no help to Grace whatsoever. Honestly it made his whole role in the story pretty pointless. I’m not sure how much of this is historically accurate, but if this is what really happened then that really sucks.

Although I’m not sure myself whether Grace was innocent or if she was suffering from some sort of mental/post-traumatic stress disorder, I am glad that she was pardoned and was able to live the rest of her life with some sort of freedom. She definitely was very unlucky in life, so it was nice that she sort of had a happy ending. Not sure that I wanted her to end up with Jamie, but honestly it could’ve been way worse.

I hope she did have a happy ending. It would be nice to know what really happened.

After by Anna Todd

I’m really not sure where to begin with this one. I guess I’ll start with a little explanation.

My mom told me a few months ago that she had watched a movie called After on Netflix and she thought I would like it. Honestly it didn’t sound that great from the description, but after spending an hour trying to find something to watch I decided to give it a shot.

Honestly I was surprised at how much I actually liked the movie. I guess I think that since I’m an adult I won’t like these teen love stories anymore, but really I should just admit to myself that they get me every time.

Obviously, I was excited when I found out that it was originally a book series and that there were multiple books in the series. UNTIL I stumbled across the Wikipedia page where I found out that this was originally written as Harry Styles fan-fiction.

I will say, I’m a big Harry Styles fan and definitely had a crush on him when he was in One Direction. I’m just not really usually impressed by fan-fiction and honestly would never have put two and two together that Hardin Scott was modeled after Harry Styles.

Even after reading the book, it’s hard for me to understand why Anna Todd would turn Harry Styles into this horrible, manipulative character. I mean, are we really supposed to believe that the guy who wears flowery suits would act this way towards a woman that he truly loves? I definitely had to disassociate my idea of Harry Styles from the character of Hardin Scott when reading this book.

That being said, I actually really enjoyed reading it. Hardin is horrible and Tessa definitely shouldn’t have stayed with him this long. He’s crazy manipulative and controlling, and the way he is with her is borderline abuse, but I found myself unable to put this book down. Honestly Tessa isn’t much better. They both overreact whenever they argue and even though she tries to see things from his point of view, she still seems to be unwilling to change for the relationship even though she asks him multiple times to change for her.

This really isn’t some great work of literature, but it is entertaining. I’m definitely going to read the next book. Since there are 5 of them, I’m assuming she forgives Hardin again and takes him back. I’m sure they’ll fight more and break up about a million more times, but I do kind of need to know what comes next.

So even though I’m conflicted about the inspiration for the story, I have to say Anna Todd does really know how to keep someone interested with her writing. Maybe it’s sort of like a car crash you can’t look away from? Anyone else feel this way reading it?

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

I remember being little and watching The Haunting when it first came out in 1999. I’ve seen the movie about a million times since then and honestly can’t believe that I never knew it was a book.

It wasn’t until Netflix adapted it into a series that I realized it was based on the novel of the same name and absolutely decided that I had to read it. (Side note: Netflix is becoming a bit of a theme here isn’t it?)

The movie is definitely a closer adaptation of the book than the show was, but I feel like all three were done really well and told the story of Hill House.

I actually don’t think I’ve ever read a “horror” novel before, so this was a first. It was really creepy and I really liked the little scenes here and there that showed the house was haunted.

All of the characters had very strange, very different personalities. It was interesting to see how their personalities meshed together. It was obvious from the beginning that Nell was being affected by the house the most. I honestly was absolutely positive she was going to jump off that tower (probably because of Nell’s fate in the series).

The crash at the end happened pretty quickly, so I wasn’t sure that Nell had actually died. I hoped that she didn’t, or that if she did there would be a little bit about her ghost.

It’s super creepy how the house seems to consume the people in it. The series did a really good job showing that too.

I’m interested in seeing what the next season will be about since they’ve stated that it’ll be an entirely different storyline. It’s kind of sad honestly because I really fell in love with those characters, but it did have a good ending.

I did really like how there were subtle nods to things in the book in the series like the cup of stars, throwing rocks at the glass greenhouse, and the poem that the flapper woman recites.

Highly recommend the book if you’re a fan of the show. It was definitely worth the read.

Bird Box by Josh Malerman

I definitely jumped on the Bird Box bandwagon when this movie first came out on Netflix. It was crazy how much it blew up on social media and how popular it became so quickly.

I really enjoyed the movie but there were a few things I had questions about, so I hoped that reading the book would explain everything better.

There were a lot of differences right off the bat. The story starts a lot slower, Malorie is living with her sister for awhile when it all starts happening around them and she saw an ad in the paper that mentioned a safe house. Definitely understand why they sped things up in the movie. I’m not sure it’s very believable that with all this panic going on someone took the time to go out and pay for an add in the newspaper.

The whole thing with Gary was really crazy, both in the movie and the book. I definitely liked how it was written better than how it was portrayed in the movie. It just didn’t make sense that he seemed normal and then was crazy out of nowhere. The book explains that he’s sort of immune to whatever is going on outside and believes that others can be immune too. That just makes more sense to me.

I can’t believe that after they kicked him out he was hiding in the attic and that Don was the one that pulled down all the curtains and blankets. I also can’t believe that everyone died and Malorie had the patience to wait that long by herself with babies before attempting to go down the river.

Ending at the school for the blind is definitely interesting. I’m curious why the author  chose to have people there who blinded themselves. It’s definitely understandable given the situation, and she understood because she almost blinded the babies. Maybe it makes her trust them because she could relate and they’re honest about it? Just felt like a weird detail to throw in at the end.

This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald

In high school I was assigned The Great Gatsby and absolutely fell in love with F. Scott Fitzgerald’s storytelling. My grandmother had a collection of his short stories and I read through them pretty quickly. I’ve always meant to read more of Fitzgerald’s work, but have definitely let other books take precedence over them.

I finally decided to sit down and read This Side of Paradise.

From the beginning, Amory is an odd child. He’s definitely privileged, thinks he’s smarter and better than everyone else. He doesn’t believe that the people around him, other than his mother, can hold intelligent conversations with him.

He believes that he thinks differently than other people. I’ve read that Fitzgerald based Amory on himself, which is actually kind of funny because I do think that creative people believe that they think differently from other people and that others won’t understand their ideas. I feel like I’ve felt that way about myself a few times, not to say that I’m necessarily the most creative person in the world, but I think my brain sometimes works differently than others.

The story continues and Amory moves to Chicago where he meets a girl that he sort of likes. Throughout the story, he basically will fall for every girl that’s beautiful and slightly different from how he expects a woman to think or act. I guess this relates back to him thinking that he’s different and he’s attracted to anything that also seems to stray from the norm.

He eventually goes away to school and again doesn’t fit in with anyone. He still has this mindset that he’s a free-thinker and that he’s above everyone and everything, doesn’t really try to fit in. It’s surprising honestly that he finishes college.

He then goes to war. I was a bit surprised that there wasn’t much to this part of the story. I guess maybe Fitzgerald didn’t think it was relevant enough?

Amory returns home and falls in love with Rosalind. Once again it’s a very quick and sort of shallow love. She was probably right that it wouldn’t have lasted, but he couldn’t accept it because he wasn’t the one to end their relationship.

It’s hard to feel sorry for him honestly. He’s so entitled and really makes poor decisions very spontaneously. After Rosalind breaks his heart he feels sorry for himself, becomes an alcoholic, loses his job, and spends the rest of his family money on alcohol.

By the end he’s still struggling to fit into society and there’s a long conversation he has about socialism in the back of a taxi.

I’m just not really sure what this book was about or if there was a point to it. I guess Fitzgerald was just sort of writing about his personal feelings and things that he’s experienced in his life. It was interesting, but it’s sort of shocking to me how much people seem to love this book. I’m not sure that I’d ever recommend it to someone or that I’d choose to read it again.

To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before (Series) by Jenny Han

After hearing a lot about the movie, I finally sat down one day and watched To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before on Netflix. I absolutely loved it. It was so cute and relatable. It made me laugh and cry. I just really loved it.

Of course I had to read the books. They were so good, I could seriously read about Lara Jean and Peter all day long. I actually wish that was an option in life.

I read the three books in this series so quickly that it doesn’t make sense for me to make three separate posts about how great they were and how much I loved each one. Definitely light reading compared to some of the other books I’ve read, but they were all so so enjoyable to read.

I was actually pretty upset after reading them all that Jenny Han said she wouldn’t be writing any more books about Lara Jean. I want to know about Korea, college with Peter, the rest of their lives, etc.!

I’m so glad that Netflix announced they’d be making the second movie and the cast looks really great. Definitely looking forward to it’s release!

The Shape of Water by Guillermo del Toro

So this is actually pretty interesting because I believe Guillermo del Toro released the book after the movie came out. If I’m wrong about this, please let me know.

I was at Books A Million one day and they had a whole table full of books that had been adapted into movies and I saw The Shape of Water there. It wasn’t until later that I actually downloaded it onto my Kindle and realized that it was more of a movie adapted into a book. At first I was a little put off by it, to be honest. I really enjoyed the movie and just felt like maybe del Toro did this to explain things better and to me that meant that he felt he didn’t explain it well enough in the movie.

The beginning of the book was really slow for me and it actually took me a really long time to read it because of this. I just didn’t care about the tracking of the creature in the Amazon or Lainie’s move to Baltimore. The only parts I was interested in reading were from Elisa’s point of view because she was deaf and it was actually interesting to read her thoughts.

It’s actually funny that I had to drag myself through Lainie’s parts at the beginning because she ended up being one of my favorite characters. She didn’t have a large role in the movie from what I remember, so it was nice to get to see her story line evolve in the book.

The second half of the book was much more interesting to read. I usually don’t read science fiction-type stories, but I actually liked the love story between Elisa and the creature and how they went through awful things to end up together. I think that’s relatable enough for a reader, without hoping you’ll one day meet the fish man of your dreams.

Despite some parts being slow, this was incredibly well written from the different points of view. You really get a good sense of each character’s personality and that’s really important to telling a good story.

The fish/creature/man’s point of view was pretty weird though. It definitely added to the story, but it was an odd choice to make when the lack of communication between it and everyone else was such a strong focus. I also find it hard to believe that it’s thoughts would be in English.

Overall really interesting to read and definitely added something to the movie. Would 100% recommend to anyone who loved the film.