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.

I Finally Did It! Check Me Out on Etsy!

So something that people might not know about me is that I love making art. When I was in kindergarten, my grandmother would bring me along to art lessons that she would take and I fell in love.

All throughout school, art was always my favorite subject. In high school, I took as many art classes as I could. I really enjoyed portraits back then, and would always be drawing pictures of my friends and favorite celebrities.

I *almost* decided to go to school for art, but ended up choosing journalism as my major instead. Even then, I kept up with my interest in art and ended up working as a blogger for the Tyler Student Life page at the Tyler School of Art. I got to talk to students and artists, see their work, and start conversations about art and working as an artist. It was something that I really enjoyed.

Life’s gotten in the way a little bit since then, so I haven’t really had the time to sit down and draw or paint, but thanks to my current job I’ve been able to travel the world. Seeing the beautiful architecture in other countries, visiting art museums, and just enjoying life have really made me want to get back into the art world.

Then came COVID and here I was sitting at home bored out of my mind. Like many others, I decided to order art supplies from Michael’s and Amazon (which wasn’t easy because everything was pretty much sold out). I finally picked up the paintbrush again! And I’m actually not that bad at it.

I decided to open an Etsy account so that my artwork doesn’t keep piling up at my house. It’s really just something for fun, but I appreciate any one who’s willing to check it out.

I have tons of photos from my travels that I plan on painting and selling on the shop, BUT FIRST! I’ve been painting photos of my family’s dogs on ornaments and decided to offer it as a custom ornament on the shop. It’s just a start, but here’s a link if you want to see it for yourself: Custom Hand-Painted Dog Ornaments.

Anyway, that’s all I wanted to share. Thanks so much for taking the time to read and check out my new venture 🙂

Visit KaylaCropperArt on Etsy!

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.

Modern Love: True Stories of Love, Loss and Redemption by Daniel Jones

I’m not sure I’ve ever really talked about this, but  I do the majority of my reading on a Kindle. I’m sure that’s pretty common now, so it’s not something that really needs to be talked about. I’ve always been a reader though, so I do kind of love the feeling of flipping through pages and having an actual book in your hands.

Every so often, I’ll take trips to the bookstore with my family members and search for something new to read. Right before we were issued stay-at-home orders, my mom and I went to Books A Million just on a whim one day. I actually have a really hard time finding books at bookstores because I want to walk through the entire store and check out everything before I make a decision. There was a section for books that have been made into tv shows and movies that I kept coming back to, so eventually I made two purchases there.

Modern Love stuck out to me. I feel like I’ve hinted at this a few times in past posts, but I’ve had this “thing” with a person for almost 3 years now that’s been very hot and cold. I think it’s safe to say it’s over for good now, but it was definitely a roller coaster of emotions for me the last few years.

I’m not going to share all the details here, but what stuck out to me the most about this book was that it was about unconventional love stories. My story with this person didn’t make sense to anyone else that knew the details and it doesn’t have a happy ending, but I felt like (at least on my part) it was real, pure love. Now, enough about me…

I really enjoyed this book. I loved that the stories about the relationships weren’t just couples. I loved how different they all were. The stories made me teary-eyed, they made me laugh, they made me smile. Above everything, I felt like each story touched me in a different way. I felt like each story was important to be reading, even if I couldn’t relate.

I would absolutely recommend this book to everyone. I actually already passed it on to my mom (great thing about having an actual book, right?). Who knows if she’ll actually read it, but I hope she does.

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

I’ll admit, I was only interested in reading Wuthering Heights again because of how often it was mentioned in the After series. Honestly, I think I’ve been assigned to read this book probably at least 3 times throughout high school and college, but I’m not sure I ever actually read it all the way through.

I feel like I could probably write a whole essay on how I feel about this book, but I’ll try to keep it short.

From the beginning I felt bad for Heathcliff. Cathy is kind of a spoiled brat and the way that she puts on a different face for everyone else is pretty annoying. She clearly loves Heathcliff and can really be herself with him, but seems to care more about money and that Edgar will be able to provide the nicer life.

She’s honestly a pretty terrible person and does/says things that she knows will hurt people. It’s interesting that she ended up this way and that Hindley was a terrible man, especially because their father was so nice and they had Nelly around their whole lives, and she should have been a good influence.

Cathy and Heathcliff are a good match because he is equally as terrible as her. It’s kind of her fault that he ended up this way, but he also only seems to do things that he knows will hurt people. It’s terrible what they do to Isabella and I’m glad that she runs away from him.

It’s pretty drastic that Heathcliff felt the need to destroy the entire Linton family just because Cathy decided to marry someone else. At the end it does seem like he starts to realize that it was all for nothing, so I guess that’s good.

This story is really just about people causing each other pain and suffering because they were more worried about their social status, which is pretty sad.

I was glad that Catherine (the daughter) ends up with Hareton at the end. Those the close family relation between everyone in the second generation of Earnshaws, Lintons, and Heathcliffs is super weird. The only character I really felt sorry for the whole time was Hareton. It made me really sad when Catherine made fun of him for trying to learn how to read to impress her. He was honestly the other character that tried to improve his situation instead of hurting other people.

The ghost element to the story was interesting, but I kind of felt like it wasn’t necessary. I think it would’ve been better if Cathy was just gone forever rather than Heathcliff searching for her ghost. I guess I just wish it would’ve been more important to the storyline, than just something that was at the beginning and the end.

It’s definitely a complicated story. I’m glad that I’ve finally actually read the whole thing. Probably won’t do it again though.

Before by Anna Todd

I wasn’t sure how I would feel about reading Before after reading the rest of the After series. I really didn’t want to read about the way Hardin was before Tessa, but I’m glad that I did read it.

At first I was a little put off by this book. When it started out with the back stories of Natalie, Molly, and Steph I definitely wasn’t sure I would finish it. I really didn’t want to hear the details of their hook-ups with Hardin, so I’m glad that it didn’t go any further, but then also it made the introductions to their point of view seem really pointless.

It was interesting to see the first book from Hardin’s point of view. It was kind of surprising how much Molly was actually being helpful and trying to protect Tessa. I thought there would be more from Molly’s perspective and Steph’s too, so it was disappointing that we didn’t get to see that during their relationship. Again, it made it really pointless to introduce their point of view in the beginning.

I really didn’t care about Christian’s part in this book. It didn’t add anything to the overall story. Seeing  what happened with Zed after everything was alright, but again not necessary. I did like the little glimpse into Smith’s world though.

I actually preferred the “Hessa” ending in this book to how it ended in After Ever Happy. The little glimpse into how they ended up was much better than all the time jumps. I don’t think I realized that they never got married until Hardin said it. I guess I just assumed that they had done it at some point.

I read some reviews for the Landon books and I’m not sure that I’m going to read them. Landon was an okay character, but I don’t really feel like he needed his own series. The reviews were basically what I expected and I think I’ve read enough of the universe. We already know that he becomes a teacher, gets married, and has a daughter. I think that’s enough really. I just feel like his story would be much more “vanilla” in comparison to Hardin and Tessa’s story.

After Ever Happy by Anna Todd

What a roller coaster this series has been. The fourth book in this series definitely had more ups and downs than any of the others. Major spoilers ahead! You’ve been warned.

So the story picks up with Hardin finding out that Vance is his father. He absolutely loses it and ends up on a bender and abandoning Tessa yet again. She’s fed up, ready to be done with Hardin and goes home only to find her father dead of a drug overdose in their apartment. WHAT? I swear my jaw dropped when I read this part.

Hardin comes back and is finally ready to change, but Tessa isn’t ready to take him back. Really who could blame her? It’s not like he has a great track record and he apologizes over and over for the same things. It does seem like he’s changing this time.

Tessa ends up moving to New York with Landon and Hardin comes for a visit. Everything seems good UNTIL she finds out that he’s written a book about their love story. She reads it and seems to love it, but then we time jump and find out that she didn’t take him back yet.

They still love each other and decide to get married, but then they don’t. The ending time jumps a few more times (not a fan, by the way) and eventually you find out that they did get married and they have two biological children even though the doctor told her she would struggle to get pregnant.

I’m happy with how the story ended. I wish they didn’t have so many time jumps at the end. It would’ve been fine I think to just have one time jump in the epilogue that showed Hardin with little Emery and Tessa pregnant with Auden. We didn’t need the rest of that really.

I’m going to read Before next just because I’m interested in what that could possibly be about and how it’ll make me feel about Hardin now that I love the new and improved version of him.

I may also read the Landon series. I haven’t completely decided yet, but I like how Anna Todd set it up and didn’t really tell us who he was married to. I’m guessing this was in anticipation of the spin-off series. Are Tessa and Hardin in it too? I’ll definitely read it if they’re in it too.

After We Fell by Anna Todd

Finished with book three! I can’t believe there’s only one left to the series (not counting the one that’s about Hardin’s life before Tessa). I purposely tried to drag this one out because I really don’t want these books to end.

These books really are like a soap opera, which I guess is why they’re so addictive. There are so many twists and turns, so many secrets, so much betrayal. It’s kind of crazy because I definitely felt like Tessa deserved better when I was reading the first book, but now I’m 100% in support of their relationship because I really don’t believe anyone could love Tessa more than Hardin, even if his love is kind of all consuming.

I’m about to get into spoilers so stop reading if you’re actually going to read these books.

The thing that happened with Steph at the beginning was crazy. I definitely was not expecting that and couldn’t believe that this whole time she had a thing for Hardin and was mad that he was with Tessa. I did question why she didn’t tell Tessa about the bet if she was truly her friend, but I didn’t really think that she would go this far. Anna Todd did set up everything with Dan though, he obviously would try to get revenge. I also owe Zed an apology for thinking he’d actually send texts from Hardin’s phone.

Everything at the end with Vance was pretty shocking too. It kept being hinted at that Vance had loved someone other than his first wife and Kimberly, but I’m not sure I would have guessed that it’d be Trish. Once Hardin caught them together I absolutely knew that this was where it was going. I also couldn’t imagine reading that and then having to wait for another book to be released. I need to keep reading to find out what happens.

I mentioned already that I fully support their relationship now, which is kind of funny because it’s definitely something I didn’t expect. I could understand the attraction to each other, but they seemed so toxic. I’m sure this was done on purpose, but with all the other people in their lives having toxic relationships as well it almost makes theirs not so bad. Yes they fight and Hardin is way too controlling of Tessa, but for the most part they don’t lie to each other and they don’t cheat.

I’m really rooting for them in the next book. I hope their relationship continues to get stronger and that Hardin comes around and finally agrees to marry Tessa. Also hope that they make this book into a movie as well. I need it to be a movie.

I found out that there’s a book series about Landon too. I’m kind of curious how that one is and whether or not it’s worth reading. I wonder if Hardin and Tessa make appearances in those books. I might actually read them if they do.