Mini-reviews – catching up

Relish: My Life in the KitchenRelish: My Life in the Kitchen by Lucy Knisley
Published by Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group

This is an adorable food-themed graphic memoir that was super enjoyable to read. Lucy Knisley basically takes the most pivotal moments in her life and relates them to what she was eating, cooking, or learning to make at that time. I really loved the experience of reading this book – not only is it a heartwarming memoir, but the illustrations are great and Knisley includes several of her tried-and-true and family recipes, as well. Overall I just really enjoyed it and will definitely be looking for more from this author.

Truly Madly GuiltyTruly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty
Published by Flatiron Books

The basic gist of this one is three couples, of varying degrees of friendship, get together one night for a barbecue and something disastrous happens. The book details the personalities and relationships of the characters before the big event, and then goes into depth on how it has a ripple effect on each one of the characters for quite some time after. I have really loved all of Moriarty’s novels and this one was no exception. The way she is able to create tension amongst a group of people and the way she is able to make even the most vile of characters sympathetic and relatable are two talents that she has that very few authors share with her to this degree. I was definitely kept on the edge of my seat throughout this novel and continue to be impressed with her writing and ability to craft a well-paced, unputdownable story.

A Court of Thorns and Roses (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #1)A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
Published by Bloomsbury USA Childrens

Feyre is nineteen years old and her life revolves around finding food for her family and staying safe from the faeries that once ruled the world she lives in. When she kills a wolf in the woods, who turns out to not be a wolf but a faerie, she is collected by Tamlin, another faerie, to give her life in exchange for the one she killed. Once she gets to his estate, she finds herself falling in love with him and subsequently doing everything in her power to protect Tamlin and his world from the dark power that threatens to overtake it.

That was a cliffnotes version of a summary of this book – a book that I liked a LOT. I don’t read a ton of fantasy (almost none, actually) but this one really worked for me. The main element of the book that I loved was getting to know the characters – Maas did an excellent job making Feyre an incredibly believable character that I could really relate to. And Tamlin drew me in with his fiery, dark personality – I loved the two of them together. Plus, their chemistry was seriously hot. This is NOT a book for young teens – there were some pretty intense sexy times happening here. Anyway – I really liked this book and definitely will get to the sequel.

Sweet Disorder (Lively St. Lemeston, #1)Sweet Disorder by Rose Lerner
Published by Samhain Publishing

Romance is a genre that I’m just getting into and Rose Lerner is an author recommended to me by the lovely and brilliant Jenny at Reading the End. I am happy to say that I did like this one and it is a good example of feminist romance – the type of romance that I would like to read more of, for sure. Something I appreciated about the plot of this one is that both main characters’ actions were motivated by helping their families, and there was a lot of character development of not only the main love interests but their family members as well. Both Nick and Phoebe were drawn to each other, but both knew that their being together would go against everything they needed to do to take care of their families. In the end, obviously, it’s a romance novel – there’s a happily ever after. But the getting there was quite enjoyable and I really liked the journey these characters took.

Why We Came to the City by Kristopher Jansma

Why We Came to the CityWhy We Came to the City by Kristopher Jansma
Published by Viking

From the publisher:

December, 2008. A heavy snowstorm is blowing through Manhattan and the economy is on the brink of collapse, but none of that matters to a handful of guests at a posh holiday party. Five years after their college graduation, the fiercely devoted friends at the heart of this richly absorbing novel remain as inseparable as ever: editor and social butterfly Sara Sherman, her troubled astronomer boyfriend George Murphy, loudmouth poet Jacob Blaumann, classics major turned investment banker William Cho, and Irene Richmond, an enchanting artist with an inscrutable past.

Amid cheerful revelry and free-flowing champagne, the friends toast themselves and the new year ahead—a year that holds many surprises in store. They must navigate ever-shifting relationships with the city and with one another, determined to push onward in pursuit of their precarious dreams. And when a devastating blow brings their momentum to a halt, the group is forced to reexamine their aspirations and chart new paths through unexpected losses.

It’s been quite a while since I finished Why We Came to the City but I have to tell you, this is one novel that has truly stuck with me. While on the surface it’s a novel about a group of friends experiencing life post-college, halfway through the book it turns into something completely different, something that I won’t spoil for you because it took me by complete surprise and changed the entire feel of the novel for me.

The characters are the center of the novel and they were so bright and shiny, each in their own way. I loved getting to know them as individuals and within the context of their various relationships with each other. Their friendships were complicated and through their interactions with each other, Jansma really got at the intricacies and variances within their personalities. I definitely can say that Irene stuck out to me as the brightest star, the one around whom everyone else revolved, but each character was certainly unique and unforgettable.

As I said, it has been a few months since I finished this book but the emotional impact it made on me has really stayed with me. The fact that it’s been a while since I read the book and I can still feel the way this novel made me feel at the time should say a lot about how much it affected me emotionally – let’s just say, a LOT.

I would definitely recommend Why We Came to the City. Yes, it’s a book about a group of friends living their post-college lives, a genre I’ve recently discovered I like and want more of, but it’s truly so much more than that. Even if this niche genre isn’t your thing, I definitely think there’s a lot within this novel to digest and discuss. Highly recommended.

Update … on a few things

Friends, I cannot possibly thank you all enough for the outpouring of love and support I received on my last post. Things are settling down quite a bit but there are still many things up in the air life-wise. One HUGE relief has been that I got onto a new team of cardiologists, two individuals who specialize in exactly what my congenital heart condition is, and their diagnosis of my situation is that I don’t have to have open heart surgery just yet. They want to closely monitor me and do a barrage of test every six months, but as of this very second, I am cleared to avoid surgery for the next six months. I cannot possibly explain what a tremendous relief that is – yes, I know that eventually surgery will happen for sure, but to not have to deal with it at the same time as all of this other stuff is majorly freeing and has led to a huge sense of peace for me. At least for now.

As far as the divorce is concerned, it has been filed and that situation is basically done, at least in every legal sense of the word. The next big thing on my list of stuff that is stressing me out is the fact that we cannot seem to get any traction on selling our house. We’re now looking at lowering the price, possible rent to own situations, or even just finding renters for a year. The not selling the house is putting on pause a whole bunch of other financial things that need to fall into place for the two of us to officially go our separate ways, so that is definitely stressful. Add to that living with one’s ex – not the most fun of situations even in the best of circumstances, and honestly with how well we are getting along I know that my situation is probably as good as I could possibly hope for. But it’s still hard, and I’m ready to transition my life to the next place it’s headed, and that transition has to wait until I can physically transition to a new place to live. Please cross fingers and toes and pray for me if you do that sooner than later this house will move and I can begin planning the next steps of my life.

Other than that, I am surprisingly good! My level of distraction from life has prevented me from reading, for the most part, but I am enjoying time with friends as much as I possibly can and really trying to transition my life emotionally to wherever I am going to go from here. It has been interesting, to say the least, but I know I am going to be in a good place when all is said and done. I am hopeful that I will start reading on a more consistent basis again soon, and maybe reviews will come with that? We shall see. I do have a backlog of books that I could talk about, if I can get up the gumption to do so.

The election. I don’t even want to talk about it. I am saddened and heartsick by the fact that this country is even more racist and misogynistic than I even dared to fear it was. I must have hope that we will figure out a way to recover as a country from this disastrous decision that was made but I don’t see how that’s possible at this point. I just … don’t even know what to say.

Anyway. Thank you friends, from the bottom of my heart, for being there for me emotionally during this difficult time. Things are looking up for me, for SURE, and I know that better days are ahead.

Now that I’ve spilled my heart and soul … what’s new with you, my lovely friends?

… And another month has passed …

… With basically zero blogging.

Okay, friends. I’m going to fill you in on the life stuff, the stuff that I alluded to that was really tough and I wasn’t ready to talk about. At this point, I’ve talked it to death with in-person friends and family members and even coworkers, so I’m coming to the part where I’m wanting to be open and be heard and have people, strangers even, comment on my situation. Because when you put stuff out there you have to know that people are going to comment on it.

The thing I was talking about last month is the dissolution of my nine-year marriage. The idea of separating from a person to whom I felt tethered to for so many years is insurmountable, feels impossible, yet it feels so right I can’t even explain it. The fact that I can have all of these emotions at once, that I can feel the need to stay with this person and figure out a way to make our life work together, yet also know for one hundred percent sure that there is no way we can do that, is confusing and scary and sad and frustrating.

But I’m doing it. Despite the intense, almost soul-crushing fear of what my new life might be like and how lonely I might be. Despite the overwhelming project of selling a home that we had built less than a year ago. Despite the fact that many people in my life don’t understand what could possibly have gone wrong and want to know why, and ask questions that I don’t really have good answers to. Because one thing I know for sure is that no one else has any idea of what actually is happening in someone else’s marriage.

About two months after making the final decision to initiate divorce proceedings, I was hit with something else – the congenital heart defect that I’ve had my entire life, that I’ve had corrected twice in the past, needs to be worked on again (basically it’s a valve replacement), and SOON. As in, I will very likely be having open heart surgery at some point before the end of 2016. As if I needed one more thing to worry about, to deal with, one more thing to keep me up at night with intense fear and anxiety.

But this isn’t something I can put off, nor is it something I can control. I’m trying, guys. I’m trying to let life happen and just go one step at a time and deal with what I have to deal with – to plan, to work towards my future, which apparently now includes a major surgery on top of what one could call an emotional surgery of a divorce.

So that’s what I’m dealing with. Those two major things are why blogging is not happening right now, nor is a whole lot of reading. I’m finding comfort in rereads right now, along with a LOT of time spent with friends, a few recent trips (one of which included a ton of family time, which I desperately needed), working hard at my job is actually helping a lot (a total distraction from life, which is perfectly fine with me), and I’m trying to take care of myself as best as I can.

Friends, thank you so much for listening to me whine about my problems. I know that I am lucky in so many aspects of my life and I continue to remind myself of that daily. I know that the hard things I am going through right now will pass, I will come out on the other side stronger than ever, with my entire life ahead of me. It’s hard now, but I know it will get easier. But that knowledge and certainty doesn’t make what’s tough right now any easier. I will get through it, though. I WILL.

I’ll take any love and positive thoughts anyone wants to send my way.

Thanks for listening.

First Comes Love by Emily Giffin

First Comes LoveFirst Comes Love by Emily Giffin
Published by Ballantine Books
Review copy provided by Netgalley

From the publisher:

Growing up, Josie and Meredith Garland shared a loving, if sometimes contentious relationship. Josie was impulsive, spirited, and outgoing; Meredith hardworking, thoughtful, and reserved. When tragedy strikes their family, their different responses to the event splinter their delicate bond.

Fifteen years later, Josie and Meredith are in their late thirties, following very different paths. Josie, a first grade teacher, is single—and this close to swearing off dating for good. What she wants more than the right guy, however, is to become a mother—a feeling that is heightened when her ex-boyfriend’s daughter ends up in her class. Determined to have the future she’s always wanted, Josie decides to take matters into her own hands.

On the outside, Meredith is the model daughter with the perfect life. A successful attorney, she’s married to a wonderful man, and together they’re raising a beautiful four-year-old daughter. Yet lately, Meredith feels dissatisfied and restless, secretly wondering if she chose the life that was expected of her rather than the one she truly desired.

As the anniversary of their tragedy looms and painful secrets from the past begin to surface, Josie and Meredith must not only confront the issues that divide them, but also come to terms with their own choices. In their journey toward understanding and forgiveness, both sisters discover they need each other more than they knew . . . and that in the recipe for true happiness, love always comes first.

I love books featuring sisters. I have a sister with whom I have a very complicated relationship. I love my sister a lot but we are very different people and that has caused issues between us over the years. As we’ve grown up, we’ve grown much closer and I am extremely grateful that I have her and I know she feels the same. But still – relationships between sisters are extremely complex, and what I’m saying is that I know firsthand just how difficult they can be. So I expected to love this book.

Love it I did not. I didn’t hate it but overall the novel just never fell into the groove for me the way all of Giffin’s previous books have. I have always really loved the way that Giffin creates complicated main characters who make bad choices and hurt people, but you as the reader understand their motivations and love them anyway. That was not the case in First Comes Love. These two women, Josie and Meredith, are SO unlikable that it’s almost funny. I honestly couldn’t care about either of them enough to want to sympathize with their situations. Nothing either of them did or said showed me that they were actually people I could relate to, people I could see myself in, people who were essentially okay humans just trying to get through life somewhat unscathed. Since I didn’t get any of that, the book overall fell really flat for me.

It’s disappointing because this is truly the only Emily Giffin novel I haven’t enjoyed. Which I guess is an okay thing – the woman has written like ten books and I’ve mostly loved all of them. So I guess she’s allowed to have one I don’t love every now and then. But still, quite a disappointment for me.

If you want to read Emily Giffin, please do! She’s actually quite an incredible writer. May I suggest you start with her first novel, Something Borrowed? Now THAT is a book about a good person making bad, hurtful choices but you love her anyway.

I’ve been MIA for over a month?

Wow, sorry guys. I did not intentionally disappear for over a month, but even before my sudden departure it was pretty clear that writing reviews had taken a backseat to something – okay, everything – else in my life. Typically I wouldn’t like to just go MIA without at least saying that I’d like to take a little break but that’s what happened.

I’m here. I’m back. I don’t know how much writing I’ll be doing but I am around, and I’ve been periodically checking in with some of you and leaving sporadic comments here and there.

But to be honest, there’s some personal stuff I’m going through right now that is really hard and really not stuff I want to talk about. And it’s such a huge distraction from the things I would like to be doing – reading, writing, etc. – that the blog and even reading in general has really gone by the wayside over the past couple of months. I WANT to read. I WANT to write about books. But my brain is all over the place these days and it’s been really hard for me to focus. I’m trying to get back into the mental headspace where things are a little more calm and I will be able to focus on reading and other things in my life that truly bring joy, but I’m not sure I’m quite there yet. Working on it.

So please forgive me if I post sporadically or not at all. There are several books I want to tell you guys about, and a few other posts I’ve been drafting in my head, but we’ll see if I can get myself together enough to make it happen.

I am here, though. Send good thoughts and peaceful vibes my way because right now, I need all the positive feelings and love I can get.

Thanks, friends.

The Perfect Neighbors by Sarah Pekkanen

The Perfect NeighborsThe Perfect Neighbors by Sarah Pekkanen
Published by Washington Square Press
Review copy provided by Netgalley

From the publisher:

Bucolic Newport Cove, where spontaneous block parties occur on balmy nights and all of the streets are named for flowers, is proud of its distinction of being named one the top twenty safest neighborhoods in the US.

It’s also one of the most secret-filled.

Kellie Scott has just returned to work after a decade of being a stay-at-home mom. She’s adjusting to high heels, scrambling to cook dinner for her family after a day at the office—and soaking in the dangerous attention of a very handsome, very married male colleague. Kellie’s neighbor Susan Barrett begins every day with fresh resolutions: she won’t eat any carbs. She’ll go to bed at a reasonable hour. And she’ll stop stalking her ex-husband and his new girlfriend. Gigi Kennedy seems to have it all together—except her teenage daughter has turned into a hostile stranger and her husband is running for Congress, which means her old skeletons are in danger of being brought into the light.

Then a new family moves to this quiet, tree-lined cul-de-sac. Tessa Campbell seems friendly enough to the other mothers, if a bit reserved. Then the neighbors notice that no one is ever invited to Tessa’s house. And soon, it becomes clear Tessa is hiding the biggest secret of all.

The Perfect Neighbors was a fairly run-of-the-mill women’s fiction story about a bunch of women with secrets. To be honest, it felt very formulaic, like I’ve read this same story before, but with different character names and slightly different secrets. However, I did enjoy it and it certainly held my interest. I liked all of the women and was interested in figuring out how their lives would turn out, how these issues presented would end up resolving themselves.

I enjoyed the time I spent with this novel but in the end, I’m finding it somewhat forgettable which isn’t the greatest thing. I will keep this short and just say, pick it up if you like this kind of thing, otherwise it’s probably okay to give it a pass. It was a fun, quick read for me that won’t stick in my brain much longer.

Before the Fall by Noah Hawley

Before the FallBefore the Fall by Noah Hawley
Published by Grand Central Publishing
Review copy provided by SheReads

From the publisher:

On a foggy summer night, eleven people—ten privileged, one down-on-his-luck painter—depart Martha’s Vineyard on a private jet headed for New York. Sixteen minutes later, the unthinkable happens: the plane plunges into the ocean. The only survivors are Scott Burroughs—the painter—and a four-year-old boy, who is now the last remaining member of an immensely wealthy and powerful media mogul’s family.

With chapters weaving between the aftermath of the crash and the backstories of the passengers and crew members—including a Wall Street titan and his wife, a Texan-born party boy just in from London, a young woman questioning her path in life, and a career pilot—the mystery surrounding the tragedy heightens. As the passengers’ intrigues unravel, odd coincidences point to a conspiracy. Was it merely by dumb chance that so many influential people perished? Or was something far more sinister at work? Events soon threaten to spiral out of control in an escalating storm of media outrage and accusations. And while Scott struggles to cope with fame that borders on notoriety, the authorities scramble to salvage the truth from the wreckage.

Amid pulse-quickening suspense, the fragile relationship between Scott and the young boy glows at the heart of this stunning novel, raising questions of fate, human nature, and the inextricable ties that bind us together.

This is one of those books that absolutely everyone is talking about, and for good reason. The novel starts out with a bang – literally – as there is a plane crash within the first few pages, and it continues to move at an extremely rapid pace as the two survivors fight for their lives, swimming miles and miles to get to shore and finally surviving both the crash and their arduous journey to safety. The rest of the book goes back and forth in time, shedding light for the reader on the lives of everyone before the crash while at the same time, letting the reader see the way the crash affected the two survivors and their relationship with each other. I loved that the story was told that way – it gave me such a complex and complete view of these characters, but slowly, over the course of the book.

There is definitely a thriller aspect to Before the Fall, but I wouldn’t put it firmly in that category. A lot of time is spent getting to know the characters and seeing how the various players were involved with one another and, in some cases, basically strangers. Much can be said of the fact that they were all keeping secrets, all hiding major things which could have possibly contributed to the reason for the crash – that’s the suspenseful part of the book. The suspenseful part is the fact that you KNOW one of these people was somehow, directly or indirectly, responsible for this horrific thing that happened, but it could be so many of them for so many reasons. I guessed a lot of things but didn’t figure it out until the very end – Hawley did a great job leading me astray, that is for sure.

Several people I’ve spoken to about this book didn’t like the ending at all. I’m not sure that I quite fall into that camp but I definitely didn’t love the ending, either. It felt like a cop-out just a bit, although it was definitely plausible. I don’t know. I liked the book so much that I kind of don’t care how I feel about the ending, does that make sense?

Anyway. Before the Fall. I liked it a lot. Definitely recommended!

Flight of Dreams by Ariel Lawhon

Flight of DreamsFlight of Dreams by Ariel Lawhon
Published by Doubleday
Review copy provided by the publisher

From the publisher:

On the evening of May 3rd, 1937, ninety-seven people board the Hindenburg for its final, doomed flight to Lakehurst, New Jersey. Among them are a frightened stewardess who is not what she seems; the steadfast navigator determined to win her heart; a naive cabin boy eager to earn a permanent spot on the world’s largest airship; an impetuous journalist who has been blacklisted in her native Germany; and an enigmatic American businessman with a score to settle. Over the course of three hazy, champagne-soaked days their lies, fears, agendas, and hopes for the future are revealed.
 
Flight of Dreams is a fiercely intimate portrait of the real people on board the last flight of the Hindenburg. Behind them is the gathering storm in Europe and before them is looming disaster. But for the moment they float over the Atlantic, unaware of the inexorable, tragic fate that awaits them.

Brilliantly exploring one of the most enduring mysteries of the twentieth century, Flight of Dreams is that rare novel with spellbinding plotting that keeps you guessing till the last page and breathtaking emotional intensity that stays with you long after.

This is the second time that Ariel Lawhon has impressed me by writing about a historical event that I previously thought I cared nothing about. (The first time was The Wife, the Maid, and the Mistress and it is a super great book!)  She took this event in history, about which there is very little in the way of actual historical facts, and took what research was able to give her about the historical context and the major players, and created this incredibly compelling story filled to the brim with characters I deeply cared about. And the book was so much fun.

There’s an author’s note at the end of the book which details what Lawhon speculated versus what in the book is actual fact, but honestly I couldn’t have cared less what was true and what was speculation on Lawhon’s part – I loved every minute I spent with this story and these characters. From the stewardess, to the journalist, to the navigator, to the cabin boy, to the American – I loved them all and loved how Lawhon told this story from each of their different points of view. There’s also a love story here, major secrets being kept, and possibly some kind of conspiracy – Lawhon gives the reader just enough details on what’s going on to make the wheels in your head turn constantly, yet feel the desperate need to keep turning pages in the hopes of learning more.

I also enjoyed getting to learn more about this now-extinct form of travel that I didn’t know much about and about the last flight of the Hindenburg in particular. I really find it fascinating that it was possible to travel this way and that it was done for such a short period of time in history. I particularly loved how Lawhon described the way the ship looked and felt, how everything was laid out – I can completely picture the whole thing in my mind, and it made the book so much better because I was playing out scenes in my head almost like a movie. Can this be a movie? It would be a great movie.

Anyway. I loved Flight of Dreams! Highly recommended.

Greetings from Utopia Park: Surviving a Transcendent Childhood by Claire Hoffman

Greetings from Utopia Park: Surviving a Transcendent ChildhoodGreetings from Utopia Park: Surviving a Transcendent Childhood by Claire Hoffman
Published by Harper
Review copy provided by TLC Book Tours

From the publisher:

When Claire Hoffman is five-years-old, her mother informs her and her seven-year-old brother Stacey, that they are going to heaven—Iowa—to live in Maharishi’s national headquarters for Heaven on Earth. For Claire’s mother, Transcendental Meditation—the Maharishi’s method of meditation and his approach to living the fullest possible life—was a salvo that promised world peace and enlightenment .

At first this secluded utopia offers warmth and support, and makes these outsiders feel calm, secure, and connected to the world. Claire attends the Maharishi school, where her meditations were graded and she and her class learned Maharishi’s principals for living. But as Claire and Stacey mature, their adolescent skepticism kicks in, drawing them away from the community and into delinquency and drugs. Eventually, Claire moves to California with her father and breaks from Maharishi completely. A decade later, after making a name for herself in journalism and starting a family, she begins to feel exhausted by cynicism and anxiety. She finds herself longing for the sparkle filled, belief fueled Utopian days in Iowa, meditating around the clock.  So she returns to her hometown in pursuit of TM’s highest form of meditation — levitation. This journey will transform ideas about her childhood, family, and spirituality.

Greetings from Utopia Park takes us deep into this complex, unusual world, illuminating its joys and comforts, and its disturbing problems. While there is no utopia on earth, Hoffman reveals, there are noble goals worth striving for: believing in belief, inner peace, and a firm understanding that there is a larger fabric of the universe to which we all belong.

This book sounded interesting to me because I am always up for learning about a different religion, especially one considered to be strange or, even better, cult-like to outsiders. I knew almost nothing about Transcendental Meditation before reading this book, so in that area this was a total win for me, as Hoffman does a pretty good job familiarizing the reader with the religion and explaining why they do certain things and what it’s all supposed to mean. I was fascinated by this religion, and specifically loved when Hoffman went into details about the different rules and rituals, the symbolism of different aspects of the faith, and some of the history behind the faith and its leader, Maharishi. This was by far my favorite aspect of the book – every time she started getting into details about the faith and the practice of meditation that seemed to be the bedrock of that faith, I was riveted to the page, eager to take in more and more information.

Unfortunately, that’s kind of where the love for this book starts and stops with me. I didn’t really connect to Hoffman, so that made it really difficult for me to latch onto any specific aspect of her personality OR care about her story. I was interested, yes, but did I care what happened to her? No, not at all, which is a definite issue when reading a memoir – for me, at least, I kinda have to give a crap about the person telling me their story. And in this case, for whatever reason, I just couldn’t.

The other issue I had was that when I turned the final pages, I was still asking myself why. Why did Hoffman choose to write this book? What story was she really trying to tell? Was the point for her to explore how and why people blindly follow religious figures, even to their personal detriment? Or was the point to say that, sure this religion is kind of messed up and weird, but lots of people who follow it are normal and just looking for a spiritual path, and actually they might be right about doing it this way? The fact that I can’t really tell where Hoffman falls on the wide spectrum between those two ideas is strange to me, and I don’t enjoy not understanding what the whole point of her telling this story actually was. Maybe this is a weird thing for me to be annoyed by, but it really turned the book into one that I just couldn’t fall in love with.

So. I was definitely interested in parts of Greetings from Utopia Park, but overall the book did not thrill me. I’m not sure if I’d read more from this author, but I’m glad I got the chance to learn about a faith practice that I had no previous knowledge about before picking up the book.