review of “the fault in our stars” by john green

The book for the March Peanut Butter Fingers Book Club was The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. I’ve read and loved previous John Green novels, so I was eager to read this one. And I was not disappointed! This is a beautiful, heartbreaking, honest, incredibly moving book about love, loss, and the bittersweet ephemeral quality of life.

This was one of those books I could not put down but simultaneously did not want to end. The characters felt like real people. I was entirely invested in their lives and their emotions. I’ll warn you, this book is sad — the main character is a teenage girl with terminal cancer — but I was surprised by the many moments of humor and hope. This is a heartbreaking, but ultimately joyous and uplifting, read.

Instead of a traditional review, I decided to pull some of my favorite quotes from the book to share with you:

  • “I started scrolling through the pictures on my phone, a backward flip-book of the last few months, beginning with him and Isaac outside of Monica’s house and ending with the first picture I’d taken of him, on the drive to Funky Bones. It seemed like forever ago, like we’d had this brief but still infinite forever. Some infinities are bigger than other infinities.” -pg. 233
  • “I would probably never again see the ocean from thirty thousand feet above, so far up that you can’t make out the waves or any boats, so that the ocean is a great and endless monolith. I could imagine it. I could remember it. But I couldn’t see it again, and it occurred to me that the voracious ambition of humans is never sated by dreams coming true, because there is always the thought that everything might be done better and again.” – pg. 305
  • “She is so beautiful. You don’t get tired of looking at her. You never worry if she is smarter than you: You know she is. She is funny without ever being mean. I love her. I am so lucky to love her, Van Houten. You don’t get to choose if you get hurt in this world, old man, but you do have some say in who hurts you. I like my choices. I hope she likes hers.” -pg. 313

Read this book. {Maybe not on a plane or public bus, as you will likely weep while reading, if you are anything like me.} But yes, read this book! You will be glad you did.

Till soon,
Dallas

previous book club posts:
– Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
– The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin
The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton
Blackberry Winter by Sarah Jio

Review of “The Happiness Project” by Gretchen Rubin

Today was a glorious 50-degree day here in Indiana, and a Friday to boot! I celebrated by stopping by a frozen yogurt shop for a midafternoon snack. They still had the holiday flavors out and I perhaps gorged myself on a little too much of the gingerbread fro-yo {I am a sucker for anything gingerbread flavored, as evidenced by this photo of my happy gingerbread chai latte face} and needless to say, I am now in a little bit of a fro-yo sugar coma. I will persevere onward…

So, you may remember that this book was on my to-read list back in November as part of the book club hosted by blogging phenom Julie at PB Fingers.

the-happiness-project

You may also have noticed that finishing the book was crossed off my to-do list a while ago and that I mentioned one of the book’s principles {“Do good, feel good”} in my post about taking cards & cookies to the nursing home for the holidays.

To be honest, I think I kind of blurred together that post and the book in my mind, and thought I had already posted a review of The Happiness Project on here … until I went to look for the post last night and couldn’t find it. Whoops!

Better late than never, right? 😉

The Happiness Project takes us through a year-long quest of writer Gretchen Rubin to become happier and more grateful for her life and her blessings. She focuses on a specific area of her life for each month, such as feeling more energetic, being a better parent, and improving her relationship with her husband. Her aim is to continue the lessons from each month into the next month {picture a snowball accumulating more and more power as it rolls forward} so that by the end of the year she is attempting to put all of her lessons into practice. I really liked how she set up the project, and the book, in this organized, easy-to-follow way. I am using this strategy to tackle my own goals for this year: I have broken them up into different categories and am focusing on one main category per month, which will hopefully make it less overwhelming to stay on track and get things done.

Rubin writes in an accessible way, almost like a friend chatting to you over coffee. I also liked how she interspersed quotes, examples, and scientific & psychological research she had done throughout the book. It is clear she dove full-heartedly into her happiness project and I think that is a big part of what makes her story so inspiring and invigorating. This book is part of what motivated me to start my own year of kindness challenge!

year of kindness button

I was moved by Rubin’s “Splendid Truths” about Happiness {you can read the entire list on her blog here} especially her Second Splendid Truth:

“One of the best ways to make yourself happy is to make other people happy;
One of the best ways to make other people happy is to be happy yourself.”

Reading this statement made me feel joyfully understood. This would be my First Splendid Truth; this is my key to happiness. I make myself happy by making other people happy. And I try to brighten other people’s days with my own happiness. I remember a mantra I came up with in elementary school: “Why be sad when you could be happy?” It still rings true, for me, in most situations.

Something else that I found useful from this book was the appendix, which is filled with handouts and resources for people interested in starting their own happiness projects. Rubin wrote that one of the most motivating things for her was to track her progress with daily charts, and as I am someone also motivated by checking things off lists, I devised my own goal list for the week to keep me motivated on those routine goals that could easily fall by the wayside.

All in all, I think The Happiness Project is a motivating and inspiring book to read while also asking yourself, “What does my own Happiness Project look like?”

Have any of you read The Happiness Project? What did you think of it? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

** For January, the PB Fingers book club pick is The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton.

** I’ll also be reading and reviewing 7: an experimental mutiny against excess by Jen Hatmaker if anyone wants to join me! I’d be happy to post links to your book reviews, too!

7 by jen hatmaker

Have a great weekend! I am planning a night in watching Men in Black III {which I still can’t believe I managed to miss in theaters… I’ve been wanting to see it for.ev.er!}

Hope your night is filled with fun and relaxation and perhaps even a little Friday fro-yo! 😉

xo,
Dallas

October Book Club: “Thirteen Reasons Why” by Jay Asher

One of my favorite bloggers, Julie of Peanut Butter Fingers, hosts a book club every month through her blog. I love to read and thought it might be a neat way to get introduced to new books and authors and do some “fun reading” outside of the reading I’m assigned through school. I’ll be following along with the book club selections over at Peanut Butter Fingers and then posting my review/reflections/comments about the book on here at the beginning of each new month.

October’s Book Club pick was Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher. I’d heard a lot of buzz about this book but I hadn’t read it yet, and I was intrigued immediately when I picked it up and read the back cover:

“You can’t stop the future. You can’t rewind the past. The only way to learn the secret … is to press play.”

The book is written from the perspective of Clay Jensen, a high school senior who receives a package in the mail with no return address. Inside the package is a series of tapes — thirteen sides in all — containing the recorded testimony of Hannah Baker, a girl from Clay’s school who had committed suicide just a few short weeks before. Clay had nursed a crush on Hannah for years, but hadn’t summoned the courage to act on his feelings {other than one confusing night right before Hannah died} and is filled with regret about the way things turned out. He is both curious and repulsed by the tapes. He wants to hear what Hannah has to say, but is also filled with frustration and sadness to hear the pain in her voice.

Something that really impressed me about this book was the way Asher interweaves Hannah’s voice and memories in the tapes with Clay’s narrative and thoughts in the present line of action. Their voices/perspectives interweave seamlessly and beautifully, in a way that reminded me of a musical duet, steadily increasing the tension more and more until the inevitable, and yet also surprising, conclusion. Asher writes with honesty, vividness, and unflinching realism — and for a novel dealing with suicide, Thirteen Reasons Why was surprisingly hopeful. I was very moved while reading this book, and particularly at the end. I don’t usually cry while reading, but the tears came when I was turning the final pages of this novel.

To me, some of the most poignant moments in the novel were when Clay laments, Why didn’t you talk to me, Hannah? I would have listened. This book made me think of the myriad of ways, both large and small, that peoples’ lives are intertwined. We have no idea how big of an impact we have on those around us. The smallest gesture — a smile, a kind word, a “hello” in the halls — can be just the thing to give someone else hope or happiness or turn their life around.

Have any of you read this book? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

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My rating: 5 out of 5 stars

incredibly easy pumpkin spice cookies

In honor of tomorrow being the Autumnal Equinox, or first official day of autumn, I decided to celebrate by baking these incredibly yummy — and incredibly easy! — pumpkin spice cookies.

I came across this recipe about a month ago on one of my favorite blogs, Peanut Butter Fingers — I absolutely love pumpkin desserts and pastries, so right away I was on board. Then, when I saw that all you need is TWO ingredients to make these cookies, I was amazed. I knew I needed to try out this recipe for myself!

These cookies are thick, moist, and full of pumpkin goodness. They were super delicious warm from the oven yesterday and they still tasted fresh when I had a few for dessert tonight. Plus, since there is no butter, oil, or even eggs in this recipe — and pumpkin is a great source of Vitamin A and C — these are pretty healthy as far as cookies go!

Whip up a batch of these cookies and enjoy a taste of autumn!

pumpkin spice cookies

– 1 box of spice cake mix {I used Duncan Hines}
– 15 oz can of pumpkin
– chocolate chips, marshmallow, white chocolate chips, nuts {optional mix-ins for the cookies}

1. Preheat your oven for 350 degrees.

2. In a large bowl, dump the cake mix and pumpkin. It will look like this:

3. Keep stirring until the pumpkin and cake mix are fully combined. The batter will be thick! {This recipe doubles as a great arm workout, haha!}

4. Drop the pumpkin by spoonfuls onto a greased cookie sheet or onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.

5. If you’d like, add chocolate chips, marshmallows, or nuts to some of the cookies. {I used white chocolate chips and semi-sweet chocolate chips in about half the cookies, and the rest I made plain.}

6. Bake 15-20 minutes or until cookies are firm in the middle.

Yummmm… ENJOY!

Happy autumn, everyone!
-Dallas

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-Time spent: 30 minutes {including bake time}
-Cost: about $4.00