Saturday, October 6, 2018


Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book is fascinating, and I can't stop recommending it to everyone I see. It would be really eye-opening for extroverts to read, while also being reassuring and empowering for introverts. Deep down, I am definitely an introvert, but I can easily present as an extrovert because I'm not shy, and I don't mind talking to strangers. I appreciate so much all the detailed research that went into this book, and will try to hold on to the advice Susan gives throughout the book on how to manage my life on a way that supports my happiness and mental health.

Here are some of my favorite quotes.

"Introverts, in contrast, may have strong social skills and enjoy parties and business meetings, but after a while wish they were home in their pajamas. They prefer to devote their social energies to close friends, colleagues, and family. They listen more than they talk, think before they speak, and often feel as if they express themselves better in writing than in conversation. They tend to dislike conflict. Many have a horror of small talk, but enjoy deep discussions."

"Shyness is the fear of social disapproval or humiliation, while introversion is a preference for environments that are not overstimulating. Shyness is inherently painful; introversion is not."

"It's not that there is no small talk...It's that it comes not at the beginning of conversations but at the end...Sensitive people...'enjoy small talk only after they've gone deep' says Strickland. 'When sensitive people are in environments that nurture their authenticity, they laugh and chitchat just as much as anyone else."

"We don’t ask why God chose as his prophet a stutterer with a public speaking phobia. But we should. The book of Exodus is short on explication, but its stories suggest that introversion plays yin to the yang of extroversion; that the medium is not always the message; and that people followed Moses because his words were thoughtful, not because he spoke them well."

"We often marvel at how introverted, geeky, kid 'blossom' into secure and happy adults. We liken it to a metamorphosis. However, maybe it's not the children who change but their environments. As adults they get to select the careers, spouses, and social circles that suit them. They don't have to live in whatever culture they're plunked into."

"Introverts are drawn to the inner world of thought and feeling, said Jung, extroverts to the external life of people and activities. Introverts focus on the meaning they make of the events swirling around them; extroverts plunge into the events themselves. Introverts recharge their batteries by being alone; extroverts need to recharge when they don’t socialize enough."

"Nor are introverts necessarily shy. Shyness is the fear of social disapproval or humiliation, while introversion is a preference for environments that are not overstimulating. Shyness is inherently painful; introversion is not. One reason that people confuse the two concepts is that they sometimes overlap (though psychologists debate to what degree). Some psychologists map the two tendencies on vertical and horizontal axes, with the introvert-extrovert spectrum on the horizontal axis, and the anxious-stable spectrum on the vertical. With this model, you end up with four quadrants of personality types: calm extroverts, anxious (or impulsive) extroverts, calm introverts, and anxious introverts."

"If you're an introvert, find your flow by using your gifts. You have the power of persistence, the tenacity to solve complex problems, and the clear-sightedness to avoid pitfalls that trip others up. You enjoy relative freedom from the temptations of superficial prizes like money and status. Indeed, your biggest challenge may be to fully harness your strengths. You may be so busy trying to appear like a zestful, reward-sensitive extrovert that you undervalue your own talents, or feel underestimated by those around you. But when you're focused on a project you care about, you probably find that your energy is boundless. So stay true to your own nature. If you like to do things in a slow, steady way, don't let others make you feel as if you have to race. If you enjoy depth, don't force yourself to seek breadth. If you prefer single-tasking to multi-tasking, stick to your guns. Being relatively unmoved by rewards gives you the incalculable power to go your own way. It's up to you to use that independence to good effect."

"Love is essential; gregariousness is optional. Cherish your nearest and dearest. Work with colleagues you like and respect. Scan new acquaintances for those who might fall into the former categories or whose company you enjoy for its own sake. And don’t worry about socializing with everyone else. Relationships make everyone happier, introverts included, but think quality over quantity."

"The evangelical culture ties together faithfulness with extroversion,” McHugh explained. “The emphasis is on community, on participating in more and more programs and events, on meeting more and more people. It’s a constant tension for many introverts that they’re not living that out. And in a religious world, there’s more at stake when you feel that tension. It doesn’t feel like ‘I’m not doing as well as I’d like.’ It feels like ‘God isn’t pleased with me.'"

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Wednesday, October 3, 2018

From Twinkle, with Love

From Twinkle, with Love From Twinkle, with Love by Sandhya Menon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Romance with a side of feminism and also bad decisions. For the most part, I really admired Twinkle, with her clear vision as a filmmaker and desire to use her talents to push forward the stories of those who don't normally see themselves on screen. Her idea for a gender-swapped Dracula sounds fascinating and I find myself wishing I could watch her movie, as delightful as it is described. Sahil, her producer and personal love interest, is both deeply caring and incredibly thoughtful, and also a true feminist, supporting Twinkle in her vision and decisions and doing everything in his power to help her do her job.

As admirable as Twinkle's vision is, I have a lot of issues with her actions and motivations, especially as the book went on. Yes, Twinkle's main goal in life is to become a filmmaker, and enact true change in the world. Unfortunately, her short-term goals seem to be more focused on becoming popular enough to hang with the cool kids, in order to gain back her former best friend Maddie's love and attention. Twinkle spends a good portion of the book alternately kissing Sahil and pushing him away because, despite their obvious connection ("our souls are the same"), she thinks she needs to date Sahil's twin Neil in order to truly become a part of Maddie's life again. And then, at some point, Twinkle gets so wrapped up in the drama surrounding Maddie and Hannah's behavior towards her that she feels like her job is to "expose the truth" about the cool kids - how they talk behind each other's backs, and the ways they hurt one another. Of course, Maddie and Hannah aren't blameless in this whole fiasco. Maddie let Hannah's jealousy over her and Twinkle's friendship stop her from being a true friend, and basically abandoned Twinkle after years of friendship. I don't blame Twinkle for being hurt and upset by the way she was treated. I'm just glad that she realized how crazy she had become before she truly did something she would regret. What Twinkle came to learn is something that we could all bear to keep in mind: "I wanted to make movies that would bring people together, not ones that would tear them apart."

The best example of female friendship in this book is Victoria. Even though Twinkle always seems to question her motives, since she's one of the cool kids, Victoria spends this book being kind, giving, welcoming, and honest. Victoria volunteers to help with Twinkle's movie; she comes when Twinkle calls asking for help her with her hair and makeup; she insists on inviting Twinkle to her house, despite Hannah not wanting her there and Maddie telling Twinkle she should stay away; she invests her time into hanging out with Twinkle when she could easily be off doing her own thing; she selflessly works to bring Maddie and Twinkle back together and help heal their relationship. Victoria becomes an important sounding board and voice of reason for Twinkle, as she fights her way back to finding her true center. All of us can only hope to one day have as great of a friend as Victoria.

The true heart of this book is Sahil. He was a true support for Twinkle at the times she needed it most, and was always honest with her about what he thought, even when he thought it would cost him a chance at a relationship with her. After his initial nerves, Sahil was consistently open with Twinkle about his feelings for her, and was willing to give her all the time she needed to figure things out. I don't blame Sahil for being hurt when he found out Twinkle's hesitation was because of his own brother, especially after he had told her about the issues he's had since childhood of living in Neil's shadow. To think that the girl you love, that is your match in every way, might still prefer your brother -- that would be heartbreaking. I'm just happy that his wonderful nature extends to include a willingness to forgive and hopefully forget Twinkle's mistakes of the heart. The love and kindness Sahil showed to Twinkle and her family is almost mind-blowing, and I hope his example of love and thoughtfulness has a lasting effect on her and everyone around them.

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Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Princess Jellyfish Vol. 3

Princess Jellyfish Vol. 3 Princess Jellyfish Vol. 3 by Akiko Higashimura
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Yet another fun volume. I love that Tsukimi got the opportunity to design more dresses, and I'd love to see her brand become huge, but I'm not sure this hasty, rushed job is the way to go. It doesn't seem likely that they'll be able to save the building anyways, but at least they are trying.

As for the boys, Kuranosuke finally told Tsukimi that he thinks she's a cute girl, though she didn't understand, of course, and he ran away in horror right after. And Shu finally realized that the before and after Tsukimi's were the same person, and he thinks she's cute either way. I was worried he was started to fall for Inari, because of how he rushed over to her place, but I really hope he is done with her. I don't care that she's somehow falling for him. She deserves to be heartbroken after what she has done to him.

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Sunday, September 30, 2018

Emily of New Moon

Emily of New Moon Emily of New Moon by L.M. Montgomery
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A delightfully sweet, gentle, lovely story of a orphaned girl who people can't help but love. Exactly the balm my soul needed right now. Emily is so sweet and smart and charming, it's no surprise that most people end up delighted by her. It's no surprise that her Aunt Laura loved her from the start - you could tell just by looking at her that she had a soft spot for Emily - but it was especially touching to see how her Aunt Elizabeth grew to love her as well, despite the fact that she hadn't wanted to care for her at first. They become the perfect parents for her.

I loved hearing about all of Emily's adventures, especially those with her friends Ilse, Teddy, and Perry. As close as those 4 are right now as children, I can already tell there might be trouble when they get older, and romantic feelings start becoming more pressing. I really hope they can all remain true, good friends, no matter who falls in love with whom.

Aunt Nancy seems like a character, and it was fun living in her world for a little bit. We don't really get to know much of the rest of the Murrays, other than how strict and disapproving of Emily they almost all are. I have a feeling in future books we'll get to know them more and more, and hopefully Emily will have the opportunity to charm them as well.

I have to take a moment to talk about Dean Priest. He's certainly an interesting character, and an important person in Emily's life. As she mentions, he's one of the few people who seems to understand her completely at a base level, like her father did, and as such she is completely comfortable with him. The thing about him that bothers me, though, is how he can, as a 36 year old adult man, look at 12 year old Emily and say to himself, "oh yes, in 12 years, that girl will be perfect for me. Don't kiss me now as a child kisses an older relative they are fond of, I want our first kiss to be one of romance." 😳 Uh. No. That's super weird. I get that older men often married younger women in the 1920s. But for a man to look at a child and mentally decide she would be perfect for him when she was old enough? That smacks so much of grooming, it's really creepy. I'm reaaaaallly hoping that Dean is not the one Emily falls in love with, since I'm sure she will fall in love with someone during this series.

As for teachers, this book as the perfect examples of how best to teach and encourage children, and now absolutely NOT to teach children. On the terrible end of the spectrum is Ms. Brownell, who played favorites, constantly ridiculed and mocked students, and focused on rote memorization. On the wonderful end of the spectrum is Mr. Carpenter, who not only made learning fun and natural for his students, he also paid attention to what their talents were, and nurtured them in the ways they specifically needed. The students he saw the most talent in are the ones he was strictest with, and when he saw potential, he was quick to intercede with that child's guardians, advocating for their best interests. We should all be so lucky to have such a caring teacher in our pasts.

I'm really looking forward to reading the rest of this series, which I'm guessing will cover Emily's teenage and young adult years. I can't wait to see her talent as a writer continue to develop, and watch as she works her way into the hearts of many more people. Anne will always be one of my favorites, but I'm being charmed by Emily as well.

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Friday, September 28, 2018

The Kissing Booth

The Kissing Booth The Kissing Booth by Beth Reekles
My rating: 3 of 5 stars


A sweet romance, if a bit simplistic. For the most part, this was a fun, quick read, and I mostly enjoyed the Netflix movie that was based on it, as well. I liked most of the characters, although the pretty-but-she-doesn't-know-it type of girl might be a little too cliche. What I really enjoyed was Elle and bestie's relationship, how supportive they were of one another, and how they didn't let hurt feelings come between them.

I was uncomfortable with how Noah treated Elle at times - the overprotective thing might seem cute, but it's actually very controlling behavior. Once Noah and Elle start seeing each other secretly, he admits that part of the reason he is so obsessed with her is because she's "different from other girls" and doesn't chase him. Although I see the appeal of wanting to be with someone who is comfortable around you enough to be themselves, and is willing to look past your hot exterior (most of the time) and see the real you, the whole "different than other girls" line is often used as a subtle put down to other women who somehow didn't fill the role that was expected of them. I've come to think that the correct response to "you're not like other girls" isn't "awww" but something more like, "why, what's wrong with other girls?" Even though Noah, whom they constantly referred to as violence-loving, never touched Elle, I also didn't appreciate how he went as far as punching a wall next to her at one point, and was constantly jumping to fight anyone who might have hurt her honor or tried to get close to her.

So is there anything good about Noah? He was definitely respectful of Elle, both with his words and his actions. He was constantly reassuring her that they didn't have to do anything physically, and asking her consent before moving forward. He also never spoke bad about her or made light of her, neither in her presence or behind her back. The idea of a girl being able to "change" the behavior of a "bad boy" can be really dangerous, so I disliked hearing people talking about Elle and Noah's relationship that way. Yes, Noah's exterior changed, but I think that's just because he was more willing to open up. I appreciated how observant he is of Elle and the things she likes - from planning romantic nights of sunset-firework watching to remembering her coffee order, once Noah's in, he's ALL in, and it's really sweet.

A few other things that felt "off" about this one - some of the phrasing the author made it obvious that she wasn't from the US. Simple phrases like "offered a place at Harvard in the Computer Science course" are clearly using British terminology, and sound awkward when coming out of the mouth of a Californian. Yes, the author was young (17!) and this was originally self-published online, but that kind of stuff is really easy to check out and adjust for accuracy. Also, how is Noah barely graduating yet somehow he was accepted to Harvard? That seems... unrealistic, to say the least. At least they decided it was smarter for him to go and for them to try long-distance. In real life, it would be really dumb to pass up that opportunity.

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Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Princess Jellyfish Vol. 2

Princess Jellyfish Vol. 2 Princess Jellyfish Vol. 2 by Akiko Higashimura
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another fun Volume! Kuranosuke almost kisses Tsukimi and is still struggling with trying to figure out his feelings for her, while also somehow breaking it to her that she maybe has feelings did his brother. Tsukimi definitely has some deeply rooted issues, mostly related to the fact that she doesn't feel she deserves to be a normal girl, whether that means liking a boy or wearing a pretty dress. I'm curious to see where Tsukimi's fashion designs go, because she clearly has talent, and I hope Kuranosuke can convince her to keep working on it.

I'm still super mad about Inari lying about sleeping with Shu. Not only is she obnoxious, she assaulted him once, and keeps hanging on to him, torturing and blackmailing him with what she calls "evidence." I *really* hope She and his family figures out soon that Inari's a liar and manipulator, because if they actually turn them into a couple, I'm going to be pisssssssed. She is TERRIBLE.

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Tuesday, September 25, 2018

The Zookeeper's Wife

The Zookeeper's Wife The Zookeeper's Wife by Diane Ackerman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

An in-depth account of war-time Warsaw, and the role Jan and Antonina Zabinski played in the underground Polish resistance, specifically in their willingness and ability to hide Jewish people in their home at the zoo, and Jan's skill in sneaking people out of the Ghetto. Antonina, Jan, and their son must be commended for their bravery in doing everything they could to help those in need, both of human and animal variety. They undoubtably saved many lives along the way.

Parts of this book were really hard to read. It was bad enough to hear about the animals killed German bombs, and those shot for fear they would escape and kill citizens, but the descriptions of Nazi's using the zoo as their private hunting ground was nauseating and disturbing, especially as the group was led by a German zookeeper. But what else can we expect from people who are willing to slaughter wholesale other humans? Why would they prize the lives of animals that are deemed to be not useful to their cause?

I thought this book was compelling, but I feel like it could have been shaped, or perhaps paced, better. There were lots of very detailed stories, anecdotes you might call them, about their lives during the war, and although the book seemed to be written chronologically for the most part, sometimes it was hard to see how those individual stories fit inside the big picture of the war. I loved hearing about all the animals that they made family, but was so sad when every one of those stories seemed to end with something like, "and then we never saw them again," or "we all laughed at the drunk hamster, but of course that didn't end well, his dead corpse was laying in the cage the next morning."

Another thing that bothered me is that the title is a little misleading. Yes, Antonina is a main character in this story, and it appears a lot of the information was garnered from her journals, it felt more like a story about both Antonina and Yan, as well as about wartime in Warsaw in general. I wanted to feel more connected to Antonina, and feel more of the story from her point of view specifically. By the way, I think when you're secretly hiding Jews during WWII, maybe you shouldn't keep a journal that anyone can find, but that's just me.

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