Sunday, September 28, 2014

Book Review: Rare Bird by Anna Whiston-Donaldson

When I received an email from asking for people to review this book, even waiving the 'one book at a time' rule, I jumped at the opportunity. I am fascinated by books about life after death and messages from beyond, so it was right up my alley. I have read many many books about grief, but the honesty with which this was written was unlike anything I had read before.

Anna is brutally honest about what she was feeling in the days, weeks and months after losing her son Jack in a flash flood in early September, 2011. She wanted to convey what a special child he was, without making him out to be a saint. She accomplished that feat with a grace that is hard to find in most people, but remarkable in a woman who had just had a part of her ripped away forever. Many people would have tried to sugar coat their grief for the benefit of others, but she recognized that she needed to tell it as it really was in order to help other people struggling with a tragic loss. She admitted to not wanting to push or intrude into a grieving family's loss before she suffered her own. As she saw the way one neighbor would dutifully refill the cooler with ice every day that held meals prepared by others, she realized that there were times she could have done more.

In reading her story, it makes one think of what could be done to help ease the pain of grief for another, regardless of how close you are to the person. Anna was surprised that the friends who were on the fringe were more present in her grief than friends she had been close to forever. This is a huge lesson for all of us who don't know what to do for grieving friends. If you think you are overstepping, you are not. Just do something. As hard as it was for Anna and her family to be 'the family who lost a child', having all eyes on them all the time, it would have been harder to have people stop. As people went on with their lives she assumed they would forget. Not to give away the ending, but they did not forget Jack.

Families can be torn apart after a loss, since each has their way of coping. This family was no different and I am certain this book will help other families dealing with a loss of this magnitude. There were so many ways things could have gone wrong, but they held it together. Their faith in God was tested often, but still remained intact, if not stronger.

I would recommend this to anyone who has lost someone close to them, or anyone who needs to hear about some of the ways God sends us signs as long as we know where to look. the things that happened to Anna to let her know her son was in a good place were nothing short of amazing.

I received this book in exchange for an honest review from

Friday, September 12, 2014

Elaine Meets The Alchemist

Last month I blogged about books falling off the shelves, and wrote that since I work in a bookstore, not every book that falls off the shelf in front of me is some kind of sign, though some are. What I neglected to mention, because I didn't think it was relevant, was that The Alchemist was the book I was picturing on the floor when I wrote that. I had assumed that since it was on every school's summer reading list and we had too many crammed on the shelf, it was only normal that one would fall...every day.

That blog was about the teacher appearing when the student is ready, and that lately most of the books I have been reading have shared a theme: It is never too late to follow your dreams and do what you know in your soul you were meant to do. For me, that dream is to be a writer, and everything I am reading keeps reminding me that I can still do it...I just have to DO it.

Anyway, all summer when someone asked for The Alchemist I thought, "I should read that book", but I never even read the back cover to see what it was about. Something just told me I should read it. Still, I resisted for some reason, until this week.

Oprah's guest on Super Soul Sunday was the author of The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho. It was his first ever interview on American television. I quickly learned that the book was about making choices to achieve your personal legend. In other words, don't give up on the one thing you really want to do. What? I was stunned. Did I want to read The Alchemist? That was no longer a question. Now I HAD to read it.

I am short on funds, and had already bought a book this week (The Daily Love by Mastin Kipp, fyi) so I couldn't justify buying a copy. I can borrow books from work, but they have to be hardcover, with a jacket that stays at the store, and we only had it in paperback, so that wasn't an option. I compared the Amazon price and the Barnes & Noble price for the ebook but still couldn't swing it. I checked my library app but it wasn't available. I had to wait.

I hate to wait when it is time for me to read something.

That was Sunday. On Tuesday I had an unexplained bad day where I could not get out of my funk. I have maybe four of these days a year. Every other day I am the happiest person you could meet. Because of this, I wasn't paying my usual attention to the New Releases. I didn't notice until Wednesday that a hardcover copy of the 25th anniversary edition of The Alchemist was released. The Universe literally shoved this book into my hands. I borrowed it, but will most likely buy it now.

In no time I knew that this book would change my life. The theme is "When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it". As I read, if a particular part resonates with me, I am going to share how it affected me in a blog. I hope you will follow along, and perhaps start reading it yourself and you can share how it affects you.

Watch Part Two of Oprah's interview with Paulo Coelho this Super Soul Sunday morning on OWN.

Follow @Oprah @OWNTV @SuperSoulSunday @paulocoelho @MastinKipp @TheDailyLove