Category Archives: Books

Book Review: BIG MAGIC

Big MagicWe are all creators, or at least have the potential to be. That’s one of the messages behind Elizabeth Gilbert’s book BIG MAGIC, Creative Living Beyond Fear. As a shameless believer in magic, with an interest in the nature of creativity, I couldn’t resist this book. It didn’t disappoint.

“The universe buries strange jewels deep within us all, and then stands back to see if we can find them.”

The author digs deep into her own experiences to offer an interesting, unique and witty take on the nature of creativity and how we can harness it for success in whatever endeavor we choose. It’s a chatty style, and you don’t have to wade through loads of heavily scientific or esoteric ideas to get to the heart of the book, which is basically that we all have the right to live a creative life, but have to accept that doing so will bring challenges.

There is much reference to courage, and how we have to make space for fear. Fear is inevitable on the creative journey, and where some people say you have to conquer fear to move forward, the author says to make space for it because it will never go away. She says that the less you fight fear, the less it fights back. To give it its voice, then tell it to simply sit back and enjoy the ride. And then there’s the importance of giving ourselves permission to create, and not to worry whether our work is good or bad, if it’s high art or low art, whether or not it gets stellar or woeful reviews, etc. etc. We just need to put our best work out there and celebrate our own courage at having done so. Gilbert says we “can only be in charge of producing the work itself. That’s a hard enough job” and that we should refuse to take on any additional jobs such as policing people’s opinions.

Another interesting part of the book was the notion that ideas are all around us, floating in the ether waiting for someone who is open and ready to receive that particular idea. If that person refuses to run with it for any reason, the idea will simply float back into the ether until it finds another willing, and ready,  mind. Fascinating stuff, and it certainly gave me and my tendency to procrastinate some food for thought 🙂

I very much enjoyed this book. For me, it’s a keeper.


Take Me With You

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Goodreads rates this story 4.12 stars and has excellent reviews for it. I found it by a recommendation from a friend. Fortunately Catherine Ryan Hyde has a backlist because I just ordered two more of her books. So give me … Continue reading


Lots of Things Afoot at Chez Chantal

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Jillian here!  It’s been a busy time here at Chez Chantal. One of my staff had a stroke on Christmas Eve and, even though she is on the road to recovery, it’s been pretty stressful at the office since things … Continue reading


The Shoemaker’s Wife

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I just finished this story and wanted to write my thoughts while the story is still real and fresh, though this one is going to stay with me for awhile Again I owe a thanks to the book club here … Continue reading



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This is another story I probably wouldn’t have read if a friend hadn’t loaned it to me. I hadn’t read any of Ruth Reichl books but after reading Delicious I picked up another one today. A young woman, Billie Breslin, … Continue reading


Lilac Gardens

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Another beautiful place close to home. Strange how I can travel hundreds of miles from home to see places and miss what’s almost in my back yard. Hulda Klager Lilac Gardens is a National Historic Site in Woodland Washington. How … Continue reading

Book Review – Memories Of A Geisha

930This book was another selection from the book club I belong too. Would I have read it on my own? Probably not and I didn’t see the movie. It was released in paperback in 1999 so it isn’t a recent release.

The book is author Arthur Golden’s debut novel, but you’d never know it’s a first as it’s exceptionally well written. There were quite a few comments in the front of the book. One, from Houston Chronicle reads, “Memoirs of a Geisha is nothing short of astonishing…. Elegant and spare, but wonderfully evocative.” Boston Magazine calls the story a classic.

The story took me into an unknown culture as foreign as the land it’s set in, where young girls are sold and made to feel it’s an accomplishment to be a Geisha. It takes in the training they undergo and delves deep into their personalities and what shapes them to be manipulative, and even cruel.

The story is told in first person by Nitta Sayuri who is sold along with her older sister at the age of nine. It tells her story as she enters the world of Geisha. It’s a hard life so it’s no wonder the characters are strong, selfish, unkind is to gentle a word for them. Survival really is a matter of who’s fittest. I didn’t always like Sayuri, at least not toward the end. But then she had been taught by masters.

I had a hard time making myself believe that the story is fiction. It has 3268 reviews and  a 4 ½ star rating. It’s a thought provoking read, one that is going to stay with me for a while and one I’m happy to recommend.