Resilience: Hard-Won Wisdom for Living a Better Life by Eric Greitens

You cannot bounce back from hardship. You can only move through it. There is a path through pain to wisdom, through suffering to strength, and through fear to courage if we have the virtue of resilience.

In 2012, Eric Greitens unexpectedly heard from a former SEAL comrade, a brother-in-arms he hadn't seen in a decade. Zach Walker had been one of the toughest of the tough. But ever since he returned home from war to his young family in a small logging town, he d been struggling. Without a sense of purpose, plagued by PTSD, and masking his pain with heavy drinking, he needed help. Zach and Eric started writing and talking nearly every day, as Eric set down his thoughts on what it takes to build resilience in our lives.

Eric's letters drawing on both his own experience and wisdom from ancient and modern thinkers are now gathered and edited into this timeless guidebook. Resilience explains how we can build purpose, confront pain, practice compassion, develop a vocation, find a mentor, create happiness, and much more. Eric s lessons are deep yet practical, and his advice leads to clear solutions.

We all face pain, difficulty, and doubt. But we also have the tools to take control of our lives. Resilience is an inspiring meditation for the warrior in each of us.


I saw Eric Greitens give an interview on The Daily Show and was intrigued by the idea of his book. I added it to my "to-read" list and it quickly got lost in the shuffle. As a commuter, I spend a significant amount of time in my car and lose valuable reading time. I have always had mixed feelings about audiobooks. While I like that it allows me to "read" while driving, I miss having a physical book in my hands. However, since I am now spending so much time in my car, I decided to give audiobooks another go. I was pleased to see that my local library had the audio version of Resilience and decided it would be the perfect test subject for determining once and for all if audiobooks were for me.

I have always had the up most respect for our military men and women. I admire their bravery and their willingness to put their lives on the line to protect others. My heart breaks when I hear how they are left unsupported and hurt after they return from the battle lines. I have made it a point to support charities that provide services and help to wounded veterans. But as much as I respect them, the truth is it is hard for me to truly understand their hardships. In our modern era, the divide between civilian and soldier is vast and ever growing. Unlike in the past, our country can be at war without the average citizen ever experiencing one inconvenience. Even though our country is "at war," for the majority of the population it's almost as if the war exists only on TV. Because of this, the men and women who risk their lives for us face little understood challenges as they try to integrate back into civilian life. I fear that in many ways, we fail to adequately support these men and women, and give them what they really need: a purpose. We fail to recognize and utilize their skills, and because of this many of veterans find themselves homeless, unemployed, addicts, or suicidal. We owe these men and women so much, much more than what they get.

In truth, I had a mixed reaction to this book. I liked the idea of the structure, a set of letters written back and forth between friends, but was disappointed how it played out in the book. The book is in fact a set of letters, but it only contains the letters that Eric wrote to his friend, Zach, a soldier suffering from PTSD. The book does not include Zach's responses to Eric, so at times, I felt like I was only getting half of the story. I wanted to know more about Zach's experiences, thoughts, and reactions. While they were at times alluded to in Eric's letters, I was disappointed that the book turned out to be more of a one-sided conversation. 

I did not find anything in this book to be ground-breaking or even mind-blowing, but I think that was the point. Eric draws on the writings of ancient philosophers and past thinkers to discuss the idea of what it means to be resilient. The "wisdom" found in these pages is nothing new, because the idea of what makes a resilient person is not anything new. I think the biggest thing that stuck me is how Greitens talks about how we perceive our suffering. When faced with pain, we (meaning humans in general) often see our situation as unique and therefore incapable of being understood by others. But the truth is, our experiences are not unique. Losing a brother in battle is no different from losing a brother to cancer. The experience or circumstance is different, but the result and the pain is not. The idea that our pain is not unique is like a slap in the face. It's an idea that is harsh, but ultimately I have to agree with Greitens. It's true. It's a liberating truth, in my opinion. If our suffering is not unique, it lifts the burden of having to carry it on our own. It frees us to connect with others and share pain, making it easier to carry.

The other point that I found interesting is that Greitens says that veterans often falter after returning home because society gives them a free pass. We allow them to indulge in their suffering by removing any responsibility or accountability in an effort to "make things easier" for them. We make excuses for them, thinking that we are helping. Greitens says that in fact what we need to be doing is holding them accountable and helping them find a purpose. Our servicemen and women go from having a clear purpose, being part of team, with every minute of every day regimented and controlled, back to a life where the objective and the routines they are accustomed to no longer exist. Greitens goes on to say that anyone who lacks purpose will find themselves in a similar position. I thought this was a very interesting point of view that makes perfect sense when you stop and think about it.

In the end, I thought the arguments that Greitens laid out in the book where not particularly revolutionary, but I surmise that was not the intent. Many of the ideas in the book came across as common sense and universal, which seemed to be the point. One cannot escape suffering, this is perhaps one truth that we can all agree on, but how we chose to deal with that suffering is our choice. I am glad that I read the book, but didn't experience anything profound enough that will have me returning to its pages again and again. It was a good audiobook and I liked listening to the author read the letters. It felt more personal that way. Overall, an intriguing read with useful insights.


Charlotte's Web by E.B. White

Some Pig. Humble. Radiant. These are the words in Charlotte's Web, high up in Zuckerman's barn. Charlotte's spiderweb tells of her feelings for a little pig named Wilbur, who simply wants a friend. They also express the love of a girl named Fern, who saved Wilbur's life when he was born the runt of his litter.

E. B. White's Newbery Honor Book is a tender novel of friendship, love, life, and death that will continue to be enjoyed by generations to come. It contains illustrations by Garth Williams, the acclaimed illustrator of E.B. White's Stuart Little and Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House series, among many other books.


This was one of my favorite books growing up. In fact, I still have my childhood copy. The dust jacket is long since missing, the pages are yellowed and stained, the binding is broken, and it has that old book smell. I can still remember sitting with my mother and reading it for the first time. It has been years (decades even) since I had picked it up, so it was a no-brainer for me which book I would chose to fulfill the book from your childhood category for my reading challenge.

Unlike so many other things, this book has not lost it's shine. It is just as good now, as I remember it being when I was a child. I have been so disappointed by films and other books that I have rewatched/reread as an adult, only to find that they lack the luster my memory painted them with. This was not the case with Charlotte's Web. I loved Wilbur and all the other animals. I even loved Charlotte, despite my rather intense loathing of spiders. All the feelings I associated with this novel in my memory - love, joy, sadness, laughter - where all still there as I reread its pages.

This book remains a classic for me and I hope that I will someday be able to share it with my children some day. It is a book that has and will continue to stand the test of time. It is a simple story with tremendous heart. It is a story about love, friendship, and the cycle of life. I love it just as much today as I did as a child. It's nice to know some things never change. 

2015 Reading Challenge: A book from your childhood


Still Alice by Lisa Genova

Alice Howland is proud of the life she worked so hard to build. At fifty years old, she’s a cognitive psychology professor at Harvard and a world-renowned expert in linguistics with a successful husband and three grown children. When she becomes increasingly disoriented and forgetful, a tragic diagnosis changes her life--and her relationship with her family and the world--forever.

At once beautiful and terrifying, Still Alice is a moving and vivid depiction of life with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease that is as compelling as A Beautiful Mind and as unforgettable as Judith Guest's Ordinary People.


Alzheimer's is a terrifying disease. The idea of losing everything that makes you, you, is just so frightening. To forget your spouse, your children, memories, both good and bad, to me seems like the worst kind of torture. I can't imagine what that must be like or how devastating it must be to the loved ones around them.

To be honest, this novel wasn't what I was expecting. In fact, I didn't realize it was a work of fiction until I started reading it. For some reason, I had it in my head that it was based on a true story. In a way, I guess it is. It is certainly realistic fiction. I am sure that Alice's story is reminiscent of many sufferers of Alzheimer's disease. 

I think the novel did a fine job of depicting the disease, especially it's progression. It was heartbreaking to watch this strong, intelligent woman, lose everything - her career, her independence, everything that made her life what it was. It was hard to watch how the diagnosis affected her husband and her children. It was hard to see how drastically her life changed in such a short span of time. It wasn't all bad though. There were sweet moments between Alice and her husband and children. There were moments of triumph when Alice successfully forms a support group for people with Alzheimer's and when she speaks successfully at a medical conference about what it's like to have the disease. But the truth was never far away. There is no cure, and the inevitable will always happen.

Overall, this wasn't a bad read. I can't call it spectacular, but I did enjoy it. It's a quick read and only took me a few days to finish. I liked the story well enough that I am interested in checking out the film adaptation. I am curious to see how the story translated to film. A three star read for me.


Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt

"When I look back on my childhood I wonder how I managed to survive at all. It was, of course, a miserable childhood: the happy childhood is hardly worth your while. Worse than the ordinary miserable childhood is the miserable Irish childhood, and worse yet is the miserable Irish Catholic childhood."

So begins the luminous memoir of Frank McCourt, born in Depression-era Brooklyn to recent Irish immigrants and raised in the slums of Limerick, Ireland. Frank's mother, Angela, has no money to feed the children since Frank's father, Malachy, rarely works, and when he does he drinks his wages. Yet Malachy does nurture in Frank an appetite for the one thing he can provide: a story.

Perhaps it is a story that accounts for Frank's survival. Wearing rags for diapers, begging a pig's head for Christmas dinner, and searching the pubs for his father, Frank endures poverty, near-starvation and the casual cruelty of relatives and neighbors yet lives to tell his tale with eloquence, exuberance and remarkable forgiveness.

Imbued with Frank McCourt's astounding humor and compassion — and movingly read in his own voice Angela's Ashes is a glorious audiobook that bears all the marks of a classic.


I am the type of reader who ALWAYS finishes a book once I have started it. Even if a book is horrible, I always hold out hope that it will somehow get better. I suffer through to the end, so I never have to wonder "what if?" Angela's Ashes was the one exception to this rule. No matter how I tried, I just could not get through this novel the first time I attempted to read it. Having grown up in a large, Irish-American family, there were many things I could relate to in Frank's story, but I just couldn't get past what I perceived as endless whining. I got it. Your life sucked, you were poor, your father was a drunk and unreliable. Join the club! I failed to see how Frank's experience was so different from my own and the millions of other's that came before him.

Because of my predilection for finishing books, no matter how terrible they are, there was only one option available to me if I was going to complete the 2015 Reading Challenge. I knew that I would have to finally get through Angela's Ashes. I decided to go with the audiobook, thinking that when my frustration level got too high, I could distract myself with the author's accent. I'm a sucker for accents. It worked, and I was finally able to get through the book.

I still don't love the novel, but I don't hate it as much as I did the first time I tried to read it. It didn't feel so much like a "woe is me" tale as it did the first time around, and I was able to appreciate the humor, disappointment, and determination of Frank's story much more. It is unlikely that I will ever recommend this novel as a "must read," nor am I likely to seek out its sequels, but I am happy to say that I made it through it and no longer have it hanging over my head as an unfinished book. I have a new appreciation for the novel, but it will still never make my favorite books list. 

2015 Reading Challenge: A book you started, but never finished


Faith is Not a Feeling: Choosing to Take God at His Word by Ney Bailey

In 1976 the Big Thompson River flood in Colorado took 150 lives, including those of seven women on staff with Campus Crusade for Christ International. Deeply grieved by the loss, survivor Ney Bailey embraced a journey of faith that led her to a life-changing truth: No matter how things look and no matter how we feel, God is in control.

In Faith is Not a Feeling, Ney reveals how life’s tragedies and challenges lead each of us to an important decision about how we will relate to God. Building on a foundation of experiences all believers can relate to, this well-loved speaker and teacher shows how you can take advantage of the endless opportunities life provided to deepen your trust in the Lord.

Faith is Not a Feeling has taught hundreds of thousands of people how to choose to believe God’s promises over their own personal feelings. Now you, too, can discover the secrets that will allow you to face painful experiences with a measure of objectivity, use your feelings to take you to God, and experience true peace in the midst of failure and trials. Best of all, you will learn how to obediently and confidently take God at His word as you never have before.


Because of the things I experienced in my childhood, trust is not something that comes naturally to me. A fact that often surprises people, especially when they remark on how many friends I have. Yes, I have always been social. Yes, I have always gotten along with a variety of people, and because of that, I have always had a large circle of friends. But I think many people would be surprised to find out how little they really know me. I can count on my fingers, and have plenty left over, the number of friends who truly know me.

Once trusted, my  loyalty is never ending. Once betrayed, forgiveness may be given, but trust is unlikely to be bestowed again. That's just the way I am built. As a child, I often prayed to God to change my difficult circumstances, and when I did not receive the result that I thought I should, my trust in God waned, and it eventually drove me from the Church. I never lost what I perceived as "faith." I never stopped believing in God; I never doubted His existence. I simply doubted His plan and love for me. As a result, I spent many years trying to do everything on my own and searching for answers to questions that had already been answered by God.

It was only years later that I was able to see "the forest through the trees." I had gained enough perspective to see that God had answered my prayers as a child. His answers just came in a different form than I expected, and in truth, far surpassed what I had requested. The biggest challenge for me and my faith boils down to one word: trust. I didn't trust God's Word, His promises. I had a misconception of what "faith" meant. It is more than just believing. It is taking God at His Word. It is trusting that He will do what He says He will.

That's what I got out of this book. "God's Word is: truer than anything I feel, truer than anything I experience, truer than any circumstance I will ever face, truer than anything in the world." God is the same today as He was yesterday and will be tomorrow. My feelings, experiences, circumstances, and the world change day to day, hour to hour, minute by minute. God is forever and He never lies. I can have faith, can take Him at His Word, because he always keeps His promises. Such a refreshing idea to someone who has experiences tremendous disappointment. And when I look back at my life, I can see example after example of God's faithfulness.

This simple truth is expounded throughout the book and the twelve week Bible study that is included. I found the Bible study to be very helpful in reflecting on what Ney talked about in the various chapters and appreciated the easily applicable tools included. In fact, I think I got more out of the book by doing the Bible study than I would have had I just read the chapters. The questions where often thought provoking and some required a great deal of thought and reflection to answer. Overall, I would say this book is worth the time.


Sustained (The Legal Briefs #2) by Emma Chase

A knight in tarnished armor is still a knight.

When you’re a defense attorney in Washington, DC, you see firsthand how hard life can be, and that sometimes the only way to survive is to be harder. I, Jake Becker, have a reputation for being cold, callous, and intimidating—and that suits me just fine. In fact, it’s necessary when I’m breaking down a witness on the stand.

Complications don’t work for me—I’m a “need-to-know” type of man. If you’re my client, tell me the basic facts. If you’re my date, stick to what will turn you on. I’m not a therapist or Prince Charming—and I don’t pretend to be.

Then Chelsea McQuaid and her six orphaned nieces and nephews came along and complicated the ever-loving hell out of my life. Now I'm going to Mommy & Me classes, One Direction concerts, the emergency room, and arguing cases in the principal's office.

Chelsea’s too sweet, too innocent, and too gorgeous for her own good. She tries to be tough, but she’s not. She needs someone to help her, defend her…and the kids.

And that — that, I know how to do.


This installment of The Legal Briefs Series was even better than the first. Jake and Chelsea's romance is unconventional and full of heat, humor, and heart (and apparently alliteration). Jake Becker is the knight that the McQuaid family needs, even if he almost loses it all because of his own stupidity. I was hooked from the very beginning and couldn't put it down. There's a nice little twist at the end, which ensures a shake up for all the characters in The Legal Briefs universe. This is shaping up to be an excellent series from Emma Chase, on par with her Tangled Series. Totally worth the read.


Slaugherhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut

Slaughterhouse-Five is the story of Billy Pilgrim, an ill-trained American soldier and his experience in World War II

War is inevitable, and it is absurd. The main theme of the book focuses on this. Billy Pilgrim is a prisoner-of-war at the hands of the Germans. He is captured and put in a disused slaughterhouse, which eventually proves to be a safe ‘shelter’ when his life is spared during the bombing of Dresden.

Billy is a fatalist. Barely out of childhood, his lack of enthusiasm for war and the eventual consequences of the war on his life is what makes up the story of Billy’s life. Vonnegut uses Billy to show that war is unnecessarily glorified, due to which people overlook the real tragedies and trauma that war actually brings with it.

Billy’s journey through time and space, his accounts of the bombing at Dresden, and his life as a prisoner of war, all highlight the central theme in the novel, war is nothing but another form of hell. Dark humour and irony is what makes Slaughterhouse-Five unique and a perfect example of creative accomplishment. It conveys the bitterness of war, while providing comic relief along with crucial understanding of the working of the human mind.


This was an interesting read for me. It is definitely in the same vain as Catch-22 in it's use of irony, humor, and an almost senseless story line, although I enjoyed this book much more than Catch-22. The story is borderline absurd, and yet Billy Pilgrim is an interesting character. He is hardly the typical leading man, yet one can't refrain from feeling sorry for him and his plight to do the best he can with the hand he has been dealt. 

There are of course many parallel's between the absurdity of Billy Pilgrim's life and the war itself. It's lack of structure mirrors the chaos of war. There is no real central story line and the story jumps back and forth between past, present, future, Earth, and Tralfamdor. In a word, it's...pointless. Just like war. The phrase "so it goes" is repeated after every mention of death in the novel, seemingly to point out that death is inevitable for us all and that the universe couldn't care less about the death of any individual. Another parallel. It's an anti-war novel, but even the story itself can't seem to pin down it's exact identity. Is it a Science-Fiction novel? A war novel? Something else entirely? 

But perhaps that's the point. Trying to wrap your head around something so incomprehensible as war, is like finding yourself trapped in an endless, inescapable time loop, leading nowhere (except perhaps death). So it goes.

2015 Reading Challenge: A banned book


Cover Reveal ~ The Year of Falling in Love (Sunnyvale #2) by Jessica Sorensen

Introducing the cover for book two in Jessica Sorensen's new Sunnyvale series!

Isn't it amazing?!?

Cover created by Sarah at Okay Creations

Book releasing on December 7, 2015

Pre-Order on Amazon: http://amzn.to/1icY1WT


The Year I Became Isabella Anders (Sunnyvale #1) by Jessica Sorensen

Introducing Jessica Sorensen and her new YA book, The Year I Became Isabella Anders! Make sure to enter the giveaway for a signed paperback of this book! #NewSeries #TopFave


The Year I Became Isabella Anders
Isabella Anders has always been the girl that never fit in. Most days she feels invisible, especially when she’s around her older sister, Hannah, who catches the eye of everyone, including Kai and Kyler, the boys who live next door.

Isabella has had a crush on Kyler for years, but knows he’ll never see her as anything more than Hannah’s little sister, unless she finds a way to standout.

When Isabella gets an offer from her grandmother to travel overseas for the summer, she seizes the opportunity, hoping she’ll discover more about herself. And she does, but not in the way that she expected.

Three months later, Isabella returns home an entirely new person. The change is enough to catch both Kyler and Kai’s attention. But Isabella is still struggling with what she discovered over the summer and until she deals with the truth, she’ll never truly be herself.

Cover Created by Sarah Hansen Okay Creations
Photography by Lauren at Perrywinkle Photography



My Two Cents...

An amazing start to what I feel will be another amazing series from Jessica Sorensen. I was hooked from page one and read the whole book in one sitting. My only criticism is...I wish it was longer! I was so engrossed in the story that I didn't pay attention to my "left to read" percentage and found myself stunned (and disappointed) that I had reached the end of the story. 

I love Isabella's character. I think she is a classic underdog that people can easily relate to, and the sort of love triangle she has going on with the Meyer brothers makes (and is going to make) for some intriguing reading. The plot of the story is not entirely unique. It's like a twist on a Cinderella story. All the main characters are there in some form - the evil stepmother, the evil sister, the fairy godmother, the prince (or maybe princes??), and of course Cinderella herself. Nevertheless, Jessica manages to weave enough twists and mystery into the story line to keep it fresh and from being entirely predictable. She certainly leaves us with quite a few unanswered questions at the end of this installment.

The Year I Became Isabella Anders is definitely tamer and more YA that anything I have read by Jessica Sorensen thus far (and I've read a lot!). The characters are younger (high school aged) and while there are some hints at darker forces, it is not as in your face as say the Nova series. I am used to Jessica's books being somewhat dark and highly dramatic, so this was a nice change of pace. Not that it was boring or lacking drama...it was just a different kind.

I'm excited to see where this series goes and I am looking forward to book number two, The Year of Falling in Love, which is due out in December. This series is definitely worth checking out.

**I received a free ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Cold rain instantly soaks through my clothes as I skip down the driveway, moving awkwardly, because I can’t bend one knee. I don’t care though. Rain is awesome. And it smells so great. Seriously, if I could, I’d skip around in the rain all the time. My hair is drenched by the time I reach the sidewalk, and the flip-flops splash water from the puddles all over the backs of my legs. It reminds me of this one time Kai and I walked home in the rain and we intentionally splashed in all the puddles. “Isa! What are you doing?!” Someone shouts with a hint of laughter in their voice. My head whips to the side as I stumble to a stop. Kai is standing out on the side deck, beneath the shelter of the roof, and I think he might be laughing at me, but the veil of rain crashing from the cloudy sky makes it difficult to see. “Going to the paint store!” I shout then wave at him and start to skip off again. “Are you crazy?” he calls out. “You can’t walk to town in the middle of a rainstorm.” I sigh and slow down again. “I’m not walking! I’m skipping!” My eyelashes flutter against the rain. “Can’t you wait until it at least stops raining?” he asks, shaking his head as I jump into a puddle. “No way! It’s either the rain or being in the house with Hannah. And I choose the rain. Besides, rain is awesome!” I can hear him laughing all the way from over here. “Would you get your ass over here?” He waves at me to come to him. “I’ll drive you if you really want to go. But it’s too damn cold for you to be playing around in the rain, no matter how cute you look.” Cute? Did he just call me cute?

Isabella Teaser 1 Isabella Teaser 3 Isabella Teaser2     

Enjoy a sneak peek into two trailer teasers created by Becca at Bibliophile Productions



JessicaSorensenauthor pic_newAboutTheAuthor  
Jessica Sorensen is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author from the snowy mountains of Wyoming. When she's not writing, she spends her time reading and hanging out with her family.



The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros

Acclaimed by critics, beloved by readers of all ages, taught everywhere from inner-city grade schools to universities across the country, and translated all over the world, The House on Mango Street is the remarkable story of Esperanza Cordero.

Told in a series of vignettes – sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes deeply joyous – it is the story of a young Latina girl growing up in Chicago, inventing for herself who and what she will become. Few other books in our time have touched so many readers.


I rather enjoyed this short little book. It has an interesting structure, which takes some getting use to. Cisneros chose to forego many of the traditional literary structures, such as indenting dialogue, which at first made the prose hard to follow. Once I got used to it, I kind of liked it. It made the stories read more like a stream of consciousness. 

It is a very short read, with each vignette amounting to a few pages each. There is no real story line, but rather each vignette serves as a snapshot of a moment in the life of Esperanza, a young Latina girl growing up in Chicago. Some of the stories are funny, some are sad, some read like poetry, some deal with heavy subject matter, others are more lighthearted. There are some things that are probably unique to the Mexican experience, but there are also a lot of universal threads dealing with identify, family, expectations, insecurity, gender, etc. 

I feel like this is a book that requires multiple readings to fully comprehend and unpack. It's simplicity is duplicitous, and I think there is a lot more going on in this novel than what first meets the eye. After only one reading I can appreciate why it often makes classic literature lists, and hope to re-read it again in the near future.     

2015 Reading Challenge: A book that came out the year you were born