The Way I Used to Be.

the-way-i-used-to-be-9781481449366Title: The way I used to Be

Author: Amber Smith

Published: March 22nd, 2016

Pages: 385

Genre: Young Adult Novel & Realistic Fiction

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Listened to on Overdrive





Goodreads Description: 

In the tradition of Speak, this extraordinary debut novel shares the unforgettable story of a young woman as she struggles to find strength in the aftermath of an assault.

Eden was always good at being good. Starting high school didn’t change who she was. But the night her brother’s best friend rapes her, Eden’s world capsizes.

What was once simple, is now complex. What Eden once loved—who she once loved—she now hates. What she thought she knew to be true, is now lies. Nothing makes sense anymore, and she knows she’s supposed to tell someone what happened but she can’t. So she buries it instead. And she buries the way she used to be.

Told in four parts—freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior year—this provocative debut reveals the deep cuts of trauma. But it also demonstrates one young woman’s strength as she navigates the disappointment and unbearable pains of adolescence, of first love and first heartbreak, of friendships broken and rebuilt, and while learning to embrace a power of survival she never knew she had hidden within her heart. Wreath(13)-Black


This past week was rough and I think that it can be attributed to this book. I am glad I read it to gain exposure into this type of realist fiction, but it was draining. I felt anger for Eden and for the way her life played out. I know other reviewers have felt the same. The subject -sexual assault- was what drove the plot of TWIUB. Something I have learned after immersing myself in many books of this genre is  we can’t judge someone’s journey of recovery from sexual assault.

Things I enjoyed about this book: 

My favorite part of this novel was that it followed the span of her entire high school career. It’s not often we get to watch a character develop through the years unless it’s a series. This book had a steady plot flow, I never felt like it was dragging and enjoyed the climax at the end. For the most part I was satisfied with the ending. I think it is important to write on these heavy subjects to show readers they don’t have to keep assault a secret, it’s okay to speak up. The book ended with a supportive message to it’s readers, to seek help if they need it.

The Things I Didn’t Enjoy: 

I did not enjoy what this book did to my mood. It was hard to feel happy because of down spiral that Eden experienced. I think that reflects me more than the authors product. And perhaps that is what she intended for the reader to feel, I felt somewhat of the pain Eden did as I lived through her eyes.



Amber Smith deserves 3 bird feathers for The Way I Used to Be. I didn’t have an overwhelming sense of love for this book but I also didn’t hate it. It was middle of the field. There came a point where I wanted to stop listening, but I wanted to see what happened to Eden. I wouldn’t recommend this to everyone. Perhaps to those who are a little dark and twisty like me, but it was a book definitely written for a particular audience. If you do read it, read it with caution and let your significant other know you might be a little grumpy for awhile.

Parent’s Guide:

This book was full of F$^% bombs. I listened to the entire thing on headphones. It is defiantly one I would co-read and/or discuss with your teen. The books extensively about rape and is detailed. I think it is important to help our teens learn about these subjects but also help them digest it to a point where they can cope with in a healthy way. There also was a lot of use of cigarets, drugs, alcohol, and casual sex. I think I would wait for my child to be 16/17+ to read.




It Just Never Gets Old

IPHONE JULY 2013 052On the long drive from Boise to Glendale I became very bored… As you can imagine, I did everything from counting my freckles, flossing my teeth, and having one on one conversations with myself in Albanian. At one point Mr. Bird and I got stopped on some long long road with a sign that said “Wait might be 30 minutes.” Instead of waiting patiently in our cars, Mr. Bird and I hopped out of our cars and grabbed our baseball mitts from the trunk. We played catch in the middle of the free-way. It’s okay, there was no on coming traffic. After this little slice of heaven, we headed back to our cars and we drove on. My boredom continued… As I looked around the car, I realized I had Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets on cd. It was almost like I had found Tom Riddle’s diary. I decided to begin the journey of listening to one of my childhood favorites. As I turned up the volume, my boredom quickly dissipated, and I was sucked into the most life-like story ever written.

This is a book I have read or listened to over 12 times, and each time I have found something new. Here are my bullet points.

-The Vanishing Cabinet that Peeves Drops

The vanishing cabinet that Peeves drops over Filch’s office is broken, the cabinet is later placed in the room of requirement, where things are gone to be “lost.” This cabinet is later used when Malfoy tries to sneak in death eaters….

– Fred and George

Fred and George are much more appreciated and talked about in the books. I had forgotten how much time Harry really did spend with them and how much the twins cared about him.

– The Diary as a Horcrux

While listening this time I wonder why this particular Horcrux did not have the same effect as the locket in book 7. When Ginny throws the book down the toilet and Harry finds it, he doesn’t necessarily sense Voldemort like he does with other horcruxes.  When he began writing in the diary, he felt as if he knew Tom Riddle, but he didn’t receive a pain in his scar or an overpowering sense of darkness. Why is this? Is it because J.K didn’t know what a Horcrux would be just yet? Or was is because it was it something to do with it being the first horcrux… Questions Questions Questions…

I had more, but am having a complete brain freeze and can’t remember. Overall, it was surprisingly refreshing to listen to the book again! It’s the details that make me happy 🙂 I thought I would throw in a good ole #tbt to when my brother Max and I dressed up for one of the movie premiers!



Elizabeth Smart: My Story

my storyI remember sitting in front of the television when my regular show was interrupted and it was the “breaking news” that Elizabeth Smart had been found. I hurried and called my mom to tell her, she didn’t believe me. I am not shocked she didn’t believe me. Usually those who are kidnapped are usually killed after 24 hours. Elizabeth’s situation was not one that would be considered normal. It was an awful, life altering, 9 month journey through hell. While on my honeymoon cruise, I finished reading her book My Story, written by her and Chris Stewart. Her story has always been one that has captivated me. I was able to meet with her in a group setting while at Utah State and ask her questions and hear some of her story. As many of you know, when it comes to a kidnapping, death, murder, ect. I need to know all of the details, and I will go looking for them. I was glad that Elizabeth took the time to share her story. She gave a detailed description on the night she was taken, and the days following. She was raped everyday, and forced to drink. She doesn’t go into detail when she talks about being raped, but detail or not, you can sense how horrific it really was. I was one of those people who prayed for Elizabeth Smart. I prayed she would be found safely. I always wondered where she was and what she was doing. This book showed me exactly what she was doing. She was living in awful conditions with captors who deserve the imprisonment they got. Overall, I felt the book was worth reading. It had a few too many exclamation points for me, but I guess when your being held captive you will take all the excitement you can get. It was written very simply and is an easy read. It did include some LDS references because Elizabeth is a member of the LDS faith. If you are not of the faith, it is still worth the read. It’s not a book to convert, it’s a book to inform you of her kidnapping. All I can think after finishing her story is what a wonderful woman Elizabeth has become. She has not let this “bump” in her life hold her back. She has become someone. She is changing the way we look at victims, we are beginning to acknowledge them as survivors. Let me know your thoughts on the book!

The Giver

The_Giver_CoverI have been on a book kick lately and there is no hiding it. After finishing Insurgent, I decided to hurry and read The Giver by Lois Lowry. It is a short and fast read that you won’t want to put down. I remember reading it once while I was in high school or junior high. All I could remember was that I LOVED it. My feelings were similar as I read through it this time, but I was much more enlightened. The first time I read The Giver, I was naive to the world. I had suffered very little pain, had few true friendships, and hadn’t experienced anything too hard. At that point it was just a dystopian book that kept me entertained. After reading it a second time 10 years later after graduating from college, serving a mission in New York, being married, having constant medical problems, and seeing loss it meant something different to me. As I read through it this time my mind considered the possibility of a world of consistency and complete similarity. It seems so perfect. A citizen knows for the most part what is going to happen at each age during their life, no surprises unless you’re the receiver. There is no war, no turmoil, no hate. It sounds like a dream world. As you delve deeper into the book though you realize what a “release” means. To the characters it means nothing but that the person was old or exhibited bad behavior and they received their punishment.  Unlike those people we know release means death, ceasing to exist. Death is not something humans tend to celebrate often. It is usually a sad event that changes our daily lives. Unlike those in The Giver, we can feel pain and remorse. This book made me think about life. Which would I choose? Would I rather live in a life that was controlled by others (they do cook all of the meals, that is nice) or would I want to feel things, the good and the bad. After suffering from an excruciating migraine this week, I pick the latter. It caused me pain to the point where everything was blurry, I had a fever, I was shaking, and throwing up. It reminded me how lucky I was to choose my husband who took such good care of me. Once the migraine began to subside, I remembered how good it feels when my head isn’t about to explode with a migraine. I wouldn’t know the difference if I lived in The Giver’s world, I wouldn’t be able to feel the relief take over my body and the normalcy of vision come back. I just can’t imagine a world in which I wouldn’t be unique, and wouldn’t be able to do what I want. I loved this book because it made me think. It’s reading level is low, but its meaning is not. I am excited for this movie to come out in August! What are your thoughts after reading this book?




Insurgent_(book)Do you all remember in the Twilight series in book two (New Moon) when Bella goes all “emo” on us? How could you forget? Literally every other page was like “I hate life without Edward.” The entire time I read it, I wanted to say, grow up Bella, life goes on without boys even if he glitters in the sun. I felt similar feelings as I read Insurgent, the second of the Divergent series by Veronica Roth, a young and talented author. Every other line was “I am fighting back tears,” or “I don’t want to live.” I totally understand that she was going through some hard things, I mean she did kill someone, she lost both of her parents, and her life was basically a hot mess. I don’t blame her for bringing on the water works, but I don’t want to read it every other sentence. I mean I probably would cry the whole time, but I don’t Instagram it because I know no one wants to know about it…Now that that rant is over, I thought this book was mediocre. I really enjoyed the first one (review here) and was so excited to read Insurgent. It had some good parts, don’t get me wrong. I really enjoyed some of the plot twists. I would say read it to read it, but be prepared for a dramatic Tris. The only thing I can think to compare it to is one of those freeway car wrecks. When you can’t see why you are stuck in traffic you become very agitated. As your car slowly creeps up on the accident, prior to seeing the accident you are occupied with thoughts about the radio, the event you are late for, or how cute the boy in the next car is. When you finally see the wreck you can’t stop looking, almost to the point of rear ending the person in front of you. Once you have passed the wreck and continued on the way your mind begins to be filled with other things and you forget that you just sat in traffic for ever. I was agitated reading the book but I knew I needed to get through it to see what happened, but once I got through it I didn’t remember much. I say read it, but don’t expect too much! Let me know what you think.

You can buy it here


DIvergentI was recently sitting in a large comfortable theater seat preparing for the Hobbit when a preview of Divergent came on. In a matter of seconds I was hooked. After the longest movie I have ever seen (The Hobbit) was finished, I hopped on Amazon and purchased Divergent and patiently waited for my Amazon Prime to work its magic. I ripped the package opened to find my next Dystopian obsession, by Veronica Roth. I opened the book and was consumed, I began to read about the life of teenager Beatrice and the environment she came from. I enjoyed learning about the “factions” that ran their livelihood. At age 16 they have to pick a faction to live in, in my mind I compared it to the sorting hat from Harry Potter. It was something that would influence their entire lives. As I read the book I started to feel as if I was Beatrice, and that I was Divergent. That is how you know you are reading a good book. It is rare to read something that engulfs you and keeps you up at night turning the pages trying to find a good stopping point (there never was one). This book was filled with action and twists. Some of it was predictable, and it is definitely written for a teen reading level. The book did not include swear words which was refreshing, and it had a few references to sex, but did not escalate to a full on Bella Swan and Edward Cullen Honeymoon (which no one needs to relive). I truly loved this book, and I am not ashamed to say that I finished it at 11 on New Year’s Eve and went to Walmart to buy Insurgent, don’t judge me, my boyfriend was sick and asleep:)  One of the reasons I loved this book was because the main character of the book was a strong female. My feminist side came out in me, and every time she kicked butt, I’d think atta girl! The last thing I love about this book, is that it is part of a series and so my obsession can continue. I would recommend this book to anyone, I loved it and can’t wait to finish writing this so I can pick up Insurgent….







Nathan BarryA while back my boss, Don Reiman, attended an event that was featured local authors in Boise. Don is currently putting the finishing touches on his own book, RESET, and will be debuting it in early 2014. While at this conference he purchased me a book, Authority, written by Nathan Barry. This book is a step-by-step guide to publishing your first book independently. I am a Social Media Consultant and have had little experience with the book writing process… I have blogged, done press releases and some articles, but after reading Authority I learned that they overlap, and quite well. I sat down and read his entire book today, and was impressed by his ability to teach. There have been many times in the past few years where I have sat down to write a book. I even got up to 30 pages in my word document, but fizzled out because of work, and the Walking Dead. What this book did for me was inspire me, it helped me understand that anyone could write a book. It is just the matter of sitting down to do it. This book has some valuable websites in it that I had never heard of. I’ve already contacted my brother in hopes of helping him publish his book. What most people think is that you HAVE to have a HARD copy of the book, but it was apparent in this book and through Nathans experiences that even e-books make money. I have heard stigma’s about self publishing and e-books. However my perception was changed and my mind is much more open to the idea of self publishing on the internet. Now, I am not yet prepared to publish my own book, I would say I have a head start and will be there in the near future. However, I did find Authority to contain information to make me a positive asset to Don and his publishing team as we enter the final stages of his book. I was able to take notes, and change our plans to better fit Don’s book launch. It was well written and it was also a quick read. I would recommend this book to anyone looking for guidance in the publishing world!

On The Outside Looking Indian

From the outside looking IndianI recently set a goal to become a reader. I am continuously surprised by how much I am enjoying my adventures through the literary worlds. I just finished another book! I love when you come to the last chapter and you are reading the last few words the author has for you, and then you see “The End.” It is a bittersweet moment. I am sad if I liked the book and yearn for more, but part of me is excited to start another one. If you ask me it’s a win-win situation. The book I read was titled From The Outside Looking Indian written by Rupinder Gill. I was mostly intrigued by this book because I was so obsessed with Mindy Kaling, and her newest book. This book inspired me. Rupinder told of her childhood and how she immigrated from India with her family to start a new life in Canada. She grew up in a split world. She wanted to experience the “normal” teenage things that she saw throughout her television viewing career, but her parents kept to their traditional values. Rupinder felt as if she had missed out on her childhood. She had never learned to swim, she hadn’t attended a sleep over or summer camp, owned a dog, or made it to Disney World (I haven’t done all of those things and I turned out fine). In this book she decided to go for it, as my generation would refer to it “YOLO.” She seeks out the adventures she never was allowed to have. As I read about her leaving her comfort zone and at her age (like 30), I realized I could do that to. I am not a kid anymore. I work 8-5, eat, sleep, and then go to work again. Sometimes it becomes a monotonous routine and I feel like I am missing out. I am going to live a “Rupinder” year, I want to pick something I have always wanted to do or become proficient and I am going to conquer it.  I haven’t decided on what just yet, but this book just gave me the feeling of inspiration to do more. Rupinder’s book was high on my list as well, and I would recommend it because it was a clean and an appropriate book. I did not have to skip pages or feel uncomfortable. It was an easy book to read, I would even say teens could read the book and find it interesting. Overall, this was another book that inspired to me to continue reading, it captured a little piece of Clare, and I would definitely recommend it especially as the New Year is upon us.

Buy the book HERE.

Ready Player One

Ready Player One Life of a Clare BearSomething must be wrong with me. I have always described myself as a professional “show watcher.” I am just really good at watching t.v. It is something that I enjoy, and that I would pick over most things, especially reading. This week I did something completely out of the ordinary… I cheated on my beautiful t.v., with a book. I know how dare I do something like that. I had reached the final few chapters of Ready Player One and decided I was intrigued enough to put the remote down and put on my glasses. I laid in bed, with my heaven sent heated blanket, and read for hours. The book was published in 2011 by Ernest Cline from Texas. I realized while on the plane to Texas that it was the Author’s stomping ground, and it only made the read more interesting to me. I would say the book is a mix between Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and Harry Potter. I would only recommend this book to those who lean towards the geeky/nerd side and enjoy media, computers, and video games. The book is full of 80’s references. It is a futuristic book about a world who has become so consumed by technology that they live in an OASIS, a completely computer generated world. The book is about a series of challenges that have to be completed to find the golden egg which in turn gives you billions of dollars. The main character “Z,” journey to find the egg is an exciting one, with everything against him he decides to get the egg or die trying. He falls in love, and experiences the usual teen things, but in a different world. Read it to see what happens!The future is something that I constantly dream about, and so I really enjoy books that can give my mind more fuel for my obsession. This book includes some great twists and turns, and some that I felt were merely added to meet the current cultural trends. It does have swearing and some vulgarity, I did have to skip a few pages. It was interesting to see friends come together only through technology, and to see what incentives can do to people. It was a great read for the geek inside me. As I finished the book I felt a spark of passion for reading. That’s when I decided that maybe something isn’t wrong with me, maybe I could enjoy reading books and becoming fully immersed in the plot and becoming friends with the characters. Now I am not saying I will completely ditch my shows, but I think I can make some room for literature in my life.

Create a free website or blog at

Up ↑