Dark Days Tour-Author Signing

On Wednesday I attended the Dark Days Tour at the Salt Lake Main Library. Authors in attendance were Veronica RothDivergent/Insurgent, Aprilynne PikeDestined/Wings Series, SJ KincaidInsignia, and Dan WellsPartials. We were able to hear them speak about their books and then took about 45 minutes of questions. They were a great group and they had some humorous answers to our questions.

Afterward was the book signing. I appreciate the organized way that the library handled the signing (and being able to sit in a chair until it was my turn.) I was probably there three hours, which isn’t bad, and it was worth it.

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From left to right: Veronica Roth, Dan Wells, SJ Kincaid, and Aprilynne Pike

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My books all signed and nestled between my owl bookends from Z Gallerie.

In other news, Betty arrived and she’s fantastic!

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Happy Friday everyone! Any fun plans for the weekend?

Reading Goals Update

June was a really slow reading month for me. I think that is because I was reading two books that were long–one at 649 pages and the other at 816 pages. One (1421: The Year China Discovered America) is taking me awhile to get through, because of all the detailed facts in it. I haven’t finished either yet. We’ve also been really busy and I haven’t been in the mood to read as much.

So here’s the latest:

Books finished in June (3)

The Kitchen House read for the What’s In A Name Challenge
Miss Zukas and The Library Murders read for the Cruisin’ Thru the Cozies Challenge
The Hydrogen Murder read for the Cruisin’ Thru the Cozies Challenge

Books finished in 2012 

24 books toward my goal of 50
5580 pages total

You can follow my challenges HERE and my overall progress HERE.

What are you reading these days?

Five Fashion Themed Books from a Salt Lake City Fashionista

Hey, guys! My name’s Rebecca and I write the fashion blog Rebecca (hearts). Kim asked me to be a guest blogger while she was away and I jumped at the chance.

Anyone who’s been reading Kim’s blog for very long has probably noticed that she’s a total book lover. This girl can read! Now, I’m not as much of a reader. I’m ashamed to admit I’m lucky to finish a book every few months. But, there are a few books that I reference over and over again and make sure to keep in arm’s reach.

Sure, they may not be literary classics (one day I plan on reading a bunch of the books that Kim has already devoured), but the books I keep close by tend to be style or fashion-centric.

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The first book is 9 Heads. I’ve been trying to improve my fashion illustration. I certainly have a long way to go, which is why I keep this amazing reference book close by.

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Some days I just need a little visual stimulation. That’s when I grab Artwear. This collection of beautiful images of wearable art is just the thing to bust out of an inspiration rut.

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Coco Chanel is arguably the most influential woman ever in the fashion world. Her book, The Gospel According to Coco Chanel is perfect to grab and skim through any time I wonder, “What would Coco do?”

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And because style is about much more than what you have on, I love the book, Better than Beauty: A Guide to Charm. Girls nowadays aren’t sent to charm school, but that doesn’t mean charm is useless. This book was first published in 1938, but the hints, tips and tricks are just as useful today.

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I read The End of Fashion in college and it was one of the only books I opted to keep at the end of the semester. This book describes how the relationship between marketing and fashion changed couture as we know it. I won’t bore you with all the details, but if you are remotely interested in the history of the fashion industry over the last 30 years, I highly suggest this book.

So those are my favorite fashion-themed books. And I promise, next time I’m in a bookstore I’ll pick up a classic. A girl’s gotta be well-rounded, right?  

What are the books you keep nearby? What books inspire you?
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This is a scheduled guest post while I’m away sunning it up in California. This post was written by my good blogger friend, Rebecca who writes the fashion blog, Rebecca (hearts). Wasn’t this a fun post? It combines a couple of my favorite things, fashion & books! And since I will read just about anything that’s put in my hands, I think I’ll be adding these to my to-reads list!

It’s awesome because Rebecca lives in Salt Lake, so I get to read all her recommendations on where to shop locally and go try them out! Plus we have similar taste so when I want to look good I just copy one of her outfits. Ha! Rebecca just recently did some fashion segments on Fox 13 which you should check out and you can also follow her Facebook page. She’s also an amazing artist and I love to check out her fashion sketches and her sewing projects. Thanks Rebecca!   

Reading Challenges you should try

This is a scheduled guest post while I’m sunning it up in California written by my blogger friend, Kyria. Kyria writes an awesome blog called Travel Spot. We have a lot in common, including our tendency to buy way more books than we actually need! Stop over to Travel Spot where you can see all the cool places she’s been. She’s also a runner so you can follow her 12 in 2012 running challenge and her other running adventures! Thanks Kyria!

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Kim and I have a lot in common. That is why when she asked if I could do a guest post, I jumped on board! I love reading her blog and feel like she and I would get along great in real life. One of the main things I think we share is our love of books. We are also both doing a couple of reading challenges this year. Actually, I am only doing two.

(1) The bookmark break challenge. This is a challenge by AudrieAnne to get those books off the shelves and read them. If you can read more books than she can this year, you get a prize! Last year I beat her by only a few books, so this year, it’s a challenge to try and do it again! So far, I have read 31 books this year.

(2) No book buying. This challenge is to myself, since I cleaned out my storage space late last year and found many (MANY!) books that I haven’t read yet. I also gave away 4 boxes of books. Since the last thing I need is to have to sort through and give away more books, OR to spend money on more books since I have so many waiting to be read, I told myself that I would only read (a) library books, (b) books I already own, (c) borrowed books, (d) books that are given to me as a gift, or (e) as a treat, I could buy books with B&N or Amazon gift cards that I already had. I have not used the gift cards yet. In fact, I have not even bought a book at a thrift store, although that is my downfall, if you will. I did trade about a dozen books with a fellow blogger. I have also received books for free in return for a review. These are all still “legal”.

Now, Kim has a few fun book challenges as well. You probably already know all about them, but if not, they are here. My favorite is the What’s in a Name Challenge, which challenges readers to read a book with these items in the title: (a) a topographical feature, (b) something you would see in the sky, (c) creepy crawly, (d) type of house, (e) something you would carry in a pocket, purse or backpack, and (f) something you would find on a calendar. Kim’s doing great; she’s got 5 out of 6. So I thought I would see how I measured up.

(a) The Forgotten Garden – Kate Morton****

(b) The Night Circus – Erin Morgenstern****

(c) —

(d) Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and SweetJamie Ford****

(e) Sarah’s KeyTatiana De Rosney****

(f) Three Cups of Tea – Greg Mortenson & David Oliver Relin***

So I guess I need to read something with a creepy, crawly name! By the way, the stars are my rating system (out of 5) so all of these books are good ones! Thanks again Kim for having me. I can’t wait to see how we both (and all of you!) do on our reading challenges this year! For other reading recommendations, you can visit my Bookshelf page.

What challenges have you taken on this year? Are there any good books you can recommend? 

Her Reads…an update

I am still loving my reading challenges and I think I’ve gotten over feeling guilty about reading all the time. It’s rare to find me without a book these days and I think that’s the way I like it. I’ve also been taking advantage of audio books while I’m at work and that has been awesome!!

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Remember when I talked about the new books I picked up from interlibrary loan last week? Well here’s the verdict. I sent The Visions of Ransom Lake back without finishing it. I only reached chapter 3. I took the amount of times I rolled my eyes in those three chapters to be an indication that the book was not for me. That’s not to say that it was a bad book. It’s got great ratings and reviews on Goodreads. I just couldn’t stomach it. I think if I’m going to be reading westerns they’ve got to be a little more believable and not so fruity.

And Divergent? Finished that in two evenings, reading after dinner. Then I went online and used a gift certificate from Hastings that my sister gave me and bought it…plus Insurgent. Looking forward to diving into that one but I’m going to take my time since it will be awhile before book three comes out. I’ve accepted that I’m a sucker for dystopian novels. I’ve also accepted that it’s very trendy right now to be a sucker for these. Oh well. I like what I like.

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Ahhh cozy mysteries…my new found love. Where have they been all my life? My challenge this year was to read five. I know I’ll exceed that, but once I hit five I’ll take a break in order to catch up on my other challenges. This time I picked up The Hydrogen Murder by Camille Minichino & Miss Zukas and the Library Murders by Jo Dereske

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I’m also still making my way through 1421: The Year China Discovered America by Gavin Menzies. There is a lot of great stuff in this book. It’s not a book you can read when you’re not totally focused on it. I can only read it when I don’t have other distractions. Plus, I like to take my time looking up his references and reminding me of the history behind everything he’s talking about. I will usually read a page or two and then hit the internet for more information, before reading on. Needless to say, it may take me several months to get through it. 

Anyone want to recommend a book to me that has a topographical feature in the title, now that I’ve dumped ‘The Visions of Ransom Lake’? Also, what are you reading lately?

Her Favorites: Books from my childhood

I thought I’d mention a few of the books that made me fall in love with reading as a little girl. There are so many more though, I may have to do a part 2 of this post!

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My grandmother has the box set that includes all the little books like Tales of Peter Rabbit & Tale of Two Bad Mice. I loved those books and they were the first thing I dug out of the closet when we went to visit her. I keep looking for my own box set that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg because I’d really like to have these books. I think my grandma’s set will most likely go to one of the other grandkids. 
I had the complete set as a girl. I’m hoping they’re in a box somewhere but they may be lost forever. I loved the magic of these books. They are the first books that made me fall in love with the fantasy genre.
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Hmm. I’m starting to think that my obsession with series started at a young age. I own almost all of these books. The Hitchhiker was my favorite of them all. It ends with a piranha pit. Can’t get any scarier than that! My sister, on the other hand, read R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps series, which we also watched on TV on occasion. I used to stay up late curled on my bed under the blanket, with a flashlight and these books, and nearly scare the pants off of myself. 

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Space Witch by Don Freeman (also the author of the Corduroy books) 
I absolutely loved the story of Tilly Ipswitch who decides to travel to outer space with her cat. I was captivated by stories of witches thanks to movies like The Worst Witch. Wasn’t that a great movie? 

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I have no idea what first drew me to this book but I must have checked it out from the Summit Elementary library a hundred times. I kept going back for it and reading it again and again. I was always disappointed when I would go to the library and find that it was already checked out. I started hiding it on other shelves just to ensure that it would always be there for me. I think I found her strength and her journey totally compelling and inspring.
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This is a wonderful book. The story is sweet and funny and the illustrations are fantastic. Imagine my delight to find that Andy had read it as a kid too and that his mom still has a copy of it. Another example of a child being independent and taking care of himself. I was always drawn to those types of characters.

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I loved Berenstain Bears books but this one was my favorite. Again, the illustrations and the slightly frightening storyline (well frightening as a little girl) excited me. 

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Another series love. I wouldn’t be a typical girl in the 90s if I hadn’t read at least one Babysitter’s Club book (and also tried to start a Babysitter’s Club of my own.) In fact, I owned several of these books. It was, of course, Mary Ann who I identified with the most, but I always wished that I was more like Dawn.

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Another fantastic children’s book. I found a reprint of it and it’s great but I really wish I had an original copy. It’s a story about a cloud and the wind who eventually become friends. Again, wonderful illustrations. 

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Little Golden Books were a staple at our house, as I’m sure they were in many homes. So many of them I loved, but this one sticks in my mind the most. It’s a story of a little girl who never cleans her house, so it finally gets up and walks away. It seems that cleaning my room was a constant battle between my mom and I while I was growing up. I used this book to remind me why my mom was so adamant on taking care of my possessions by putting them away each day. It worked, because my mom’s habits of cleanliness and respect for the things that we own is a big part of who I am today. She always taught us that we can show our gratitude for the things that we have been blessed with by taking care of them.

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My fascination with far off places and traveling started at a young age. This book fueled that interest. It’s the story of a doll and the journey that she takes around the world, the exciting things she sees and the many people who own and love her along the way.

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One of my favorite authors. My copy of this book is well worn and used. I’m not even sure how many times I’ve read it. 

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Mr. Men & Little Miss books by Roger Hargreaves
Loved these books, the silly characters and the vibrant illustrations. I found a complete set of them at a used book sale here on campus a couple of years ago and bought them all up.

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Yet another series that I devoured as a kid. And what drew me to it? The character’s independence and ability to look out for themselves. That seems to be a strong theme of my childhood. I know the reason for this so it doesn’t surprise me that these types of books were favorites of mine.

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An absolute favorite and another that I can’t count the number of times I’ve read it. I adored Claudia Kincaid’s ‘brilliant’ plan for running away and living at a museum. This book began my fascination with museums and history. I owe a lot to this book.
 That’s a lot of books! But there are so many more that I’ve loved over the years.
What’s one of your favorite childhood books?

Just finished…Just starting

JUST FINISHED:

PhotobucketMurder on the Orient Express by Agathie Christie (★★★1/2)

Read for: The Eclectic Reader Challenge
Length: 336 Pages
Filed Under: European Literature, Mystery, Crime
Setting: Yugoslavia, Orient Express Train
Most Liked Character(s): Hercules Poirot-patient & clever; 
Most Disliked Character(s):  Mrs. Caroline Martha Hubbard-loud & dramatic; Cyrus Beth Hardman-purposely slow & unhelpful
Plot: A slow time for travel, the Orient Express is unusually full on the evening that Samuel Edward Ratchett is killed in his compartment. Stabbed several times while the train is immobilized due to a snow drift, it is obvious that one of his fellow passengers is the killer. It is Hercu Poirot who must unravel the mystery.

PhotobucketEnder’s Game by Orson Scott Card (★★★★★)

Read for: The Dystopia Challenge
Length: 324 pages
Filed Under: Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Dystopian, Young Adult, Action
Setting: North Carolina, Battle School, Fairyland/the End of the World, Command School, and the Colony
Most Like Character(s): Andrew “Ender” Wiggin-level headed & compassionate; Commander Hyrum Graff-caring & a friend
Most Disliked Character(s): Peter Wiggin- hateful & cruel
Plot: A hostile alien force has set its sights on Earth. In order to fight this enemy, the government breeds child geniuses and trains them for war. Andrew “Ender” Wiggin survives this rigorous training in Battle School and comes out way above the rest of his classmates. Is Ender the general who will lead Earth to overcome the Buggars?

PhotobucketA Patchwork Planet by Anne Tyler (★★★1/2)

Read for: The Eclectic Reader Challenge
Length: 320 pages
Filed Under: Literary Fiction
Setting: Baltimore, Philadelphia and the train in between
Most Like Character(s): Opal Gaitlin-intelligent and forgiving
Most Disliked Character(s): Mrs. Gaitlin-dwells on past mistakes and makes others feel unnecessarily guilty
Plot: A troublemaker since childhood, Barnaby Gaitlin still can’t seem to grow up and enter adult life. For eleven years he’s been working for Rent-A-Back helping elderly people do odd chores around their home. When he begins to have a genuine relationship with his daughter, Opal and meets and begins dating Sophia (who he thinks may be his guardian angel) he starts to realize that his life really could be more. Throughout the book, Barnaby works to regain the trust his juvenile delinquency caused people to lose in him and prove that he really is the ‘good guy.’

JUST STARTING:



Photobucket1421: The Year China Discovered America by Gavin Menzies

Length: 649 pages
Filed Under: Non-fiction, Historical
Plot: On March 8, 1421, the largest fleet the world had ever seen set sail from China. Its mission was “to proceed all the way to the ends of the earth to collect tribute from the barbarians beyond the seas” and unite the whole world in Confucian harmony. When it returned in October 1423, the emperor had fallen, leaving China in political and economic chaos. Lost in China’s long, self-imposed isolation that followed was the knowledge that Chinese ships had reached America seventy years before Columbus and had circumnavigated the globe a century before Magellan. (taken from goodreads) 

PhotobucketThe Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom

Length: 369 pages
Filed Under:  Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction
Plot: Orphaned while onboard a ship from Ireland, seven-year-old Lavinia arrives on the steps of a tobacco plantation where she is to live and work with the slaves of the kitchen house. Under the care of Belle, the master’s illegitimate daughter, Lavinia becomes deeply bonded to her adopted family. Eventually loyalties are questioned and Lavinia finds herself in a very difficult situation. (taken from goodreads)


 Your turn: What are you reading these days? What is on your to-read list next?




Winter Garden Discussion 2

The questions and answers:

1. Anya Whitson is color blind and cannot see the colors in her winter garden. Why do you think the author gave the character this particular trait? In what ways is it a metaphor for what Anya has gone through in her life? Do you believe it is a physiological blindness or a psychological one?

She’s chosen to be blind to everything that is happening in her life and to continue to live in the past. I think her color blindness is a psychological and physiological problem.

2. Memory is an important theme in Winter Garden. Meredith often regrets–when looking at old family photos taken without her–that she was often off organizing or obsessing over details, while everyone else was living in the moment, creating memories. How common is this for women and mothers? What memories keep your family together?

I think this is really common for women.. we seem to take on the role of memory keeper instead of memory maker in the family. Mothers are often trying to do it all and in the meantime they don’t slow down enough to just enjoy things.

 3. Jeff tells Meredith that “words matter.” What are some examples of this throughout the story? How have words saved and harmed each of these characters’ lives? How has silence saved and harmed each of these characters’ lives? How do words—the telling of the fairy tale—change their individual and collective perceptions of who they are?

It’s obvious that words matter because the only thing that seems to calm the children down is when Anya tells them her fairytale. They have no hope and are starving to death but it is Anya’s stories that get them through it. Her words become important with Meredith and Nina only they don’t understand the importance until she finally tells the story to the end.  

4. Anya is an unsympathetic character throughout much of the book. How did your perception of her change as the fairy tale unfolded? Did you end up sympathizing with her, or even liking her? Or do you feel that her treatment of her daughters was inexcusable, regardless of the hardships she had faced in her life? How do you think you would have fared in Leningrad under the siege? Was Anya heroic in Leningrad, or a failure?

I think that was her coping mechanism- shutting people out and being ‘tough.’ It was how she managed to survive the siege of Leningrad. But after she thought her family had been killed, she just put those walls up even thicker. I’m honestly wondering why Meredith and Nina’s father never explained to them why their mother was the way she was. I think Anya was heroic. She had many chances to give up and never did.

 5. How did you feel about the ending? Why do you think the author chose the surprising meeting in Sitka?

It was far fetched but I’m glad she was able to end on a positive note.

Thanks to The Many Thoughts of A Reader for hosting the April book club! 

An update on my reading goals

My reading goals have slowly and steadily been getting off the ground. I didn’t really decide to set any reading goals or join any challenges until the beginning of March, so I was a little late in the game this year. I’m hoping to get into a groove soon so that I can make it through my books quicker. 

So far I’ve read:

1809 pages…
8 books towards my goal of 50 books this year…
2 Cozy Mysteries towards my goal of reading 6 this year…
1 book for the April Book Club
1 book for the Eclectic Reader Challenge
1 book toward my Newberry Book Challenge
2 books toward my Caldecott Book Challenge

Okay, so I really haven’t done that much so far and I’m a little frustrated with my reading speed. I try to read at home, but I get interrupted a lot and then my mind wanders and I have to read the paragraph again. I’m also fighting my conscience as I actually feel guilty when I take time with my book–like I should be doing something productive like finishing the dishes. I also feel guilty reading while Andy is working. I felt guilty reading the entire time he was mowing the lawn the other night if that makes sense. 
I’m hoping to be able to figure out a couple of hours each day that I can carve out for reading…time that I can read without having to stop and restart a million times and time that I can read without feeling guilty about it. I’m also utilizing audio books while I’m at work and driving, but I like to do my own reading as much as possible. 
I’m not so much concerned with getting through my goals as I am with being able to read everything that I want to. I really enjoy reading and I want and need that time each day. My list of books that I can’t wait to devour is long and I anxiously want to be able to get to them all. It’s honestly like a hunger for me-like I’m starving and can’t eat the plate of food in front of me fast enough so I can get on to the next. There are just so many awesome books out there. 

You can keep up with my progress by clicking on the tabs below my blog header or friending me on Goodreads

Winter Garden-Discussion 1

So far I’ve really enjoyed this book. There’s not a lot of drama in it but there is a lot of emotion, both spoken and unspoken. Kristin Hannah paints a picture of a family desperately trying to find their way through the tragedy of the death of their father while at the same time deal with the tragedy of a crumbling family unit. Each person is struggling in their own way and I have wondered throughout the first half of this book, how they will finally find a way to be there for each other. It is plain to see that the fairy tale and the winter garden are the common ground but it seems as if Meredith, Nina and their mother are not quite ready to accept that.The Whitson women are all so stubborn and strong willed that they refuse to let themselves feel anything but anger. But eventually a person has to break to heal.

Questions by The Many Thoughts of A Reader

1. How do you think the peasant and prince fairy tale ends? If you finished, what were your guesses?

I’m not sure how it will end but I have a strong feeling that the story is parallel to Anya’s own life in some way and that will be Meredith and Nina’s key to understanding their mother.

2. Will Nina stay or go?

I believe that Nina will stay. She has something to prove to Meredith and her stubbornness will keep her around.

3.What do you think Mere and Jeff need to do to save their relationship? Is it worth saving?

Jeff wants to feel that his wife needs him and until Meredith can share her burdens with him and allow him to be there for her and comfort her, it won’t be able to work. If Mere can let her guard down and admit to Jeff that she can’t always do it all alone, then I think they can save their marriage. They both still love each other so yes, it’s worth saving.

4. Meredith and Nina are both reluctant to let the men in their lives help them through a difficult time, yet both are suffering from the grief caused by the death of their father. Do you think this is something they’ve inherited from their mother? In what other ways are they similar to their mother? Do you think it’s impossible to avoid becoming like the people who raised you?

They were raised by a strong willed woman. The only person their mother let in was her husband which is why I find it odd that the girls can’t find comfort in their own men. Their father was the only person who could comfort their mother and get through to her so it seems as if Meredith and Nina would be more likely to turn to their significant others for support and shut everyone else as, just as their mother has done.

5. This novel explores a complicated and strained relationship between two sisters. Do you think Meredith is justified in being so angry with Nina? In what ways are the sisters different and in what ways are they alike?

Meredith and Nina’s frustration toward each other stems from misunderstanding and miscommunication. Each woman copes with things in their own way and neither is very tolerant of the other. There is a sense that Meredith envies Nina’s free lifestyle because Meredith has been stuck in one place her whole life. Nina, on the other hand, envies Meredith’s ability to ‘handle everything.’ They need to recognize each others strengths and see that they both have something good to bring to the table.