Thursday, July 17, 2014

BOOK REVIEW: Learning to Swim by Sara J. Henry


ABOUT THE BOOK (from Amazon):

Winner of the Anthony Award for Best First Novel, the Agatha Award for Best First Novel, and the Mary Higgins Clark Award

When she sees what looks like a child tumbling from a ferry into frigid Lake Champlain, Troy Chance dives in without thinking. When she gets the child to shore she discovers that his name is Paul, he speaks only French—and no one seems to be looking for him.

Her determination to protect Paul pulls Troy from her quiet life in a small Adirondack town into an unfamiliar world of wealth and privilege in Canada and then in Vermont. Her attachment to him—and the danger she faces when she tries to unravel the mystery of his abandonment—force her to evaluate everything she thought true about herself.

Sara J. Henry's riveting, award-winning debut will keep readers engrossed right up to its shattering conclusion.

MY REVIEW:

I'd never heard of this book or the author before, but I accidentally came across it somewhere and it sounded interesting so I thought I would give it a try.  I could not put this book down.  The story grabbed me from the very beginning and then there was mystery, suspense and a subtle romance that kept me hooked until the very end.

Troy Chance is the heroine who rescues a young boy and then makes some risky decisions in order to keep him safe. As she discovers more about who he is and where he came from, she also discovers more about herself.  There is a twist toward the end that might be slightly unbelievable, but it's easy to forgive because the story is just that good.

I recommend this book primarily for women who enjoy fiction and I would definitely read anything else by Sara J. Henry.




Friday, July 11, 2014

BOOK REVIEW: The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin


ABOUT THE BOOK (from Amazon):

Award-winning author Gretchen Rubin is back with a bang, with The Happiness Project. The author of the bestselling 40 Ways to Look at Winston Churchill has produced a work that is “a cross between the Dalai Lama’s The Art of Happiness and Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love.” (Sonya Lyubomirsky, author of The How of Happiness: A Scientific Approach to Getting the Life You Want) In the vein of Julie and Julia, The Happiness Project describes one person’s year-long attempt to discover what leads to true contentment. Drawing at once on cutting-edge science, classical philosophy, and real-world applicability, Rubin has written an engaging, eminently relatable chronicle of transformation.

MY REVIEW:

A friend recommended this book to me awhile back and I'm glad I finally read it.  I think the idea of a "happiness project" is intriguing.

Rubin conducted her "happiness project" over the course of a year, with one "resolution" per month.  Her plan was to tackle one resolution at a time and build upon those resolutions throughout the year. Some of her resolutions included: boost energy, make time for friends, and pursue a passion.  She went into detail on each one about how she would accomplish those "resolutions" (she cautions the reader not to view them as "goals" which can be accomplished once and then we move on to something else, but rather these are resolutions that she will continue to strive to keep over time).

I connected a lot with Rubin as she discussed her husband and her kids and balancing work/life as a working mother. She is a likable person with a positive energy that she wants to spread to others.  I felt inspired to start my own happiness project and may even use some of her examples (like cleaning out the clutter in my house and getting my birthday calendar organized!).

One of my biggest take-aways from this book was that our general mood affects those around us - in our home, in our work environment, in our social media communities, etc.  Wherever we are on the happiness scale, there is always room to move up higher, and when we choose do that, we can have an impact on everyone around us.  Why not give it a try?

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

BOOK REVIEW: Home by Rachel Smith


ABOUT THE BOOK (from Amazon):

After twelve years on top of the charts, country music superstar Lily Rae has decided to hang up the microphone and move home. Becoming Lillian Raftzen again is harder than she anticipated and soon, it seems running home is not enough to escape from her manipulative ex-agent, who not only threatens to end her happiness, but her life. When the girl of his dreams walks back into his life twelve years later, Justin DeLuca realizes as much as he loves her, she is no longer the girl he remembers. With everything they must overcome, can the two of them make their dreams come true? Lily's dream to sing and Justin's dream for a family are so very far from the same path. But by veering off course they find a new dream on a new path ending up right where it all began.....home.

MY REVIEW:

Recently I had been hoping to find a book that I "just can't put down."  Despite the fact that I read a lot, I rarely feel that way about the books I read and I wanted to find something that really drew me in.  This book certainly did the trick!  I'm not sure I've ever read a book as fast as I devoured this one.

I occasionally read fiction, but never romantic fiction.  I (reluctantly) may have discovered a new favorite genre.  Home by Rachel Smith is a romance novel, but it also has a rich story line that builds in suspense as the book goes on and keeps you guessing until the very end.

If you're a woman (and/or a fan of romantic fiction), I highly recommend this book with one disclaimer - if this book were a movie, it would be rated R for language and sexual content (4 scenes, I believe).  If these things offend you, this may not be the book for you.


Tuesday, March 11, 2014

BOOK REVIEW: Drinking and Dating: P.S. Social Media Is Ruining Romance by Brandi Glanville


ABOUT THE BOOK (from Amazon):

On the heels of her New York Times bestselling book Drinking and Tweeting, Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star Brandi Glanville takes readers on a wild ride through her dating life in this highly-entertaining relationship book.

Drinking and Dating chronicles Glanville’s misadventures stumbling through today’s dating world. From social media blunders to bedroom escapades, Brandi withholds nothing. Each chapter is inspired by a relationship encounter she has had since her sensational divorce from actor Eddie Cibrian. Hilarious, surprising, vulnerable, and outspoken, Glanville’s unexpected take on dating after heartbreak – and life in general - is as unique as she is. Just like Brandi herself, Drinking and Dating is sexy, funny, and eyebrow-raising.

MY REVIEW:

I don't even want to write this review right now.  What's that saying...If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all? <sigh>  If you know anything about Brandi Glanville, you're probably thinking, "Well, what did you expect!?"  I know, I know.  I just love Brandi.  There's something about a woman with a strong personality and no apology for being who she is.  I love that about her.

I knew very well who Brandi Glanville was from watching Real Housewives, so I'm not sure what I expected from this book.  I have not read her first book yet, but from what I gather, the first book was more about her divorce and this second book is more about her life after the divorce (and her search for love, or an "emergency contact," in this new phase of her life).  I am a big fan of Real Housewives, so it was nice to get to know Brandi a little bit more in her book, but I think we all could have been spared a few of the (very graphic) details. 

I'm no dating expert, but I do watch The Millionaire Matchmaker, and I think Patti Stanger would have a few things to say about Brandi's dating habits!  Perhaps Brandi would have a better chance of finding Mr. Right if she followed a few of Patti's rules, i.e. "a 2 drink maximum" on a date and "no sex before monogamy!"  But I digress...

I would only recommend this book for you if you are a big Real Housewives (and particularly Brandi Glanville) fan, you're currently in the post-divorce dating phase (although, unless you're an ex-model dating NBA players, this book may not help with your self-esteem at this point in your life), you're in your 30s or 40s but are really a 20-year-old at heart and/or you just like pure trash.


Sunday, March 9, 2014

BOOK REVIEW: The New New Rules: A Funny Look at How Everybody but Me Has Their Head Up Their Ass by Bill Maher


ABOUT THE BOOK (from Amazon):

From the New York Times bestselling author and host of HBO’s Real Time, Bill Maher’s latest collection of political riffs and savagely funny suggestions for preserving sanity in an insane world.

New Rule: The next Republican Convention must be held in a giant closet. Every week there’s a new gay Republican outed. I have a feeling that “big tent” they’re always talking about is in their pants. There are so many Republicans in the closet, their symbol shouldn’t be an elephant; it should be a moth.

New Rule: If one of your news organization’s headlines is about who got kicked off Dancing with the Stars last night, you’re no longer a news organization. Sort of like, if you were on Dancing with the Stars last night, you’re no longer a star.

Media, celebrity, Democrats, Republicans, religion, children, marine life, electronics, that couple making out in the next booth—when it comes to lighting up his targets, Bill Maher is an equal-opportunity destroyer. The New New Rules offers Maher’s new and best-loved observations about the world around us, along with some modest tips for its improvement. Because wouldn’t life be a little better if the inside of the office microwave didn’t look like a Jackson Pollock painting, or if fathers stopped signing up their nine-year-olds to win free hunting trips? Scathingly funny and relentlessly unafraid of sensitive topics, Maher’s hilarious brand of realism is more welcome and necessary than ever. So sit back, read on, and enjoy. You may not agree with all his views, but one thing’s for certain: If you’re listening, you’re laughing.
 
MY REVIEW:

In my defense, I did not really know who Bill Maher was before I picked this book.  I mean, I knew of him vaguely - enough to say he was in news/politics, but that was about it.  I picked this book because I have been on a humor audiobook kick for a while now.  I liked the satirical humor of Denis Leary in Why We Suck, and I thought this book might be similar, but it was not.

Although I have been reading humor books lately, I really appreciate books that challenge me in some way.  I have found that humor books often do that by making me laugh one moment and then making me think about something in a new way the next.  The New New Rules by Bill Maher, however, did not make me laugh or challenge me in any way.  It is simply full of (often crude) one-liners. 

If you're already a Bill Maher fan (or if you have a short attention span), you may like this book.  But otherwise, I don't recommend this book for anyone else.