Friday, February 15, 2019

What I've Heard- You Are a Badass

Oh, my gosh, you guys! Self-help books are SO LAME! I mean, come on- what is this going to be:
I'm good enough; I'm smart enough; and gosh darn it, people like me? Give me a break. But, a friend picked You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero for a reunion of an old book club, so I said, "Fine. I'll read it. I won't like it, but I'll read it." Actually, in an effort to waste the least amount of time possible, I borrowed the audiobook from the library. Cheese Fest, here we come.

[Turns on audiobook. Listens for a little while.]

Holy crap, you guys! This book is amazing! Okay, I'll try not to sound like I was just completely brainwashed through my earbuds, but really, this book far exceeded my expectations. At the beginning I did a LOT of eye rolling- there was a lot of You're awesome! You're amazing! You are the only YOU there will ever be! It was just so cheesy! And then I started to wonder "how would I feel if this was directed at my daughter?" Well, I think my daughter is awesome and amazing and all of those wonderful things and I really want her to feel that way about herself. Why can't I feel that way about myself? Why do we have such a hard time seeing our own awesome?

Sincero admits that she herself used to feel that the self-help genre was "unforgivably cheesy: it reeked of desperation, rah-rah churchiness and unwanted hugs from unappealing strangers." And yet, before I was half a dozen chapters into this obligation read, I was laughing, nodding along, saying "huh" a lot, and at least once having the breath knocked out of me. 

Or how about all that If you can dream it, you can do it baloney? There's plenty of that nonsense floating around in the world and I don't really need more of it. And yet...

I listened to the audio version of this book, but I also checked out the print version, you know, so I wouldn't look like a jerk when I showed up for the book club reunion. I got to the point that I had the book nearby while I listened just so I could put little sticky tabs on the good points. And SmartGirls, this book I thought was going to be so cheesy and dumb- well, I have almost thirty tabs sticking out of it right now! Here are just a few, chosen at random:

 During our little sojourn here on earth, we need our bodies more than they need us. Say nice things about your body; dress it up, and take it out. Give it hot sex, luxurious baths, and massages. Move it, stretch it, nourish it, hydrate it, pay attention to it- The better our bodies feel, the happier and more productive we are.

If you had an unlimited supply of cash, what would you spend your life doing? Our fantasies are the most revealing peepholes into who we are and what we think is awesome. No matter how out-there and ridiculous they may seem, they mean something to us, and usually represent our biggest and best versions of ourselves.

There is nothing as unstoppable as a freight train full of fuck-yeah.

If I kept going, I'd have to transcribe the whole book here. Just go out and get your own copy. Or at least borrow it from the library. The audio version is great (it's read by Sincero herself), but I recommend a print version as well. This is one of those books you're going to want to underline and make notes in the margins and refer back to over and over again.
...At least that's what the brainwashing is telling me! Ha!

Either way, this book is worth your time because you, SmartGirl, really are a badass!

Monday, February 11, 2019

Night of Miracles by Elizabeth Berg

Following the last book I read, which was a pretty dark and scary, I wanted something nice as a bit of a palate cleanser. Night of Miracles by Elizabeth Berg seemed to be just the ticket. The sequel to The Story of Arthur Truluv, I knew it would be just the thing I needed. This novel follows Lucille Howard and a whole new cast of neighbors in the small town of Mason, Missouri. We see bits of Maddi and Nola, but they are auxiliary characters in a book focused on Lucille's business, the family who has moved into her old house next door, Iris moving to town, and Tiny and Monica's will-they-won't-they relationship.

I absolutely adored Arthur Truluv and this book had so much of that same magic and charm, but I didn't find it quite as satisfying as I did the first book. This one ended too quickly and somehow it felt unfinished to me. Luckily Berg is working on a third book in the series so hopefully that will round it all out and give me that feeling I'm missing. Or maybe I still won't be able to get enough of these sweet characters. I can only hope that while Berg is at her writing table, she might consider adding a collection of Lucille's recipes. The descriptions in the book make my mouth water!

If you haven't read Arthur Truluv yet, I highly recommend that you do and then add Night of Miracles right behind it. You'll love this sweet small town and all the lovely people who live there.

Monday, February 4, 2019

Believe Me by JP Delaney

I have just finished reading Believe Me by JP Delaney and oh, do I have lot I want to say!
When I read The Girl Before, I was impressed with the way the author combined the storylines of two different characters and two different timelines. I loved the writing and the character development and the thrilling surprises. I couldn't put it down. It is not unusual for the follow up offering of a newish author to fall short of readers expectations, especially when the first book was so amazing. Well, SmartGirls, Delaney isn't the usual author and this book had me dizzy with all the twists and turns and I mean that in the best possible way.

Claire is a British actress struggling to make it in New York and...

Well, that's about it. I just can't say much more without stealing some of the joy of experiencing this fantastic novel for yourself. I would never do that- you mean too much to me! You will just have to read it for yourself. I recommend making it a book club pick, or at least reading along with a friend. You'll want someone with whom you can dissect all the craziness and unpick all the tangles.
My head is still spinning! 

Saturday, February 2, 2019

The Hypnotist's Love Story by Liane Moriarty

The Hypnotist's Love Story is the fourth book I've read by Liane Moriarty and I have really enjoyed them all. Well, I did start Truly Madly Guilty, but I really couldn't get into it so I let it go, but the others I loved so it should be no surprise that I fell for this one right away.

Ellen works out of an office in her eccentric home as a therapeutic hypnotherapist. She knows many people view this as a strange occupation, picturing only the few hypnotists they've seen on stage making people dance or quack like ducks, but what she does is wholly different. Ellen actually helps people. When Patrick, her new boyfriend, tells Ellen he has a stalker, she isn't frightened off like he expects, but is intrigued. What would make someone do that? What happened in their relationship that would cause such behavior? Unbeknownst to her, Ellen has already begun treating the stalker with a false name.

This book falls squarely into the ChickLit category: it is a romance, a bit of a love triangle, a will-we-get-married-and-live-happily-ever-after-or-not? kind of book. And there is nothing wrong with that sometimes, especially when it is this well written with compelling characters each with solid motivations and plenty of depth. Even Saskia, the stalker, the so-called villain, is interesting and- believe it or not- likable. This book is fun and it was one I wanted to keep reading all day.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

What I've Heard- The Supremes at Earl's All-You-Can-Eat

Nearly six years ago, I read The Supremes at Earl's All-You-Can-Eat by Edward Kelsey Moore and absolutely loved it. I searched for a long time for an audio version and I finally found one! This book was just as fabulous as I remembered and I loved it just as much. It is one of those books you want to share with everyone you know. Which, come to think of it, is the whole reason I have this blog! I want you to read good books you'll love and I really think this one qualifies. If nothing else, be sure to add this to your summer reading list. It's the perfect fun, easy, can't-put-down read.

Winter by Marissa Meyer

Finally, I was able to finish The Lunar Chronicles with Winter by Marissa Meyer and it was wonderful! Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, and the rest of the crew have made their way to Luna and they have more plans than they can count. Winter must be rescued, Levana must be dethroned, and a wedding must be stopped. This book is full of twists, turns, and excitement, captures and rescues, defeats and victories.

At 824 pages, this book is full. I have read complaints that it was too long and needed better editing, but I don't agree. The pace was always just right, not rushed and it never dragged. The only concern I had was that I wanted to read faster to find out what would happen. I was quite surprised about how much I really liked this series. It was a wonderful new take on fairy tales that we all know so well without sticking too closely to the stories and being predictable. There was a little romance, but not too much that I will feel awkward sharing it with my eleven-year-old daughter. And the "princes" in the tales were saved by the "princesses" at least as often as the other way around. I don't read much YA these days because I just haven't found any that could hold my interest, but this series was wonderful. I hope you'll read it.

What I've Heard- Born a Crime

Born a Crime is the autobiography of Trevor Noah and tells all about his growing up in Apartheid South Africa. His father is white, his mother is black, and neither can openly claim him. He couldn't be seen in public at all with his father and he recalls his mother dropping his hand on the street one day, pretending he belonged to someone else. And yet he grew up feeling loved.

The stories Noah tells will make you catch your breath and also laugh out loud. The relationships between Noah and his mother and with his grandmother are touching and heartwarming. I listened to the audio version and, being read by Noah himself, it was wonderful. I cannot recommend enough that you read this book. Or listen to it. Or both. Trevor Noah's humor and perspective of what many people would view as an extremely difficult upbringing could teach us all a lesson about how to face the world and how to make it better.