Saturday, June 18, 2016

The Invoice by Jonas Karlsson - Book Review

BookThe Invoice
Author: Jonas Karlsson
Publisher/Publish Date: Hogarth / July 12, 2016

I got this cute little book to review, and was pleasantly surprised with how much I enjoyed it. The author, Jonas Karlsson, who also wrote The Room, does an amazing job of crafting an intriguing story from a small plot point.

The main character one day receives a mysterious invoice in the mail, and a call to the help center leads him down a rabbit hole into the mysterious question of what is the cost of a pleasant life.

Though not a super deep book, it does make you think about the big and small things in life that make life good, make it worth living. And if just sailing along pleasantly is really the best path to take, or take a harder, more difficult and exiting path in life. It's a fairly quick read, and I'd recommend it to anyone that likes slightly quirky and unusual novels. Looking forward to reading more in the future from this author.



I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City - Book Review

BookEvicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City
Author
Publisher/Publish Date: Crown / March 1, 2016
"From Harvard sociologist and MacArthur "Genius" Matthew Desmond, a landmark work of scholarship and reportage that will forever change the way we look at poverty in America" (From Goodreads.com)
This is a brilliant book I highly recommend everyone to read. Matthew Desmond tells the story of single moms spending 70% of their income on housing that has no hot water. Stories of families getting evicted over and over again as they try to keep a steady job and make enough to cover rent as well as feed their kids. He includes stories of the landlords who have the power to let the rent slide or evict the tenants, and the challenges they face trying to make a living off of property in poor neighborhoods. You can't read these stories and not come away unchanged.

I'm so impressed that Desmond committed to living in these neighborhoods where evictions are common and immerse in the lives of the people in his book. He put himself in a situation to truly learn, from the inside, what the lives of the landlords and tenants look like.

While I enjoy learning more about subjects like this, this book was hard to read. As I got further into the book, it was really depressing the situation many people in the US are in. I actually stopped reading it for about a week, with just the last chapter to read. But, in the end, it was worth it. I value the information I learned from the book, and Desmond does a great job of telling the stories in an engaging, thought provoking way.

I truly hope this book, and other writing on this topic, will lead to change in the US on how to deal with the housing costs and shortage, and I appreciated the suggestions that Desmond had at the end of the book. This is a tragic issue that needs to be dealt with so people can have a roof over their head, and have a boost in trying to overcome poverty.

Disclosure: I was provided a complimentary copy of this book from Blogging for Books with no expectation that I would provide a positive review. The thoughts, opinions, and reactions are entirely my own.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Better Than Before - Book review



Book: Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives
Author: Gretchen Rubin
Publisher/Publish Date: Broadway Books / December, 2015

I am so excited to get my hands on this book. While I haven't read Gretchen Rubin's previous book, The Happiness Project, I have been extremely enjoying the podcast that she does every week with her sister. A lot of the podcast talks about topics that are in this book, and I was excited to dive into them a little deeper.

If you're unfamiliar about what the books about, I will let the tagline on the cover explain things for you: "What I learned about making and breaking habits-to sleep more, quit sugar, procrastinate last, and generally build a happier life." That all sounds great, right? Well maybe not the quitting sugar part.

A self proclaimed "Street scientist," Ruben can explain a big idea in a very tangible, easy to understand way. And in doing so she makes it easier for us to understand ourselves and work to change the habits that form our daily lives. She takes science, and research and blends them together with their own observations of people to find new insight on habits: why some are hard to form and others we seem to acquire overnight, why some people adopt habits easily while others resist, and why the consequences of our habits (for example: poor health) don't always convince us to change our habits.

What I would call the thesis of the of the book is that to change our lives, research has shown that people that have good self-control simply spend less time resisting desires, and by creating good habits we can spend less time decision-making therefor needing less self-control to make positive decisions.

It was fun to discover if I was a lark or an owl, a marathoner, a sprinter, or a procrastinator, and under buyer or an over buyer. Well some of these things I sort of knew before, it was good to look at them from the point of view of how these traits can shape my daily habits. For example, I am a lark, I prefer for waking up early and getting to work right away. It reminds me that I should do a better job of getting to bed early so I can get up when I brain is most active.

This is book is great for anyone who's inquisitive about human habits, why we do the things we do, and how to change those things. So many great tidbits that anyone can apply to improve their quality of life.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Things I've Said to My Children - Book Review

BookThings I've Said to My Children
AuthorNathan Ripperger
Publisher/Publish DateTen Speed Press / September 15, 2015

Yep, sometimes as adults we say some pretty ridiculous things to kids. As an aunt, though not a parent, I can totally relate. Ripperger does a fun job of compiling and illustrating what I am sure are conversations he's heard in his own house (he has 5 boys!). For example: "Don't kiss your brother while he is on the toilet."

The title of the book pretty much tells you all you need to know about this humorous book. The books 96 pages of illustrations and quotes kept me entertained and giggling as I looked through it. And I am sure it would be fun to read with kids.

My favorite, which is something I'm pretty sure I've said to my nephew before: "I am not talking to you... until you are wearing underwear."

This book would make a great birthday or christmas gift for any parent, or as a book to have on your coffee table for conversation starters.

Disclosure: I was provided a complimentary copy of this book from Blogging for Books with no expectation that I would provide a positive review. The thoughts, opinions, and reactions are entirely my own.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Apartment Therapy Complete and Happy Home - Book review

BookApartment Therapy Complete and Happy Home
AuthorMaxwell Ryan (Author), Janel Laban (Author), Melanie Acevedo (Photographer)
Publisher/Publish DateInternational Marine Publishing / September 15, 2015

Having recently moved into a new apartment, and on my own for the first time, I started visiting the Apartment Therapy site multiple times a day. For advice on storage, living in a small space, how to fit all my stuff into my small kitchen, and how to make it MY home. I was excited to get a copy of their new book to review, "Apartment Therapy Complete and Happy Home," so I could lay on my new couch and stare at photos of beautiful homes for hours, and what enjoyable hours they were.

While this isn't Apartment Therapy's first book, I like that this one focuses on what can be really hard to achieve when decorating, "how it makes you feel." The book walks you through how to move in and decorate from scratch, shares photos of some gorgeous bedroom, and ends with a section on how to maintain it.

For me, the most helpful section was on hanging art. I usually just guess where it should go, so it was nice to get some advice on how to hang it so it feels right in the space. And the section on plants has me seriously considering a "no-lawn garden" when I move into a place with more outdoor space.

A great book to give anyone inspiration on redecorating, or setting up their first place. Only downside, I couldn't click "pin it" on the lovely photos;)


Disclosure: I was provided a complimentary copy of this book from Blogging for Books with no expectation that I would provide a positive review. The thoughts, opinions, and reactions are entirely my own.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

I'm Happy For You (Sort of... Not Really) - Book review

BookI'm Happy For You (Sort of... Not Really)
AuthorKay Wills Wyma
Rating: 4.5/5
GoodReads  •  Amazon


While I wasn't sure what to expect from this book, I was intrigued by the cover art and tagline on the cover "Finding contentment in a culture of comparison." 

Most, if not all people, yearn for contentment and peace in their life, though it is so hard to find and hold on to. Kay Wills Wyma does a great job of taking a step back and looking at what steals that peace and contentment, and how that effects our lives, and those of our friends and family.

The title comes from advice she gave her teenage daughter, and which I think is advice I need to take myself. What do you say when you are talking with a friend and they are telling you how they did better at a test, or got a promotion or a bonus, or they just bought a beautiful new house? When your brain wants to start comparing what they have to what you have, and it starts the downward spiral that comparison brings? Tell them: "I'm happy for you," and try to mean it.

This book goes on to give real life advice, as well as shares stories from some of the author's friends. In the end, it was an easy read, that hopefully has a lasting impact on the way I look at and treat those around me.

"It isn't what you have or who you are or where you are or what you are doing that makes you happy or unhappy. It is what you think about it." - Dale Carnegie

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.  Thank you, bloggingforbooks.com!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Finding Me - Book Review

BookFinding Me: A Decade of Darkness, a Life Reclaimed: A Memoir of the Cleveland Kidnappings
AuthorMichelle Knight, Michelle Burford
Genre: Memoir 
Publisher/Publish DateWeinstein Books / May 6, 2014
Source: Public Library
Pages: 252
Rating: 3/5
GoodReads  •  Amazon

Wow, this is a hard book to read.

Michelle Knight was one of the three woman who were kidnapped by Ariel Castro in Cleveland, and escaped in May, 2013. Their story made headlines, and though we were all fascinated by it, I'm sure it was shocking for them to escape and then be center of national news.

She bravely retells her horrific story of daily abuse, imprisonment.  Kidnapped in 2002, at the age of 21, she was the first of the three to be abducted and imprisoned. Coming from a tough childhood, she had her first child in high school, who was later put in to foster care. As she was walking miles to downtown Cleveland for a custody hearing, she stopped to ask for directions and was offered a ride by Castro. He tricked her into coming into his house, where he then chained her in the basement.

She shares what happened to her during the early years, including infrequent showers, filthy conditions, starvation, beatings, and multiple forced miscarriages. He went on to kidnap and imprison two more girls, Amanda Berry at age 16, and Gina DeJesus at age 14. Amanda was blond and Castro's preferred girl, and he treated her better and eventually had a daughter with her. Michelle and Gina were chained together, forced to stay together on the same filthy mattress, but found strength in each other to make it through this awful ordeal.

Shockingly he had people over to his house, even introduced people to his and Amanda's daughter, and though his other children found his secrecy and locks on the doors strange, no one ever was concerned enough to contact police. This man was insane, and luckily eventually convicted and imprisoned. One day Amanda's daughter went downstairs, as she often did since she was free to move around the house, and found that Castro hadn't locked the inner front door as he normally did. Along with her mom Amanda, they were able to call for help through a slit in the door and were rescued by neighbors. The house where this all took place was demolished in August 2013.

A challenging and sad book to read, especially knowing that there are more people that are out there in situations like this that we don't know about. Hopefully by sharing her story, Michelle can help bring awareness to the situation, and we can all do a better job of looking out for our neighbors and those less fortunate.