If you’re a library patron, then you are surely familiar with the panic that occurs when you have physical books checked out, purchased ebooks waiting to be read, and THEN your holds that have been languishing for MONTHS start becoming available one by one. That was my May-June.
I am cruising to handily beat my Goodreads goal – 33 of 50 books are in the can. Even if I get waylaid by non-book activities for a little bit *glares at Diablo III* I should still finish the year strong.
I use the Goodreads system to rate books, which is:
- One star: did not like it
- Two stars: it was ok
- Three stars: liked it
- Four stars: really liked it
- Five stars: it was amazing
Own It: The Power of Women at Work — Sallie Krawcheck
I checked this out because I was looking for a bit of a pep talk. I have *pulls out abacus* at least 23 more years left to work and sometimes that weighs on me.
Sallie Krawcheck was CEO of Smith Barney, Merrill Lynch and Citigroup. She’s one sharp lady. She also owns 2 companies — Ellevest and Ellevate — and this book does mildly plug those companies, which is what kept it from being five stars.
In this book, Krawcheck gives us plain advice on how to succeed as women at the office by being … ourselves. Which is a different take from the usual “act like a maaaaaan” business books. She uses real-life examples from her career to back up her theories.
She convinced me to be be more aggressive with investing and networking. I actually have an unfinished Ellevate application, because I’m debating if it would be worth the $25/month.
Do any of you belong to a professional networking group? Are they worth it? Would you pay for one?
Four stars, because it was the pep talk I needed without high-level “woo.” Next time I get to a bookstore, I’ll buy the hard copy so I can refer back to it.
Small Data: The Tiny Clues that Uncover Huge Trends — Martin Lindstrom
Ehhhhhhh. Not what I thought it would be. It’s a brand research guy telling Sherlock Holmes/Gregory House type stories of the one small thing he finds true about an entire culture (really,dude?) that helps him create successful branding and rebranding.
I was tired of the “ALL women” in Russia/Saudi Arabia/the United States/India chatter and the mobile phone hate. And the repetitiveness. Yes, I remember about the fridge magnets, dude. You mention it all the time.
But what made me close the book was the revelation of how he redesigned a cereal box in India with colors to cater to the bad eyesight that ALL Indian women 50+ have, colors that appeal to their daughters-in-law who ALL want to be more Western AND and image that appeals to both (because ALL women love babies) … and didn’t even show a picture of the box!
I wanted a more data-driven book. This one has many good ratings, it just wasn’t the book for me.
Did not Finish.
Wishful Drinking — Carrie Fisher
Carrie Fisher was smart, funny, and a fantastic writer. This is a short memoir that touches on her life, the crazy love lives of her crazy celebrity parents, and her mental illness and addiction.
It was laugh-out-loud funny in some parts (the flow chart!), sad in others (failed romances, and I will always maintain that Paul Simon is an asshole), and I wished it was three times longer.
This should be three stars, but I gave it four because I am extremely biased in favor of the author. She’s my General, after all.
This Must Be the Place — Maggie O’Farrell
I should have strongly disliked this book. Why?
It jumps around through different time periods and different narrators.
I thought it was going to be a story about Claudette, but it’s actually Daniel’s story.
And Daniel is a jerk for most of it.
But darn if Maggie O’Farrell made this hot mess of characters work.
Marriage is tough, tough work, even if you are a mostly-balanced person. It’s harder still if you’re Daniel, a linguistics professor with alcohol and womanizing problems. Or Claudette, an actress who, with her small son, literally ran away from her starstudded life. The story begins with the Daniel and Claudentte raising their 2 kids in rural Ireland.
And then we begin to jump around and learn Daniel’s backstory: his ex-wife, their 2 kids, his mother, his friends. From Claudette we get her backstory: her ex-lover, her mother, her son, her brother Lucas and his wife Maeve. Maeve’s storyline is small but especially potent. Maeve exists in a world where every person around her is amazingly fertile. And she is infertile. And oof that’s a hard thing to live through.
Five beautiful stars. I gulp-sobbed at the end.
Invisible Ellen — Shari Shattuck
This was a freaking tough read. Ellen Homes was an abused child who aged through the foster care system and now lives alone. Overweight and scarred, she has perfected the art of being invisible. Until one day, she meets a blind woman who can’t ignore her because she can’t see her. Ellen takes one courageous step, which leads to a friendship that changes her life.
This book is triggerlicious. Abusive parents, abusive foster parents, abusive boyfriends, shoot-first-ask-later cops, births, deaths, you name it.
There is a cat and two dogs in this book. Spoilers below.
Idaho — Emily Ruskovich
I. Wow. Probably not the best book to follow Invisible Ellen with. The writing is gorgeous. The subject matter is bleak af.
Ann is married to Wade. Wade had a family before Ann, but it only took a second for that family to be lost to him forever. Wade has what I believe to be Alzheimer’s. This story dips back and forth through time as Ann tries to figure out what happened while Wade declines.
It’s also full of triggers: murder, domestic abuse, assault, animal abuse, solitary confinement, piles of snow. Dog spoiler at the bottom.
Making it to the end gives you an ending that you didn’t expect, but not any of the answers you wanted. That’s about all I can say without spoiling everything.
Three stars and I think I need to read happy books for a while.
Highlighted line on my Kindle: The result, of course, of the cheap and carefully placed clutter was the transformation of their spare and cozy house, little by little, into a house where old people lived.
The Blue Bistro — Elin Hilderbrand
Adrienne is looking for a fresh start from her nomadic life of disastrous relationships. She goes to Nantucket and lands a job as an assistant manager at The Blue Bistro, the best restaurant
in ON Nantucket. She is in no way qualified for this job, but gets it anyway. Because as the book tells us DOZENS of times, Adrienne is beautiful.
I have discovered the key to enjoying Elin Hilderbrand’s books: realizing right off the bat that every character is flawed, and all of the plot could be solved in 3 pages if people just freaking TALKED to each other. Adrienne makes bad decisions. Thatcher is controlling. Caren is jealous. Adrienne’s father is conflict-adverse and enabling. All of the other men are womanizing jerks who turn out to have hearts of gold EXCEPT that one guy. (There’s always one guy.) Fiona is … the most special snowflake ever.
This is basically a much gentler Sweetbitter. Reading it in 2018, Thatcher is a bit creepy – think Christian Grey without the erotic beatings. When it was written in 2005, I probably would have just accepted him as a typical rich dude.
Four stars. All I wanted was a book where nobody freaking died.
Currently reading: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine.
All of my book lists and reviews are on Goodreads.
This a part of the Show us Your Books linkup from Jana Says and Life According to Steph. If you want to read more bloggers gush about the books they’ve read this month, click the button below and have fun!
Invisible Ellen: Surprisingly, the cat and two dogs end up okay.
Idaho: Time passes in this book, so the dogs die of natural causes after good lives.