Thursday, July 5, 2018

What I've Read Recently

In my absence from writing regularly, I read a few books that deserve words on this here platform! I thought that instead of writing a big full review each, I would write a condensed one here as a catch-up, and then try to get going again on a regular schedule. For some reason, I have been struggling with my writing/reading. The reading part has really just been me bouncing from book to book looking for something that would really snare me...although it's taken a back burner to my intense need for music. But physically sitting down to put words on "paper" has been...hard. So we'll see if this group of mini-reviews can get me back in the flow! I totally get now that whole thing about needing to do stuff regularly or you lose the habit.

I need to start this mini-review by thanking author Tal Gur for sending me his book to review. I'm a big sucker for memoirs of this type. I want to read about people's epic adventures...their goal they've achieved big dreams. Tal has managed to write, and live, the biggest of these I've read to date! He had a conversation with a few friends one night that culminated in a list of 100 life goals (you can see the list here). And then he literally travelled the world, immersing himself in other cultures and lifestyles, learning and growing...and for lack of a more eloquent phrase, beast-moded the crap out of his life. 

There are a few passages that felt like the infomercial to sell his business, or e-books, etc. And as he's bouncing across the globe, I couldn't help but think about how much money one would need to have in the bank to tackle his goals in the manner that he did, which could be disheartening to read if you struggle to pay your bills every month, or haven't taken a proper vacation in years. BUT, the grand majority of this book is very inspiring, uplifting, well-written (especially for a person who is not a native English-speaker) and motivating as all get out. I highlighted the crap out of my copy, and am inspired to make my own life goal/bucket list. I believe this guy knows what he's talking about. 

This is another one that was sent to me to review, so a big thanks to Seal Press for giving me the opportunity to lay hands on this gorgeous specimen of motivational fun! I was SO excited to give Mia Michaels book, A Unicorn in a World of Donkeys. a thorough perusing. If you aren't a dance person, you might not know who she get to googling, as she's pretty damn impressive. The book sets out to be an empowering tool to help wondrously creative and unique individuals be themselves, and let nothing get in the way of leading the most amazing life they possibly can.

Now, maybe it's because I'm too much of a donkey, but this book was kind-of all over the place for me. There were bits that had me ripping whatever bit of paper happened to be nearby so I could mark the passage to refer to later...and then there were sections that I found myself skimming. Skimming is never good. So while I truly love the woman, love the message (although if you were reading, and found yourself leaning toward donkey on those Teen magazine style quizzes, I feel incredibly bad for you because Michaels doesn't have much nice to say about donkeys), and thought the look and layout was final feeling when I closed the book was more of a meh than I'd hoped for. But, having said that, I do have friends who I think should definitely read it. 

The Favorite Sister by Jessica Knoll is one of the Booksparks Summer Reading selections for this summer...and I'm incredibly grateful to be a part of their wonderful program again this year! This story about 5 successful women entrepreneurs who are a part-of a reality television show, and the whodunnit murder of fan favorite Brett, is an intriguing summer read for fans of Real Housewives. It offers a glimpse into the behind the scenes shenanigans of a show like that, and manipulation up the wazoo.

I would call this one of those fun summer reads that you pick up between heavier a palate cleansing book. I thought it would pull me in more than it did. I expected it to be more of a page turner. But it included some serious, "wow, I didn't see that one coming" moments...and an ending that was so not what I expected from those first beginning chapters. If you need to like the characters in your fiction...need them to have redeeming qualities...then this probably isn't the book for you. But if loving to hate those Real Housewives ladies is your guilty pleasure, then you probably need to add this to your TBR pile. 

I previously reviewed the second of Kristy Woodson Harvey's Peachtree Bluff series The Secret to Southern Charm on the blog, and thought it was only fair that I read the first book in the series. I actually picked it as the May Book Club Selection for my T&T Virtual Book Club over on Facebook (if you're not taking part, head over to my FB get reading Gillian Flynn's Dark Places for July). 

I really enjoyed getting to see the beginnings of stories I loved in the second book. I wouldn't necessarily advise picking to read the second in a series first! It tends to ruin surprises. But I love Ansley and her three daughters...and every southern bit of these books. I can not WAIT for book three to come out. I think Kristy Woodson Harvey has a special way of writing that just makes me happy when I'm reading. It's like sweet tea and sunshine all rolled up in your happiest bird-chirping day. I'd put her up there with Maddie Dawson, in my list of contemporary women's fiction writers who have a certain something that makes their voices stand out of the crowd. If you're curious about my thoughts on Slightly South of Simple, I'm putting the video discussion from my Facebook Page below for your viewing pleasure. 

Well, there you go! I think I'm pretty much caught up. I read a few others in there that I just don't feel need reviewing (which ought to tell you something)...but these were the ones worth mentioning! I have a few books I'm almost done with, so there are plenty of reviews to come. If you're interested in taking part in my online book club, for July we're reading Dark Places by Gillian Flynn. It's not a big book, so there's still plenty of time for you to read it! I'll be going live for us to discuss it on July 25th at 9 pm EST on my Facebook page. I hope to see you there. And I hope everyone is having a fabulous summer!!

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