Thursday, August 31, 2017

Book Review: It's Messy by Amanda de Cadenet

It's Messy
In this deeply personal collection of essays, creator of the The Conversation Amanda de Cadenet shares the hard-won advice and practical insights she’s gained through her experiences as businesswoman, friend, wife, and mother.

Amanda is on a mission to facilitate conversations that allow all women to be seen, heard, and understood. Through her multimedia platform The Conversation, she interviews some of today’s most bad ass women—from Hillary Clinton to Lady Gaga—in no-holds-barred conversations that get to the heart of what means to be female. Now, in It’s Messy, Amanda offers readers an extension of that conversation, inviting them into her life and sharing her own story.

From childhood fame to a high-profile marriage (and divorce) to teen motherhood to the sexism that threatened to end her career before it started, Amanda shares the good, the bad, and the messy of her life, synthesizing lessons she’s learned along the way. Through it all, she offers an original perspective as a feminist on the front lines of celebrity culture. Edgy, irreverent, poignant and provocative, It’s Messy addresses the issues, concerns, and experiences relevant to women today.

As a fan of essays, and feminist essays in particular, I was excited to get a chance to review this collection for a TLC tour.  I wasn't familiar with the author and her past when I started the book, but I appreciated how candid she was about her history and how it impacts her as an author and interviewer now.  I wasn't overwhelmed with the quality of the writing here, but it was solid.  It felt like reading celebrity essays, more than reading author essays, and that's what we were getting.  No complaints, but no raves on quality of writing.

Entertainment Value
Thoroughly enjoyable.  These are all easy to read and the book itself is short.  It can be read in one sitting if you give yourself an hour or two or you can dip in and out as you want.  They don't need to be read in any particular order, so it's also possible to skip around to the topics that interest you the most.  I found them to be quite entertaining and the book as a whole to be a fun read. 

I recommend it to those who, like me, enjoy essays about feminism or to those who enjoy celebrity memoir.  Of course, those who are familiar with the author will also want to check it out.

Thanks to TLC and to the publisher, Harper Collins, for having me on the tour.  Click here to see the other stops.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Book Review: There Is No Good Card for This by Kelsey Crowe and Emily McDowell

There Is No Good Card for This: What To Say and Do When Life Is Scary, Awful, and Unfair to People You Love

From Goodreads:

The creator of the viral hit "Empathy Cards" teams up with a compassion expert to produce a visually stunning and groundbreaking illustrated guide to help you increase your emotional intelligence and learn how to offer comfort and support when someone you know is in pain.
I loved the combination of illustration and writing in this one.  They blend perfectly to create a manual for empathy that is easy to read and digest.  I learned so much about empathy from the very simple presentation and the conversational tone presented here.  The most important thing I learned was the importance of saying something, not just disappearing from fear of saying the wrong thing.  Thankfully, Crowe and McDowell present the reader with many great options for things to say to those who are suffering.

Entertainment Value
Of course it's a difficult subject to read about, the suffering of people we love, but the topic is handled so compassionately and with humor and heart that it is easy to read.  I thoroughly enjoyed my read of this, and, with some friends going through some particularly difficult moments in their lives, I may make it a point to reread it again sooner rather than later.

I can't recommend this one enough.  If you've ever struggled with what to say with a friend or loved one who is suffering, this is a must read.  The authors give specific and detailed help on words of empathy and how to treat loved ones who are struggling with scary, life-changing moments in a way that is easy to read and understand.  

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Book Review: My Sister's Bones by Nuala Ellwood

My Sister's Bones
Kate has spent fifteen years bringing global injustice home: as a decorated war reporter, she’s always in a place of conflict, writing about ordinary people in unimaginable situations. When her mother dies, Kate returns home from Syria for the funeral. But an incident with a young Syrian boy haunts her dreams, and when Kate sees a boy in the garden of the house next door—a house inhabited by an Iraqi refugee who claims her husband is away and she has no children—Kate becomes convinced that something is very wrong.

As she struggles to separate her memories of Syria from the quiet town in which she grew up—and also to reconcile her memories of a traumatic childhood with her sister’s insistence that all was not as Kate remembers—she begins to wonder what is actually true…and what is just in her mind.
Ellwood is a debut novelist, but you wouldn't know it from the quality of writing found here.  I was really impressed with how well she drew me into Kate's story and how well written her characters are.  I was pulled into the story from the very beginning and, while the characters aren't necessarily likable, I wanted to know their outcomes.  In a book like this, I think you can say that the author achieved her purposes.

Entertainment Value
Again, I was captured from the beginning and found it an easy book to breeze through in just a day or two.  The plot is detailed, but straightforward and easy to follow and the the pacing is perfect for carrying the suspense.  I wouldn't consider this a thriller in the traditional sense, but it is certainly one that will keep you guessing about the outcome.

It's a good addition to the collection of psychological/domestic suspense books that are popular at the moment, and is particularly admirable as a debut novel.  It avoids many of the pitfalls of other books in the genre and kept my interest throughout without revealing any surprises too early.  I'd recommend it for fans of the genre.

Thanks to Harper Collins and to TLC for having me on the tour for this one.  Click here to see the other stops on the tour!

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

What I Read in July

This summer is flying by and can we all just take a moment to be thrilled by that?  I know I'm pretty much alone in this, but summer is my least favorite.  I hate the heat, especially here in Georgia.  It makes being outside just miserable at all times except in the early mornings and late in the evening and, let's face it, those are prime times for being in bed.  I have found some very cool (pun intended) spots in my area by the creek where I can stand the heat for an hour or two and enjoy a book with my feet in the water and some shade.  I've done a trip to the Hiawassee to float with some friends and hope to do at least one more before the summer ends.  And I've got some pool plans in my near future.  

Thankfully, to beat the heat, I've been spending lots of time with books.  I'm finally getting back into my reading groove after almost a year long slump.  I'm finding great solace in books again, both in terms of escape and in terms of healing.  My mother and I have bonded over some very good Christian non-fiction and I'm currently wading through the beauty that is the words of Brene Brown.  All of it is wonderful, and I'm pleased to report July as my best reading month in over a year.  Here's what I read.

The Secret Lives of Men and Women
The Secret Art of Being a Grownup
The Breakdown
The Spill Zone
If I Was Your Girl
Cannibalism: A Perfectly Natural History
PostSecret: Confessions of Life, Death, and God
A Beautiful, Terrible Thing
The Realist
When God Doesn't Fix It
The Most Dangerous Place on Earth
The Anglican Way
Information Now
Rabbit Cake
The Little Book of Life Hacks
Random Illustrated Facts
Two Gentlemen of Verona

What did you read in July?