Review: The Secret Life of Groceries: The Dark Miracle of the American Supermarket

The Secret Life of Groceries: The Dark Miracle of the American Supermarket
The Secret Life of Groceries: The Dark Miracle of the American Supermarket by Benjamin Lorr
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book started as a 5-star book for me and ended somewhere near 3 stars. So I averaged it out to 4 stars. It’s a super fascinating read around many topics that pertain to supermarkets (and a few that don’t tie in as closely). I loved the section about Trader Joes the most. But this book is packed with interesting and fascinating stories. Truckers, the fish trade, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, and then Amazon and Whole Foods, cars, wine, there’s all that and more.

View all my reviews

Review: Faye, Faraway

Faye, Faraway
Faye, Faraway by Helen Fisher
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

3.5 stars

This sweet genre-bending novel is about Faye, who lost her mom at a very young age and still yearns to be with her so when she stumbles upon a magical way to be with her, she has to choose between getting to know her mom and putting the current beautiful life she’s built at risk.

This novel focuses on motherhood and marriage and there are some lovely characters in it. I enjoyed the sweet, quiet novel and I really liked the mix of scifi and contemporary fiction. I liked that it was a bit unpredictable. I really enjoy magical realism and this felt a little like that.

View all my reviews

Review: Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know

Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don't Know
Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know by Adam M. Grant
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

3.5 stars

This book is about being open minded, reassessing your beliefs/thoughts/convictions. He highlights the importance of listening and really being curious about other person’s thoughts/arguments. Being open to other viewpoints. Being willing to be wrong. Adjusting and learning. He also talks about the complexity of most issues and how we like to oversimplify and make them binary and that leaning into the gray is more valuable for learning, growing and listening. Especially by leaning into areas of agreement.

There’s a whole section about careers and being willing to be open and experiment that really resonated with me. I am certainly doing something I knew nothing about in college and wouldn’t have been able to imagine for myself. He talks about the importance of experimentation and checking in with yourself and making sure what you thought was/is making you happy is still the same thing.

While there wasn’t much earth-shattering in this book (except that the boiling frog story is not true!!) I still enjoyed the reminders to be open minded and that most issues are more complex than not. that there’s always some common ground. that fewer arguments are stronger and better and it’s always always a good idea to reevaluate regularly.

View all my reviews

Review: Finlay Donovan Is Killing It

Finlay Donovan Is Killing It
Finlay Donovan Is Killing It by Elle Cosimano
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I read this book in one sitting and really enjoyed my time with it. It was like one of those comedies where you know one thing after another is going to be misunderstood and go sideways and it just keeping building on itself. The audio was excellent and this book came exactly when I needed it so I really enjoyed it.

View all my reviews

Review: The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers

The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers
The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers by Ben Horowitz
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

2.5 stars.

I want to say so many things about this book. It was recommended to me by someone I respect. They said it really inspired them. And I do think there are many inspiring points in this book. Some great stories and some solid advice and some good learnings.

But, for me, his tone/personality/writing got in the way so much that I couldn’t really enjoy any of these at all. Even the stories of when he messed up were still full of hubris.

He references being the “Jackie Robinson of barbecue” and adds rap lyrics in the beginning of every chapter for reasons that I just couldn’t figure out. The references to he vs she in the book stand out and feel awkward throughout. His story about his first date with his wife that’s meant to make him look principled or not sure what, felt awkward and a bit weird.

There were so many instances throughout the book that made me dislike him so much as a person (or at least the way he wrote this book and painted himself in the book) that it was really hard for me to connect with the advice itself.

Which, I will say, was solid in many places and if you can get past the things that drove me insane, you might indeed enjoy this book a lot.

View all my reviews

Review: The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives

The Secret Lives of Baba Segi's Wives
The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives by Lola Shoneyin
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

3.5 stars

In this funny story of a polygamous household full of are secrets, power structures, unkind and kindness, generosity, love, and competition. Even though it was hard for me to keep some of the women apart in the beginning of the story, I really loved reading each of their back stories. They were unique and different and each strong and weak in their own way. The only character that was almost comical and maybe two-dimensional was Baba Segi himself. I could see the twist coming but I still enjoyed this unusual story from beginning to end.

View all my reviews

Review: The Kindest Lie

The Kindest Lie
The Kindest Lie by Nancy Johnson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

3.5 stars.

This story packed in a lot. Racism, Class issues, motherhood, marriage, and more. I found myself moving in an out of connecting with the story at different times. At its core the story is about regret, going back and trying to see if a life choice can be changed and also about what we pass from generation to generation. Decisions we make and how it feels to live with them. How things we push down will eventually come back up and we will need to deal with them. There are many ways to relate to this story and it’s beautifully told.

View all my reviews

Review: Switch

Switch
Switch by A.S. King
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

For people who always tell me YA books are lightweight and not meaningful, I challenge you to read an A. S. King novel and repeat your assertion. A. S. King might be unlike any other author and many of her books are unusual and tough reads.

But this one stood out even amongst all her books.

I honestly don’t even know how to describe this book. Here’s part of the blurb:
“Tru Beck is a teenage girl from Pennsylvania who lives in a world that has become trapped in a fold in time and space, where “real” time has stopped but humanity continues to mark artificial time based on a website called N3WCLOCK.com.”

As if that’s not already confusing and “what?!” enough, Tru’s house has a switch in the middle and her dad keeps building boxes around it. And “Tru leaves the box through a Tru-shaped hole to go to school” and if I haven’t lost you by now, I am confident you will love this book.

This book is unlike anything I’ve read. And I’ve read A LOT of books. It’s genre bending and incredibly difficult to summarize. But at its core it’s about what many of King’s books are about: family, communication, suffering and capturing the essence of real teens.

I will not forget this book for a long, long time.

with gratitude to edelweiss and Dutton Books for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review

View all my reviews

Review: Keeping a Nature Journal, 3rd Edition: Deepen Your Connection with the Natural World All Around You

Keeping a Nature Journal, 3rd Edition: Deepen Your Connection with the Natural World All Around You
Keeping a Nature Journal, 3rd Edition: Deepen Your Connection with the Natural World All Around You by Clare Walker Leslie
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If you like to journal and have always wanted to keep an art journal, like I have, you will love every single page of this book.
– It is full of encouragement.
– It gives you practical tips on how to start and how to keep going.
– It gives you many, many different examples of nature journals. So much eye candy.
– It breaks down most of what you’d see in nature (birds, animals, trees, etc.) and teaches you how to approach drawing them
– It gives you practical color advice for each season
– It has advice on how to teach the love of nature journaling to kids, classes, and anyone new.

But most of all it helps you fall in love with the practice of disconnecting, being present with nature, paying attention and capturing what you see. It’s not about the perfection, it’s about the feeling of being present and noticing and keeping track of all you noticed. Absolutely breathtakingly beautiful.

with gratitude to netgalley and Storey Publishing for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review

View all my reviews

Review: Leaving Isn’t the Hardest Thing: Essays

Leaving Isn't the Hardest Thing: Essays
Leaving Isn’t the Hardest Thing: Essays by Lauren Hough
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a collection of essays. I rarely read a collection of essays, but I’d read Hough’s piece about being a cableman and really liked it so I wanted to see what all her other stories looked like too. And I was not disappointed.

“Most of the time, I figure it’s better to know the universe doesn’t pay out favors for magical thinking.”

Hough doesn’t hold back her punches. The first story takes place when someone blows up her car because she’s gay and then she gets blamed for it and has to have a trial. It’s incredible how messed up how our justice system can work (and in the military nonetheless) and how your life can turn upside down in one moment.

“I’ve learned, if not to expect the worst, to not be surprised by the worst.”

By all accounts, Hough has lived an unusual life. Brought up in a cult, her roots are all over the place and her family is in pieces everywhere. I didn’t grow up in the United States and had never heard of this cult before so all of it was new to me. She writes about it matter-of-factly and not with self-pity or even anger the way you’d expect someone who has gone through all that might have.

“You may think you have friends who’ll help you bury a body. But when the cops show up and flash their badges, your friends will point to bodies you’ve never seen to keep the cops from looking their way. There are only two sides, and when it comes down to it, even those with nothing to hide will side with those who have the power.”

Hough’s pieces are each more incredible than the last and yet they are full of life, wisdom, reality and life. So much of real life. I appreciated her no nonsense writing and found myself feeling incredulous, angry and frustrated at the number of life’s hurdles she’s been dealt.

“Fact is, there are more than two doors, forgiveness or Kathy Bates. The third door is, you don’t have to forgive at all. You can just go right on living your life with one less asshole to deal with.”

I really hope she keeps writing and telling her story.

with gratitude to Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group and netgalley for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.

View all my reviews

Review: This Close to Okay

This Close to Okay
This Close to Okay by Leesa Cross-Smith
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

4.5 stars

This was such a surprise read. I had heard about it all over the internet and people kept recommending it but I still didn’t really know enough about it to know what to expect. The entire time I read this book, I kept waiting for something terrible to happen. I has this constant anxiety about the other shoe dropping. There would be a big reveal. One of the people would turn out to be this evil/terrible person.

And it never happened.

There are reveals in the book. But honestly, these are real people with real flaws and messed up lives and nothing more than that. Having read so many weird, twisty books, I think I just couldn’t believe that until the book was over.

And it was such a kind, loving, generous book.

I really loved all the minutes I spent with it and find myself thinking about it and smiling even now.

View all my reviews

Review: The Push

The Push
The Push by Ashley Audrain
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book messed with my head. I know that was the point, but wow. It was such a different read. I started it and just couldn’t figure out where it was going. I couldn’t connect with the character and felt lost as to why others thought it was so powerful.

And then it started getting under my skin. The grief, the loneliness, the underhanded neglect and dismissal. The cruelty. I couldn’t stop reading. I couldn’t stop feeling. It was strong enough that I felt like I had to numb myself from how this book was making me feel.

And the ending. that ending.

In the end, it wasn’t about the mystery. Of course not. I will remember the way this book made me feel for quite some time.

View all my reviews