Review: The Ex Talk

The Ex Talk
The Ex Talk by Rachel Lynn Solomon
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

If you’re looking for a fast, fun read, this might do the trick for you. It’s lightweight, reasonably predictable, and fun. I find that books like these, in between heavier or grittier books are exactly what I need. Quick, enjoyable, fun.

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Review: Winterkeep

Winterkeep
Winterkeep by Kristin Cashore
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I can’t help myself, I love Kristin Cashore. I especially love her Graceling series so there was no way I wasn’t reading this even though it’s been a long, long time and I can barely remember the characters. In the end, it didn’t matter too much for me. I love Cashore’s writing, I love her complex characters, I love the worlds she creates and I love her strong, strong female characters. I will read whatever she writes.

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Review: The Inheritance Games

The Inheritance Games
The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

4.5 stars

What an absolute joy it was to read this book. It definitely had a similar feel to Knives Out and also to Westing Game. I really enjoyed all the puzzles and the main character and all the brothers and the sister. If you’re in a reading slump and you like puzzles, you will enjoy this book. It’s fast-paced and a lot of fun! Can’t wait for the sequel!

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Review: Black Buck

Black Buck
Black Buck by Mateo Askaripour
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

3.5 stars.

I have so many thoughts about this book. Reading it was such an experience for me. The book started out as one thing and then shifted at least two different times so that by the end I wasn’t even sure what I’d read. And while I rolled my eyes in places, and lost focus in others, I think this is a very interesting book. I am still not entirely sure what I thought of it, tbh.

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Review: Across the Green Grass Fields

Across the Green Grass Fields
Across the Green Grass Fields by Seanan McGuire
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was my least favorite of the Wayward Children series. While it still had components I loved, I just didn’t connect to the story as much, the world didn’t seem as magical and visual as it usually does and the characters felt like they had less depth than usual. It absolutely wasn’t bad, just not as magical as the others have been for me.

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Review: Make Your Art No Matter What: Moving Beyond Creative Hurdles

Make Your Art No Matter What: Moving Beyond Creative Hurdles
Make Your Art No Matter What: Moving Beyond Creative Hurdles by Beth Pickens
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

“Here is my thesis, and it will not be the last time that I tell you this: You are going to die. I will, too. We have to make choices about time because we have the nite gift of one existence. You should make your art.”

This book is written for artists. Even though the author does an excellent job defining what an artist, I couldn’t decide if I was one or not (which maybe means I am not), but I decided to put that aside and just enjoy her solid advice.

“The more you give time and resources to your art, the more you’ll understand paid employment as something that supports your art and life. We get this backward, thinking that we are on the planet to work and earn money. Let’s ip it—we earn a living to pay for our lives.”

The book is divided into different sections that cover different areas of worry: time, work, asking, money, fear, grief, other people, education, thinking+feeling, isolation, marketing, death+god. Each section dives deep into that area and explores what is holding the artist back and gives ways to shift that thinking.

“It is said that we are not responsible for our first thought. We are responsible for our second thought and our first action…Our first thought could be steeped in fear, judgment, old thought patterns, and stories; perhaps it’s distinctly someone else’s voice—an ex, a family member, an authority figure from long ago. We’re not responsible for that first bullshit thought. We are responsible for our next thought, the second thought, which we consciously conjure in response to that first thought. Then, we’re responsible for our first action.”

There is so much gold in this book. Regardless of if you’re artist or not, I am convinced you will get solid value out of this book. And if you’re an artist, you might get even more. Above all, the author makes this excellent reminder (you can substitute “your art” with anything else that’s meaningful to you):

“Your life is finite, and you should make your art. Things will get in the way and you should still make your art.”

with gratitude to netgalley and chronicle books for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.

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Review: Happy Habits: 50 Science-Backed Rituals to Adopt (or Stop) to Boost Health and Happiness

Happy Habits: 50 Science-Backed Rituals to Adopt (or Stop) to Boost Health and Happiness
Happy Habits: 50 Science-Backed Rituals to Adopt (or Stop) to Boost Health and Happiness by Karen Salmansohn
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is a cute book that’s a super fast read and is full of scientific studies that highlight specific habits that would help you be happier.

Here’s one of my favorite ones:
“Don’t want to take time to bake? Take a whiff at your local bakery! Many studies report that basking in the aroma of bread can put you in a positive mindset. In particular, the Journal of Social Psychology reported that shoppers were more likely to tell passersby that they dropped belongings if the shoppers were standing near a bakery smelling of freshly baked bread!”

The whole book is full of little gems like this.

with gratitude to netgalley and Clarkson Potter/Ten Speed Press for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.

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Review: Love Poems for the Office

Love Poems for the Office
Love Poems for the Office by John Kenney
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I love this “Love Poems for…” series so much! If you have worked in an office, I recommend this one wholeheartedly, I laughed and laughed and laughed as I listened to it. Absolutely joyful.

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Review: How to Figure Out What to Do with Your Life

How to Figure Out What to Do with Your Life
How to Figure Out What to Do with Your Life by Jennifer Turliuk
My rating: 0 of 5 stars

I am most definitely not the target audience for this book and really should have done more of my due diligence on the author before I requested it. Even reading the introduction would have been enough to see that the author is personally interested in a start-up/VC culture and even though she often says the book is meant to be used for any kind of career journey, as a person who lives and works in Silicon Valley, there’s a lot of the jargon and mentality of that culture in this book. Which I certainly am exposed to plenty and didn’t really need more of.

While I liked the idea of the framework the author puts on the process of figuring out the next steps for your career, so much of this book is just not viable for you unless you’re in your twenties or single. Or at least not viable if you have responsibilities like kids and a mortgage and cannot leave your day job to “shadow” other jobs.

There’s nothing wrong with this book. I think the framework the author lays out might be totally viable for others but just not the right thing for me with where I am in my life/career.

I do want to highlight one major caveat however. There are a lot of references to people who “made it” despite not finishing a degree, or not starting out in a job with secure paycheck, etc etc in this book. Oprah and Steve Jobs, and Zuckerberg are exceptions. There are way more people who drop out of school and don’t become billionaires or people who take risks that derail their lives in ways that aren’t easily recoverable. I do think taking calculated/thoughtful risks, especially early in your life, is a good thing, but I am weary when all the examples all the time are the exceptions and not a full picture.

But then again I’m a parent so maybe I am optimizing on being safe.

with gratitude to netgalley and Dundurn Press for an advanced copy in return for an honest review.

Ps: I will not rate this book on goodreads because I don’t want to skew the rating since I am the first review and it’s not the author’s fault that I am not the target audience for this book.

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Review: The Anxiety and Depression Workbook: Simple, Effective CBT Techniques to Manage Moods and Feel Better Now

The Anxiety and Depression Workbook: Simple, Effective CBT Techniques to Manage Moods and Feel Better Now
The Anxiety and Depression Workbook: Simple, Effective CBT Techniques to Manage Moods and Feel Better Now by Michael A. Tompkins
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“The skills in this workbook will increase the flexibility of your emotional system and, in the
process, build your tolerance to emotions such as anxiety and depression. Learning that you can tolerate your anxious or depressed feelings is how you recover from the uncomfortable feelings that are limiting your life.”

This is a fantastic and practical book if you suffer from anxiety or depression. The book is full of specific techniques you can use to move through different ways in which you’re emotionally inflexible as the authors frame it.

Once you get clear on your values and set goals, the book is divided into different sections to help you build flexible attention, thinking, action, and tolerance. There’s also a section on gratitude and self-compassion.

“Ultimately, your recovery depends on having both meaningful goals that are in the service of your values, as well as a clear plan to achieve those goals. A goal is not the same as a plan. The goal is the destination you hope to reach; the plan is the set of distinct steps you’ll take to reach the goal. Most important, your recovery depends on your willingness to change your behaviors or actions— and connecting your actions to your values will help you do this.”

As the authors introduce each technique, they give examples of different characters who each have different anxiety/depression-related problems and they show how the character uses that technique so you can see it in action and then they have an empty form for you to fill with your own data. This makes it really easy to understand the technique and see it applied.

“Deep and lasting change—the kind of change that transforms your life—begins by building your tolerance to your intense anxious and depressed feelings”

I really liked this book and will be using several of these techniques throughout my life.

with gratitude to netgalley and New Harbinger for an advanced copy in return for an honest review

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Review: Dear Child

Dear Child
Dear Child by Romy Hausmann
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What a crazy ride this book was! The blurb said it was a mix between Room and Gone Girl. I absolutely hated Gone Girl with a passion and Room made me super sad so I wasn’t sure if this one was for me but then I needed something fast and good and the reviews were so high that I decided I should give it a chance.

I didn’t stop reading it until I finished. The audio narration was excellent and the whole time I knew there was something messed up but I just couldn’t put my finger on it so I kept going, waiting for things to unravel. In the end, this was way better, for me, than Gone Girl though the Room-like parts did make me very sad but because it was in and out of that part of the story, it didn’t feel the same deep sadness Room felt like for me.

If you like psychological thrillers and weren’t triggered by the content of Room, you will like this one.

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Review: Blacktop Wasteland

Blacktop Wasteland
Blacktop Wasteland by S.A. Cosby
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

3.5 stars.

I had read that this book was fantastic so even though the blurb didn’t sound like my type of book, I grabbed it anyway. In the end, I am glad I read it but I do think it wasn’t my type of book. The pacing of the story is interesting because there’s so much action but also so much description so it felt both fast and slow. I liked the different characters and how complex they each were in their own ways. I liked how it didn’t feel stereotypical. The whole time I was reading it, I thought it would make an excellent movie.

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