4 Stars · Bad Ass Women · children's books · Favorite Books · leadership

My favorite book to gift this year + Read on to find out how you can get a FREE copy!

Hey hey!  It’s been a while.

Things have been bananas around here.  Not only am I working my normal job, I’m also starting up my own Pilates + Stretch Studio!  Woohoo!!  Super fun but also a lot of work.

Anywho, with all of that going on, writing has taken a back seat.  I’ve missed it though and wanted to pop in today with a quick hello and introduce you to the #1 book I’m gifting this year!  Seriously, there may have been four purchases of this book already.

Without further ado, introducing “Rosie Revere, Engineer”.   Yes, yes, I know it came out in 2013.  I still love it and am going to rave about it!

The age range for this book is 5+ with a recommended age of K-2nd grade.  However, both my husband and I found great inspiration in this book.  In fact, I read it out loud to the family the other day, while everyone was in the kitchen bustling to get going for the day.  It was just one of those days where things felt impossible and I just felt like giving up on all of our extra projects.  Rosie Revere was sitting on the counter, and in a random bit inspiration, I read it out loud.  By the last page, I was smiling and ready to give it another go and the munchkin was stoked because he got an extra random breakfast story time.

Like “Oh the Places You’ll Go”, this book is really great for anyone who needs a little extra pick me up or is starting out on a new adventure.  This is the perfect gift for December grads and also makes a fantastic Christmas gift.  It’s also a good one for coworker gifts.

My 6 month old niece is getting a copy for Christmas, as are a few little friends who have bday parties in December.

Seriously loving this book this year!  I love it so much in fact, that I’d love to give you a copy!  If you’re interested, all you have to do is follow this blog. I’ll choose one winner at random from all of my blog followers.  The winner will be announced on Dec 15th.  Just in time for gifting if you’re wanting to gift a copy!

Until next time, happy reading!

 

Rosie Revere Engineer

beach read · Book Review · Romance

“Selkie” is more than romance, it’s a love affair with Scotland itself

41XT86jn39LIt is with the greatest pleasure that I got to read and now review my friend’s debut novel!  Reading someone’s work can be such an intimate activity, especially for something like a romance.  Luckily, Selkie by Dacia Dyer is a beautifully written PG-13 romance, so no awkward friend moments required.  🙂

Set in Scotland, Selkie weaves together the mysterious threads of an old folktale with the modern day lives of Connor, a brokenhearted fisherman/bar tender and Talia, a broke freelance writer turned house sitter.  Connor and Talia are young and sweet and very simple while also avoiding the trap of becoming one dimensional and predictable.  Dyer’s knowledge of Scotland and local colloquialisms bring a welcome authenticity to the novel.

I’m fairly new to the romance genre and while I prefer historical fiction romances, Selkie was very enjoyable and I am happy to recommend this book to others looking for a quick and easy read.

Until next time, happy reading y’all!

-Cheers, R

Books Read · Books to Movies · Favorite Books · tear jerker

8 Books that make you ugly cry

I came across a Reddit thread the other day about books that make you ugly cry.  There were soooo many good book recommendations on this list and I was just nodding along with the list and sniffling thinking about how bad I’d cried for so many of the books on the list.  Most of these are now movies too, which is cool if you’re like me and enjoy reading books and sharing the movies with the hubs.

Here are my top 8 ugly cry books:

  1. The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
  2. Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
  3. When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
  4. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
  5. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
  6. Me Before You by JoJo Moyes
  7. The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman
  8. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

Happy reading y’all.

Until next time.

Cheers!

0 stars · Book Review · Bust · Gonna Need a Stiff Drink For This One · Psychology

The Light of the Fireflies by Paul Pen

51ZM2Qv8x5L._SY346_It’s not often I give up on a book.  And I don’t think I’ve ever given up a book in the first two chapters.  But goodness gracious, y’all.   The Light of the Fireflies is a book that I just don’t have the stomach for.  While the book excerpt leads one to believe this book is some sort of post-apocalyptic drama, it’s more of a suspenseful thriller.  Typically, I love me some good dystopia or thrillers.  However, in the first two chapters, The Light of the Fireflies jumped right into forced imprisonment, emotional abuse, and implied rape and incest.  That’s a whole lot for the first two chapters.

In addition to the emotional crap this book shoots right out the gates, there are a lot of disjointed realities presented in the first two chapters.  The world is supposedly destroyed and inhabitable.   Yet, the family has water, electricity, fresh food, crayons, colors, and even a cactus.  Where does that stuff come from?

No one has a name in this book and each person is referred to by their station in the family.  Father, Mother, Sister, Brother, Grandma, The Baby.  It’s hard to empathize and connect with a bunch of nameless characters.  It’s also odd to imagine seven people existing in such close quarters without ever using one another’s names.

Every family member was supposedly disfigured by a fire before the move to the basement.  The narrator and the baby were born in the basement, so they do not have any scars and know no other way of life.  I had a hard time picturing an event in which every family member was burned and disfigured without any details or explanation from the author.

The final straw for me was the fact that the entire plot centered around one character not knowing anything and everyone else knowing everything.  Even after two chapters, it was obvious this was a book of waiting it out and following crumbs throughout each chapter to piece together the story.  I absolutely hate when entire plots are written around a single character (or in this case a group of characters) who knows everything and the reader and/or main character are left to fit the pieces together.

Yes, I know many mysteries and dystopian books utilize this method.  However, in The Hunger Games, Ender’s Game and The Maze Runner, someone else knowing what is going on is part of the surprise of those books.  The same is true for most mysteries.  Gone Girl definitely utilized this method, but that book was VERY well done and the reader watched the story unfold from the knowing person’s point of view, which is what made it such a fantastic read.

0 stars for this book.

Until next time, happy reading and cheers!

 

3 stars · African American Lit · Book Review · Uncategorized

Halsey Street by Naima Coster

Halsey Street

Halsey Street, by Naima Coster, takes on a whole lot of life in a single book.  Mother-daughter issues set the tone for Halsey Street, a clear angry discord thrumming throughout the entire book, which then wraps itself up in main character Penelope Grand’s life of sexuality, gentrification, aging parents,  failed dreams and a father’s love.

Penelope Grand, is a young, half Black-half Dominican native New Yorker with a chip on her shoulder.  After a lifetime of hero-worshiping her Black father and engaging in a negative and disappointing relationship with her Dominican mother, Penelope quits art school and rambles around Pittsburgh working as a bar tender and enjoying casual sexual encounters with bar patrons.  When Penelope returns to Brooklyn to care for her ailing father, her home turf is in the process of being gentrified, her father’s record store replaced with health foods, old haunts replaced with sushi restaurants.  Back home, Penelope is forced to face the ugly truth of her situation.  Her father’s record store has shuttered and been replaced by a health food store, her mother has abandoned her family and the Brooklyn home, and she has quit art school and is substitute teaching, no friends, no lovers, no future.

While Coster is a fine writer who gave herself plenty of material to work with, Halsey Street is not a book I’d recommend to friends.  Penelope is an angry, insecure, a-hole and she’s difficult to read.  Her actions and judgement are questionable at best, downright awful at other times.  She treats every other character in the book like crap and then validates her behavior with stunningly ridiculous justifications.  Penelope is boring in her anger and negative responses to everything.

The underlying thread of gentrification never seems to build into anything meaningful or poignant.  Aside from Penelope’s anger at her white landlords and the casual mention of a few new restaurants, gentrification isn’t really addressed head on in this book.  Penelope seemingly hates her hometown, so the anger, fear, resentment and other normal emotions experienced during gentrification aren’t really addressed here.  In fact, Penelope’s anger and hate towards everything takes away a lot of the power her anger and hate could have had if it had been better directed.

In an odd twist, every other character is quite well developed.  I wish Coster would have focused more on Penelope’s parents, Ralph and Mirella, and how an orphaned black boy grew up to become a successful business owner married to a significantly younger and beautiful red-headed Dominican.  Both Ralph and Mirella were interesting and complicated and their relationship left a lot to be explored.  Ralph seemingly loved Mirella with his whole being.  Mirella, on the other hand, spent her days avoiding her family and eventually bailing to another country.  Halsey Street would have been more enjoyable if we’d followed them instead of their cranky daughter.

All in all, 3 stars.  Great writing.  Main character sucks. The fantastic supporting characters make the read worthwhile.

Until next time, happy reading and cheers!

4 Stars · Book Review · Historical Fiction · Spain · Summer Read · thoughts · WWII

The Snow Gypsy by Lindsay Jayne Ashford

51Wi2vWaM4L._SY346_The Snow Gypsy, by Lindsay Jayne Ashford, was one of the best books I’ve read this summer.  In this beautiful novel, set at the closing edges of WWII, Ashford leaves both Germany and Britain behind, forgoes the soldiers and war torn lovers and takes readers high into the mountains of post WWII Spain.

The Snow Gypsy follows Rose, a British veterinarian as she searches for her beloved brother who disappeared in Spain while fighting with Gypsy partisans eight years prior.  Rose’s search leads her directly into the heart and home of Lola Aragon and her gypsy family, and sends  them both head first into the complexities of a small mountain community grappling with their communal wounds after the war.

Ashford is the master of simple complexity.  The Snow Gypsy has a handful of characters who are rich and well developed and as complex as the flamenco rhythms Ashford employs throughout the book.  Each chapter is layered with emotion, joy, fear, pride, happiness, anger, love, lust, confusion, guilt, each landing on top of the other in a complex pattern of humanity.  I was particularly appreciative of how the book felt so authentic, as if Ashford was a witness to the times rather than just writing about them or putting her own romantic spin on what she hoped life would be like for Spanish Gypsies or women in the 1940’s.  Unlike Yaquian in Theads of Silk, Rose’s actions and decisions were both strong and strange, but they made sense for her character, the times and the location.

The story is strong and shocking, many events were unexpected and felt true to life.  I always appreciate when an author takes on a very popular subject like WWII and provides an entirely different angle from another perspective.  Like The Last Train to Istanbul, The Snow Gypsy further expanded my understanding of the true reach and depth of WWII and all of those impacted.

Great beach read.  4 stars.

Until next time, happy reading!

Cheers,

R

 

 

 

Bad Ass Women · Favorite Authors · Historical Fiction · Politics

Renowned American Author Toni Morrison dies at age 88

This week, the literary world lost a national treasure.  Toni Morrison, the American author who gave us Beloved and Song of Solomon, passed away at age 88.

I remember reading Beloved and Song of Solomon in high school, being blown away at the depth of character and the emotional and political scope of Morrison’s works; how she blended prose with poetry with Biblical references; how her characters were “real” and so incredibly complex; how reality blended so intricately with the mystic.

Despite all of the light reading I enjoy now, I cut my teeth of books like these and I am forever grateful to authors like Morrison who give us the opportunity to step into their worlds and expand our minds and our awareness.  Morrison introduced me to an entirely different American experience and opened my eyes with her interpretation of what it meant to be Black in America.  I will be forever grateful to her for these gifts of thought and awareness.

Until next time, friends.

-R

3 stars · Book Review · Fantasy · Favorite Authors · series books

The Harbinger Series by Jeff Wheeler

Jeff Wheeler is without a doubt one of my favorite fantasy writers.  His stories are generally based on a real life historical occurrence and then fleshed out fully into a world of magic and fantasy.   His talent lies in world building and weaving his series together across centuries and worlds.  When reading anything by Wheeler, I’m dorkishly happy to find the exact moment when a completely new series with completely new characters ties seamlessly into a previous book.  I also love when a great character from another series finds their way into a new series.  Wheeler’s writing makes this incredible feat seem effortless.  Y’all know how obsessed I was with Wheeler’s works last year, and as soon as The Harbinger Series came out, I was on it.  I have been obsessively reading each book as it is released.

Unfortunately, if we’re being honest, The Harbinger Series is by far my least favorite of Wheeler’s works.  Unlike the Kingfountain Series which was a very well developed story with incredibly engaging full-bodied characters, The Harbinger Series feels like it has a lot of potential but wasn’t edited down and buttoned up.  In addition to the main characters, Cettie and Sera, there are a lot of characters and two worlds to keep track of in this series, along with monsters, politics, lost history, war, romance and friendship.  There are so many story lines running at once that the reader tends to lose and pick up the story again and again.

While Sera grows, develops and matures in a way that is consistent with her character throughout the series, Cettie changes drastically and starts making decisions that are in no way aligned with what we know her character to be.  Wheeler never fleshes out why Cettie starts behaving so oddly, so the series loses a lot of plot consistency with her waffling.  Wheeler normally writes young women well, so to see Cettie go from a strong smart young woman to a very insecure one, was terrible.

The Harbinger Series also introduces  a new type of magic that allows entire estates to float in the air.  As a reader, the floating estates caused too many issues.  I wanted to know what these estates actually looked like, how the plants managed to survive, how big they were, what the weather was like, how people got from one place to the other.  Wheeler, rather than getting into the details on these, explains them away with “it’s one of the Mysteries”.  Supposedly, no one in the entire world knows how these estates float, except when the owners go too far into debt, the estates crash back down to the ground, putting everyone below in danger.  The floating estates are also accessed by “Hurricanes”, a type of sky ship that is powered, again, by “The Mysteries”.

One of my biggest issues with The Harbinger Series is how the technology and magic doesn’t seem to align.  They have floating estates and sky ships, but not indoor plumbing.

In addition to all of the alignment and consistency issues, The Harbinger Series is darker than all of the other books, making for a very long read.

I love Jeff Wheeler and I really wanted to love the Harbinger series.  Unfortunately, it’s a 3 star rating this time.  Still a good series and good books, just not breathtaking like The Kingfountain Series.

Until next time, happy reading!

Cheers,

-R

 

2.5 Stars · Biography · Book Review · Bust · Summer Read

Capital Gaines: Smart Things I Learned Doing Stupid Stuff by Chip Gaines

819dCenkuML._AC_UL436_Y’all, I love me some Chip and Joanna Gaines.  But I may have overdone it by reading The Magnolia Story, the Magnolia Journal magazine, We are the Gardeners AND Capital Gaines all in about six months.

Capital Gaines is essentially The Magnolia Story written from Chip’s point of view.  There are a few new stories tossed in, more about Chip’s life pre-Joanna as well as more about his roles and goals for Magnolia, but essentially the same story told by another person.

While Joanna Gaines tends to be a gentle humble narrator, although a little boring at times, Chip Gaines is bold, loud and kind of annoying.  It took me almost two months to get through this book.  His jokes felt super immature and he came across as the kind of guy that tries really hard to be cool but ends up annoying everyone.

The hard part of this read is that while he is annoying, Chip comes across as someone who genuinely loves and cares about his family, his company, the folks who work for him, the city of Waco and about a million other things.  You want to like him!  It’s obvious he is passionate about life and holds nothing back when it comes to chasing down an idea and following through.  I can respect that and definitely admire his fearless all-in attitude.  I didn’t like the “I believe in you” and “I’m in your corner” bits.  Those portions of the book felt very forced and fake.

Capital Gaines also includes excerpts written by people who work for Chip.  It was fun to read about Chip and Joanna from their perspective as well as read about some of the crazy stuff that goes on that neither Chip or Joanna mentioned.

All in all, this books gets 2.5 stars.  While it was fun, there was nothing new or ground breaking and it felt more like a book deal cash grab contract that needed to be fulfilled.

Until next time, happy reading!

Cheers,

-R

 

Book Review · leadership · Self Help · Summer Read · thoughts

Start with Why

51BlNddi+NL._SX330_BO1,204,203,200_My kid was playing around on my Kindle and accidentally bought “Start with Why How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action” by Simon Sinek.  By the time I realized how this mystery book had gotten into my kindle library, it was too late to return it.  It seemed a little like a divine universal library message,  so I took the bait and started reading Start with Why on the plane yesterday.

While it’s a little bit dry and more about marketing and business than anything else, the main point, the WHY, is really interesting.  If you enjoy reading Strengths Based Leadership and ClickStart with Why would be a good follow up read.

Sinek talks about how companies like Apple and Southwest generate a super almost cult-like loyalty in their customers and how those customers are so loyal, they will gladly pay significantly more money for a product from Apple or Southwest, because they believe in the WHY of those companies.  The interesting thing, is that the WHY for both of these companies is broad enough to allow a lot of growth and development, but focused enough to keep the companies on track.

As someone hoping to launch a small business in a very saturated market, it was a bit of a surprise to read about how chronic sales tanked GM and how typical marketing tactics tend to bring in single visit customers instead of repeat customers.  According to Sinek, a solid WHY that resounds with people is the path to repeat customers and a loyal client base.  I’m only about halfway through the book, but have found myself asking “WHY” for my job, my business, my blog, everything.  Super fun to see how a single concept can trickle down into so many different thoughts.

Until next time, happy reading and cheers!

-R