11/14/17

November Book Reviews 11/14/17

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Welcome to my November Book Reviews! With all kinds of family life stuff going on this past month I didn't get through quite as many books as I usually do or as I'd like, but here's what I read along with my thoughts on each book. As always, I try to avoid spoilers so I don't ruin it for those who haven't read the book!


Fiction:
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
In this book, a lower level magazine writer gets hand picked to write the biography of a major Hollywood star in her golden years. (All through the story I was imagining the star to be someone like Marilyn Monroe or Elizabeth Taylor since that was the relative age of the celebrity).  Based on the concept alone, I didn't expect much from this book since I can get enough actual celebrity gossip in the news. But I read it anyway thanks to reviews from other bloggers and I was pleasantly surprised! It held my interest really well from beginning to end and was a quick, easy, fun read with a few twists along the way. It was very interesting to consider how the media can spin a story and how much anyone in the public eye has to play around that to maintain some level of privacy. There was also a secret throughout (why did the star choose a no-name writer for this biography?) that also kept me guessing a bit. This is a great vacation-type read or anytime you just want something that doesn't take forever to get the characters and plot moving along.

The Deep Dark Descending by Allen Eskens
Although this book is not officially part of a series, it is a continuation of the story and some characters from three other books by the same author and a spinoff of his first (and my favorite) book, The Life We Bury. I would recommend reading them in order rather than picking this one up first, though there is enough explanation of the backstory to get through. That said, the beginning of the book felt a little redundant because it was a recap of the previous books. Once that was out of the way, it picked right up and I was easily able to get into the story, which is essentially the story of a man seeking revenge/justice for the murder of his wife and unborn child. Then towards the end...I wasn't "enjoying" the story per se. Without spoiling anything, this really is the darkest book of the series, which made it unpleasant albeit well-written and thought-provoking...would you or wouldn't you exact revenge? And how far would you go? The ending was left with plenty of questions and loose ends, so I do think there will be another book in the series. And I'm sure I'll want to read it to see what happens next!

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
This is book a family drama of two families: one who seems to have it all from the outside (parents with great careers, beautiful home, and attractive, well-liked children) and one with a single mother/artist raising her daughter by scrapping together whatever kind of living she can. The mother/daughter duo move often and land in the same town as The Perfect Family, and their lives become very intertwined for a number of reasons, resulting in plenty of drama and tension. In the beginning of the story the character development was just a bit too detailed for me and seemed to go off on tangents, so I found myself skimming quite a lot even though I was generally interested in the story. Once the plot began to thicken (which took a good 30-40% of the book) I was hooked into it and enjoyed the story. This book came highly recommended from a number of places so unfortunately that got my expectations a little too high. I did enjoy it...but I didn't love it as much as other people did.

Non-Fiction / Audiobooks:
What the Dog Saw by Malcolm Gladwell
Now that I've read this book, I have officially read all of Malcolm Gladwell's books and I can say without hesitation that he's my favorite non-fiction author. Maybe even my favorite author! He really knows how to engage, enlighten and make you re-consider what you thought you knew about a variety of topics. This book was different from his others in that it wasn't entirely focused on one topic, but it was his usual in-depth, "I'm going to make you look at this in a different way" analysis of an assortment of topics from hair dye to intellectual property to breast cancer to pit bulls. I loved it and only wish he had more books for me to read next!

The Obesity Code by Dr. Jason Fung
This book was simply the most enlightening book I have read about the obesity epidemic, particularly in the United States. (Okay...actually it's the only book I've read on the topic but it was really good!) This book is an overview of dozens of scientific studies about weight gain, weight loss, and various diet plans and their successes and failures. Normally the words "scientific studies" would make me think, "I'm not really going to understand or enjoy this book" but I really did. The author explained things in such a clear and simple manner, and the audiobook narrator was very engaging. His explanation of the flaws in the Standard American Diet were very eye opening and it made me re-think a lot of things about food and the food/diet/nutrition industry (as well as my own eating habits, as mentioned). Based on my own experiences with my body in exercise and nutrition, I have believed for a long time that weight loss is not as simple as the common weight loss mantras of calories in/calories out, eat less/move more, etc. This book confirmed that in a definitive way. It also gave me the motivational boost I needed to make some changes to my diet as discussed here and here. To be clear, it's not a diet book with a specific recommended eating plan, but he does have suggestions in the last portion on eating habits for optimal health based on everything covered in the studies. I'm not incorporating all of them because I'm just not that disciplined, but they're all good food for thought. I recommend this to anyone with an interest in fitness in nutrition, anyone who has struggled with diets that just don't seem to work (or work at first...but then stop working), and obviously anyone struggling with obesity or with a family history of obesity.

Troublemaker by Leah Remini
This book was so incredibly fascinating! I really didn't know a lot about the specifics of Scientology or even Leah herself prior to reading this (I have never watched any of her shows), so this was an eye-opener in many ways. Leah narrated this book herself and she did a fantastic job. Her sense of humor and narration style added a lot to the enjoyment of this book. It's really the story of her life, which revolved a lot around Scientology from the time she was introduced to it in her childhood. She was committed to her faith for decades, and she discusses how that played into her life in Hollywood (she maintains it's not something that helped her succeed in Hollywood, and if anything it made her uncomfortable in many situations). Then of course, she outlines all the events and situations that ultimately lead to her disaffection from the church. She doesn't hold back at all in naming names and placing blame, although she is quick to admit that she herself is not without flaws. I did feel that near the end she went off a bit too much on the story of "Naz",  (it seemed like it should have been a separate book by Naz herself)  but since it did play a role in her leaving the church I understood why she shared it. I think anyone with a remote interest in Scientology, Leah Remini, or Hollywood "Behind the Scenes" would enjoy this.

Current Reads:
If you want to read along with me this month and compare thoughts in my December reviews, here's what I'm currently reading:

Don't You Cry by Mary Kubica
I read and enjoyed "The Good Girl" by the same author so I'm looking forward to starting this one this week.

The Untethered Soul
Rachelle recommended this one in her weekly newsletter and since we tend to read and enjoy a lot of the same books, I thought I should check it out! I'm a few chapters into it and so far so good.

Free Kindle Book for Prime Members:
In last month's reviews (here) I posted that I hadn't been able to find the free Kindle book selection for Amazon Prime members, and thankfully Megan came to my rescue. They changed the navigation around from what I was used to, so if you've had any trouble as well (or if you're a new Prime member/didn't know you get a free e-book every month!) here's how I've been navigating to the selections:

On the top left hand side of the home page, hover over Departments. When the drop-down menu appears, scroll down and hover on Kindle E-readers & Books, then click on Kindle Books. On the next page that opens up, look on the left hand side of the page for "More in Kindle," then click on "Kindle First" to see the selections for the current month.

Despite figuring this out in October, none of the titles last month especially appealed to me so I didn't end up reading any of them. I'm also not drawn to any of the November books, either! But if any of you have read one so far and really liked it, let me know.  Looking forward to hearing your thoughts on which ones of these you've read or hope to read soon!


Book Link Ups: 

CONVERSATION

24 comments:

  1. I love your reviews so much and Malcom is my favorite Author too, I hope he has a new book coming out soon. Hope you enjoy the Untethered Soul.

    xo
    Pinksole

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    1. I started following on Instagram hoping for some book news but so far he's not very active there. Maybe he's busy writing a book! Ha!

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  2. I do like Leah Remini and I'm quite curious about Troublemaker. I'm glad you found it interesting!

    -Lauren
    www.shootingstarsmag.net

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    1. Oh if you like Leah I think you'll definitely enjoy her book!

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  3. I want to pick up with the rest of the Esken books. I liked The Life We Bury.

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    1. The Life We Bury was my favorite by a lot, but the others still held my interest. :)

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  4. I want to read What the Dog Saw and Troublemaker -- have The Seven Husbands in my TBR. I downloaded Night of the Moths from Kindle First this month ... but haven't gotten to it yet. Also realized I never got around to reading the one I picked for October (The Unremembered Girl).

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    1. It sounds like we have similar tastes! It's nice having the Kindle First option on months when I've gone through a lot of books and feel like I've spent too much, even if I don't always make them a priority. :)

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  5. I loved both Little Fires and Evelyn Hugo. Glad you enjoyed them, too!

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    1. Thank you! I probably saw them recommended on your blog among others in the link up!

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  6. i'm glad you liked evelyn hugo. i honestly had quite low expectations even though i enjoyed her other books, it just didn't sound good, so it blew my mind just a little bit haha. i loved it. and my jaw dropped when the secret/twist was revealed. i am easily shocked though i think. bummer about not loving little fires everywhere, it's on my shelf at home and i'm sure i will get to it eventually. that's the problem with hype and expectations i guess, i try not to let recommendations or reviews sway me, but they totally do. i read evelyn hugo before it got super huge so that's why i had low expectations. if only i could do that with all my books haha. i definitely liked leah remini's book. very interesting. plus she seems fun lol. ooh, i've actually read don't you cry haha so i can't wait to hear your thoughts. i liked it.

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    1. That's funny...the plot didn't really appeal to me that much either but since you and others recommended it so highly I trusted you. Glad I did! I predicted the twist somewhat, but it didn't ruin the journey for me at all and I didn't think it was predictable, either. Lucky guess! LOL. So far I'm really liking Don't You Cry! Not wanting to put it down.

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  7. I LOVED the Life We Bury and I'm so dang mad that my library does not have his latest book (the have the rest of his books). I believe there are going to be two more books in that world with Joe and his autistic brother (blanking on his name at the moment) back as the main characters. Since I love those two, I can't wait! I really enjoyed Evelyn Hugo. It was my first TJR book and I understood why she gets so much love and praise. I also found Troublemaker fascinating too.

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    1. Oooh!! I'm so excited to hear that about Eskens next books! I've been wishing for more of those characters in the books and they barely make a cameo. And I'm terrible with character names...I forget them the minute I start the next book.

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  8. I just opened my library account in another tab while I read this and requested so many books! I can't wait for Little Fires Everywhere. I read Leah Remini's book this summer and WOW, it was definitely fascinating.

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    1. Oh I'm glad to hear you liked Leah's book too! I knew only a little about Scientology going into it and learned a LOT.

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  9. I just picked up this Malcolm Gladwell now I can't wait to read it!

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    1. Hope you find it as interesting as I did!

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  10. Rachelle recommended The Untethered Soul to me as well and I'm picking it up tomorrow. I also think I need to read The Obesity Code. I'm more interested in nutrition now more than ever in my life!

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    1. Can't wait to hear what you think about the Untethered Soul! And I do think you would really enjoy The Obesity Code based on offline conversations we've had!

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  11. I loved Little Fires Everywhere. I know what you mean about books and hype though!! I am super bummed because Canadian Amazon Prime doesn't do the books things you are describing and I really don't know why!!

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    1. Oh that's terrible!! And that doesn't make any sense?! An e-book is an e-book regardless of where you live!

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  12. I don't typically read nonfiction, but Troublemaker sounds like such a great book! I

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  13. Glad you enjoyed your reads. I've heard great things about TJR's books, but I'm not sure that Evelyn Hugo will be my favorite. I will probably try others first. Love how diverse your reads were this month! XO - Alexandra

    Simply Alexandra: My Favorite Things

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