Q2 Book Review

Q2 2015 Book Review - Cheers Susan

These last few months I haven’t been reading quiet as much as I have in the past. Or, maybe I should say, I’m not completely finishing books as quickly as before. It seems I still have a bunch of books I’m the in e middle of and can’t quiet bring myself to finish. Should probably fix that huh?

So, what have I been listening to you ask? Well, let me share…

The Cage Keeper and Other Stories by Andre Dubus III

“Passion and betrayal, violent desperation, ambivalent love that hinges on hatred, and the quest for acceptance by those who stand on the edge of society-these are the hard-hitting themes of a stunningly crafted first collection of stories by the bestselling author of House of Sand and Fog.

A vigilant young man working in a halfway house finds himself unable to defend against the rage of one of the inmates in the title story. In “White Trees, Hammer Moon,” a man soon to leave home for prison finds himself as unprepared for a family camping trip in the mountains of New Hampshire as he has been for most things in his life. And in the award-winning “Forky,” an ex-con is haunted by the punishment he receives just as he is being released into the world. With an incisive ability to inhabit the lives of his characters, Dubus travels deep into the heart of the elusive American dream.” – amazon.com

My opinion: I spent a weekend earlier this month laying on my dining room floor painting a rug. That reminds me I need to fill you guys in on that project…coming soon! Anyway, as I lay there painting for hours, I listened to the stories in this book and was once again fascinated by the authors storytelling.  Really liked it. 4/5 Stars

The Money Class: Learn to Create Your New American Dream by Suze Orman

“In nine electrifying, empowering classes, Suze Orman teaches us how to navigate these unprecedented financial times. With her trademark directness, she shows us how to tackle the complicated mix of money and family, how to avoid making costly mistakes in real estate, and how to get traction in your career or rebuild after a professional setback. And in what is the most comprehensive retirement resource available today, Suze presents an attainable strategy, for every reader, at every age.
The Money Class is filled with tools and advice that can take you from a place of financial fear to a place of financial security. In The Money Class you will learn what you need to know in order to feel hopeful, once again, about your future.” – amazon.com

My opinion: Over the years I’ve read several of Suze Orman’s books and have put many of her financial recommendations into practice. After reading this book, I took a step back and reexamined my situation. There are some goals that wrote about a few weeks ago in Freedom Race. In order to achieve them, I have to make some changes, and I can’t wait for them to come to fruition. It’s going to be so exciting. Really liked it. 4/5 stars

The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle

“It’s no wonder that The Power of Now has sold over 2 million copies worldwide and has been translated into over 30 foreign languages. Much more than simple principles and platitudes, the book takes readers on an inspiring spiritual journey to find their true and deepest self and reach the ultimate in personal growth and spirituality: the discovery of truth and light.

In the first chapter, Tolle introduces readers to enlightenment and its natural enemy, the mind. He awakens readers to their role as a creator of pain and shows them how to have a pain-free identity by living fully in the present. The journey is thrilling, and along the way, the author shows how to connect to the indestructible essence of our Being, “the eternal, ever-present One Life beyond the myriad forms of life that are subject to birth and death.”

Featuring a new preface by the author, this paperback shows that only after regaining awareness of Being, liberated from Mind and intensely in the Now, is there Enlightenment.” – amazon.com

My opinion: I started this book several years ago and life sort of got in the way. Thankfully, I picked it back up and finally finished it. This definitely made me think. To question what I know or thought I knew. If you haven’t read this yet, I totally recommend it. Really liked it. 4/5 stars.

It’s a Long Story: My Life by Willie Nelson

“‘Unvarnished. Funny. Leaving no stone unturned.”

. . . So say the publishers about this book I’ve written.

What I say is that this is the story of my life, told as clear as a Texas sky and in the same rhythm that I lived it.

It’s a story of restlessness and the purity of the moment and living right. Of my childhood in Abbott, Texas, to the Pacific Northwest, from Nashville to Hawaii and all the way back again. Of selling vacuum cleaners and encyclopedias while hosting radio shows and writing song after song, hoping to strike gold.

It’s a story of true love, wild times, best friends, and barrooms, with a musical sound track ripping right through it.

My life gets lived on the road, at home, and on the road again, tried and true, and I’ve written it all down from my heart to yours.

Willie Nelson” – amazon.com

My Opinion: Growing up my mom loved country music and I spent hours listening to Willie Nelson. If memory serves, we even took a trip to Reno, at least I think it was Reno, to watch him live. This is the first book I’ve read about his life story and all in it was pretty good. He did get a little preachy about the legalization of pat but the rest was fairly interesting. Liked it. 3/5 stars

Sycamore Row by John Grisham

“Seth Hubbard is a wealthy man dying of lung cancer. He trusts no one. Before he hangs himself from a sycamore tree, Hubbard leaves a new, handwritten will. It is an act that drags his adult children, his black maid, and Jake into a conflict as riveting and dramatic as the murder trial that made Brigance one of Ford County’s most notorious citizens, just three years earlier. The second will raises many more questions than it answers. Why would Hubbard leave nearly all of his fortune to his maid? Had chemotherapy and painkillers affected his ability to think clearly? And what does it all have to do with a piece of land once known as Sycamore Row?” – amazon.com

My opinion: From the beginning, I had a feeling I knew how this would end and for the most part I wasn’t surprised. It seemed very predictable and because of that it seemed like a long story to get to the point. Neither really liked it and neither didn’t like it. Contrived. 3/5 stars would be generous.

The Firm by John Grisham

“When Mitch McDeere signed on with Bendini, Lambert & Locke of Memphis, he thought that he and his beautiful wife, Abby, were on their way. The firm leased him a BMW, paid off his school loans, arranged a mortgage, and hired the McDeeres a decorator. Mitch should have remembered what his brother Ray–doing fifteen years in a Tennessee jail–already knew: You never get nothing for nothing. Now the FBI has the lowdown on Mitch’s firm and needs his help. Mitch is caught between a rock and a hard place, with no choice–if he wants to live.”

My opinion: I like this more than Sycamore Row. There was more subsistence, more layers, more variables. All in a pretty good read. Like it. 3/5 stars.

50/50: Secrets I Learned Running 50 Marathons in 50 Days – and How You Too Can Achieve Super Endurance by Dean Karnazes

“Dean Karnazes has run 350 continuous miles through three sleepless nights, ordered pizza during long runs, and inspired fans the world over with his adventures. So what does a guy like this do when he wants to face the ultimate test of endurance? He runs 50 marathons in 50 states– in 50 consecutive days.

With little more than a road map and a caravan packed with fellow runners and a dedicated crew, Dean set off on a tour that took him through a volcanic canyon in Maui in high humidity and 88-degree heat; to an elevation gain of almost 4,000 feet at the Tecumseh Trail Marathon in Bloomington, Indiana; to a severed moose leg found alongside an Anchorage, Alaska trail that compelled him to sprint for safety.

Now in this heart-pounding book, Dean reveals how he pulled off this unfathomable feat with a determination that defied all physical limitations. But Dean goes beyond the story of the Endurance 50 marathons to share his invaluable secrets and advice for athletes of all levels. These are the tips that kept Dean going during the 1,310 miles he covered and 160,000 calories he burned while averaging sub-four-hour marathons and often sleeping fewer than four hours each night.” – amazon.com

My opinion: I read this on a trip to Providence, RI last month and all I wanted to do was put my running shoes on and go out for a nice long run. If you’re looking for inspiration and awe this will do it. Thanks to this book, and a few others, I am now thinking I want to run an ultra marathon. Crazy! Really liked it. 4/5 stars

Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt

“A Pulitzer Prize-winning, #1 New York Times bestseller, Angela’s Ashes is Frank McCourt’s masterful memoir of his childhood in Ireland.

“When I look back on my childhood I wonder how I managed to survive at all. It was, of course, a miserable childhood: the happy childhood is hardly worth your while. Worse than the ordinary miserable childhood is the miserable Irish childhood, and worse yet is the miserable Irish Catholic childhood.”

So begins the luminous memoir of Frank McCourt, born in Depression-era Brooklyn to recent Irish immigrants and raised in the slums of Limerick, Ireland. Frank’s mother, Angela, has no money to feed the children since Frank’s father, Malachy, rarely works, and when he does he drinks his wages. Yet Malachy—exasperating, irresponsible, and beguiling—does nurture in Frank an appetite for the one thing he can provide: a story. Frank lives for his father’s tales of Cuchulain, who saved Ireland, and of the Angel on the Seventh Step, who brings his mother babies.

Perhaps it is story that accounts for Frank’s survival. Wearing rags for diapers, begging a pig’s head for Christmas dinner and gathering coal from the roadside to light a fire, Frank endures poverty, near-starvation and the casual cruelty of relatives and neighbors—yet lives to tell his tale with eloquence, exuberance, and remarkable forgiveness.

Angela’s Ashes, imbued on every page with Frank McCourt’s astounding humor and compassion, is a glorious book that bears all the marks of a classic.” – amazon.com

My opinion: Heartbreaking. It’s the only word I can think of to describe this book. This is not an easy read but it’s worth it. Really liked it. 4/5 stars

Grain Brain: The Surprising Truth About Wheat, Carbs, and Sugar – Your Brain’s Silent Killers by David Perlmutter

“Renowned neurologist David Perlmutter, MD, blows the lid off a topic that’s been buried in medical literature for far too long: carbs are destroying your brain. And not just unhealthy carbs, but even healthy ones like whole grains can cause dementia, ADHD, anxiety, chronic headaches, depression, and much more. Dr. Perlmutter explains what happens when the brain encounters common ingredients in your daily bread and fruit bowls, why your brain thrives on fat and cholesterol, and how you can spur the growth of new brain cells at any age. He offers an in-depth look at how we can take control of our “smart genes” through specific dietary choices and lifestyle habits, demonstrating how to remedy our most feared maladies without drugs. With a revolutionary 4-week plan, GRAIN BRAIN teaches us how we can reprogram our genetic destiny for the better.” – amazon.com 

My opinion: This was eye opening. It’s making me rethink my relationship with carbs and how they effect me. I’m going to test out the four week plan and see what happens. Really liked it. 4/5 stars.

What about you guys? Have you read anything really great lately? Or really terrible?




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