Book Reviews–November 2018: Part One

I have large stacks of books TBR (To Be Read) on my nightstand, plus electronic stacks of books lined up in my Kindle.  As I read these books, I love to share my thoughts and opinions of what I’ve read here in this space, because I enjoy sharing my passion for books with others.  I do have an eclectic taste in books, and will choose books based on my mood, or what’s going on in my life that week.  (Disclosure I use Amazon affiliate links to help pay for the costs of this website.  Any and all posts on this site may contain affiliate links (which will not affect your cost).  Finally, the page numbers I list here reflect the number of Kindle pages, not paper pages.  Thank you!)  I hope you enjoy this series.

Book #1: 

Then She Was GoneThen She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell (Length: 369 pages).  My mom loaned me this suspense novel because she thought I’d enjoy it, and she was correct!  This novel is told from three different perspectives, but not equally as the majority of the book is written from the perspective of a mother whose 15 year old daughter goes missing.  Ten years later we learn of the aftermath of the disappearance, including when the mother meets a new man, with a daughter who reminds everyone of the missing girl.  This book was well-written, and the plot absolutely kept me reading.  (In fact, I read the entire novel in one day when I was home sick.)  Would recommend!  

From the publisher:

Ellie Mack was the perfect daughter. She was fifteen, the youngest of three. She was beloved by her parents, friends, and teachers. She and her boyfriend made a teenaged golden couple. She was days away from an idyllic post-exams summer vacation, with her whole life ahead of her.

And then she was gone.

Now, her mother Laurel Mack is trying to put her life back together. It’s been ten years since her daughter disappeared, seven years since her marriage ended, and only months since the last clue in Ellie’s case was unearthed. So when she meets an unexpectedly charming man in a café, no one is more surprised than Laurel at how quickly their flirtation develops into something deeper. Before she knows it, she’s meeting Floyd’s daughters—and his youngest, Poppy, takes Laurel’s breath away.

Because looking at Poppy is like looking at Ellie. And now, the unanswered questions she’s tried so hard to put to rest begin to haunt Laurel anew. Where did Ellie go? Did she really run away from home, as the police have long suspected, or was there a more sinister reason for her disappearance? Who is Floyd, really? And why does his daughter remind Laurel so viscerally of her own missing girl?

Book #2: 

OriginalsOriginals: How Non-Conformists Move the World by Adam Grant (Length: 335 pages).  This non-fiction pick is based on an interesting concept–that original thinkers who go against the “normal” way of thinking are the ones who will move society forward in a way that’s consistent with our traditional values.  I absolutely loved this read!  It reminds me of Malcolm Gladwell’s books, all of which I have thoroughly enjoyed.  Just three of the thoughts I bookmarked as I was reading: 

“In one study, for example, praising character boosted the moral actions of eight-year-olds but not five year-olds or ten-year olds. . . . When we shift our emphasis from behavior to character, people evaluate choices differently.  Instead of asking whether behavior will achieve the results they want, they take action because it is the right thing to do.”  (As a parent, I am going to make sure from now on that I focus on praising my girls for being good/kind/honest people versus praising their specific actions, based on what I’ve learned in this book.)

The author also tackles the subject of public speaking and the best way to conquer that fear is to frame your fear as being “excited” versus “anxious”.  “To overcome fear, why does getting excited work better than trying to calm yourself down?  Fear is an intense emotion:   You feel your heart pumping and your blood coursing.  In that state, trying to relax is like slamming on the brakes when a car is going 80 miles an hour.  The vehicle still has momentum.  Rather than trying to suppress a strong emotion, it’s easier to convert it into a different emotion–one that’s equally intense, but propels us to step on the gas.”  

The author also discusses how venting your anger or negative feelings isn’t necessarily a healthy thing to do (online or in person), and backs this up with studies.  “The better you feel after venting, the more aggressive you get:  not only towards your critic, but also toward innocent bystanders.”  

From the publisher:

With Give and Take, Adam Grant not only introduced a landmark new paradigm for success but also established himself as one of his generation’s most compelling and provocative thought leaders. In Originals he again addresses the challenge of improving the world, but now from the perspective of becoming original: choosing to champion novel ideas and values that go against the grain, battle conformity, and buck outdated traditions. How can we originate new ideas, policies, and practices without risking it all?

Using surprising studies and stories spanning business, politics, sports, and entertainment, Grant explores how to recognize a good idea, speak up without getting silenced, build a coalition of allies, choose the right time to act, and manage fear and doubt; how parents and teachers can nurture originality in children; and how leaders can build cultures that welcome dissent. Learn from an entrepreneur who pitches his start-ups by highlighting the reasons not to invest, a woman at Apple who challenged Steve Jobs from three levels below, an analyst who overturned the rule of secrecy at the CIA, a billionaire financial wizard who fires employees for failing to criticize him, and a TV executive who didn’t even work in comedy but saved Seinfeld from the cutting-room floor. The payoff is a set of groundbreaking insights about rejecting conformity and improving the status quo.



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