Friday, May 27, 2016

lots of depth for a YA novel.

After being abandoned by her parents, and then raised by her grandmother, Mercy Louis has turned into an extremely successful teenager. She's the best basketball player in the state, popular, beautiful. Girl's going places. Or is she? Because nothing is ever as it seems, especially in this debut novel by Keija Parssinen.

The Unraveling of Mercy Louis is honestly the unraveling of an entire Texas town after a premature infant is found in the garbage and every girl at Mercy's school is a suspect. And this isn't the only news or even the craziest thing that happens. AND don't even get me started on Mercy Louis's grandmother who thinks the Rapture is going to happen any day and the world is going to end. Add that to the cryptic letters she's receiving from the mother who left her behind, and Mercy Louis is going to crack.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

a legal mystery.

I am loving all of the latest psychological thrillers. So many women. So many mind games. It reminds me of my early twenties. Minus the murders. Alafair Burke's The Ex is my most recent favorite.

Three years ago Jackson Harris' wife Molly was shot up (along with other commuters) at a train station by a teenage boy. Scarier, in light of all of the real-life tragedy our world has been facing lately. Molly died. The boy turned the gun on himself. Jack and his daughter were left heartbroken. When Jack sees a beautiful women on an early morning run, he feels a spark, and with the help of his best friend, decides he's ready to start dating again. Finds the woman, goes to meet her, and is then accused of committing a triple homicide. One of the victims being the father of the son who murdered Molly, giving him plenty of motive.

Adamant that he is being framed, Jack reaches out to his college ex-girlfriend, criminal defense lawyer Olivia Randall. And the rest is a wild ride.

Friday, May 20, 2016

sure to satisfy fans.

In Benjamin Black's seventh novel in the Quirke series, Even the Dead, my favorite Irishman's recent blackouts puts him on the injured list. No work, no booze. Not that he'll abide by doctor's orders.

An automobile "accident" occurs that results in a fiery one-car crash, leaving a young man dead breaks Quirke's convalescence. Suspicions of foul play drives him back to work in an advisory role. But when his daughter Phoebe is approached by the deceased's pregnant girlfriend, Quirke discovers this murder has more to do with his own past than he ever cared to revisit. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

the civil rights movement and basketball.

Strong Inside by first-time author Andrew Maraniss tells a story that many have never heard, about a kid who integrated big-time college basketball with very little support. Growing up in the midst of The Civil Rights Movement, in the South no less, it wasn't easy for Perry Wallace to become the first African American basketball player in the Southeastern Conference, but that never stopped him.

Andrew Maraniss did an amazing job chronicling Wallace's journey from North Nashville to Vanderbilt University. While reading, it never seemed that Wallace ever meant to be a trailblazer or a pioneer, he simply wanted a good education and to play ball, and that's exactly what he got, but not without some fight. 

Monday, May 16, 2016

for your socially and emotionally disconnected kid.

I truly believe that if you were to go to the land of normal, no one would be there. But I understand the need to be able to function in society and how important that ability to function is to kids with disorders such as Asperger's syndrome, autism, ADHD, OCD, and dyslexia. We are more aware of these disorders now, but I didn't even realize that one out every six children are diagnosed with one of these conditions, and most of them are being medicated to treat them, because there weren't any other options, until now.

Disconnected Kids shares Dr. Robert Melillo's groundbreaking Brain Balance Program for children with neurological disorders, and it has gotten some excellent reviews. The idea of this program is that your child's brain can be changed, and you can train their brains to reconnect using simple steps and techniques. Psychiatric drugs only disguise the symptoms, they don't solve the problem. It may seem complicated because we are talking about the brain, but Dr. Melillo makes everything easy to understand, and I can get behind any doctor that doesn't turn to drugs for an answer.

Friday, May 13, 2016

domestic suspense.

In a world where people are going to extreme measures to be parents, Lisa Scottoline's latest novel, Most Wanted is intense, emotional, and just plain brilliant. Oh, and kind of scary.

Marcus and Christine Nilsson want a baby. Bad. Bad enough that when they discover Marcus is infertile, they decide to use a sperm donor so that Christine can get pregnant. Months pass, Christine is pregnant, all is right with the world, UNTIL...Christine sees her donor on the news being arrested for multiple murders. Violent murders. Horrendous murders. But did he really do it? And if he did, will Christine be able to get past the fact that her baby's biological father is a murderer?

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

family, race, history.

What I love more than fiction is realistic fiction. I have to be in the right mood to read novels where characters have supernatural powers or with wild plotlines (Harry Potter not included, obviously). Most of the time I want to sit down and open a novel that could happen to anyone. Well, the right anyone. And that's exactly what Kaitlyn Greenidge's debut novel We Love You, Charlie Freeman was. A novel so realistic, it almost happened to her own family.

Kaitlyn got the idea for this novel from her mother who was asked, before Kaitlyn was born, to raise a chimpanzee along with her oldest daughter (who was two at the time). Her mother was fluent in sign language, and it would all be part of an experiment for some unnamed institute. Her mother declined, not able to raise a chimp as her own and then have it end. It was this story that gave Kaitlyn the premise for her novel.

The Freeman family (who are all fluent in sign language) left their home in Boston for an apartment at the Toneybee Institute to add a chimpanzee named Charlie to their family of four as part of a twisted experiment. Adding together the moving to an almost all-white community and their strange living situation, the Freeman's feel isolated and their family dynamic begins to fall apart.

Monday, May 9, 2016

now in paperback.

I totally blanked on reviewing Dry Bones by Craig Johnson, the latest in the Longmire Mystery series that is officially available to watch on Netflix (FYI), another dead guy, another hit. Kudos to Johnson for his interesting subject matter, as a girl with a wild imagination, I really enjoyed this tale.

In the 13th installment, a skeletal remains of a Tyrannosaurus rex are found, along with the body of the rancher who's land it was found on. Makes sense since the bones are worth millions. Enter Walt and Victoria to solve the case. It's fast-paced and fun, wonderful to see that Johnson isn't losing his steam.

Friday, May 6, 2016

how to not pee on yourself in the woods.

Since Cheryl Strayed's Wild came out in 2013, women of all ages have become more adventurous and confident in all things wild such as camping, hiking, and backpacking. To help boost confidence still, Ruby McConnell came out with a guidebook tailored to women titled A Women's Guide to the Wild: Your Complete Outdoor Handbook. Because although women are JUST AS CAPABLE AS MEN, we are a special breed that has certain needs. McConnell gets that.

Chapters range from where to go, what to bring, lady business, and how to properly conduct yourself in the wild around the most dangerous animal of all. Stupid men (my words). McConnell's main prerogative is to help any woman be successful during her first or 45th trip. It's funny and practical and if you are a woman who is outdoorsy, you'll love it.


Wednesday, May 4, 2016

fact: marriage is hard.

I am known for my blunt realness when it comes to talking about my marriage. During the first year, when people would come up to me and ask, "how's married life?" I would be like, WELL IT'S NOT RAINBOWS AND BUTTERFLIES BUT WE ARE SURVIVING. Because really, marriage is hard. It gets better. It's getting better right now, every day. But being a wife is not the easiest job I've ever had. And that's where a lot of problems lie. People thinking that a good relationship has no arguments. There are some seriously lovely ups and some seriously painful downs. And that's with EVERYONE. Even those friends of yours who seem to have it all together. I guarantee she nags the crap out of him and he flushes the toilet when she's in the shower. Shit happens. No one is perfect. Which leads me to my next review.

If you want to NOT set yourself up for failure in your current/future relationships, read Linda and Charlie Boom's Happily Every After And 39 Other Myths About Love. Sorry Cinderella, you are a human being, not a princess, and there is no happily ever after. But there are a lot of myths that will get in the way of your happiness if you're not careful. My personal favorites?

  • Marriage is 50/50 - NO marriage is 100/100 - lesson number one people
  • Little things aren't worth getting upset about - oh, okay, so then you can bottle that anger up and BLOW UP later? Great idea
  • True lovers feel love for each other all the time - I love my husband every day, but NOT all day every day
  • If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all - okay, if it's not going to help the situation, please, refrain from speaking it in the moment, but if you're husband is being a complete crazy person, please feel free to tell him in a proper way

The Boom's are MUCH more helpful than my little tidbits. They are a couple who actually did reach the brink of divorce. Some of the myths were surprising to me and really did make me think about my marriage in a new way (myth #2 especially), and if you are married or thinking about getting married, READ THIS BOOK.

Monday, May 2, 2016

there's a new coach in town.

Chances are you have experienced some sort of workplace coaching in your life. Teachers, you had a mentor during your first few years on the job. Doctors, you had a residency. Everyone else, you had a training, or professional development meetings, or conferences, team building, and all that. Whether you have coached, been coached, or call bullshit on coaching in general, The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way You Lead Forever is for you (it's written for leaders, but I found it useful).

There are three main reasons why you wanted to crawl under your bed after your last coaching experience, and vow to never do it again. 1. You bored everyone to tears. 2. Your team couldn't relate, or figure out how to use the information in real life. 3. You spoke more than you listened.

Maybe you have a high maintenance team. Maybe they have zero common sense, and would literally die of thirst if you didn't bring them to the watering hole yourself. Maybe you are way too busy with your own work to productively coach your team. None of this matters. You CAN change their behavior, all you have to do is keep reading. You'll figure out what triggers old useless behavior. You'll be given easy to follow ways to get back on track. I promise it won't take up too much of your time.