Playing Many Parts

Book Review – The Girl on the Train

the_girl_on_the_train_us_cover_2015I always read the book first.  Since I am a prolific reader I have promised myself that I will always, if at all possible, read the book first.  Before it is made into a movie, and someone else gets to put their interpretation of a book forward as the definitive point of view for millions of people, I want to let my imagination create the world the author has written.

I haven’t seen the movie yet, and might do that to contrast and compare, but I liked the book quite a bit and found it compelling enough to continue reading even though I was quite sure I had figured out the plot a couple of chapters in.  I was right.  It went in the direction I expected, but I think the author intended it that way. . if I ever get the chance to ask her, I will.  There was some important foreshadowing early on that sort of gave things away and that seems like a smart intentional guide. . a kind of Easter Egg for good readers.

I liked this book because I love murder mysteries.  I also love women’s issues and a strong female lead with romance and complications. . .so this book was very interesting to me.  I don’t want to admit it, but I saw parts of myself in the heroine of the story.  I liked very much how Rachel grew and developed and it all seemed somewhat real. . if not romanticized. . but its a novel (it says so on the cover), so I expect that.  Emily Blunt is my Rachel, but that is fine, I look forward to the movie.


Book Review: The Nightingale

It’s been two weeks since I finished this book and I am still mourning the loss of these characters.  This was a very well written book.  Had I known it was a book about survivors of WWII I probably wouldn’t have read it, but once started, I had to finish.

Both the character development and the beautiful scenery descriptions made these old friends in a place I knew well, even though I have never been to Paris or France.  The quickly moving plot in this historical fiction had me turning pages almost as quickly as when I read the last pages of  The Historian.

I have not read other books by Kristin Hannah, but I now have several of her others on my Amazon wish list and am anxious for my next vacation so I can start a reading marathon.  This was a very happy, unexpected surprise 5 star read for me.  Others have noted that her characters are more modern than a housewife in the 40s would have been, but it is an 80 year old living in the 1990s telling the story, so it all seemed believable to me, but then again, I wasn’t around in 1940 to know.  It seems to me to be a well crafted story of wartime France.

Great Book – Great Person

I don’t even remember where I heard about this book, which is a real shame, because I owe someone a really big thank you!  My favorite line:  “Screw it – just do it!.”  I liked that line so much, I let it inspire me and I am finally starting that business I have been dreaming of for years.  So to say this changed my life is actually a true statement for me.

I have made it a new habit this year to read through some great business books on my way to work.  It was either find a way to make my very stupid, overcrowded, long commute through very backed up Chicago traffic more enjoyable; or go to jail for smashing my way through to get to work in a reasonable amount of time.  Since my commute isn’t changing anytime soon, and jail will definitely NOT work with my claustrophobia, I decided I need to put this time to good use.  Audiobooks that teach new things are really a great way to learn all kinds of new things, and may just make me more successful at the same time.

Back to this book.  I didn’t really know who Richard Branson was before I read the book.  And yes, I do live under a rock so don’t judge me.  I had heard of that crazy entrepreneur who did the balloon trip and who was trying to plan vacations to the moon, but I knew nothing of the Virgin companies or him personally.  I can say with all seriousness now that I find him completely delightful and want to be a business owner like him someday.

This book is for anyone involved in business, but I think anyone who would like to be a great leader should read it.  He gives very practical advice on how to do business better, greener, and with more integrity than any other book I have read so far.  He seems fairly honest and open about what makes his company both unique and fun to work for.  I found myself making lots of lists on how I want to do things differently as I setup my new business.  I was inspired to both keep reading and to keep thinking about ways to deliver value to any future customers and employees.  I put the link here to the book because I think everyone in business should read it, and I really do plan to have all my friends, family and employees read this book.  It will be a graduation gift I give out for at least the next couple of years, or until my next great read.

Can’t Help It – I Love YA Fiction



I admit, I am a grown woman, but I still love Young Adult Fiction, especially if it is also fantasy!  From C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien to Suzanne Collins and Marissa Meyer.  Perhaps I should also admit upfront that the best job I ever had was working in the Student Affairs Office at a major college and I still run a teen basketball program in my community, so I think the argument could be made that perhaps like Peter Pan, I never grew up.  And I am ok with that!

I finished reading the book Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles Book 1) in a few hours over three nights.  The best testament to my enjoyment of the book is that the very next day I went out and purchased the second book in the series Scarlet (Lunar Chronicles, Book 2) (The Lunar Chronicles).  I like very much that she appears to have three stories here that have some aspects of three different fairy tales and that they are much darker than the Disney versions.  I also love that the main character of this first book is a techno geek (my own day job) and that the heroine from the second one is a farmer (my dream job).  There is enough action and suspense to have me turning pages and enough character development and romance to feed my need for love.  I will get back to you on books two and three, but so far, so good.  I would put this series at a high school reading level, by the way, since there is a familial death that may be harder for younger readers to deal with.

Fun New Detective Series – by Joanne Fluke

cccmurderThe Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder is a fun book that came highly recommended, and free, from a friend. I don’t think I would have picked it up off the shelf, because I am ashamed to admit that I often base my book buying decisions on the cover art, and this one is sadly lacking.  It is a quick, easy read that is entertaining on a couple of levels.

I am still trying to decide if I liked the mystery or the included recipes best.  I really appreciate the main character, Hannah Swensen, as she is a strong, independent small business owner.  Hannah is not intimidating or overwhelming, and is therefore very believable as a main character from a small town.  Both the strong tie to the setting, Minnesota in this case, and the relationship between Hannah and her mother had me remembering my first Stephanie Plum mystery.  I haven’t tried any of the cookie recipes that were included throughout the book, but I do have plans to do so this weekend and will report back with pictures and a full review then.

For now, if you are looking for a cozy mystery to read at the beach or poolside, I would recommend this one for a quick and easy read.

Great Blog Reading

Last Chance

I have been blogging on and off for a little more than a year now, and while I enjoy it, it has been hard to find direction and a purpose.  I am guessing a big reason why that is true is that my life has mirrored the same for a while now.  I have a feeling that is all about to change a bit.  I am finding hidden passions and l am beginning to explore them and find that it is changing me.

Also, I am currently reading some great blogs that are impacting how I think and providing me some needed direction and I am getting ready even to set aside some solid goals for both life and my humble little blog.  I started reading the Get Rich Slowly blog, which lead me to reading about world domination over at Chris Guillebeau’s blog and so on and on it goes.  I want to read it all, and learn and grow and become something.

I encourage you today to go back to some of your favorite blogs for direction, connection, or encouragement.  The winds of change are blowing here in my fractured little corner of the world. . .what will they bring?!  I am not sure yet, but I am embracing the change!

Quick Money Saving Tip – CHEAP Books

I am sure everyone knows this already, but just in case you don’t, many thrift stores have CHEAP books for sale!  You can’t go get the latest titles probably. . .but you can get some great books for next to nothing.  I have been paying full price for books at Amazon, and at least half price for books at Alibris and used on Amazon, but last weekend I got my best deal yet.  At my local thrift store I got 7 books for $6.25!

My haul included several classics, a college literature book (preparing to homeschool my son), and two best sellers from a few years ago (one was a P.D. James book I have had on my “to read” list for a while now).  If your thrift store takes and sells books, in my humble opinion, it is worth a couple of hours to go sort through the pile.  This sure could get addictive!

Book Review – Innocent In Death by J. D. Robb

innocentindeath1I love Nora Roberts, and I love murder mysteries, so it is no great surprise that I am now completely hooked on reading all of the books she has written as J. D. Robb.  I discovered her back in 200o and at that time I went through and read everything she had ever written, but I did not read any written under the Robb pseudonym.  A friend had this book on her desk the other day and I commented about loving Nora Roberts so she insisted I read this one.  I am glad I did, but my family will be missing me soon, as I have found another series that is nearly impossible to put down.

Innocent In Death is a who-done-it murder mystery with just enough romance thrown in to keep it interesting and personal.  I love Nora Roberts’ characters, especially the women; I always find her heroines strong, passionate and sincere.  I will admit that sometimes the plot is a bit predictable, but the story is usually told well enough that it is still fun to follow along.  I read to be entertained, and I always find entertaining characters in anything Roberts’ writes.  As I finish the last pages of this book, I am already searching Amazon and Paperback Swap for other books with Eve Dallas as the main character.

Book Review – How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff

How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff was not what I expected.

Book Review – The Year of the Hangman by Gary Blackwood

A review of the Young Adult book The Year of the Hangman by Gary Blackwood.