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How to Fall in Love With Anyone

Ugh. I am so on the fence about this book. It falls into the same category for me as “Eat, Pray, Love” and “Wild”. While I had my own issues with those two books (really, who can afford to disappear for an extended period of time to get their shit together?), this one was a bit different.

Mandy Len Catron writes about love in a series of essays. That is the first difference. This book isn’t meant as one continuous discussion of a particular time. She bounces around to different points in her life, but the organization is still linear. I suppose I’m on the fence about this book for two reasons. First has everything to do with the author’s tone. The second has to do with me.

Catron’s tone throughout the book strives to be academic, but I couldn’t help but feel at times it was a bit whining and needy. I did find interesting her reactions to love and to dating. She, like a lot of modern women, myself included, reacted to love and dating the way she thought everyone expected her to and not in a way that was genuine to who she was. We have spent so much time being told how to act and what to expect that we conform our thoughts to outside forces and don’t allow that inside, we might feel differently. Most importantly, even if we do recognize that we feel differently about marriage, love commitment, etc., we do not feel comfortable or that it is ok with society that we show anything different than what is expected.

And that is why this book bothered me. It made me think about my own feelings and expectations. The difference is that I am not a thirty-something year old woman. So some of what she says I find useful for women who are younger and in that phase of life. Overall, this book was okay. I would recommend it to people who are trying to figure out their version of love and relationships.

I won this book from Goodreads and received no compensation in exchange for my review. The opinions contained herein, confusing as they are, are mine and mine alone.

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The Rules of Love and Grammar

I loved this book. Grace Hamilton lost her job, her boyfriend, and her apartment (temporarily) at the same time. She goes home to Dorset. Connecticut to stay with her parents. During her stay in Dorset, she deals with her sister’s death, her best friend/almost boyfriend from high school, who is now a famous movie director – in town making a movie, her female best friend, and Mitch, the son of the bike shop owner.

I liked this book because I liked Grace. She’s flawed and goofy and smart and insecure. Grace is also a planner. She likes to know what’s going to happen before it happens. Her mother tells her, “Let life unfold, or you’ll miss the chance to be surprised.” Probably the once scene I loved the most was when Mitch and Grace go for a bike ride and they have a conversation about knowing to remember something because it’s special.

I liked this book because it wasn’t predictable and tells a good story. I could relate to Grace and her life and how she feels about it. Mary Simses wrote a really good book. A lot of people will probably call this “chick lit” and if they judge it based on that description, they are missing a really wonderful story.

I loved this book. I recommend it. I won this book from Goodreads and received no other compensation for this review. The opinions contained herein are mine and mine alone.

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Pink Slips

I am not going to talk much about the plot of this book. If I do, it will give things away I think you should discover from reading. Betsy Ryan has a stalker. She lives in suburban Chicago and someone seems to watch her and know everything about her. Complicating the matter? Betsy is eight months pregnant and her husband is away on business…..

Pink Slips has an interesting hook that I thought was odd at first, but then really enjoyed. Along with her neighbor and friend, Misty, and her parents, Betsy’s best friend is Barney, her canine companion. The book is a thriller, but it’s also about love and family and friendship.

It will definitely not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it is well-written and I really enjoyed it. I won this book from Goodreads and received no other compensation for this review. The opinions contained herein are mine and mine alone. (

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The Physics of Everyday Things

I am torn about this book. I really, really wanted to like it and got it because my son is good at science and is taking physics next year and I wanted to have a basic understanding of physics as I never took it in school.

The explanations provided were not complete. I felt that the book was a little dry and needed something. Something was missing. Some people may enjoy this book more than I did, it just wasn’t my cup of tea.

I received this book from Blogging for Books and did not receive any other compensation in exchange for this review. The opinions contained herein are mine and mine alone.

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The Garden of Small Blessings

This book is about Lillian, her sister, Rachel, her two daughters, Anabel and Claire, and a gardening class she is forced to take. Lillian lost her husband, Dan, in a car accident four years ago. She is struggling to maintain. She was in a hospital for a few months after Dan’s death and is trying to maintain her existence. But life keeps throwing her curve balls.

The first is Edward, the gardening teacher from Holland, who Lilli is attracted to. She hates herself for being attracted to him and does everything in her power to push him away. But Edward likes Lilli, too, and tells her he will wait.

The second is her job. Lillian works at a small publisher of text books. They announce they are laying off the art department. Lillian is faced with having to find a new job. But as an illustrator, she’s in demand.

I loved this book. Lillian is the kind of person I would have as a friend. She’s sarcastic, messy, disorganized, and utterly human. I love her voice. I love that her sister, Rachel, is there to put her in place when need be. Her children, Clare and Anabel, are two of my favorites kid characters because they are written as real kids. If you have kids, you know what I’m taking about. Kids who one minute say the most insightful, brilliant things and the next minute are throwing a temper tantrum because you don’t have the right music in the car.

And let’s not forget the supporting cast. Mike, Angie, Gene, Eloise, Frances, Bob, Richard, Maggie, Berto, and Lillian’s in-laws. Abbi Waxman writes so well. She is so good at developing even the most minor characters, like Rachel’s boss. She is a two-dimensional character, but you still find out something surprising.

I cannot say enough great things about this book. It’s charming and funny and sassy. It is well-written. You slip into the story like a well-worn pair of jeans and it is immediately comfortable and comforting. I really loved this book and I am sure you will, too.

I won this book from Goodreads and received no compensation in exchange for my review. The opinions contained herein are mine and mine alone.

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The Operator

I have read several books about Navy Seals and the killing of bin Laden. I have enjoyed all of them. The Operator is another in that collection and I enjoyed it as well.

Robert O’Neill is from Butte, Montana. He talks about joining the Navy and deciding to become a Seal. He spends two-thirds of the book telling the story of his training and deployments with different Seal Teams. The last third is about killing bin Laden and his life after the Navy. He was involved in the operation that saved Captain Richard Phillips from Somali Pirates. He has been awarded a bunch of medal including to Silver Stars, the second highest combat award.

While I enjoyed the chapters that dealt with killing bin Laden and the fallout from that, I actually liked the first two-thirds of this book more. O’Nell is a good story teller. He shares stories about the men he served with who were dedicated to serving their country and making sure 9/11 never happens again. He tells his stories with wit and humor. He isn’t the wordiest author I have ever read, but that seems to fit who he is.

If you are someone who is interested in military history, the wars in the Middle East, or the killing of Osama bin Laden, then you will enjoy this book. One note – the Navy asked O’Neill to redact some information for national security. As far as I can tell, the only thing he redacted is the number of the seal team that killed bin Laden, which is common knowledge that it was Team 6. So, there is redacted information, but very little. In fact, I was kind of surprised about how much they allowed him to tell of the mission to kill bin Laden. It was truly informative.

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The Gatekeepers

I was a political science major in college. And I constantly have to explain to people that it is not the study of politics. It is the study of government. If I were teaching political science today, I would have my students read The Gatekeepers by Chris Whipple. It is a fascinating look at a position in government that, while wielding a ton of power, isn’t discussed often – Chief of Staff of the White House.

I think my favorite part of the book was at the beginning when Whipple describes a meeting between the new Chief of Staff and the former, living Chiefs of Staff. The list of attendees is a who’s who in Washington. Don Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, Leon Panetta, to name a few.

The book is entertaining and readable. I do not know how Whipple kept it to a reasonable length, given he was covering the Nixon to Obama presidencies. But he did. This book provides rich history and deeper understanding of one of the most difficult and often reviled positions in American government. I highly recommend this book.

I received a copy of this book from Blogging for Books and received no other compensation for my review. The opinions contained herein are mine and mine alone.

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Deadfall

I have read all of Linda Fairstein’s Alex Cooper books. And it’s one of my favorite series of legal thrillers. Her last book, Killer Look, I thought, was sub-par. I honestly thought that she phoned it in. The book was lacking the spark that most of her previous books had. I suppose that after you have written 17 novels, it is hard to keep things fresh. I was unhappy that Alex Cooper, after her kidnapping, became a whiner and a semi-alcoholic.

Deadfall picks up where Killer Look leaves off, with the assassination of the District Attorney in front of Alex and her cop boyfriend, Mike Chapman. Deadfall starts with Alex still being whiney and simpering as she’s being questioned by a NYPD detective who seems not to like her. Some people think that either Alex set up the DA or that she was the target of the assassin. I was ready to stop reading and be mad a Linda Faristein for writing another bad book. But I am eternally glad I stuck it out. Alex comes back and comes back strong. The book weaves a story that has several twists and turns in its plot. It is a well-written book and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

As usual, Ms. Fairstein uses New York City as a character as well. This time the Bronx Zoological Society is a supporting character in the book. Her vivid description of location adds another layer to her writing that I love. While the cliff hanger at the end of this book is not jaw dropping like it was in Killer Look, it will still bring me back to get an answer. If you are looking for a good mystery and a thrill ride, this is the book for you.

I got a digital advance copy of this book from First to Read. I was provided no other compensation in exchange for my review. The opinions expressed herein are mine and mine alone.

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Target Omega

Mike Garin is a a member of a special forces unit that is charged with dealing with weapons of mass destruction. After a mission in Pakistan, the men come home and are assassinated – except for Garin, who gets the jump on his killers. He is being hunted and blamed for the murders. He is not only being hunted by the FBI, the police, and someone who assassinated his team, but by his own government.

Target Omega is a non-stop thrill ride. Mike Garin is a prototypical special operator (think Scot Harvath or the Grey Man), but he’s also smart and philosophical. The book is well written with one very large plot twist that I did not see coming. I really, really liked this book. It was well written and I cannot wait for Mike Garin’s second adventure.

I won this book from Goodreads and received no other compensation for my review. The opinions expressed herein are mine and mine alone.

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Make Your Bed

Make Your Bed comes from a commencement speech at the University of Texas in 2014 given by retired Admiral William McRaven. McRaven was a Navy SeAL and was in charge of JSOC when they killed Osama bin Laden. McRaven used the speech to discuss ten lessons he learned being a Navy SeAL. This short book is an expansion of those ideas. And I will say that it’s going to be my go-to graduation present for years to come.

The lessons in this book are common sense. But they are also needed in today’s “safe space world”. As he plainly says, “It’s easy to blame your lot in life on some outside force, to stop trying because you believe fate is against you. It is easy to think where you were raised, how your parents treated you, or what school you went to is all that determines your future. Nothing could be further than the truth. The common people and the great men and women are all defined by how they deal with life’s unfairness.” His advice? Don’t complain. Just do.

Another lesson? Failure teaches you. It’s not always a bad thing to fail. If you live in fear of failure and embarrassment you will never reach your potential. If you are courageous, nothing will stand in your way. And for me, the most important lesson – stand up to bullies. He says, “Bullies thrive on fear and intimidation. Bullies gain their strength through the faint and weak of heart.” Words that we should definitely heed in today’s climate of hatred and intimidation.

I loved this book. It succinctly states what everyone should do – be strong, don’t fear failure, stand up to bullies, make your bed, and never, never quit. Lessons that kids today desperately need. I might also add that some adults need them too.

I won this book from Goodreads and received no other compensation in exchange for my review. The opinions expressed herein are mine and mine alone.

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