Book Review: The Subtle Art of Not Giving A…

I kept seeing references to The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck everywhere. A blog I follow mentioned it, then another. Then FB posts started appearing, every one talking about Mark Manson’s ideas and suggestions.

The Basics (Courtesy of Harper Collins):

In this generation-defining self-help guide, a superstar blogger cuts through the crap to show us how to stop trying to be “positive” all the time so that we can truly become better, happier people.

For decades, we’ve been told that positive thinking is the key to a happy, rich life. “F**k positivity,” Mark Manson says. “Let’s be honest, shit is f**ked and we have to live with it.” In his wildly popular Internet blog, Manson doesn’t sugarcoat or equivocate. He tells it like it is—a dose of raw, refreshing, honest truth that is sorely lacking today. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F**k is his antidote to the coddling, let’s-all-feel-good mindset that has infected modern society and spoiled a generation, rewarding them with gold medals just for showing up.

Manson makes the argument, backed both by academic research and well-timed poop jokes, that improving our lives hinges not on our ability to turn lemons into lemonade, but on learning to stomach lemons better. Human beings are flawed and limited—”not everybody can be extraordinary, there are winners and losers in society, and some of it is not fair or your fault.” Manson advises us to get to know our limitations and accept them. Once we embrace our fears, faults, and uncertainties, once we stop running and avoiding and start confronting painful truths, we can begin to find the courage, perseverance, honesty, responsibility, curiosity, and forgiveness we seek.

There are only so many things we can give a f**k about so we need to figure out which ones really matter, Manson makes clear. While money is nice, caring about what you do with your life is better, because true wealth is about experience. A much-needed grab-you-by-the-shoulders-and-look-you-in-the-eye moment of real-talk, filled with entertaining stories and profane, ruthless humor, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F**k is a refreshing slap for a generation to help them lead contented, grounded lives.

My Thoughts:

I actually considered buying this one before I saw the 12 plus dollar cost for an e-book. Um, no. So I got on the very long list at the library. Eventually the book came to me.

I ended up reading it almost entirely in one day. It was just the way the timing shook out. Some things got canceled and moved about so I had time to read. That in and of itself was a pleasure.

Manson was mostly preaching to the choir. So many things he went on about, the constant media onslaught to be extraordinary, the pressure that if you aren’t – you are lazy or a failure and a loser, the role the media plays in increasing school shootings…The idea that our emotions are a feedback to loop to look at what we value. You have to pick and choose what to spend your time, effort, and emotion on. Not new ideas.

We often like books, blogs, people who agree with us. So my saying I enjoyed this book, is not saying much. Manson is funny though. He’s also thought provoking. Emotional. Vulnerable in his openness about his own shortcomings.

If you’re easily offended by swearing, this is not the book for you.

But if you can overlook a potty mouth that wants to shock you into thinking…it’s an interesting read.


Agatha Christie Read-a-thon Week 2

Once again the delight of an Agatha Christie read-a-thon this April is being hosted by the amazing Jay over at This is My Truth Now.  This week’s Agatha gem was Peril at End House. You can check out what other readers had to say here.

Basic Summary (Courtesy of Goodreads):

Hercule Poirot is vacationing on the Cornish coast when he meets Nick Buckly. Nick is the young and reckless mistress of End House, an imposing structure perched on the rocky cliffs of St. Loo.

Poirot has taken a particular interest in the young woman who has recently narrowly escaped a series of life-threatening accidents. Something tells the Belgian sleuth that these so-called accidents are more than just mere coincidences or a spate of bad luck. It seems all too clear to him that someone is trying to do away with poor Nick, but who? And, what is the motive? In his quest for answers, Poirot must delve into the dark history of End House. The deeper he gets into his investigation, the more certain he is that the killer will soon strike again. And, this time, Nick may not escape with her life.

My Thoughts:

Full disclosure. I don’t like this particular Aggie. I don’t. I know. Shhh. Just breathe and it will pass.

This one makes me sad. So many people die, so needlessly and for the dumbest of reasons. Yes, Poirot is brilliant. Yes, I believe people actually act this dumb. Yes, I buy his deductions. There’s nothing wrong with the writing. Or the plot. Or the characters.

But it just leaves me worn and sad for the state of the world. A little heartbroken for young lovers who deserve better. A bit nostalgic for an old fashioned hero who took great risk just to prove he could and was cheered by the world for doing so. sigh

I clearly missed my time period. LOL. I think I’ll just pop back to the 40’s and enjoy it all first hand.

Book Review: The Blood Card

I just finished the latest Magic Men book, The Blood Card. I adore Elly Griffiths. I read everything she writes. I’ve gotten several friends into her two series.

The Basics (Courtesy of GoodReads): Elizabeth II’s coronation is looming, but the murder of their wartime commander, Colonel Cartwright, spoils the happy mood for DI Edgar Stephens and magician Max Mephisto. A playbill featuring another deceased comrade is found in Colonel Cartwright’s possession, and a playing card, the ace of hearts: the blood card. The wartime connection and the suggestion of magic are enough for him to put Stephens and Mephisto on the case.

Edgar’s investigation into the death of Brighton fortune-teller Madame Zabini is put on hold. Max is busy rehearsing for a spectacular Coronation Day variety show – and his television debut – so it’s Edgar who is sent to New York, a land of plenty worlds away from still-rationed England. He’s on the trail of a small-town mesmerist who may provide the key, but someone else silences him first. It’s Sergeant Emma Holmes who finds the clue, buried in the files of the Zabini case, that leads them to an anarchist group intent on providing an explosive finale to Coronation Day.

Now it’s up to Edgar, Max and Emma to foil the plot, and find out who it is who’s been dealing the cards . . .

My thoughts:

She let me down this time. Weak tea, this book. And maybe it’s that I’ve been doing rather a lot of Beta lately but I couldn’t help noticing her excessive use of crutch words like but and just. Many, many times a chapter. Was she on a short time line?

The plot was tepid as well. A bit tame. Predictable. Convoluted in a way that did not intrigue – left me tired. sigh.

It’s so disappointing when a favorite author lets you down badly.

Then again, I’d rather read tepid Elly Griffiths, then 50 shades of vampires.


Book Review: The Book Stops Here

I read Kate Carlisle’s book binding cozy mystery series from time to time. She’s always a safe choice.

Basic Summary (Courtesy of KCLS):

Brooklyn Wainwright is thrilled to be appearing on the San Francisco edition of the hit TV show This Old Attic as a rare-book expert and appraiser. Her first subject is a very valuable first-edition copy of the classic children’s story The Secret Garden,which is owned by a flower vendor named Vera. Once she hears what her book is worth, Vera is eager to have Brooklyn recondition it for resale. But after the episode airs, a furious man storms onto the set, claiming that Vera found the first edition at his garage sale, and he wants it back–or else. Brooklyn is relieved that she’s put The Secret Garden in a safe place, but Randolph Rayburn, the handsome host of This Old Attic, is terrified by the man’s threats. He confides in Brooklyn that he fears he is being stalked by the show’s former creator and star, who was fired when ratings declined. In the days that follow, several violent incidents occur on the set, and Brooklyn is almost killed, leaving both her and her security expert boyfriend, Derek, shaken. Is someone after Brooklyn and the book? Or has Randolph’s stalker become more desperate? And then Brooklyn visits Vera’s flower shop…and discovers her dead. Is the murderer one of the two obvious suspects, or is something more sinister–even bizarre–going on? Brooklyn had better find the clever killer soon or more than her chance at prime time may be canceled…permanently.

My Thoughts:

This is a good solid read. Although I admit to consuming a lot of alcohol while reading it on vacation. In fact, an entire “fishbowl” of a Cruiser was imbibed during the reading of this book.

And yet I can say; there was no trickery, no confusion. The occasional red herring did pop up and occasionally the book really stretched my suspension of disbelief.

No one questions a woman who asserts she found a 20-25K book at a yard sale for 3 dollars? Really?

And Brooklyn gets a new neighbor who can’t wait to be best friends with her. Surprise, the new neighbor just happens to be ex-CIA. Really?

I would still consider Carlisle a safe read, after all you need something mellow when consuming a beverage meant for four.


Book Review: The Monogram Murders

An Agatha Christie book written by someone else. All my spidey sense are tingling. The Monogram Murders by Sophie Hannah.

Basic Summary (Courtesy of KCLS):

Hercule Poirot’s quiet supper in a London coffee house is interrupted when a young woman confides to him that she is about to be murdered. She is terrified, but begs Poirot not to find and punish her killer. Once she is dead, she insists, justice will have been done. Later that night, Poirot learns that three guests at a fashionable London hotel have been murdered, and a cuff link has been placed in each one’s mouth. Could there be a connection with the frightened woman? While Poirot struggles to put together the bizarre pieces of the puzzle, the murderer prepares another hotel bedroom for a fourth victim.
My thoughts:

I am beyond torn on this one. I want to complain. There are so many issues. The Poirot in this book speaks French, he talks about his little grey cells, but he is not Poirot.

“I would know the difference with my eyes closed.” A line oft repeated in the novel. And the difference is there. This is not Poirot, it’s a detective in a Poirot suit. A third rate bit player in a detective suit in a Poirot suit.

And the real rub?

The book doesn’t need Poirot. It is delightfully torturous. A beautiful murder mystery from start to finish. The plot sets trap after trap in a way that had me patting myself on the back so hard that I managed to catch that trap, I didn’t see I had already fallen into another one. Which way am I digging? Out? Or further down the wrong path?

I get the cache a Poirot mystery brings. And in the book market today, you need everything leg up you can get. But calling this a Poirot mystery detracts from the brilliant work it actually would be with any other detective leading the charge. Lucky for me I am good at pretending she wasn’t talking about Agatha Christie’s Poirot.

Side Note: I was so absorbed in this book, I got burned lobster red on vacation.


Book Review: That Last Weekend

I adore Laura DiSilverio. She writes two cozy series I truly enjoy. So when I saw this thriller, That Last Weekend, it was a no brainer.

Basic Summary (Courtesy of Amazon):

A terrible accident. A killer among friends.

A woman risking everything for answers.

Every year for a decade, five college friends spent a weekend together at the atmospheric Chateau du Cygne Noir. Then, tragedy struck.

Ten years later, Laurel Muir returns to the castle for the first time since the accident, hoping to reconnect with her friends and lay the past to rest. When a murderer attacks, it rips open old wounds and forces the women to admit there’s a killer in their midst. The remaining friends make a pact to unearth the truth, but suspicion, doubt, and old secrets threaten to tear them apart. Unsure who to trust, Laurel puts herself in harm’s way, risking it all for friendship and long-delayed justice.

My Thoughts:

Slower than molasses in winter. But so intense, it’s chipotle infused molasses. It’s all about relationships, the psychology of how people behave, of what matters most to them and the lengths they will go to protect that. To manipulate you.

I easily spent 2/3s of the book praying the character I liked the most, wasn’t the killer because I could easily see how she might be. How they all might have done it.

Really well written. Really excellent bead on what makes people tick.

Book Review: Anyone You Want Me To Be

Pure research, although I had to wait for a while to get this one, popular book. John Douglas used to be a Fed, a profiler in fact, and turned his skills to educated the public about how dangerous some people can be.

Basic Summary (Courtesy of Amazon):

Legendary FBI profiler and #1 New York Times bestselling author John Douglas explores the shocking case of John Robinson, a harmless, unassuming family man whose criminal history began with embezzlement and fraud — and ended with his arrest for the savage murders of six women and his suspected involvement in at least five disappearances. Most disturbing was the hunting ground in which Robinson seduced his prey: the world of cyberspace. Haunting chat rooms, targeting vulnerable women, and exploiting the anonymity of the Internet, his bloody spree was finally halted by a relentless parole officer who spent ten years trying to nail Robinson as a cold-blooded killer.

A cautionary tale set in a virtual world where relationships are established without the benefit of physical contact, and where mainstream Americans can be drawn down a dark path of temptation and death, Anyone You Want Me To Be is a contemporary real-life drama of high-tech crime and punishment.

My Thoughts:

Some of his statistics were so unbelievable I noted them so I could google as soon as had wifi again. And every time, the stats were actually worse today that what he quoted when the book was written. For example, John claimed 66% of death penalty convictions were overturned on appeal. I thought, no way. It’s now 75% since the death penalty was reinstated. He said in 1960 the clearance rate for homicide was 90%, now it was down to 64-67%. Well, as of today, it’s less than 60.

Makes me think my detectives are just too good. LOL. I need to play with my dialogue a bit.

I really enjoyed his profiler’s description of a sociopath. I plan to let it flavor my serial killer.

Over all, I found this an intriguing read. It was mildly repetitive. Unfortunately, it was very heavy on the foreshadowing, which released the tension, rather than building it.