Book Review: The Paris Library

1112Title: The Paris Library
Author: Janet Skeskien Charles
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Atria Books
Publication Date: February 9, 2021
Pages: 368
Format Read: Ebook
Standalone or series: Standalone
Where I got the book: NetGalley
Date finished reading: March 1, 2021

Goodreads Description: Based on the true World War II story of the heroic librarians at the American Library in Paris, this is an unforgettable story of romance, friendship, family, and the power of literature to bring us together, perfect for fans of The Lilac Girls and The Paris Wife.

Paris, 1939: Young and ambitious Odile Souchet has it all: her handsome police officer beau and a dream job at the American Library in Paris. When the Nazis march into Paris, Odile stands to lose everything she holds dear, including her beloved library. Together with her fellow librarians, Odile joins the Resistance with the best weapons she has: books. But when the war finally ends, instead of freedom, Odile tastes the bitter sting of unspeakable betrayal.

Montana, 1983: Lily is a lonely teenager looking for adventure in small-town Montana. Her interest is piqued by her solitary, elderly neighbor. As Lily uncovers more about her neighbor’s mysterious past, she finds that they share a love of language, the same longings, and the same intense jealousy, never suspecting that a dark secret from the past connects them.

A powerful novel that explores the consequences of our choices and the relationships that make us who we are—family, friends, and favorite authors—The Paris Library shows that extraordinary heroism can sometimes be found in the quietest of places.

My Review: I was fortunate to receive an ARC of The Paris Library from NetGalley. I took my time with this novel, as it was a very beautiful story. 

I wasn’t sure how I felt about Lily as a character. I felt the depth at that character was very minor in comparison to Odile’s, but the relationship built between Odile and Lily was heartwarming and a useful tool in uncovering Odile’s past. 

This story centers on Odile’s life in Paris much more than life in Montana. It introduces fascinating characters like her family and the workers and patrons of the American Library in Paris. I do believe the description of this book is correct in saying that the actions of the American Library in Paris and its librarians during World War II were in fact heroic. With all the World War II literature available, it is surprising that I never heard about how the American Library in Paris remained open during the war and Nazi occupation, and how the librarians risked prison camps or worse to deliver books to Jewish members of their community who were no longer allowed to visit the library per Nazi rule. They did their best to bring some light to people during so much darkness. The author really paints a vivid picture of the library’s characters and I enjoyed them immensely especially Miss Reeder and Boris. I think this felt a little like The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek

As Odile’s mysterious past in Paris during World War II is revealed, it is a story of intense love and loss. The friendship between Odile and Margaret is so moving that it truly breaks the readers heart when Margaret is attacked and that friendship ends. 

While I did really enjoy this story, I do feel that the first half of the book was a bit slow, but the second half definitely picked up for me. I feel that that is because the author focused more on Odile’s Paris life and less on Lily’s Montana life during the second half of the book. I also believe that Odile, for being a main character, was not a very strong character and at times very unlikeable. She showed amazing strength and courage when it came to the library patrons and the hospital patients she attended to, but when it came to her closest friends like Bitsy and Margaret, she was often not very nice. Maybe it was the effects of war that made her so unkind, but I do wish she had defended Margaret and publicly vocalized her distaste for what Paul did instead of just running away to Montana and starting a new life. These points are the main reason that I can’t give this book a 5-star rating, but I did like the story overall.

My Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ½


Book Review: The Dilemma

Title: The Dilemma
Author: B. A. Paris
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Pages: 352
Publication Date: June 30, 2020
Format Read: Ebook
Standalone or Series: Standalone
Received from: NetGalley
Date Finished Reading: July 28, 2020

Goodreads Review: 
It’s Livia’s fortieth birthday and tonight she’s having a party, a party she’s been planning for a long time. The only person missing will be her daughter, Marnie.

But Livia has a secret, a secret she’s been keeping from Adam, her husband, until the party is over. Because how can she tell him that although she loves Marnie, she’s glad their daughter won’t be there to celebrate with her?

Adam is determined everything will be just right for Livia and the party is going to be perfect… until he learns something that will leave him facing an unbearable decision.

My Review: It took a long time for me to review this book, because I really couldn’t make up my mind about it. It was a unique concept with some twists and turns. However, this book just didn’t grab me. It dragged a lot. I just wanted the birthday party to end and everyone to be honest with each other. I struggled to get through this book just because I did want to see how it ended. I thought there might be another exciting twist at the end, but there really wasn’t. Even the end was very meh. I think giving it 3 out of 5 stars may be a bit generous.

My Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦

Book Comparison: ESWR & Do Nothing

46178719Title: Eat Sleep Work Repeat
Author: Bruce Daisley
Genre: Self-help
Publisher: Harper One
Publication Date: February 25, 2020
Pages: 320
Format Read: Audiobook
Standalone or series: Standalone
Where I got the book: Library Libby App
Date finished reading: June 14, 2020

Goodreads Description: How does a lunch break spark a burst of productivity? Can a team’s performance be improved simply by moving the location of the coffee maker? Why are meetings so often a waste of time, and how can a walking meeting actually get decisions made?

As an executive with decades of management experience at top Silicon Valley companies including YouTube, Google, and Twitter, Bruce Daisley has given a lot of thought to what makes a workforce productive and what factors can improve the workplace to benefit a company’s employees, customers, and bottom line. In his debut book, he shares what he’s discovered, offering practical, often counterintuitive, insights and solutions for reinvigorating work to give us more meaning, productivity, and joy at the office.

A Gallup survey of global workers revealed shocking news: only 13% of employees are engaged in their jobs. This means that burn out and unhappiness at work are a reality for the vast majority of workers. Managers—and employees themselves—can make work better. Eat Sleep Work Repeat shows them how, offering more than two dozen research-backed, user-friendly strategies, including:

Go to Lunch (it makes you less tired over the weekend)
Suggest a Tea Break (it increases team cohesiveness and productivity)
Conduct a Pre-Mortem (foreseeing possible issues can prevent problems and creates a spirit of curiosity and inquisitiveness)

“Let’s start enjoying our jobs again,” Daisley insists. “It’s time to rediscover the joy of work.”

9781984824738_p0_v1_s550x406Title: Do Nothing
Author: Celeste Headlee
Genre: Self-help
Publisher: Harmony
Publication Date: March 10, 2020
Pages: 288
Format Read: Audiobook
Standalone or series: Standalone
Where I got the book: Library Libby App
Date finished reading: June 16, 2020

Goodreads Description: We work feverishly to make ourselves happy. So why are we so miserable? This manifesto helps us break free of our unhealthy devotion to efficiency and shows us how to reclaim our time and humanity with a little more leisure.

Despite our constant search for new ways to “hack” our bodies and minds for peak performance, human beings are working more instead of less, living harder not smarter, and becoming more lonely and anxious. We strive for the absolute best in every aspect of our lives, ignoring what we do well naturally and reaching for a bar that keeps rising higher and higher. Why do we measure our time in terms of efficiency instead of meaning? Why can’t we just take a break?

In Do Nothing, award-winning journalist Celeste Headlee illuminates a new path ahead, seeking to institute a global shift in our thinking so we can stop sabotaging our well-being, put work aside, and start living instead of doing. As it turns out, we’re searching for external solutions to an internal problem. We won’t find what we’re searching for in punishing diets or productivity apps. Celeste’s strategies will allow you to regain control over your life and break your addiction to false efficiency. You’ll learn how to increase your time perception to determine how your hours are being spent, invest in quality idle time, and focus on end goals instead of mean goals. It’s time to reverse the trend that’s making us all sadder, sicker, and less productive, and return to a way of life that allows us to thrive.

My Review: Eat Sleep Work Repeat is basically the story of my present life. I was curious as to what recommendations Bruce Daisley would provide to help me enjoy my ESWR life. Unfortunately, there was no new concepts that I hadn’t heard before and/or tried to utilize in my own work life. However, here are the concepts I found most useful from Eat Sleep Work Repeat:

  • Monk Hour or Morning: Beginning your day by working on your task list or a specific project instead of checking/responding to emails and phone calls and doing anything that distracts you from accomplishing these tasks (attending meetings, etc).
  • Recharging: Mr. Daisley gives many tips about recharging at work. For an example, a tip provided is to take breaks – like go for a walk – away from your work or desk.
  • Open workspaces do not promote efficiency and productivity: Offices that have cubicles or open work concepts may lead to collaborations but more likely lead to too many distractions and not enough work being accomplished.
  • Having a community at work of people who care about each other can lead to a happy and productive work experience. Laughter at work is also a positive activity that can lead to a more enjoyable work life.

I do feel like the suggestions that Bruce Daisley throughout Eat Sleep Work Repeat are great in theory but sometimes not possible for a worker to actualize. For example, most employees do not have a choice what kind of workspace they have. When I started my current job, I was placed in an office space with 20 other people. There was no privacy and constant distractions, but that was the spot I was given. It took years of discussions with the department manager to finally get a coveted inclosed workspace. I do like the idea of taking time to laugh. I think that would definitely make a work day more enjoyable.

Eat Sleep Work Repeat allowed me to focus on improving my work life, and there was a nice overlap going into reading Do Nothing. At the beginning of Do Nothing, Celeste Headlee mentions being more focused and productive during our work hours, that sometimes we feel like we work longer hours than we actually do. I know that distractions are easy with social media and email notifications. However, there are plenty of people who do work long hours. Burnout is a real thing. American society promotes working hard and long hours. Employees’ fear of falling behind at work or being overlooked for a promotion is real.

I actually am currently having a bit of a work dilemma. My employer is trying to convince all employees to utilize their paid time off hours. I am sure many people need this time right now with everything going on in the world. I would love to take some time, even though I don’t feel comfortable traveling right now, with the pandemic and all. However, my department is continuously adding more deadlines to my already intense work load. It is getting harder to do all my work tasks, recharge like Bruce Daisley states in Eat Sleep Work Repeat, and actually live a more leisure life like Celeste Headlee recommends.

What I most liked about Do Nothing, is that the author selects tangible steps to achieve a more desirable work/life balance. Here are her recommendations:

  1. Increase time perception.
  2. Create your ideal schedule.
  3. Stop comparing at a distance.
  4. Work fewer hours.
  5. Schedule leisure.
  6. Schedule social time.
  7. Work in teams.
  8. Commit small selfless acts.
  9. Focus ends not means.

While I already discussed perceived work hours (step one), I don’t know if I agree with step nine either. I understand the author’s suggestion to focus on the end, but I think that have more luck with smaller tangible goals. I do agree that all goals though should be flexible. This is something I only just realized the importance of.

I overall enjoyed Do Nothing a bit better than Eat Sleep Work Repeat. This may be just because the idea of less work and more doing nothing sounds very appealing to me at this particular moment. How do you balance work and life?

My Rating of Eat Sleep Work Repeat: ♦ ♦ ♦
My Rating of Do Nothing: ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Book Review: The Girls Weekend

The Girls Weekend
Author: Jody Gehrman
Genre: Thriller
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Publication Date: July 7, 2020
Pages: 311
Format Read: Ebook
Standalone or series: Standalone
Where I got the book: NetGalley
Date finished reading: June 11, 2020

Goodreads Description: Their reunion just became a crime scene . . .

June Moody, a thirty-something English professor, just wants to get away from her recent breakup and reunite with girlfriends over summer break. Her old friend and longtime nemesis, Sadie MacTavish, a mega-successful author, invites June and her college friends to a baby shower at her sprawling estate in the San Juan Islands. June is less than thrilled to spend time with Sadie–and her husband, June’s former crush–but agrees to go.

The party gets off to a shaky start when old grudges resurface, but when they wake the next morning, they find something worse: Sadie is missing, the house is in shambles, and bloodstains mar the staircase. None of them has any memory of the night before; they wonder if they were drugged. Everyone’s a suspect. Since June had a secret rendezvous with Sadie’s husband, she has plenty of reason to suspect herself. Apparently, so do the cops.

A Celtic knot of suspense and surprise, this brooding, atmospheric novel will keep you guessing as each twist reveals a new possibility. It will remind you of friendships hidden in the depths of your own past, and make you wonder how well you really know the people you’ve loved the longest.

My Review: I had the pleasure of receiving an ARC of The Girls Weekend from NetGalley. A fun girls weekend with old friends turns into a nightmare when one of the five girls, Sadie, disappears one night leaving a trail of blood in her wake. Unfortunately, the friends’ recollection of what occurred that night is spotty. They all feel like they were drugged, because they only recall bits and pieces of what occurred that night (though for some reason none of them decided to go get a drug test). How do you figure out the truth when you can’t remember anything? How do you know who to trust?

I am usually not a fan of unreliable narrator stories, but this one more inventive than most. The friends had not spent time together in many years, and all of them had a motives to harm Sadie. To be honest, after reading how Sadie treated her friends, I don’t really understand why any of them would have agreed to go to her home for this girls weekend. However, this made for a lot of tension.

Spoiler alert: I actually thought that based on the type of person Sadie was portrayed as that she had faked her own death. I was wrong. Her body was discovered and the twists and turns really became to pick up.

This story is told through June Moody, who had plenty of motives to kill Sadie (Sadie is a more successful writer than June; is very wealthy; and is married to the man that proposed to June many years ago – Sadie basically has June’s life), and quickly becomes the police’s prime suspect. She is determined to piece together what occurred that night based on her bits of memory and what others remember. Once the friends start to work together a bit, they develop a strong theory of what happened that night, which leads to the ultimate climax.

All the twists and turns kept me captivated. It was hard to put down. I did feel like the end was a bit anti-climactic, but it was an overall thrill-ride. The epilogue was nice but meh. I kept wishing that the author would tell us if June Moody took this girls weekend experience to finally become the successful writer she always wanted to be. I would have preferred that epilogue over the “who loves who” ending. I really enjoyed the book overall though, and it made me think twice about planning the girls weekend I want to do with my college roommates next year.

Note: Publication date was moved back and may be moved back even further.

My Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ 

Book Review: The Happiness Equation

The Happiness Equation
Author: Neil Pasricha
Genre: Self-help
Publication Date: March 31, 2015
Pages: 320
Format Read: Audiobook
Standalone or series: Standalone
Where I got the book: Library Libby app
Date finished reading: May 30, 2020

Goodreads Description: What’s the formula for a happy life?

Neil Pasricha is a Harvard MBA, a Walmart executive, a New York Times–bestselling author, and a husband and dad. After selling more than a million copies of his Book of Awesome series, he now shifts his focus from observation to application.

In The Happiness Equation, Pasricha illustrates how to want nothing, do anything, and have everything. If that sounds like a contradiction, you simply haven’t unlocked the 9 Secrets to Happiness.

Each secret takes a common ideal, flips it on its head, and casts it in a completely new light. Pasricha then goes a step further by providing step-by-step guidelines and hand-drawn scribbles that illustrate exactly how to apply each secret to live a happier life today.

Controversial? Maybe. Counterintuitive? Definitely.

The Happiness Equation will teach you such principles as:
· Why success doesn’t lead to happiness
· How to make more money than a Harvard MBA
· Why multitasking is a myth
· How eliminating options leads to more choice

The Happiness Equation is a book that will change how you think about everything—your time, your career, your relationships, your family, and, ultimately, of course, your happiness.

My Review: A guide to happiness using math equations – heck yeah! Sign me up!

I do think the author does mention that he went to Harvard a bit too much, but I guess if I had been fortunate enough to have been educated at Harvard, I would probably mention it as much as I could.

Here are the nine secrets to happiness according to Neil Pasricha:

  1. Be happy first.
  2. Do it for you.
  3. Remember the lottery.
  4. Never retire.
  5. Overvalue you.
  6. Create space.
  7. Just do it.
  8. Be you.
  9. Don’t take advice.

I thought there were a lot of great points made throughout this book. Happiness is a choice. Do not be afraid of change, as that could lead to further happiness. Value yourself first. Be the self you want to be. Don’t try to be what others want you to be.

This book provided great actionable methods to achieve the author’s nine secrets to happiness, which is helpful. These methods truly make achieving happiness visible not just a theory.

The only one of the author’s nine secrets to happiness that I disagree with is number four – never retire. I know that retirement is a scary time in one’s life, and people who have spent a lifetime creating a career that they love tend to dread. However, it does not have to be this way and it shouldn’t. There comes a time when it will be very difficult for a person to physically or mentally do their job. My career in a  high-paced finance position is not going to last forever, because I know that I will mentally not be able to keep up. At that time though, my life does not have to be over. Work should not be your only sense of happiness. As I have spent more time at home during this pandemic period and less time at the office, I am quickly realizing how much I have missed spending time with my husband and other loved ones. That is one way I can spend retirement, but there is also travel, volunteer work, creative projects and so many other things that a full-time worker often does not have time to do.

To the author’s credit, he is definitely a fun and entertaining writer. This book may not have blown me away but I did enjoy it enough to want to pick up his first book – The Book of Awesome – soon.

My Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦

Book Club Pick: Into Thin Air

1898Title: Into Thin Air
Author: Jon Krakauer
Genre: Nonfiction Adventure
Publisher: Villard Books
Publication Date: May 1, 1997
Pages: 368
Format Read: Paperback book
Standalone or series: Standalone
Where I got the book: Unknown
Date finished reading: May 11, 2020

Goodreads Description: A bank of clouds was assembling on the not-so-distant horizon, but journalist-mountaineer Jon Krakauer, standing on the summit of Mt. Everest, saw nothing that “suggested that a murderous storm was bearing down.” He was wrong. The storm, which claimed five lives and left countless more–including Krakauer’s–in guilt-ridden disarray, would also provide the impetus for Into Thin Air, Krakauer’s epic account of the May 1996 disaster.

My Review: When my book club voted for this book, I was thrilled to read an adventure story about Everest, especially since travel is so limited in the world right now. I had been wanting to read Jon Krakauer for a while. What better place to start than by reading about the highest point in the world from the comfort of my couch.

This story started off as an article in Outsider magazine. However, after some harsh criticism, Jon Krakauer decided to dive further into his and others’ experiences on Everest during that tragic May expedition in 1996. His interviews led to the realization that some of his memories from his time on and near the Everest summit had been inaccruate – most likely from the lack of oxygen.

Whatever the reason for writing this book, whether it be survivor’s guilt or trying to make sense of this event that costs the lives of his fellow hikers, Jon Krakauer wrote one hell of a great story. This book included a historical introduction to Everest and expeditions on Everest. The descriptions of Everest and mountaineering on Everest made you feel like you were right there with the hikers. An expedition on Everest is so much more involved that I could have ever imagined. A hiker spends days/weeks on this expedition. Much of that time is spent acclimating to the high elevation, and then the hiker gets one shot at reaching the summit, as one should not spend an extended time at that elevation.

By the time the final summit hike for Krakauer and the hikers came, I was very invested in them and their trek. That made this story even more heartbreaking. It was thrilling and terrifying. There were twists and turns and lot of moments that surprised me. The book club found lots to discuss.

Of course, we had to discuss mountaineering first and one’s motivation to climb Everest. Then we discussed the sherpas that risk their lives to pave the path for the hikers and assist them on their journey for very little money. I think Jon Krakauer tried to bring to light the mistreatment of sherpas.

Finally we discussed the actual tragic events that took place on May 10th and the following days in 1996. We debated on whether this was a natural disaster or a man-made disaster. We discussed the decisions made by everyone during the summit trek, when the storm hit, and the days afterwards.

Not only did every member of the book club read this book, but for days we have been sending each other links related to Everest. We have not run out of things to talk about when it comes to this expedition and Everest. It is surprising, based on this excitement, that everyone rated this the highest rating of all our previous reads. I personally am looking forward to reading more by Jon Krakauer.

The book club unanimously loves Beck Weathers! ♥♥♥

My Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ 

Book Club Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ 

Book Review: Who Moved My Cheese

4894Title: Who Moved My Cheese?
Author: Dr. Spencer Johnson
Genre: Self-help
Publisher: Vermilion
Publication Date: 1998
Pages: 96
Format Read: Audiobook
Standalone or series: Standalone
Where I got the book: Library Libby app
Date finished reading: April 26, 2020

Goodreads Description: Who Moved My Cheese? is a simple parable that reveals profound truths. It is an amusing and enlightening story of four characters who live in a “Maze” and look for “Cheese” to nourish them and make them happy.

Two are mice named Sniff and Scurry. And two are “Littlepeople”—beings the size of mice who look and act a lot like people. Their names are Hem and Haw.

“Cheese” is a metaphor for what you want to have in life—whether it is a good job, a loving relationship, money, a possession, health, or spiritual peace of mind.

And the “Maze” is where you look for what you want—the organization you work in, or the family or community you live in.

In the story, the characters are faced with unexpected change. Eventually, one of them deals with it successfully, and writes what he has learned from his experience on the Maze walls.

When you come to see “The Handwriting on the Wall,” you can discover for yourself how to deal with change, so that you can enjoy less stress and more success (however you define it) in your work and in your life.

Written for all ages, the story takes less than an hour to read, but its unique insights can last a lifetime.

My Review: What an appropriate book to read right now! This book is about change and how one deals with change. The story of Who Moved My Cheese? is about 4 mice who encounter change and deal with it in different ways. Sniff anticipates the change and adapts early. Scurry sees the change and embraces it immediately. Hem sees the change but finds change difficult and is reluctant to adapt. Hem finally does embrace change. Haw refuses to accept the change and stays with what is familiar.

When reading this, you immediately try to figure out which mouse you are. I admittedly share Hem’s qualities. I don’t like change very much. I do tend to eventually go with the change, but it takes me a while to adjust to it. I feel like many around the world might be having the same feelings now. The Who Moved My Cheese? story really focused on Hem’s learning to embrace change process, and so the reader can learn from this.

  • Anticipate change.
  • Get ready for change.
  • Monitor change.
  • Be aware when it is time for change.
  • Let go of the old and embrace the new.

I really feel that this book helped me understand my own feelings of change and the process it takes for someone like me to embrace change. The one thing that bothered me about this book is that in the discussion about Who Moved My Cheese? no one mentioned the negative side to change. In the discussion, change is always positive. In the Who Moved My Cheese? story, the location of the food supply for the mice changed, so if they chose not to embrace change they would not be able to eat. Change, in this situation, is a necessity, but what if change is not a necessity and could potentially be more harmful than good?

Overall, this book was thought-provoking and interesting. Plus, it is a nice short read. 🙂 Which mouse are you? What are your tips to dealing with change?

“Change happens to all of us.”

My Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ 

Book Review: Jane of Austin

Jane of Austin
Author: Hillary Manton Lodge
Genre: Romance
Publisher: Waterbrook Press
Publication Date: June 13, 2017
Pages: 312
Format Read: Book
Standalone or series: Standalone
Where I got the book: Friend
Date finished reading: April 6, 2020

Goodreads Description: Just a few years after their father’s business scandal shatters their lives, Jane and Celia Woodward find themselves forced out of their San Francisco tea shop. The last thing Jane wants is to leave their beloved shop on Valencia Street, but when Celia insists on a move to Austin, Texas, the sisters pack up their kid sister Margot and Jane’s tea plants, determined to start over yet again.

But life in Austin isn’t all sweet tea and breakfast tacos. Their unusual living situation is challenging and unspoken words begin to fester between Jane and Celia. When Jane meets and falls for up-and-coming musician Sean Willis, the chasm grows deeper.

While Sean seems to charm everyone in his path, one person is immune – retired Marine Captain Callum Beckett. Callum never meant to leave the military, but the twin losses of his father and his left leg have returned him to the place he least expected—Texas.

In this modern spin on the Austen classic, Sense and Sensibility, the Woodward sisters must contend with new ingredients in unfamiliar kitchens, a dash of heartbreak, and the fragile hope that maybe home isn’t so far away.

My Review: I am a sucker for all things Austen, including retellings. Jane of Austin was no exception. I will admit that Sense and Sensibility is not my favorite Jane Austen, but I always loved the sisterly bond of the Dashwood sisters. That bond is prominently displayed in the relationship between the Woodward sisters in Jane of Austin. Their tale of love and loss is assisted with a great cast of interesting supporting characters, including a three-legged dog named Dash.

The Woodward sisters are founders of a tea business called Valencia Street Tea. When their landlords in San Francisco force them out of their location, the sisters decide to pack up and move themselves and their business to Austin. I am a proud coffee lover, but I really appreciated the care Jane Woodward gave in preparing her teas, and I loved all the recipes that were provided throughout the book, many of which included a special tea ingredient. These recipes included cakes, scones, kolaches, etc. This book definitely made me hungry for all baked goods.

Let me face the ultimate reason that I enjoyed Jane of Austin, because I am 100% biased. This is more than an ode to one of Austen’s classic stories, this is an ode to Austin, Texas, one of my favorite cities. As I now live in Texas, I got many of the Texas references. Before moving here, I had never tried a kolache or had brisket. I also just made my first Texas sheet cake a couple months ago. All these Texas dishes were mentioned in the book. I loved the shoutouts to Torchy’s Tacos and Amy’s Ice Cream too.

This sweat and enjoyable novel was exactly what I was needing in my life right now. Maybe I will now have to try some of those amazing recipes in the book, especially the Raspberry Cream Cheese Kolache!

My Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Book Review: My Greek Island Summer

My Greek Island Summer
Author: Mandy Baggot
Genre: Romance
Publisher: Aria
Publication Date: April 2, 2020
Pages: 380
Format Read: Ebook
Standalone or series: Standalone
Where I got the book: NetGalley
Date finished reading: April 4, 2020

Goodreads Description: Becky Rowe has just landed her dream job house-sitting at a top-end villa on the island of Corfu. What could be better than six weeks laying by an infinity pool overlooking the gorgeous Ionian waters while mending her broken heart.

Elias Mardas is travelling back to Corfu on business whilst dealing with his own personal demons. Late arriving in Athens, Becky and Elias have to spend a night in the Greek capital. When they have to emergency land in Kefalonia, Becky’s got to decide whether to suck up the adventure and this gorgeous companion she seems to have been thrown together with or panic about when she’s going to arrive at Corfu…

Finally reaching the beautiful island, Becky is happy to put Elias behind her and get on with her adventure. Until he turns up at the villa…

My Review: This is a fun, light book for sure. I really appreciate getting a copy of this book from NetGalley.

I did enjoy the second half of the book, but the first half was a struggle for me. I didn’t like the way the characters were introduced. During the beginning of the book, I kept thinking like I was missing something, like I was suppose to understand more about the characters than what was written about them.

Books that use current celebrity names or fads in language bother me, because that immediately means this book will be dated and will not stand the test of time. For example, they mention The Masked Singer, which is a brand new show that I do not believe is going to last long. Also, I think a comparison was made to a famous magician that I had never heard of, so of course I didn’t get the comparison that was trying to be made. However, I should admit to the fact that I did get all the Hallmark movie references. I might be a fan of Ryan Paevy as well.

There was an airport scene with a missed connection that just dragged on. The characters really annoyed me in that scene. People miss connections. It should not have taken up as many pages of the book as it did. Also, for all my missed connections in my life, no airline has ever put me up in a 5-star hotel for free.

After the characters leave Athens, I really thought the book got much better. More of the characters’ backgrounds came to light, which helped them become more likable. I found Petra an annoying character at first, but by the end of the book, she would turn out to be my very favorite character. It made me wish I could be young and carefree again. The scene where Petra and Becky arrive at their accommodations in Corfu and find a menagerie of unwelcome animals, including a flamingo, was very amusing.

Overall, I enjoyed the new found love, the sisterly bonding, and especially the Greek scenery. A nice way to feel like your traveling from the comfort of your own home.

My Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦

Book Review: The Joy of Missing Out

9781400214334Title: The Joy of Missing Out
Author: Tonya Dalton
Genre: Self-Help
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Publication Date: October 1, 2019
Pages: 240
Format Read: audiobook
Standalone or series: standalone
Where I got the book: Library Libby app
Date finished reading: March 21, 2020

Goodreads Description: Overwhelmed. Do you wake up in the morning already feeling behind? Does the pressure of keeping it all together make you feel anxious and irritable?

Tonya Dalton, CEO and productivity expert, offers you a liberating shift in perspective: feeling overwhelmed isn’t the result of having too much to do — it’s from not knowing where to start.

Doing less might seem counterintuitive, but doing less is more productive, because you’re concentrating on the work you actually want to be doing. Through this book, you can learn how to:

Identify what is important to you and clarify your priorities.
Develop ways to streamline your specific workflow.
Discover your purpose.

Named Top 10 Business Book of the Year by Fortune magazine, The Joy of Missing Out is chock-full of resources and printables. This is a legitimate action plan for change. Once you reject the pressure to do more, something amazing happens: you discover you can finally live a guilt-free, abundant life.

My Review: I am a big fan of self-help nonfiction that gives you actual tasks to achieve the points made in the book. The Joy of Missing Out is a book that gives tips to increase daily productivity while also achieving happiness. It focuses on making the reader understand how to truly be in charge of your time.

Here are some great steps mentioned that will help you achieve this life of productivity and happiness:

  1. Create a Mission Statement – a short statement that represents who you are.
  2. Create a Vision Statement (aka North Star) – a representation of what you want to be and achieve in the future.
  3. Make a priority list – don’t try to do too much, delete tasks that are not necessary or that you can delegate. Here are questions to ask to help you create this list:
    1. Is it connected to my North Star?
    2. Is it linked to a goal?
    3. Is it essential?
    4. Is it adventageous?
    5. Is it reality based?
  4. Create habits to minimize brain power. “Habits free up our mental space so we can focus.”
  5. Make plan for bigger priorities.
  6. Set boundaries – your time is your time don’t allow someone else to take it away from you.
  7. Take a technology break – live in the moment.
  8. Get plenty of rest.
  9. Do a daily download. Spend no more than a minute on each of the following:
    1. Reflecting on daily accomplishments.
    2. Evaluate the day – was there too much to do or not enough.
    3. Assess if you closer to your North Star.
    4. List 3 things you are grateful for that day.
    5. Write down important tasks for next day.

This is a great time to read this book as many of us are finding ourselves homebound with some extra time to reevaluate our lives (both personal and work lives). I almost can’t wait to start writing down my statements and priorities – yes, the author stresses the importance of writing these things down instead of using technology – finally maybe some validation for my list writing. I listened to the audiobook version and found that it included a bonus episode of the author’s podcast Productivity Paradox. I am so thrilled to have been introduced to this podcast and have already started listening to it and finding more helpful tips.

For additional tools to help you with living this better and more productive life, see Inkwell Press Productivity Co by Tonya Dalton.

“Getting control of our time will lead to less stress.”

My Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦