Review: The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good LifeIn this world, there are only so many f*cks one person can or should give, argues Mark Manson. And determining which things are worth giving a f*ck about and which ones are is an important and necessary distinction.

Manson’s The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck will not only help you determine which things are important to care about and put your passion behind but will also give you steps to determine if what you’re giving a f*ck about is really worth it. Manson even argues that failure, rejection, and pain are all part of being a better human being — provided that we take the time to learn from those setbacks.

On many levels, a lot of what Manson asserts in this self-help book isn’t breaking a lot of new ground. Instead, it’s a reminder to make sure you’ve got your priorities in the right places and that the things you give a f*ck about are really worth giving a f*ck about.

With its attention-grabbing title, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck isn’t exactly subtle. But it’s real, honest and authentic advice from Manson, delivered in a straightforward, readable and compelling style. His arguments and ideas will linger with you after you’ve read each chapter and the book — and that’s a good thing. It’s almost one of those books that demands to be read again in the near future to make sure the tune-up up Manson lays out is really working.

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Review: Orange Blossom Special by Sally Kilpatrick

Orange Blossom Special“As everyone had long feared, it was Tennessee football that finally killed Jerome Malcolm.”

With an opening line like that one, how could I possibly resist Sally Kilpatrick’s Orange Blossom Special?

The short answer is that I couldn’t.

When her husband of sixty year passes away, Edie Malcolm discovers that he has some very specific thoughts on how he and his estate should be distributed. In addition to leaving behind funding for two neighborhood friends to pursue a college education, Jerome wants to be cremated and have his ashes sprinkled in three places – the Ryman, General Robert Neyland’s grave and the orange and white checkerboard of the University of Tennessee end zone. And Jerome wants his wife, sister and the two college scholars to complete the scattering together.

So, the four of them pack into Jerome’s orange and white checkerboard painted hearse with Jerome safely stored inside a Carmen Miranda cookie jar and set out to fulfill his final wishes. Continue reading

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Audiobook Review: Doctor Who and the Day of the Daleks by Terrance Dicks

Doctor Who and the Day of the Daleks: 3rd Doctor NovelisationIf there has been one glaring omission from the classic Doctor Who Target novels audiobooks line, it’s “The Day of the Daleks.” One of the first serials adapted by Terrance Dicks, “Day of the Daleks” was one of the first Target novels I read (though it was under the U.S. Pinnacle reprint, including the fantastically, ranting introduction by Harlan Ellison) and it’s easily one of the strongest adaptations the line ever produced.

And while I was delighted that the story was finally getting the audio treatment, part of me was still a bit nervous about visiting this old friend from my Target-obsessed days. Could it live up to the greatness associated with it in my memory?

The good news is that it not only lived up to my fond memories of it, it may have even exceeded them. Continue reading

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It’s About Time….

Jodie-Whittaker-First-Female-Doctor-Who

It only took three decades for John Nathan-Turner’s prediction that we’d have a female Doctor to come true.

In the weeks since it was announced that Jodie Whittaker will be my favorite Time Lord’s next incarnation, I’ve been excited by what this news means for my favorite television show.   With a co-production deal with China ensuring we’ll have new Doctor Who for at least four more seasons, I’m excited and intrigued to see where the changes in creative staff both in front of and behind the cameras will take the series in the next several years.  Doctor Who is a series that’s been defined as much by the person crafting the scripts behind the  camera as it has by the person who brings those scripts to life in front of the camera. Find the right combination and you’ve got a winner on your hands.  Find the wrong combination and you’ve got, well, a mess on your hands where the behind-the-scenes drama is almost more interesting than the finished product on our screens (I’m looking at you, the Colin Baker era, where you had a great actor with a tired script editor and the quality of the stories declined).

No slight at Chris Chibnell intended, but I couldn’t help but think that with the casting of a female Doctor how utterly exciting and compelling a female show runner might be.  Continue reading

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Audiobook Review: Doctor Who and the Horror of Fang Rock by Terrance Dicks

horroroffangrockFor some odd reason, I never picked up a copy of “The Horror of Fang Rock” during my Target novel collecting days. Whether it’s because the bookstores I frequented didn’t have a copy or there were other books that got my hard-earned cash instead, I don’t know.

So, I came to the audio version of the fourth Doctor and Leela adventures without any memories of the original on the printed page.

And I’ve got to admit, this one was pretty well done. Adapting his own script, Terrance Dicks creates a bit more backstory for some of his characters and gives the reader some context as to the social norms and assumptions of the day. These additions give a greater depth to how some of the characters interact over the course of the novel.

And while his adaptation of “Horror of Fang Rock,” doesn’t necessarily create a larger canvas for the story like “Day of the Daleks” or “The Auton Invasion,” “Fang Rock” still feels a bit more substantial than others from this era that simply feel like Dicks is adapting the shooting script for the printed page.

The audio version of the story adds an extra layer of tension to the already tense story, thanks in large part to the performance of Louise Jameson. While the actress who brought Leela to life has been a fixture in the Big Finish range, this is her first Target novel reading. Based on the work she’s done here, I hope it won’t be her last. Jameson reads the story like we’re gathered around a camp fire and she’s sharing a scary tale with us. Jameson wisely doesn’t try to offer her imitation of each actor from the original broadcast but instead creates her own performances for each of her characters. It goes without saying that her Leela is a highlight of this novel.

 

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Review: Camino Island by John Grisham

Camino IslandWhile John Grisham still reliably delivers page-turning legal thrillers, he still likes to challenge himself and his readers with novels that occasionally go against the “typical” Grisham grain.

But while Camino Island isn’t a typical Grisham legal thriller, it does have the feel of what Grisham does so well in the pages of his legal thrillers. In this case, it’s not a young lawyer with his or her ethics being challenged or figuring out how to fight the system for the underdog. This time Grisham turns his sights upon the publishing world and the lucrative world of book collecting.

Camino Island
starts off at a sprint with four thieves stealing four rare F. Scott Fitzgerald manuscripts from the Princeton library.

Once the manuscripts are stolen, Grisham then introduces us to one of the high stakes players in the world of book collecting and his lucrative business. Continue reading

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Review: The Identicals by Elin Hildebrand

The IdenticalsWhen Eleanor Roxy-Frost and Billy Frost decide to go their separate ways, they decide to divide everything equally. This includes their twin daughters, Tabitha and Harper.

And so, at the age of seventeen, the sister play a game of rock/paper/scissors to decide who “wins” and gets to go with Billy and who “loses” and has to go with their mother. Decades later, the outcome of that game casts a long shadow over the lives of the estranged twin sisters.

When their father passes away, the sisters are forced back into each other’s orbit. Harper lives on Nantucket, where she’s done everything from landscaping to package delivery to being an unwitting drug mule. The last position has granted her a bit of infamy on the island (and the ire of the drug cartel she unwittingly helped bring down), but not nearly as much as the latest news that she’s having an affair with her father’s married doctor.

Tabitha lives on Martha’s Vineyard with her rebellious teenage daughter, Ainsley and works in her mother’s sinking boutique (based on her mother’s line of clothing and an infamous dress designed years before). Referred to by an ex-boyfriend as “a piss-poor parent,” Tabitha blames Harper for everything that has gone wrong in her life, including the death of her infant son, Julian, fourteen years ago. Continue reading

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