Thursday, February 18, 2021

4 Ideas with Actionable Wisdom, by Bob Boylan

4 Ideas with Actionable Wisdom is a very concise, well-written, well-explained, practical self-help book.  Bob Boylan states those 4 Ideas and the means by which we can achieve them.  Let's start by listing the 4:

1.  Calm water thinking will balance your whitewater day.
2.  See your life through the Lens of Gratitude.  
3.  Making changes more effectively:  Focus on One Thing you want 
     to do and One Thing you need to stop doing.
4.  Thinking outside the box requires risk.  And you've done it

Here's a little more detail for each one:

1.  If you drop a pebble in calm water, it creates concentric circles. Think of these as representing your ability to concentrate your thoughts and adding new ones.  Now think of what happens if you drop that same pebble in whitewater.  You can easily see the difference.

2.  This is the one that grabbed me the hardest.  First of all, Boylan gives us a bunch of quotes on gratitude from Oprah Winfrey to Albert Schweitzer to Suze Orman to John Wooden.  This is the definition of a "wide range," yes?  Then he talks about a daily gratitude journal.  It's suggested that you take 10-15 minutes a day to first speak your gratitudes and then write them down.  Now I have to say that I spend a minute or two each night expressing gratitude for the day's events.  But Boylan's plan is more comprehensive and will make me even more grateful.  I started it this morning!

3.  With the idea being that our lives are already full, Boylan tells us that in order to focus on something we want to do, we have to first give up something else.  I like this quote:  "You can't steal 2nd base and keep your foot on 1st."  Boylan also talks about the scene from City Slickers with Jack Palance and Billy Crystal.  Billy asks Jack "What is the secret of life?"  Jack holds up 1 finger.  When Billy asks him what that means, Jack says that's what each of us need to figure out.  Once we have an answer, then we strive to go after it.  This definitely gives me something to think about.

4.  This one is probably the hardest for me.  Thinking outside the box requires taking a risk but, at the same time, is critical for growth.  Boylan gives us a lot of practical suggestions on how to do this.  It calls for a paradigm shift.  And a paradigm is defined as "...your perception of reality."  He indicates that the coronavirus has created a new paradigm shift for all of us.  And he tells us why and how to achieve it.  I will give you a hint that love is involved.  And here are probably my favorite 2 quotes of the book:

"Loyalty to petrified opinions must be broken." - Mark Twain
"If you want to succeed, double your failure rate." - Tom Watson (founder of IBM)

This book has a lot to say.  I think everybody would find that at least one of his 4 Ideas of Actionable Wisdom would resonate.  And, very likely, it could be 2, 3, or 4!  Take a look.

Saturday, February 13, 2021

2 Short Reviews of Very Good Books

My last 2 books have both been terrific.  And one of them is already scheduled for the RBC!  Here are a couple of (very) short reviews:

Faye, Faraway, by Helen Fisher:

This is a very different take on the time travel theme.  All I will tell you is that the protagonist, Faye, is 37-years old and very happily married with 2 children.  Through an extremely odd set of circumstances ( guess that's obvious if it's time travel!), she is transported back to when she was 6, and her mother, who died when Faye was 8, was 26.  Can you see where this one could be headed?  No?  Me, neither.  It's very cleverly done and has an ending you will want to talk to others about.  I've definitely read some good time travel books in my day, and Faye, Faraway, sits right there with the others.

The Nature of Fragile Things, by Susan Meissner:

Susan, who will be Zooming in to the RBC on May 12, has written a very good book centered on the 1906 earthquake in San Francisco.  Aside from the story, the details about the earthquake itself, along with the aftermath, are very educational.  Having lived in the San Francisco Bay Area all my (long) life, it seems I would know more about this event than I do.  Plus, I definitely felt the effects of the 1989 earthquake here. But, despite all of that, I really learned a lot about it.

The story itself centers on Sophie, a 19-year old Irishwoman who leaves Ireland at 16, spends a couple of years in New York, and then answers an ad from a man in San Francisco who is looking for a woman to marry who will also help take care of his 6-year old daughter.  Sophie jumps at this opportunity, and she is wed within a couple of hours of her ship landing in San Francisco.  Between the things she ultimately learns about her husband and all of the fallout from the earthquake, we get a very interesting story.


Wednesday, February 10, 2021

A Review of Bad Love Beyond, Book 3 of the The Bad Love Series

This book combines a whole bunch of genres and cultural influences. Specifically, there is time travel, science, historical references, and music, to name just a few.  Let me give you the list of elements of the book that I enjoyed:

1.  A list of 31 popular songs from such a varied group of singers as
Neil Diamond, Led Zeppelin, Rod Stewart, The Beatles, and Carole
King.  It would be best to listen to them as they come up in the story
(unfortunately I didn't but wish I had).
2.  Tons of scientific facts about a whole variety of subjects, including 
dinosaurs, volcanos, musicians, monuments, celestial bodies, airplanes
and Zeppelins, and on and on.
3.  Great quotes at the beginning of each chapter.  Again, they range
from scientists (Carl Sagan) to musicians (Chuck Berry) to actors
(Mel Gibson) to Presidents (Abraham Lincoln) and event to fictional
characters (Jean-Luc Picard from Star Trek:  The Next Generation).
4.  Good writing - lots of very apt analogies and well-timed aphorisms.
5.  Cultural references - e.g. a detailed description of an Ali-Frazier fight.
6.  A closing scene that had me on the edge of my seat.

My only regret about reading Bad Love Beyond, #3, is that I didn't read 1 & 2 first.  It's not critical that you do so.  But I would have been able to get into Bad Love Beyond a little bit sooner.  Once I did connect though, it was full speed ahead!  Now I will be ready for #4, Bad Love Medicine.


Friday, February 5, 2021

Another Review You Say? How About Susan Wiggs' The Lost and Found Bookshop

As you know, my last review was for Lisa Gardner's 24th published novel.  That is an amazing feat, don't you think?  Well, Lisa is a newbie compared to Susan Wiggs.  The Lost and Found Bookshop, which is really terrific, is her 40TH PUBLISHED NOVEL!!!  I'm a little embarrassed to say that her 40th is my 1st...but it definitely won't be my last.  

In the wake of a shocking tragedy, Natalie Harper inherits a charming but financially strapped bookshop in San Francisco.  She also becomes the caretaker for her grandfather, Andrew, who grew up in the historic Perdita Street building that houses the store.  Grandpa Andrew has begun to struggle with memory loss, and Natalie plans to close the bookstore and sell the building to pay for his care.  There's only one problem - her grandfather owns it outright and refuses to sell.

Although there are two more paragraphs of intro, I'm going to leave them out.  I've got some things to say, and I don't want to run out of room (or test your patience!).  Here's a list of positives from TLaFB:

1.  It's about a bookstore and takes place in San Francisco - enough said.
2.  The writing is excellent.  Some examples:
     "...he could still remember the way the evening light used to slant
     through the window, settling over her like a benediction while she
     was absorbed in a book."
     "The shock and grief of losing Blythe were so deep and intense that it 
     felt as if a new and devastating emotion had been invented just for
     + many, many more
3.  I got chills on many occasions, sprinkled in with at least one "Yes!"
     and "OMG!"
4.  There is a variety of great quotes.
5.  2 of my favorite books were mentioned:  The Extraordinary Life of 
     Sam Hell (Robert Dugoni) and Being Mortal (Atul Gawande).  BTW,
     Being Mortal had such a big impact on me that it took 2 blog posts to
     say everything I wanted/needed to say.
6.  Having been very closely associated with 2 bookstores, it was very fun
     for me to read about all the behind-the-scenes stuff.  And even if you
     don't know what goes on when the lights go out, you will appreciate
     what Susan tells us.

Have you figured out yet whether I liked this book?  It's a resounding YOU BET!  The fact that Susan will be gracing our book club with a Zoom appearance in May is just the extra layer of icing on the cake.  Do yourselves a favor and read The Lost and Found Bookshop.  You will be happy you did.


Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Lisa Gardner's latest - Before She Disappeared

Lisa Gardner has written 23 novels!  I have probably read a couple of the others.  So I was happy when Penguin Random House sent me her latest, Before She Disappeared.  This one has a very interesting storyline:

A recovering alcoholic with more regrets than belongings.  Frankie Elkin has devoted her life to doing what no one else will - searching for the lost and forgotten.  When the police have moved on, when the public no longer remembers, when the media has never paid attention, Frankie starts looking.

A new case brings her to Mattapan, a Boston neighborhood with a rough reputation.  She is searching for Angelique Badeau, a Haitian teenager who vanished from her high school months earlier.  Resistance from the Boston PD and the victim's wary family tells Frankie she's on her own - and she soon learned she's asking questions someone doesn't want answered.  But Frankie will risk it all to discover the truth, even if it means the next person to go missing could be her.  

I'm a big fan of flawed protagonists because, after all, aren't we all flawed to some extent?  Frankie has her demons, even as she is trying to locate Angelique.  We see throughout the book the willpower it takes for Frankie to stick with it even as those demons threaten to overwhelm her.  And Lisa does a good job of giving us supporting characters who are interesting in their own right.  

Aside from the plot line, I was fascinated to learn a lot about alcoholics and alcoholism.  Fortunately, I've never had to face it myself, but, like any addiction, it sure seems like something tough to deal with on an ongoing basis.  I admired Frankie for finding a support group to attend as soon as she got to Boston.  She made a habit of doing that in every new city she came to.  

Before She Disappeared is a solid read.  I think you will get caught up in it pretty quickly, just as I did.  And let's face it, any author who has published 23 novels must be doing something right! 

Monday, February 1, 2021

Trading Secrets, by Rachael Eckles

Rachael Eckles' Trading Secrets is a well-written book that combines thriller, mystery, and romance genres.  I was engaged throughout and definitely got caught up in the what-the-heck-happened and who-did-it questions.  Here is the back cover synopsis:

Celeste Donovan, a high-powered finance executive, seems to have it all - the penthouse apartment, the supermodel physique with a mathematician mind, and a trail of beautiful men she has loved and left behind.  But when her boyfriend Theodore is killed in a mysterious accident, she discovers Omar, her abusive ex she had hoped would never resurface, is behind his death.  Now she's caught in a game of cat and mouse, trying to anticipate Omar's next move, as she realizes he will stop at nothing to get to her.  She sets out alone on a whirlwind journey to entrap him, determined to put an end to Omar's destruction.

I appreciated that Rachael's protagonist is a powerful woman who can be both powerful and a woman at the same time.  Too often, those don't go together.  And I definitely liked guessing wrong on a couple of occasions.  It made the book so much more fun to read.  Bring on #2!