Thursday, July 28, 2016

Book Review - "Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Daily Lives" by Gretchen Rubin (#11 - 2016)

Ever since I read The Happiness Project (my review of it from 2013 is at the bottom of this post) I've been a huge Gretchen Rubin fan.  She takes what may seem like dry subjects and makes them interesting and informative.  I find her books so easy to read and digest.  I loved this book, LOVED it.  She takes an in depth look at how and why we form habits (and how we can form more good habits and ditch the bad ones).  Now habit formation and execution is not a one-size-fits-all thing, she bases it on how we respond to expectations.  She calls these "tendencies" and there are four types (I'm an "Obliger").  Knowing how we respond to expectations and being self-aware, we can then come up with strategies to make habits "stick".  I'm overly simplifying things, but trust me there is so much insight in this book.  I highly recommend picking it up!  Side note she has a podcast too that I enjoy.

The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin - I've been wanting to read this book for quite and while.  I've heard some good buzz and let's face it, who doesn't want to be happier (or at least read about someones journey towards more happiness)?  Bottom line, it's totally worth your time.  You may not have the same happiness journey (in fact she points out that you probably won't), but it will help you to think about your own keys to happiness and what you can do to help make yourself happier.  I really liked how she didn't sugarcoat or shy away from being self aware enough to point out her flaws/weaknesses/what she wanted to work on.  I could totally relate to the whole "being snappy, yelling and nagging" issue she had.  I loved that the book made me stop and think a lot and I'm going to work on my own resolutions, mindfulness and happiness.  Totally and completely recommend this book!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Book Review - "My Journey" by Donna Karan (#10 - 2016)

My Journey by Donna Karan

I'm a HUGE Donna Karan fan (have been since day 1, oh yes, I remember when she showed her first collection), so I was eager to pick this one up.  Memoirs/biographies are sometimes a double edged sword.  On one side you are excited to find out more about the person and how they work/live and on the other side you are afraid that you might not like them and/or might not live up to your expectations of them.  There was a little of the latter in this book.  I loved finding out what inspires her and how she got her start but the way she treated and handled her first husband was appalling.  She's quite the character and honestly she would drive me nuts with all the mediums, psychics, retreats, etc. what she calls her "woo woos".  She is self-aware enough to admit that her late husband and daughter roll their eyes at that stuff too.  I most enjoyed the way she outlined how her business started and how it grew.  She really was doing stuff that was so groundbreaking, it's hard to describe it if you didn't live during that time, but she truly created clothes that were both feminine, easy and comfortable yet structured and powerful.  Her fabrics really played into that, I owned a pair of dress shorts by her (obtained at a major discount) that held their shape, moved with you, and I wore them until the fabric literally fell apart.  She knew how to cut a garment, how to drape, she knew what flattered a woman's body.  This is what is sorely missed now that she's not involved with the company.  I 'm not sure we will ever see someone like her again, which is very sad for me.  I know, you are thinking, but we see stuff like what she was doing everywhere now.  Yes and no.  We are seeing the "look" but we are not seeing the fit, the drape, the chic layers that all work together, the mindfulness of what women need.  Overall this book is totally worth your time if you are interested in Donna Karan or fashion history.  

Monday, July 18, 2016

Book Review - "A Window Opens" by Elisabeth Egan (#9 - 2016)

A Window Opens by Elisabeth Egan

I had heard so many glowing reviews of this book that I couldn't wait to pick it up.  I'm totally the working-mom-in-her-40s that this book is aimed at.  I had high hopes.  Those were quickly dashed by Alice, the main character whose lack of self-awareness is breathtaking.  Alice's husband decides to leave his high-powered law job in Manhattan which means Alice has to find a full time job (she was working part time at a woman's magazine).  She finds a position at a book selling start up.  But it's hard, yo.  It's so hard when you have a nanny and your husband works for himself now close to home.  You have to work long hours, check emails outside of work and deal with difficult bosses (the horrors).  Her best friend is a book store owner and when Alice takes the job at the competition (that she needs to pay the bills - keeping up with the Jones's ain't cheap) her friend totally turns into a bitter a-hole.  Guess she's not that great of a friend?!  But then she is?!  The characters are really awful.  Yes, there is a touching side story about her father and his cancer battle and how stressful it is.  But then she gets all bent out of shape about her lawyer husband helping her mom and dad get their affairs in order.  It's honestly hard for someone like me who doesn't have the help she does (example, she never has to make dinner, the nanny or her mother does that every night) to muster up much sympathy.  She got sad one day because they were sharing toothbrushes at home (?), like there aren't 1000 Duane Reades in Manhattan that you can't walk in and buy some toothbrushes in 5 minutes (?).  It's head scratching. It's like she wants to be a stay-at-home mom but doesn't want to actually admit that or something.  I couldn't figure out if this was a thinly veiled memoir, because it came across as a bit of that, which comes off as sour grapes.  I honestly cannot recommend this book at all, it's insulting. 

Monday, June 20, 2016

Book Review - "Audrey Hepburn: An Elegant Spirit" by Sean Hepburn Ferrer (#8 - 2016)

Audrey Hepburn: An Elegant Spirit by Sean Hepburn Ferrer

I'm a big Audrey Hepburn fan (my daughter is named for her) so I had to pick this up when I was wandering through a used bookstore last week ($4.20 - in pristine condition - score!).  This was a super fast read, I pretty much read it all in an evening.  It's not a biography, it's more of a tribute in words, pictures and family mementos, of a mother who happens to be an icon.  Full of photos and stories it's a lovely book that highlights her humble, kind and generous spirit.  This is a must for any Audrey fan.  I highly recommend it!

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Book Review - "Bonkers: My Life in Laughs" by Jennifer Saunders (#7 - 2016)

Bonkers: My Life in Laughs by Jennifer Saunders

I picked this up immediately after I finished Amy's Poehler's book (review here).  So it's back-to-back funny lady memoirs!  I LOVE Jennifer Saunders, Absolutely Fabulous was life changing for me (not exaggerating).  So I was eager to learn more about her and her journey.  The one thing I took away from this is that she's very laid back.  She's just all about getting on with things, not making a big deal.  She's not about being famous or overly ambitious, she just wants to be happy and live a good life.  Even dealing with breast cancer, she just had a really good attitude.  I really liked the story she told about writing (or trying to write) a screenplay for Goldie Hawn.  It was very lol.  I think she's extremely underrated as a comedy writer (with Ruby Wax - who is a scream), she has a fearlessness that is unmatched.  She was light years ahead when it came to writing female characters that were equal to male characters in regards to not worrying about them being likable, quiet or precious.  Like Edina could be placed into a movie like Caddyshack and hold her own.  She proved that an all-female cast in a comedy show could be successful.  Not only successful but a phenomenon, people everywhere love the show, love the characters.  This was in the early/mid '90s and trust me I had never seen anything like it.  I think she doesn't get nearly the credit she deserves for changing things up.  My only complaint about the book was that she skips around a lot and it can get confusing.  But other than that, I recommend it!

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Book Review - "Yes Please" by Amy Poehler (#6 - 2016)

Yes Please by Amy Poehler

I like Amy Poehler so I decided to pick this up.  Well, if you are looking for lots of lol's then this is not the book for you, it's more a "skim the surface" memoir.  Does that make sense?  Not that that is a bad thing.  I enjoyed it much more than Mindy Kaling's Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me  but like Kaling's book, I never feel like I got to know the real Amy.  She gives some good advice, has lots of parenting stories, stuff about Upright Citizens Brigade (too much about that, I was never much of a fan) and co-workers.  I just never felt I got a firm idea as to how she got to where she is and she came off at times as a bit brooding.  That being said, it's worth a read (especially if you are a fan), the chapter about "time travel" was my favorite, it is a very similar way to how I think about stuff like that which was nice.  I still think Tiny Fey's Bossypants is much better.  Joan Rivers books being the gold standard for me, she combines inspiration, realness and funny in the perfect way (Enter Talking and Still Talking being my favorites).

Friday, May 20, 2016

Book Review - "Dune Road" by Jane Green (#5 - 2016)

Dune Road by Jane Green

I always love a Jane Green novel.  She's one of my absolute favorites, her books are fun, easy to read, and perfect for the beach, vacation or just a pick-me-up.  This was a solid read.  It centers on Kit, recently divorced, former wealthy Wall Street wife with the posh life.  She's settling into her new life in her dream house (small and quaint), her kids are happy, she has a good relationship with her ex, and she just landed her ideal job, assisting a famous, yet reclusive novelist.  But a surprise visitor rocks her world and sets off a string of events that will change everything.  It's a story about friendship and relationships.  And I really enjoyed it!  I'm anxiously waiting on her next novel out later this year.  
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