We’re all struggling with the negative political news these days, and I really wanted to read Alyssa Mastromonaco’s Who Though This Was A Good Idea? as a political palate cleanser. I wanted it to transport me back to the wonderful years of the Obama White House, when things happened in an organized fashion (largely thanks to Mastromonaco herself), and the POTUS was a steadfast and comforting figure.
I loved learning more about Mastromonaco’s role both during Obama’s campaign and in the White House. As some one who is obsessed with organizing, it was pretty dreamy to hear about the work of someone who was responsible for figuring out the logistics of a jam-packed schedule like that of the President. Mastromonaco is also truly an inspiring figure for women thanks to her incredibly significant accomplishments in a male-dominated field at a very early age.
I struggled with the memoir’s structure and tone, however. It left me wishing that Mastromonaco had either employed a more experienced ghostwriter in helping her craft it, or that she had stuck to the political memoir aspect of it and dropped the self help portions. I recently found out that the book has been optioned by Mindy Kaling’s production company to be turned into a film, and I can see how Mastromonaco’s life would translate into a very compelling feature. While we wait for the screen adaptation, read my review of Mastromonaco’s memoir below.
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I’ve had my fare share of trials and tribulations with audiobooks. I must have started at least 10 that I’ve decided to stop listening to within the first few chapters. Typically the issue was either a narrator whose voice really grated on my nerves, or a story that was not captivating enough in audiobook format. I typically listen to audiobooks on my morning commute, so they have to be really engaging or I’ll end up getting distracted by traffic or my thoughts on the day ahead.
Enter Wolf Hall. From the first few sentences I knew I had found my audiobook holy grail. Apparently, what really works for me is an amazing British actor narrating a tale full of passion, subterfuge, politics and inner turmoil that reminded me of the TV series The Tudors (which I loved) only honestly much much better. Where The Tudors feels superficial and glamorized, Wolf Hall is gritty and relatable despite its scope. Mantel’s novel has also been turned into a TV mini-series itself – starring Mark Rylance as Cromwell and Damian Lewis as Henry VIII – but after watching half of an episode a year or so ago, it just didn’t capture my attention. I may have to give it another shot after how much I loved this book.
If you’ve been struggling to find an audiobook that will hold your attention, I would recommend that you give Wolf Hall a try.
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What I really love about participating in book clubs is that it can open you up to reading books you may have never considered otherwise. I’m part of a book club here in LA that is made up of alumnae of my college (Wellesley) and includes women of all generations who have a real passion for reading. Our conversations are always really interesting and the participants often bring unexpected book recommendations to the table.
Death Of A Nationalist is a novel I may never have even found out about without my Wellesley book club. Despite it’s 508 reviews and 4 star score on Goodreads, I probably normally would have passed over this first installment in a 4-part crime-mystery series set in Spain leading up to and during World War II. Though I wouldn’t rate this as my favorite book of all time, it turned out to be a really enjoyable read. Find out why below!
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This may sound like a bit of a weird idea for a post, but I decided to group together 3 short reviews of nonfiction books I read recently (within the last 5 months) that I thought were going to be good, but turned out to be disappointing. Two of them in particular are pretty popular and frequently recommended, so beware!
By reviewing them I hope to spare others from my fate, listening to Dead Wake and wondering when the Lusitania would finally get torpedoed (spoiler alert: it’s not till the very end of the book), trying to plod through Alexander Hamilton and wondering what the big fuss was about, or reading Disaster Falls and feeling bad about disliking a memoir about grief and the death of a child.
Learn from my mistakes and read below about why I wish I hadn’t skipped these three nonfiction picks.
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Amanda Steinberg is the founder of the website Daily Worth, a mecca for all sorts of financial advice specifically targeted to women. Recent posts include Childcare And Taxes: Five Things You Should Know, Is Pet Insurance Worth It and How Your Health Affects Your Long Term Wealth. The site even has a post for book lovers like us on the 10 Best Finance Books For Women.
Steinberg decided to recently publish her own manual on how to take control of your financial life called Worth It. It was one of the books featured on my February 2017 Book Releases list and I was lucky enough to get a copy from the publisher to review.
I’ve read my fair share of personal finance books, and I think what Worth It has to offer that others books I’ve read don’t do as well is a framework through which to reflect on your current financial practices and money personality. Steinberg is dead honest in the book about her own past financial mistakes and introduces topics like investing, buying a home and cash flow through the experiences of other real life women just like her. If you’re looking for detailed advice on investment vehicles, types of mortgages or budgeting strategies, this isn’t the right book to turn to. It’s the right pick for someone who wants to start to re-evaluate their relationship to money and rethink their attitude towards managing their finances.
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I know what you’re thinking. What’s up with this girl that she chose to read a book all about Cannibalism? Or maybe if you’re a science geek like me, you’re just as fascinated by the topic. Believe it or not, whether you’re so grossed out about cannibalism that you would never choose to read about it or not, cannibalism is a natural part of the animal world. We, as humans, are kind of aberrations for having mostly abandoned it (though I’m pretty thankful that no one is planning to eat me).
When I included Cannibalism: A Perfectly Natural History in my February 2017 Releases list, I RAN to Net Galley to make sure I could score a copy, and I devoured the whole thing (no pun intended) in a couple of days. It’s everything that I love in books about a specific scientific topic – filled with disparate and enthralling examples, wide-ranging in its scope and yet super easy to follow, and most importantly, concisely written. If you love learning about science and about weird aspects of the life that surrounds you like me, pick this one up.
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