Playing Catch Up (Review)

And once again, I have fallen into the pit and gone far too long without updating. I'm always surprised by the level of dedication consistent blogging takes - and in an effort to be disciplined I am going to try and jump right back in.

Quite honestly, I took a bit of a hiatus from reading. Maybe a few weeks? I became a little obsessed with the new Animal Crossing and spent a lot of my leisure time caring for my villagers (so adorable). But I'm back, of course, and have a few books to discuss. I don't feel that any of the following books necessarily warrant their own post - so we're going to do a bit of speed reviewing.

This is Where I Leave You
Jonathan Tropper

Summary: The death of Judd Foxman's father marks the first time that the entire Foxman clan has congregated in years. There is, however, one conspicuous absence: Judd's wife, Jen, whose affair with his radio- shock-jock boss has recently become painfully public. Simultaneously mourning the demise of his father and his marriage, Judd joins his dysfunctional family as they reluctantly sit shiva-and spend seven days and nights under the same roof. The week quickly spins out of control as longstanding grudges resurface, secrets are revealed and old passions are reawakened. Then Jen delivers the clincher: she's pregnant.

Rating: 2/5

Review: Talk about trying too hard. Tropper tries to emulate the quirky family dynamics of Arrested Development, with a sardonic tone that was reminiscent of The Fisher's from Six Feet Under and falls very short of the mark. Wholly unimpressive.

The Cuckoo's Calling
Robert Galbraith (J.K. Rowling)

Summary: After losing his leg to a land mine in Afghanistan, Cormoran Strike is barely scraping by as a private investigator. Strike is down to one client, and creditors are calling. He has also just broken up with his longtime girlfriend and is living in his office.
Then John Bristow walks through his door with an amazing story: His sister, thelegendary supermodel Lula Landry, known to her friends as the Cuckoo, famously fell to her death a few months earlier. The police ruled it a suicide, but John refuses to believe that. The case plunges Strike into the world of multimillionaire beauties, rock-star boyfriends, and desperate designers, and it introduces him to every variety of pleasure, enticement, seduction, and delusion known to man.

Rating: 3.5/5

Review: As every other Potter fan in the world - once the news came out regarding J.K.'s "secret" book being published it was an immediate"to-read. I read The Casual Vacancy a while back and I enjoyed it very much. As someone whose worldview, politically speaking, matches with Rowling's I connected with the novel despite much criticism that it was too preachy. I felt that Vacancy had more depth, but Cuckoo was much more fast-paced and fun. Definitely a good book for the beach! Nothing overly spectacular but an enjoyable and recommended read nonetheless.

American History Revised
Seymor Morris Jr.

Summary: We tend to think of history as settled, set in stone, but American History Revised reveals a past that is filled with ironies, surprises, and misconceptions. Living abroad for twelve years gave author Seymour Morris Jr. the opportunity to view his country as an outsider and compelled him to examine American history from a fresh perspective. As Morris colorfully illustrates through the 200 historical vignettes that make up this book, much of our nation’s past is quite different—and far more remarkable—than we thought.

Rating: 2/5

Review: Another dud. I don't even know where I got this book. Overall, the writing is embarrassingly amateurish. It felt like reading a mediocre undergraduate thesis. Morris' white male viewpoint was impossible to ignore as he desperately tried to excuse the racism, rape, and misogynistic actions of his "heroes" the Founding Fathers. And his strange attempts at putting down "liberalism" at every opportunity were unwelcome as well. I don't have time for that shit. NEXT.

How To Win Friends & Influence People
Dale Carnegie

Summary: This grandfather of all people-skills books was first published in 1937. It was an overnight hit, eventually selling 15 million copies. How to Win Friends and Influence People is just as useful today as it was when it was first published, because Dale Carnegie had an understanding of human nature that will never be outdated. Financial success, Carnegie believed, is due 15 percent to professional knowledge and 85 percent to "the ability to express ideas, to assume leadership, and to arouse enthusiasm among people." He teaches these skills through underlying principles of dealing with people so that they feel important and appreciated. He also emphasizes fundamental techniques for handling people without making them feel manipulated.

Rating: 4/5

Review: I was not at all expecting to like this book as much as I did! I've heard the title thrown around many times, and consistently see it referenced on Best-Of "Business" book lists. Ultimately Carnegie's advice comes down to being nice and treating people with respect and decency. Something I can 100% get behind! If you need a pick-me-up or just want to read a book that will bolster your confidence in regards to interpersonal skills - this is it! Highly suggested reading for everyone.

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