Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Review: The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg
ISBN: 978-1-4000-6928-6
Publisher: Random House
Published: February 2012

 Why do you do the things you do? Even our casual routines and mannerisms tend to be the result of deeply ingrained habits. In The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg studies how habits both hurt and harms both humans and corporations and details how we can adjust our habits for our benefit.

Using case studies of brain trauma patients, corporate marketing techniques, and corporate renewals, Duhigg shows the ways that habits are followed whether they are beneficial or harmful to the point of loss of life. All of these studies lead to the discovery of the cue-routine-reward loop that powers our actions.  By changing one variable in the equation, we can change our harmful habits such as smoking, inactivity, or gambling into better habits like exercise, healthy eating, and responsible money handling.

By showing how you can identify your triggers and reinforce positive actions to create new habits, this book is great for creating or changing habits. This book has helped me make some changes: watching less tv, being more consistent with my running (doing a 10k in the fall), and developing better eating habits.  It's quite a read (lots of science) -Duhigg does a great job of making the science really relatable.  It reads like a narrative rather than a textbook.  If you need to change some habits, this is a great book to get you started.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Feature & Follow Friday

Q. Summer Reading. What was your favorite book that you were REQUIRED to read when you were in school?

 My school didn't have summer reading, long story with that one.  But my favorite summer vacation read in elementary school was the Logan Family books - Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry, Let the Circle Be Unbroken &  The Road to Memphis - all by Mildred D. Taylor.   In high school, it was probably Kindred by Octavia Butler.


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Review: I'm Kind of A Big Deal: And Other Delusions of Adequacy by Stefanie Wilder-Taylor

I'm Kind of A Big Deal: And Other Delusions of Adequacy by Stefanie Wilder-Taylor
Publisher: Gallery Books
Published Date: June 2011

I'm Kind of a Big Deal: And Other Delusions of Adequacy is Stefanie Wilder-Taylor's memory of her journey through Hollywood.  After initially leaving home for New York, she realizes that California might be a better bet to achieving her dream of being an actress.  Amusing anecdotes of the various jobs she has while trying to audition for acting jobs.  Even more fun when she realizes that her manager's wife auditions for all the prime jobs!  Little does she know that suffering through a dating show cattle call would lead to her promising career in show writing and show running.  Finally, she finds something she enjoys doing that she can earn money and enjoys doing.

Having never read any of Stefanie Wilder-Taylor's other books, I had no idea what to expect.  This book exceeded my expectation. Several parts of the book were chest clutching funny. Her description of her struggle with alcoholism and the details of her relationship with her dad were poignant.  The only part I disliked were the letters to Angelina Jolie at the end of the book.  They kind of dragged the book down for me.

**This book was provided by the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion.**

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Review: Cook Like A Rock Star by Anne Burrell

Cook Like a Rock Star by Anne Burrell
Publisher: Clarkson Potter
Published: October 4, 2011

 You may know her from Worst Cooks in America, Secrets of a Restaurant Chef, Iron Chef, The Next Iron Chef, and Chef Wanted.  Now Anne Burrell has added another feather to her cap with her first cookbook.  I loved her show Secrets of a Restaurant Chef.  I learned many tips that I fantasize  about using someday, so I was super excited to get a chance to review her cookbook.

Cook Like A Rock Star is basically Secrets of a Restaurant Chef - cooking tips and tried and true shortcuts - with recipes.  The first sections is basically a step by step to following recipes, her basic ingredients, and the tools need to create the foods. The book is then divided into recipes for hor d'oeuvres, starters, main courses, pasts dishes, side dishes, and desserts.  Each sections begins with a anecdote from Anne and segues into the recipes.  There are plenty of helpful hints throughout the books such as how to properly poach your food and how to bread food properly.  The best thing about the book is that even though she spells everything out you don't feel condescended too.

Cook Like A Rock Star is a great cookbook.  I actually tried a couple of the recipes.  The ingredients were easily found at a regular supermarket - no special trips to Whole Foods or some specialty shops.  All the cooking terminology is defined and explained and many handy tips are included.  Whether you're a novice cook or a lazy cook like me, Anne gives all the tools needed to make you feel comfortable making these recipes.  I can't wait to try  the Calamari noodles.

** This book was provided by the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion. **

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

 Any trace of the flat's former occupant has been eradicated.  Instead of Frau Remki's stolid  Kaiserreich mahogany, the furnishings are blond oak with padded silk upholstery.
           Location 1615 of City Of Women by David R. Gillham

Friday, July 13, 2012

Spice Up Your Life with a little Romance

I've been gone for a while but I'm back posting consistently.  Seeing as this an all genre blog, I'll be delving into romance and other spicier reads.  Don't worry the blog will be SFW.  And as a treat I have a couple giveaways courtesy of Gallery Books.

FYI, these books have been marked down

is $2.99 until July 15.

is $2.99 until July 30.

Up for grabs are Deception by Kris Kennedy (in bookstores 7/31) and An Unsuitable Bride (in bookstores 7/24)
Deception by Kris Kennedy

From Amazon:

An Unsuitable Bride by Jane Feather

The Rules
* US Residents Only.
* You can only win 1 book.  Leave you choice along 
with your name and email in the comment.
* Contest runs till July 24.

From Amazon:
Long ago, young Viscount Bradley’s prudish family forbade him to marry his beloved. Now, the aging lord has plotted a subtle revenge. His three nephews can split his fortune, but only if each marries a fallen woman. Two have found brides who meet the terms . . . and all depends on the youngest, Peregrine Sullivan.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Follow Friday

Q: What drove you to start book blogging in the first place? I saw the large community of book lovers and wanted to add my two cents.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Review: Targets of Opportunity by Jeffrey S. Stephens

Targets of Opportunity by Jeffrey S. Stephens
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publish Date: August 30, 2011

When a senior member of Iranian military group defects, the CIA is wary but hopeful.  Asking for Agent Jordan Sandor does nothing to set the CIA at ease.  Abu Jaber intimates knowledge of a new terror plot afoot. When a plane blows up followed by the takeover of a French surveillance site in the Caribbean, every one starts to take him a little more seriously.  Now everyone is scrambling for the merest inkling of the plot.  Coming up with a plan is difficult when you barely know your opponent and can't ascertain his point - especially when he is a master strategist.

Jaber's wife is picked up by the Iranians and offered the option of finding her husband and turning him over to Iranian authorities.  Not knowing whether he has abandoned her or has a larger plan at work, she jumps at a chance to leave Iran and confront him.  Caught in the crossfire, Jordan and his team begin to ascertain the real puppet master for this plot.  A mystery man from South America renowned for his philosophy and economic theories but rejected for the extreme actions needed to fulfill his ultimate goal.  Once they figure out who is behind the plot all the pieces start coming together and the team is able to aim their limited resources in the most appropriate manner.  The realization that a nuclear weapon is spurs the team into furious action. On a dark and stormy night, everything came to a head.  Only the extremely brave and skillful action s of some Navy Seals avert major disaster.

Having never read a Jordan Sandor novel, I had no idea what to expect.  I got a fast paced action thriller that incorporates ripped from the headlines facts.  Even though the book is over 400 pages, the action was continuous and constant making the story seem way shorter.  The basic plot, a terrorist anti-US alliance between two countries is scarily realistic.  All that being said this book was ridiculous in some ways.  The bad guys all die in really theatrical ways.  Jordan is able to muscle his way out of one of the most surveilled and controlled countries pretty much spur of the moment.  He's always going according to his own plan.  The finale is the perfect storm literally, but everything works out.

**This book was provided by the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion.**

Friday, July 6, 2012

Follow Friday 7.6.12

Q: Jumping Genres: Ever pick up a book from a genre you usually don’t like and LOVE it? Tell us about it and why you picked it up in the first place.

I've been reading chick lit more. I've been introduced to some really good titles and have been getting more into it.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Review: Great-Aunt Sophia's Lessons for Bombshells by Lisa Cach

Great-Aunt Sophia's Lessons for Bombshells by Lisa Cach
Publisher: Gallery Books
Published: June 19, 2012
Despite her misgivings, Grace Cavanaugh can't resist when her great-aunt asks for help with her hip surgery recovery.  It's pretty much an expense free vacation in California and she'll be able to write her dissertation for her Ph. D.  The misgivings return in full force when her great-aunts house turns out to be a mansion in Pebble Beach, fully staffed at that.  Grace and her friend Cat are barely in the door before sexy playboy Declan O'Brien who sends Grace aflutter.  Meeting fellow intellectual Dr. Andrew Pritchard sets Grace at ease.  Aunt Sophia's obvious distaste at Grace's field, Women's Studies, and her dissertation asserting that beauty is ruinous for women is seemingly shared by both Declan and Andrew.  This summer might not be such a slam dunk for her writing her dissertation.
Aunt Sophia somewhat viciously ridicules Grace's dissertation and her friend Catherine who supports it.  Sophia challenges Grace to a experiment that will either confirm or derail all of Grace's Ph. D. research.  Aunt Sophia's plan consists three intense months of diets, personal training, lessons in charm, and coquettish behavior.  Basically using your feminine wiles to accomplish your intellectual goals.  An immediate payoff of wild sex does much to affirm Grace's new plan of action.  As the month's go by Grace's rigid beliefs start to sway worrying her friends and family.  Using Great-Aunt Sophia's tips but keeping her core belief's changes Grace for the better and helps her realize bombshells aren't necessarily victimized anti-feminist bimbos.
Aunt Sophia's Lessons hits many of the romance novel cliches: headstrong heroine and two suitors, the socially awkward doctor and the playboy money man but manages not to be boring.  The difference is Aunt Sophia who essentially plays all of them masterfully against each other and still manages to drop several bombshells of her own.   Great-Aunt Sophia's Lessons for Bombshells is a great summer read.

** This was book was provided by the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion.**