Friday, January 31, 2014

Thursday, January 30, 2014

(10)To Sell is Human by Daniel H. Pink

To Sell is Human

Pages: 272
Publication Date: December 31, 2012

Selling has been around for as long as the stone wheel.   In his book, To Sell is Human, Daniel H. Pink explores the the idea that we are all in the business of selling, or the business of moving others.   Whether you are a teacher trying to "sell" chemistry to your students or a doctor trying to "sell" a treatment to your patient, we all are trying to move those around us to do what we want them to do.  Sometimes it involves an exchange of money and sometimes it does not.   According to a study done  7,000 workers polled say that 40% of their time is spent "engaged in non-sales selling - persuading, influencing, and convincing others in ways that don't involve anyone making a purchase"  -- Think about what you did at work today, did you try to persuade a customer or colleague?  Did you try to get them to see your point of view?  Did you have to tell your boss what your plans are for the big client and convince him why your plan will work?  Then you were engaged in non-sales selling.

One of the things the author talks about at great length is how sales have evolved over the years from the "ALWAYS BE CLOSING" mentality (Quick, name that movie!) to more of a service-based selling where ABC stands for "Attunement. Buoyancy. Clarity"  Daniel Pink goes on to give the reader some tools to help with this new shift in mindset.   Like an updated of the "elevator pitch".  He also tells the stories of some salesmen, like the last Fuller Brush Salesman in the United States.  (And if you know who or what a Fuller Brush Salesman,  is you are likely older than me!) He even talks about a rather large software company that did $100,000,000 in sales without a single salesman on payroll.   He even gives reasons why many companies are successfully moving away from the typical commission based salaries for salesmen and are seeing sales soar.   Like I said, an entire shift in mentality.

Another thing that I found completely fascinating was a new term I had never heard before reading it in this book.  Ambiverts.  One would always assume that the extroverts make the best salesmen, but you would be wrong.  Yes, extroverts do better in sales than introverts.  But, according to a professor at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School and a study he completed at a software call center, it is those ambiverts who make the best sales people.  Ambiverts are neither extroverted nor crippling introverted.    Daniel Pink even offers an assessment on his website to see if you are an ambivert.  I am. :)

Bottom line, you may not want to admit it, but odds are you do some kind of selling everyday.  It may be a "non-sales" kind of selling, but odds are if you are a parent you have engaged in selling ten times before you  get the kids off to school every morning.   If you want some insight and tools on the art of moving someone to your way of thinking, To Sell is Human  needs to be the next book you read, I promise that you will find it fascinating.  I did.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Saturday, January 25, 2014

(9)Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen

Lost Lake

Pages: 304
Publication Date: January 21, 2014

First of all I want to congratulate Sarah Addison Allen on her victory over breast cancer and I am so glad that you are back, better than ever with a new book!

Lost Lake is a book about healing women.  First there is Kate, after a year of being "asleep" following the death of her husband she is finally awake and ready to be a mother to her daughter, Devin. While in the process of packing up things to move in with her Mother-in-Law, Cricket, Devin and Kate find a postcard from her Aunt Eby.  The postcard brings back fond memories of a summer spent at Lost Lake, the resort that Eby and her late husband, George owned.  So on the way to her Cricket's, Kate and Devin take a detour, to Lost Lake.

Lost Lake and Eby are still there, but Eby has just agreed to sell Lost Lake to a developer.  Ever since her husband passed away, her heart really hasn't been into running the place and with the dwindling number of guests, she decides it is time to let go.  Much to the dismay of her best friend and chef, Lissette.  The arrival of Kate and Devin breath a little life back into the old resort, but is it enough to keep Eby from selling the place to developers?

In the fashion readers have come to expect, Sarah Addison Allen has written another magical little novel full of wonderfully quirky characters.  You will find characters such as Lissette, the French chef who cannot speak, Selma the aging femme fatale that collects husbands like most women collect jewelry, I cannot forget Wes, the boy that made that summer so magical for Kate, and of course there is Billy , the alligator. Combined they are a cast of characters that transport you to another time and another place. I think what I enjoyed most about this book is that so many of the characters were healing and you could see their progress as the story progressed.  Obviously there was Kate and Eby healing from the loss of their husbands.  Lissette was still healing after a tragedy that happened many, many years ago.  Even the quirky guests were healing in their own ways. It made me think of the healing the author has gone through herself over the last few years while battling cancer.

Bottom line, Lost Lake was everything we have come to expect from Sarah Addison Allen and more.  Sweet, funny, and especially magical.  A wonderful novel that will put a smile on your face and in your heart.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Monday, January 20, 2014

(8)Mercy Snow by Tiffany Baker

Mercy Snow

Pages: 368
Publication Date:  January 14, 2014

In Titan Falls, New Hampshire the Snow family has a certain reputation that dates back decades.  The little town thought they had gotten rid of the final Snow when old Pruitt Snow died a while back, but one day a beat up old RV rolls into town and out to Devil's Creek Slide with Mercy, Hannah, and Zeke Snow.  They have nowhere else to go and hope that the old family homestead will be the home they have all longed for during their nomadic life.

As owners of the town's only mill and main source of income for Titan Falls residents, The McAllister family has ruled little Titan Falls for decades.  Cal often serves as an default mayor, just as his father did before and his wife June acts as the glue for the Titan Falls social scene.   A tragic bus accident that kills a young girl and injures many students from Titan Falls.  The town is an uproar and believe that Zeke Snow caused the accident , but without proof, the local law enforcement can't do anything, but harass the Snows with the hopes they will just leave Titan Falls for good.    The McAllisters know that Zeke had nothing to do with the accident, but they will do everything to make sure the real cause of the accident will never come to light.

Mercy Snow is a book about a little town with big secrets.  I found myself really liking Mercy and I wanted her to be accepted and welcomed.  I adored the sharp witted little Hannah and I adored the fact that she was a reader. My heart even ached for her when June McAllister was playing her little mind games with Hannah. At first I despised June McAllister and everything I stood for, until I realized that she just got swept up in the life that comes from being "royalty" in a small town.  I also enjoyed Hazel, the shepherd who hired Mercy to look after her herd of sheep.  I loved the fact that she was willing to give Mercy a chance, but was disappointed when she allowed herself to be manipulated by June.  The end of the book is not one I expected, but it played out nicely. Not forced or fake.

Bottom line, Mercy Snow is a great read.  I loved the scenery, the characters, and even the misguided people of Titan Falls. There are so many layers to the characters and the story that it makes for a very engrossing read.  Engrossing reads are exactly what you need to pass a winter day, right?

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Friday, January 17, 2014

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

(7)Melissa Explains it All by Melissa Joan Hart

Melissa Explains It All 

Pages: 288
Publication Date: October 29, 2013

One of my earliest memories of the kid network Nickelodeon was the skit show You Can't Do That on Television and Clarissa Explains it All.  Because of that show I knew who Melissa Joan Hart was and followed her to the TGIF (awwww, the days of TGIF!!) hit, Sabrina the Teenage Witch.   She seemed like a normal person to me and I don't recall hearing a lot about her in the tabloids over the years, so I wasn't sure what to expect when I started to read her new memoir, Melissa Explains it All. 

Melissa Explains it All is probably the most interesting, most dishiest memoir I have read since Rob Lowe's book a few years ago. Because we are roughly the same age I could totally relate to most the pop culture references she made and especially to the famous names she was friends with over the years. Friends like Solei Moon Frye (also known as Punky Brewster) and Kelli Martin show up several times throughout the book, and her life.Not to mention Jerry O'Connel, Britney Spears, and those boys from NSync.  Melissa regales us with tales of life on the set in Florida for Clarissa and life on the set of Sabrina and everything that happened in between.  Including her party sessions, experiments with ecstasy, and other things girls our age did while growing up into adulthood in the nineties.  She tells us about meeting her now husband, Mark and their courtship/marriage.  She even devotes an entire chapter to his and his family's devotion to Alabama football. Which I could totally relate to, because my family bleeds Husker Red. And of course there was great time and consideration given to her children.  A topic that many of you can understand.

Bottom line, as far as celebrity memoirs go, this one was right up there.  I enjoyed everything about it and found myself devouring it in less than twelve hours.  If you enjoy memoirs, celebrities, and grew up in the late eighties/early nineties you will find yourself devouring this book just as I did!  Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

(6)One Tiny Lie by K.A. Tucker

One Tiny Lie

Pages: 336
Publication Date: January 14, 2014

In Ten Tiny Breaths we met Kacey and her sister, Livie. Their history is enough to bring anyone to their knees, but Livie has always remained strong for her older sister, Kacey.  Now Livie is off to Princeton and she is still trying to live her life as if her sister's life depended on it.  Very reserved, very together, and very resistant to change. Kacey knows this isn't healthy for Livie, and Dr. Strayner knows this isn't healthy for Livie, but unfortunately Livie is scared to death to start her life.

When Livie's roommate, Reagan, drags her to a party Livie starts to loosen up a bit.  She catches the eye of not one, but two men.  Connor, the respectable one and his best friend, Ashton, the bad boy. Between the pressures of college life, including her fun-loving and the attentions of two boys Livie is feeling pulled in several directions.  Will she be able to be a successful college student with all of the pressure she feels?  And which guy will she end up with?  The good boy or the bad boy?

As much as I enjoyed Ten Tiny Breaths, I enjoyed One Tiny Lie even more.  I liked Livie in the first book and I loved her in the second.  The whole setup of the book kind of reminded me of A Beautiful Distaster - a college student with both a "good boy" and "bad boy" love interests.  Obviously there are differences, but even the intense love story is similar.  I loved how Dr. Strayner made an appearance in the second book, too.  His influence provides that parental support that the sisters wouldn't have otherwise. It is good that she has some sort of accountability in the form of the doctor.   I also loved the complexity to Ashton, from his girlfriend to his mother and his relationship with his father,  he was an interesting character that I wanted to know more about.  Connor, on the other hand did not really interest me.  Maybe I have a "bad boy" streak in me, too.

Bottom line, even though One Tiny Lie is the second in a series it is not necessary to read the first one to get the full impact from the second story.  There is enough of a back story given and Livie's story is fascinating enough to hold your interest and make you fly through the pages.    If you are looking for a good read, One Tiny Lie is a great choice!

Monday, January 13, 2014

(5)In the Blood by Lisa Unger

In the Blood

Pages: 352
Publication Date: January 7, 2014

Lana Granger is an expert at keeping secrets.  She keeps secrets from her roommates, from her psychologist, from her adviser, and even from herself.   Lana has a really dark past that she really wants to stay in the past.  Her life becomes even more complicated when her roommate and potential love interest, Beck goes missing.  Lana is the last person to see Beck, so the pressure she is under is nearly crushing.  Then there is the troubled little boy, Luke,  that she watches after school everyday. His behavior issues have gotten him into some serious trouble, but there is something about him that reminds Lana of herself when she was the same age. .   When Luke sends Lana on a twisted scavenger hunt, she realizes that her past is not nearly as secret as she wants it to be and that there may be a connection between her past, her missing friend, and Luke.

In the Blood is one of those psychological thrillers that sucks you in almost from the very first page.  Lana Granger is such a complex character that is is a little bit scary to get inside her head.  Lana offers you bits and pieces of her history, like her father killed her mother and is on death row.  And that she does not go by her given name. Just enough information to think you understand her, but you realize that you really don't know her at all.  There were a few times throughout the book where I wondered if Lana DID do something to Beck and even worse, I found myself wondering if it was LANA who murdered her mother and her father just took the blame for his child.   But as the story unfolds the author gives you enough clues that maybe you will figure out some of the twists and maybe you won't.  The BIG twist I had started to piece together, but not in it's entirety and I was still pretty blown away by the events as the unfolded.  Sorry to be vague, but this is not one book I want to spoil for you!

Bottom line, if you like dark psychological thrillers with an amazing twist, you have to give Lisa Unger a shot.  This author is so talented and will take you on so many twisty turns while reading In The Blood you will find your head spinning.  Great book!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Friday, January 10, 2014

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

(4)Dad is Fat by Jim Gaffigan

Dad is Fat 

Pages: 288
Publication Date: May 7, 2013

Many of you may know Jim Gaffigan as the "hot pockets" guy.   Just reading that phrase my mind automatically sings it in that way that he does.   In case you don't recognize Jim Gaffigan from his "hot pockets" bit, he is a stand-up comedian that you may notice from his acting roles.  Either way, Gaffigan is a funny dude.

In his new book, Dad is Fat, Jim Gaffigan regales us with tales about life in New York City with five kids and a fifth floor walk-up.  Listening to the audiobook version of the book allowed me to close my eyes and pretend I was at 

one of those stand-up shows.  He talks a little bit about his own childhood as part of a large family and the early days of his marriage, before the children started to show up.   Gaffigan talks about the birth of his first child to the birth of his last child.  He covers other fun topics such as the logistics of having a large family in New York City, travelling with a large family, birthday parties and so much more.  One of my favorite stories was about the trip he and his family took to Salt Lake City.  Well, technically Park City. And all the fun that comes with having so many little kids while on the slopes. And then there was the moment that his wife did not come down the slopes with the rest of them.   I was laughing so hard I had to get off the treadmill.

Bottom line, Dad Is Fat is one of those books that anyone will enjoy.  As a "commoner" you will likely enjoy discovering that this particular celebrity has to deal with the same parenting issues as you or I.  And you will laugh profusely in the process.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Monday, January 6, 2014

(3)The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd

The Invention of Wings

Pages: 384
Publication Date: January 7, 2014

On her eleventh birthday Sarah Grimke received a slave for her birthday, Hetty "Handful" Grimke did not fully understand what it meant to be a "gift" to Miss Sarah, but Sarah did and she wanted no part of being a slave owner.   Despite her protests, Hetty remained the property of Miss Sarah.   It was the start of a friendship that would span decades.

It was the early 1800's in Charleston and slavery was as common as southern heat.  Sarah and Hetty both tell their perspectives of their unique friendship, Charleston, and of course slavery.  Often times their unique friendship would get Sarah in trouble, like when she taught Hetty how to read.  Even when her father prohibited Sarah from reading any books except school books for the transgression, she still found ways to continue the reading lessons. Sarah knew that even though the way her family treated their slaves was better than other families, slavery was still morally wrong and it frustrated her endlessly that she could not convince her family of that.  The book follows their friendship as they get older and more entrenched in their "roles" in the house.  Over the decades their friendship ebbs and flows, but Sarah fights to do the one thing she promised Charlotte shortly after her eleventh birthday - free Hetty.  Will she be successful and free Hetty?

I admit it, my whole perspective of The Invention of Wings  changed once I read the "Author's Note" at the end and I realized that Sarah Grimke was a real woman. I enjoyed the story of Sarah and Hetty, but I didn't think it was "great".  Once I read that "Author's Note" I thought "wow."  To know that Sarah was a real woman with real convictions and a true pioneer in the abolition movement, well it is inspriring.  Knowing her feelings about slavery, it is not out of the realm of possibility that she had a friend like Hetty and I think the author kept that friendship as authentic as possible.  I know Oprah chose The Invention of Wings  for her next book club selection, but I don't think it is deserving of a "Best of 2014" tag.  That may change, but right now - no.

Bottom line, The Invention of Wings IS a great book.  You will easily find yourself swept up in the era of pre-Civil War Charleston and the friendship of Hetty and Sarah.    Read it and tell me what you think, worth a "Best of 2014" tag or not.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Saturday, January 4, 2014

(2)David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell

David and Goliath

Pages: 320
Publication Date: October 1, 2014

Have you ever read a book that you just knew was destined for greatness? From almost the first page of Malcolm Gladwell's new book, David and Goliath, I knew I was reading a great book.

The great Gladwell starts by telling the tale of David and Goliath.  As seen here in his recent Ted Talk.

Then Gladwell goes on to illustrate many stories where perceived weaknesses may really be strengths.  He talks about the "little fish in a big pond" scenario.  He also tells his readers about a famous director who started out running a shoveling crew in the Midwest as a kid.  He learned the meaning of hard-work early and it led him to great things.  His children, on the other hand, have never had to work hard a day in their lives.  So who had it better?  The father or the children?

Gladwell goes on to cover everything from the story behind the "Three Strikes" law to the unrest in Northern Ireland all those years ago. In a way that only Malcolm Gladwell can do, he mesmerizes  you with his seemingly unrelated, yet always fascinating,  stories.

Bottom line, it is no surprise that David and Goliath was such a great read.  Malcolm Gladwell has a way of finding (and telling) the most interesting stories that would likely go untold if not for him.  If you are looking for a little motivation for battle against the "Golaiths" in your world, then you must pick this book up immediately.  You will not be disappointed.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

(1)The Never List by Koethi Zan

The Never List 

Pages: 320
Publication Date:  July 16, 2013

Disturbing.  Absolutely disturbing. The first book I read in the new year is a haunting tale that will stick with me for some time.

Ten years ago Sarah escaped an unimaginable hell. The kind of hell you hear about occasionally on the evening news.  Most recently out of Ohio.  Sarah was one of four women held captive in a basement torture chamber.  One of those women, her best friend,  Jennifer, did not make it out alive. In the ten years since Sarah escaped she has changed her name, moved to a city known for anonymity and rarely leaves her house.  The terror she felt ten years ago still terrorizes her today.  When rumor has it that her captor is up for parole, Sarah is willing to do anything to prevent his release. Including to going back to to the city of her prison and try to find information that will help keep him in prison. With the help of Tracy, one of the other girls held captive with her, they start piecing together a past that is so much more sinister than the FBI ever imagined.   Human trafficking, sex slaves, and torture on such a grand scale it may give you nightmares.  When the ladies start to uncover this information they realize that they may still be in grave danger.  Will they be able to escape this hell a second time?

The Never List started out a little slow, but quickly turned into a book that I could not put down.  To say the hell that Sarah and the other survived messed with their heads is a gross understatement.   They each have their "quirks" that come into play throughout the story.  The man who held them captive, Jack Derber, is right up there with Hannibal Lector. His twisted obsessions and "research" is truly the stuff nightmares are made of.  There are other players in the story that add more flavor to the story, like Sylvia.  And Noah Philbin, then there is the FBI agent that plays somewhat of a father figure role to the survivors.  All the elements together it makes a great psychological thriller.

Bottom line, psychological thrillers are one of my favorite genre to read, but The Never List  is one that is going to stick with me for a while.  The terror those women faced was so well written that it became my terror.  It takes a certain (twisted?) kind of person to enjoy psychological thrillers of this magnitude, so read with caution.

Why I Read...

I remember the carefree summer days when I used to ride my bike to the public library to pick out new books. I would go almost daily to find books to read. I read to learn. I read to explore the world. I read to escape. I read because not reading is not an option.

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