Book Review: What Happened

What Happened by Hillary Rodham Clinton
What Happened
Author: Hillary Rodham Clinton
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: September 12, 2017

From Simon & Schuster: For the first time, Hillary Rodham Clinton reveals what she was thinking and feeling during one of the most controversial and unpredictable presidential elections in history. Now free from the constraints of running, Hillary takes you inside the intense personal experience of becoming the first woman nominated for president by a major party in an election marked by rage, sexism, exhilarating highs and infuriating lows, stranger-than-fiction twists, Russian interference, and an opponent who broke all the rules. This is her most personal memoir yet.

In these pages, she describes what it was like to run against Donald Trump, the mistakes she made, how she has coped with a shocking and devastating loss, and how she found the strength to pick herself back up afterward. With humor and candor, she tells readers what it took to get back on her feet—the rituals, relationships, and reading that got her through, and what the experience has taught her about life. She speaks about the challenges of being a strong woman in the public eye, the criticism over her voice, age, and appearance, and the double standard confronting women in politics.

She lays out how the 2016 election was marked by an unprecedented assault on our democracy by a foreign adversary. By analyzing the evidence and connecting the dots, Hillary shows just how dangerous the forces are that shaped the outcome, and why Americans need to understand them to protect our values and our democracy in the future.

The election of 2016 was unprecedented and historic. What Happened is the story of that campaign and its aftermath—both a deeply intimate account and a cautionary tale for the nation.

My Review: Hillary Clinton continues to blow me away! Listening to WHAT HAPPENED, which she narrates (I love when authors narrate their own books!) is exactly the book I needed in my life right now with the deplorable political climate in the U.S., and no improvement in immediate sight.

I have been a strong supporter of the Clinton’s since 1992, my final year of high school, the year I could legally vote and I voted for Bill Clinton, both terms. I admired Hillary as an incredibly strong First Lady and later U.S. Senator. My admiration for her blossomed when she announced her run for presidency in 2007. The last time the country had any shred of hope of a woman candidate dates back to Geraldine Ferraro’s run for Vice President in 1984. 1984 people!!

What Happened is authentic, insightful, sharp, and a painful reminder women are still trying to penetrate the glass ceiling. It’s also a hard core look at the radical political climate. This book is excellent and important. Read (or listen) to this book!


August Book Wrap-Up

IMG_0843Hi, Book Friends! It’s the end of August and the end of summer. I read 10 books the month of August and don’t know if it’s because I had that much more free time or neglected some responsibilities, or both! And, all of these books with the exception of one were 4 or 5-star reviews – woohoo!

MRS. FLETCHER – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
I adored Mrs. Fletcher. It’s a literary, coming-of-age story journeying thru personal growth, respect and acceptance.
P.S. I STILL LOVE YOU – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Han’s narrative is adorable and upbeat making this an engaging and enjoyable story.
THE GODDESSES – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
I was sucked in from the get go because I can relate to Nancy’s need to find her purpose in a new place as a stay at home mom, which isn’t always easy.
YOUNG JANE YOUNG – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
My connection to Rachel, Aviva and Ruby was palpable and I felt it in my heart and my gut. This is a story about three generations of Jewish women you will fall in love with.
A bookstore mystery flanked by eccentric characters and a twisty plot – readers rejoice!
A story about a hot air balloon ride gone dangerously wrong when the passengers witness a cold blooded murder in the act on the ground below them.
LAB GIRL – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
A scientific, biographical memoir depicting the author’s personal journey becoming a woman in science filled to the brim with passion, drive, emotion and rawness.
My first reaction to Turtle is to hug her and tell her everything will be okay and to let her be a kid.
THE FUTURES – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Brilliantly weaves together a story about first careers, young love and the financial crisis of 2008.
A story about an Italian immigrant family moving to LA to strike it rich in commercials in the early 1990’s. The themes are funny, disturbing, moving but most of all spot on. (Book Review coming soon)

Book Review: Lab Girl

IMG_0815Title: Lab Girl
Author: Hope Jahren
Publisher: Knopf
Publication Date: April 5, 2016
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ / 5

From Vintage: Geobiologist Hope Jahren has spent her life studying trees, flowers, seeds, and soil. Lab Girl is her revelatory treatise on plant life—but it is also a celebration of the lifelong curiosity, humility, and passion that drive every scientist. In these pages, Hope takes us back to her Minnesota childhood, where she spent hours in unfettered play in her father’s college laboratory. She tells us how she found a sanctuary in science, learning to perform lab work “with both the heart and the hands.” She introduces us to Bill, her brilliant, eccentric lab manager. And she extends the mantle of scientist to each one of her readers, inviting us to join her in observing and protecting our environment. Warm, luminous, compulsively readable, Lab Girl vividly demonstrates the mountains that we can move when love and work come together.

My Review: LAB GIRL is a scientific, biographical memoir depicting the author’s personal journey becoming a woman in science filled to the brim with passion, drive, emotion and rawness. I listened to the audiobook, narrated by Jahren and adore when authors narrate their own books because the transference of their feelings and emotions is so real and true to the story. But, if you aren’t a fan of loads of science-y information and a fairly dry prose then this book may not be for you.

A fusion of science and poetry, LAB GIRL opens the door to a front row seat at the arduous and often inane efforts necessary to become a paid scientist and more so for women. Raised in her father’s science lab at a local community college, Jahren learned first hand the attention to detail and long hours required to make it in the profession and the lab quickly became Jahren’s safe haven.

Jahren’s focus is singular, her every breath revolves around having her own lab. She’s often awkward, comes across as both unresponsive and interested and she’s a loner. She has a long running platonic relationship with her equally brilliant and awkward lab manager, Bill Hagopian, who is part of her employment package deal. Later she marries another scientist, Clint Conrad, starts a family and faces the delicate balance between her career, family and her manic depressive episodes. I appreciate the beauty in Jahren’s love and dedication for science and the analogies between her subjects and career.

Summer Reading List 2017

This is a loosely curated list of books I think are great summer reads covering several genres.  Some of these books I have already read and highly recommend to you, others are from my extensive to-be-read (TBR) list which I’m excited to read and a few will be published this summer.

It is likely this summer book list will continue evolving throughout the summer.  As I read new books that I think are summer-worthy reads I will add them here so please check back!

UNSUB by Meg GardinerTitle: UNSUB (review coming soon!)
Author: Meg Gardiner
Genre: Suspense & Thriller | Crime Mystery
Publication Date: June 27, 2017
From Dutton: A riveting psychological thriller inspired by the never-caught Zodiac Killer, about a young detective determined to apprehend the serial murderer who destroyed her family and terrorized a city twenty years earlier.

The Forever Summer by Jamie BrennerTitle: The Forever Summer
Author: Jamie Brenner
Genre: Fiction
Publication Date: April 25, 2017
From Little, Brown and Company: When a DNA test reveals long-buried secrets, three generations of women reunite on Cape Cod for the homecoming of a lifetime.

The Arrangement by Sarah DunnTitle: The Arrangement
Author: Sarah Dunn
Genre: Fiction
Publication Date: March 21, 2017
From Little, Brown and Company: A hilarious and emotionally charged novel about a couple who embark on an open marriage-what could possibly go wrong?

Dark Matter by Blake CrouchTitle: Dark Matter
Author: Blake Crouch
Genre: Suspense & Thriller | Science Fiction
Publication Date: July 26, 2016
From Crown Publishing: – “Are you happy with your life?”


China Rich Girlfriend by Kevin KwanTitle: China Rich Girlfriend
Author: Kevin Kwan
Genre: Fiction – Women’s
Publication Date: June 16, 2015
From Knofp Doubleday: From the bestselling author of Crazy Rich Asians comes a deliciously fun story of family, fortune, and fame in Mainland China.

Bear Town by Fredrik BackmanTitle: Beartown
Author: Fredrik Backman
Genre: Fiction – Literary, Humourous
Publication Date: April 25, 2017
From Atria Books: People say Beartown is finished. A tiny community nestled deep in the forest, it is slowly losing ground to the ever encroaching trees. But down by the lake stands an old ice rink, built generations ago by the working men who founded this town. And in that ice rink is the reason people in Beartown believe tomorrow will be better than today. Their junior ice hockey team is about to compete in the national semi-finals, and they actually have a shot at winning. All the hopes and dreams of this place now rest on the shoulders of a handful of teenage boys…

Ginny Moon by Benjamin LudwigTitle: Ginny Moon
Author: Benjamin Ludwig
Genre: Fiction – Coming of Age, Family Life, Literary
Publication Date: May 2, 2017
From Park Row Books: Ginny Moon is an illuminating look at one girl’s journey to find her way home. In this stunning debut, Benjamin Ludwig gives a voice to the voiceless, reminding us that often we only hear those who speak the loudest, and there’s much to be learned by opening up our ears and our hearts.

The Rosie Project by Graeme SimsionTitle: The Rosie Project
Author: Graeme Simsion
Genre: Fiction – Romance, Humourous
Publication Date: October 1, 2013
From Simon & Schuster: The art of love is never a science: Meet Don Tillman, a brilliant yet socially inept professor of genetics, who’s decided it’s time he found a wife. In the orderly, evidence-based manner with which Don approaches all things, he designs the Wife Project to find his perfect partner: a sixteen-page, scientifically valid survey to filter out the drinkers, the smokers, the late arrivers…

A Beautiful, Terrible Thing by Jen WaiteTitle: A Beautiful, Terrible Thing
Author: Jen Waite
Genre: Biography & Memoir | Psychology
Publication Date: July 11, 2017
From Penguin Random House: What do you do when you discover that the person you’ve built your life around never existed? When “it could never happen to me” does happen to you?

The Hatching by Ezekiel BooneTitle: The Hatching
Author: Ezekiel Boone
Genre: Science Fiction | Suspense | Horror
Publication Date: July 5, 2016
From Atria Books: An astonishingly inventive and terrifying debut novel about the emergence of an ancient species, dormant for over a thousand years, and now on the march.

Book Review: When Breath Becomes Air

IMG_0445Title: When Breath Becomes Air
Author: Paul Kalanithi
Format: Hardcover
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ / 5
Quote: “I knew with certainty I would never be a doctor.”

I found it unsettling wanting to read a memoir written by a man who wouldn’t live to see it published yet drawn to his story because he was a brilliant and gifted surgeon, researcher and writer whose short life was spent searching for meaning.  When Breath Becomes Air is the posthumous work of Paul Kalanithi and epilogue by his wife Lucy, that takes us on a deep and personal journey facing his own mortality and learning to live a life with meaning.  After a gruelling decade training to become a neurosurgeon on the cusp of great things, Kalanithi was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer at the young age of thirty-six.

This story is hard to bear.  I was deeply moved by Kalanithi’s dual perspectives both as the doctor and the patient. His story is human and factual, void of self-pity and overflowing with compassion and bravery.  He also shares his marital struggles which come as no surprise with the pressure he and Lucy faced during their residencies.  In a morbid sense the disease strengthens their marriage and they have a child.  I liked this book a lot and came to admire and respect the author.

Dr. Kalanithi opens his memoir certain he would never become a doctor, “I knew medicine only by its absence – specifically, the absence of a father growing up, one who went to work before dawn and returned in the dark to a plate of reheated dinner.” Considering a career as a writer, he earned two degrees in English literature at Stanford before studying medicine at Yale.  Kalanithi wove together his studies in literature and neurosciences connecting the dots between biology, mortality, literature and philosophy, which compelled him to neurosurgery with it’s “unforgiving call to perfection.”  Before getting sick, I found his earlier stories fascinating. The sheer precision required under such exhausting conditions puts into perspective this line of work was truly his calling.

Kalanithi was conflicted with planning the rest of his life uncertain whether he would live a few months, five years or ten years.  When the combination of chemotherapy and long days in surgery were too much to bear he decided to write this book including us in his search for a meaningful life. Kalanithi faced his own mortality with grace, each stage met with a certain vulnerability.