Monday, November 10, 2014

WHAT I'M READING! "Think Like Freak" by Steven D. Levitt & Stephen Dubner

Awhile back I was asked to read and review Think Like a Freak by Steven D. Levitt & Stephen J. Dubner.  This is another addition to the very popular franchise of books in the Freakanomics series.  If you have no idea what I'm talking about click here.   The original book has now expanded into this super cool website with podcasts, lectures, experiments, and yes even a documentary - what?  Who knew!  Here's a look at the trailer:

Anywho, back to Think Like a Freak.  As a bit of a nerd and a person who is fascinated by all things popculture and science-y stuff, I am super into this book thus far.   I mean just look at the table of contents:

  • The Upside of Quitting
  • The Three Hardest Words in the English Language - "I don't know."  (epic!)
  • What do King Solomon and David Lee Roth have in Common
Seriously.  Is this awesome, or what?!

So, when I am done I will post a, so far as I can tell, raving review of this book! 

And click here to see why I have been MIA around here for so long!  Super excited  to announce that I have launched my tarot reading biz.  For realz.  This is the real deal.  And you get my FREE "Soulful Tarot Spreads for Inspired Living" when you subscribe to my newsletter, and all sorts of great insights and tips!  I'm on FB  and Twitter too.  Come by and say HELLO!!  

Hope to see you over there!  

Friday, April 18, 2014


The Red Lily Crown by Elizabeth Loupas
Kaye Publicity
Pub date:  April 1st, 2014

First of all I wanted to send a huge THANK YOU to Anne from Kaye Publicity for emailing me about this book, and sending me a copy for review.

I do not take many review copies nowadays as I am just too busy to read, sadly, but this one is just right up my alley as it is historical fiction and the premise sounded too good to pass up:

Florence Italy, 1574; Chiara Nerini, the troubled daughter of an anti-Medici bookseller, sets out to save her starving family by selling her dead father’s rare alchemical equipment to the prince. Instead she is trapped in his household—imprisoned and forcibly initiated as a virgin acolyte in Francesco’s quest for power and immortality. Undaunted, she seizes her chance to pursue undreamed-of power of her own.

This is Loupas's third historical fiction novel, and I will be checking out her others after reading this one.  First of all, I just love all of the alchemist stuff throughout.  I have always been fascinated with the topic and I learned quite a bit about the origins of alchemy and a little more about The Philosopher Stone, which was doubly cool because I am a true Potterhead through and through.

The story opens with Chiara Nerini, who at a tender age of teenage-hood, is desperate to feed her family.  She tries to sell off her late father's treasured alchemical equipment to the soon-to-be Duke, and in the effort is taken by force into his household and recruited as his soror mystica, the female counterpart in his alchemical team of himself, Chiara and the handsome and rugged Englishman  Ruan dell'Inghilterra, in his quest to create The Philosopher's Stone.  Chiara is soon drawn into alchemy with the passion that her father had, and realizes that in creating The Philosopher's Stone she could heal herself once and for all of the searing headaches and strange voices she hears in her head.  But this passion comes at a price.  As she is drawn deeper and deeper into the Duke's court, she uncovers murder, and mysteries, and vengeance, even in her own heart.  As she tries to stay one step ahead of the sadistic Duke, she is drawn closer to Ruan, who becomes her only trusted ally in the twisted Medici court.  

This book will have you literally turning pages late into the night.  There are not many books that I will shut the TV off for, but this one I shut everything off, and by the soft glow of my bedroom nightstand light I read and read until my eyes could no longer stay open.  I love how this book was based on a little known family and based on real events of infidelity, murder and mystery . The back drop of alchemy was fascinating, and you could easily see how this would be the solidifying force between the three main characters:  Chiara, the Duke and Ruan.  


For more information on this book or any others written by Elizabeth Loupas, you can visit her website here. 

And for an interesting article about the Medici's portrayed in the story click here.

RATING:  4.5/5 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014


I bought and downloaded this book the day it was released last summer, and dove in immediately.  I have to admit being a bit gun shy, as I bought A Casual Vacancy on release day too, and was sadly disappointed in that book.  Interesting note about The Cuckoo's Calling, when "somebody" leaked that it was in fact
J.K. Rowling wrote the book, sales exploded to gargantuan proportions and increased over 156,000% in 24 hours.  Yup, you read that right ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTY SIX THOUSAND PERCENT.  

So, I started it.  Now this was back in July of last year, and I just finished it today, so clearly it would appear that something is amiss.  Well, it's not.  Here's what happened.  I was reading a lot of business books, and books on coaching etc.  I am no longer going that route and now a great part of my brain power can revel in the juiciness that are novels... YAY!  Oh literary yumminess how I have missed you! I sat down to do some knitting and watched a documentary I have seen a few times before, though not for awhile, it is called J.K. Rowling:  A Year in the Life (which you can watch online for free here).  It is a fascinating doc that follows Rowling for a year while she is writing the final book in The Series.  And it got me thinking about The Cuckoo, and I picked up my kindle and continued where I left off about 50% in.

I have never read a mystery before in my life, though I have always wanted to, I just didn't know where to start.  I am glad that this was my first one!

What I LOVED LOVED LOVED about this book are the characters.  I absolutely fell in love with Cormoran Strike, the loveable yet mildly grizzled war vet who's now a detective.  ADORE!  She has made him come to life in the most appealing way.  He actually exists in my literary bank vault of characters, right along side Harry, Jamie and Claire, Laura Ingalls, etc.  Not to mention his assistant Robin.  Both are very real and  both are very loveable warts and all.

The story begins with the death of a super model, who happens to be a black girl adopted into a white family.  This adds a whole other dimension to the case as in she had just discovered members of her birth family just before she plummeted to her death from her penthouse suite balcony.

I obviously can't really go too much into detail in terms of a synopsis, but those of you that have read my reviews before know that I rarely if ever type up a synopsis.  I like to give a general feeling or vibe that I got from reading it, and then give a thumbs up or down.

General vibe:  struggling loveable detective who lives in a back room in his office;  new assistant/secretary who though is a temp, is proving valuable beyond measure, not to mention the super awesome Moonlighting kind of sexual tension;  the glamourous yet seedy underbelly of the entertainment industry in London; and murder.  Or is it suicide?  I guess you'll have to read it to find out!  ()  

Here's also why I love it.  It turns out that J.K. as Galbraith is a brilliant writer!  Here is just a little snippet from when Strike, after getting some personal devastating news, goes on a bender, and Robin decides to join him.  Strike has just lit a cigarette in a pub, where it clearly is a nonsmoking environment:

    "You need to go outside to do that," he told Strike loudly.
Strike peered up at the boy, bleary-eyed, surprised.
    "It's all right," Robin told the barman gathering up her handbag.  "Come on, Cormoran."
He stood, massive, ungainly, swaying, unfolding himself out of the cramped space behind the table and glaring at the barman, whom Robin could not blame for stepping backwards.  
    "There'z no need," Strike told him, "t'shout.  No need. Fuckin' rude."  

And then:

Strike wound his way back on to the street, bouncing off the door frame as he emerged.  He planted himself firmly against the window and tried to light another cigarette. 
     "R'bin," he said, giving up and gazing down at her.  "R'bin, d'you know wadda kairos mo..." He hiccoughed.  "Mo...moment is?"
     "A kairos moment?" she repeated, hoping against hope it was not something sexual, something that she would not be able to forget afterwards, especially as the kebab shop owner was listening in and smirking behind them.  "No, I don't. Shall we go back to the office?"
     "You don't know whadditis?" he asked peering at her.
     "'SGreek," he told her.  "Kairos.  Kairos moment.  An' it means," and from somewhere in his soused brain he dredged up words of surprising clarity, "the telling moment. The special moment. The supreme moment."
     Oh please, thought Robin, please don't tell me we're having one

Now after getting to know him for over half of the book, and knowing that he really doesn't drink that much, this scene was actually endearing.  Poor guy.

The writing is VERY VERY GOOD.  Like crazy good.  She has successfully entered into a middle aged man's head, and made it incredibly pleasant to live there!

The next in the series, The Silkworm, (at the moment it is listed as a trilogy, but one can only hope that Strike will b around for many more books to come!) is coming out in June and I already have it on pre-order.  I.  LOVED.  IT.


Monday, February 10, 2014


Sorry for the long delay between posts!  I am off on reading business/personal development books for awhile, and back to reading fiction and such.  This particular book has been on my radar for a few months, and after giving it to my Mom for Christmas, she said she loved it and passed it on to me.
Amanda Lindhout is a fellow Canadian, who was a budding journalist with a penchant for travel.  She went from avid backpacker serving drinks in Calgary (my home town) to raise money between trips, to buying a camera and trying her hand at photojournalism.  Through a few turns of events she travelled to Somalia to cover the life of the people there.  Within three days of arriving, she was violently kidnapped by masked men along with her ex-boyfriend and fellow photographer Nigel.  What follows is an unbelievably riveting tale that will have you flipping pages well into the night, but I caution you that it is not light reading and some people are unable to read it before they go to sleep.

What Amanda went through is truly unimaginable.  Even as as I was reading her accounts, I felt like throwing up half the time from the true brutality and savagery of the way that she, in particular, was treated.  I can't believe she didn't kill herself a million times over in the 463 days that she was held captive.  FOUR HUNDRED AND SIXTY THREE DAYS.

You will be inspired by her story, and how she has chosen to live it afterward.  You will be sickened by the depravity of humanity.  You will be humbled by your complaints in your own life such as traffic jams, your debt load, or whatever.   What I'm saying is this.... after reading this book,  you will have perspective, as stories like this tend to give you.

It is heartbreakingly un-put-down-able.

Below is a photo of Amanda and Nigel the day they were rescued:

And here is where you can visit the nonprofit, The Global Enrichment Foundation, she founded six months after returning from Somalia.

 RATING:  5/5