The Four Tendencies by Gretchen Rubin

Gretchen Rubin

The Four Tendencies

I’ve been following Gretchen Rubin for several years now.  She’s the famous author of THE HAPPINESS PROJECT.  And that’s only one of her books. I actually sat next to Gretchen at a BlogHer convention. Who knew she would become so famous!

” In this groundbreaking analysis of personality type, bestselling author of BETTER THAN BEFORE and THE HAPPINESS PROJECT Gretchen Rubin reveals the one short question that will transform what you do at home, at work, and in life.”

She asked herself “How do we respond to expectations?” She found that we all fit into four tendencies: Upholders, questioners, obligers, and rebels.

Have you ever wondered…

  • People can rely on me, so why can’t I rely on myself?
  • Why do people tell me that I ask to many questions?
  • How do I work with someone who refuses to do what I ask–or one who keeps telling me what to do?

With surprising insights, compelling research, and hilarious examples, THE FOUR TENDENCIES will help you become happier, healthier, more productive, and more creative. It’s far easier to succeed when you know what actually works–and why.


Gretchen Rubin

More than 600,000 people have taken the online quiz on Gretchen’s website.  She’s sharp and has a ton of research. We all are always striving to understand ourselves better at any age.

Gretchen hosts a popular  podcast, HAPPIER WITH GRETCHEN RUBIN. I gotta catch it.  She’s been interviewed by Oprah and walked arm in arm with the Dalai Lama.

This book is really good for understanding spouses and family members, too.

My finished copy arrived from Blogging For Books in exchange for this honest review. What a fun and informative book. I really enjoyed it.



Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan

Jennifer Egan

Manhattan Beach

Prepare yourself for a real winner! I swallowed  this unique new novel whole. MANHATTAN BEACH is Jennifer Egan’s newest novel. It’s filled with delightful prose and strong characters who will stay with you forever.

MANHATTAN BEACH opens in NYC in 1934. Eddie Kerrigan is looking for work.  He has a wife and two daughters to support. One daughter is severely disabled and needs a special wheelchair asap. One morning he takes Anna, his healthy daughter, along to meet Dexter Styles,  a mobster. Dexter’s home is a mansion on MANHATTAN BEACH. Anna is almost twelve-years-old  and it’s a day she will never forget. She rids herself of her shoes and steps into the frigid Atlantic.“She unrolled her wool stockings and placed her white, bony, long-for-her-age feet in the icy water. Each foot delivered an agony of sensation to her heart, one part of which was a flame of ache that felt unexpectedly pleasant. “ Meanwhile, Eddie and Dexter are deep in hidden conversation. Eddie is about to leave the clutches of the corrupt union official he’s been working for, and jump feet first into bed with the mob.

Some years later we find Anna working at the Brooklyn Naval Yard inspecting parts for the battle ships. America is deep into the Second World War and women have stepped into men’s roles in the working world.   She’s now the sole supporter of her mom and sister. You see, her father has disappeared without a trace.  Left the family who adored him…

One day while on a break at work Anna walks out on the dock and watches a diver maneuvering into the water next to one of the big ships. It’s life-changing for her. She makes it her mission to become the first female civilian diver. She deals with every obstacle you can imagine and then some. The descriptions of the “dress” they wear to dive in back then is just amazing. Those archaic diving suits weighed more than two hundred pounds. She is determined.

One night while making a rare visit to a nightclub in the city Anna meets up with Dexter Styles. Little known to her Dexter now  owns this club. And they begin a complicated relationship that brings this story to yet another level. And then Dexter says he can help Anna find out what happened to her father. So, slowly and quietly, we are given this story between the lines.

On a memorable trip to show her sister the ocean for the first time, Anna is thinking: ” At the end of the street, under a gray expanse of sky, she sensed the ocean breathing like someone asleep.”  This passage is more than an example of the moving writing. The  water is a true character throughout the novel. 

This novel is deep and rich and full of strong characters that keep the story on track.  Dealing with class, race, and even gender issues, Egan does not miss a beat. This, her first historical novel, is filled with factual information taken from her fastidious research. WW11 and the NY mob scene are depicted vividly. Showgirls, gangsters, killers, union men, shipwrecks, graft, and teeming are just a part of the big picture.

The Mysterious Disappearance of Eddie Kerrigan could have been the title of this novel. But this book is so much more than that. It’s full of so much heart.  Has so much to offer. All while being beautifully written by Jennifer Egan who is a superb writer at the top of her game!


Jennifer Egan

Jennifer Egan won a Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award for  her 2010 novel, A VISIT FROM THE GOON SQUAD.

My review copy was furnished by the nice publishing people at Scribner, a division of Simon and Schuster, in exchange for an honest review. I loved it! I will be bringing it to my upcoming seasonal lectures. You are in for such a treat.


My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent

Gabriel Tallent

My Absolute Darling

The cover of this new and very talked about novel does nothing to reveal the horrific content. There should be a blurb saying open with caution. If you choose to read it, you need to know what you’re in for.  You are in for violence like you may never have encountered before.  You are going to be very uncomfortable. You’ll experience mental, physical and sexual abuse. And incest. Yes. All that. And more. Did I  mention the anguish of dying animals? Don’t want to miss that.

So, why on God’s earth would I choose to read this book?To tell the truth, I did not want to. But the cover has graced a lot of publications that are well-respected. And the reviews have been raving of this new author.  Respected newspapers from England to San Francisco have written glowing reviews. And then I discovered a respected friend was reading it. So we decided I would finish the book and we would get together to talk about it. And that is the only reason I got to the last page. Still, I may have to hurt her.

I almost don’t know what to say. I respect the author’s writing.  The story is compelling. But so much is included in this novel that simply did not need to be. The lush prose that is being lauded from coast to coast is too much. Not all, but much.

Julia is 14- years-old. She’s living alone with her father in Mendacino, California on a large stretch of land near the luscious coast.  Her mom drowned and disappeared mysteriously some years ago. Her dad’s dad lives nearby. They call Julia Turtle. But her dad mostly refers to her as Kibble. I don’t know why. She seems almost feral. Each morning Turtle makes her way to the fridge and throws down  raw eggs straight from the carton.  Then she tosses dad a beer. That’s how they start their day. He walks her to the school bus every day even though she reminds him he does not have to. In school, Turtle believes she’s stupid. The names she calls herself are degrading and filthy. And we find that she’s learned this manner of speaking and thought from dear old dad. Slut, whore, bitch, c$%%^^. Yes, isn’t this just super.

The abuse begins immediately. I could easily have put the book down after the first chapter. That’s how disturbed I felt. But I decided that I must be the only person who could not see the redeeming quality of the story. Then I began paying close attention to the prose.  The descriptions of the flora and fauna went on and on. I could see potential here, but it was mostly over the top.

Okay, I have a problem with a man writing in the voice of a 14- year-old girl who is being abused by her father. It’s not a love affair. It’s abuse. It’s about a tortured soul. It’s child abuse. Some of the descriptions  are not what a girl would think or say. That’s my humble opinion.  But I feel it in my gut.

When Turtle becomes friends with two boys from her school I can feel the tide turning. I am fearful for these two normal boys who are truly good people. Didn’t expect to find this in this story. Turtle finally sees what the real world is like. Everyone does not live like she does. And so, she begins to prepare for her escape.

I guess you could rename this book Survival because it sure is about that. Or you could call it Revenge. I just read a wonderful novel that comes out in February about abuse. And it is also about revenge. Novels about abuse can be done without horrific content.

The author lives in Utah. He has been writing this novel for over eight years. You can tell he knows the area of Mendocino and the coast.


Gabriel Tallent

That’s where he grew up. He’s most at home outside and he has extensive knowledge of the wilderness and this shines through. He’s currently working on his next novel.

Guns, slaughter, self-hate. I dare you to read this novel.  I would like to hear your thoughts. You may never feel the same.

I borrowed this book from the library. Read it in two days.  Is published by Riverhead Books.

Our Souls At Night The Movie

Okay, here is the trailer for the movie edition of OUR SOULS AT NIGHT, the must-read book from the late Kent Haruf.  I don’t know about you but I love Robert Redford. At least, I used to. I can take or leave Jane Fonda. However, I thought they would make a great couple for this movie. I saw an interview on The Today Show this morning. Matt Lauer speaking with Redford. I was so put off and disappointed. It was all Redford could do to be in the moment. He sat sipping a cup of coffee and telling Matt how he is not a morning person. Then he was asked questions that he refused to answer saying just that you should see the movie. Well, what you should do is READ this magnificent little book that is sooo big. The story is wonderful. The movie, I’m just not so sure. Doubtless, there will be those people who have not read the book. They may love the movie.  On Today they showed a snippet with Jane’s character asking Redford’s character a critical question. Her voice just didn’t seem right for this.  Sometimes a book just should NOT become a movie. You decide. I would love to hear your comments.

Kent Haruf

Our Souls At Night

Here’s my review of this amazing little book.


OUR SOULS AT NIGHT, touched my heart. It sang to me from the first paragraph. I had no idea what to expect. That’s the beauty of Haruf’s work. He throws in stuff that seems unlikely. When the first paragraph went like this: “ And then there was the day when Addie Moore made a call on Louis Waters.” This was not just any visit, though. You see, Addie had a little something special to ask of Louis. And these were not just any two people: they both were older folk who had lost their spouses, recently. They were lonely.  And Addie finally asks Louis, after much skirting of the issues, “ I wonder if you would consider coming to my house sometimes to sleep with me.” Now the story truly gets going:)

Kent Haruf was blessed with his innate ability to use dialog to tell his stories. And to bring his simple characters to life. In OUR SOULS AT NIGHT, he tells the story of Addie and Louis, and their lives before and after their spouses pass away. It makes me think of all the lonely people living alone who may not have to be. People live lives of quiet desperation. Everyday, everywhere. We each need someone to share our lives with in some way or form.

I kept thinking about how as young people we are scolded about what we wear, who we hang out with, and what we do. Then, when we are older, it is once again, about who we hang with and what we do. Neighbors are nosey. Adult children poke their noses into our business and make assumptions, just because we are senior citizens. Old people have the right to live their lives as they see fit, as long as they are physically, mentally, and monetarily  able. Amen

We watch this lovely story become tense as children jump into the huddle and make a mess. And neighbors jabber away over fenceposts because they have nothing better to do, or are just jealous. Haruf handles his last novel with the poignancy and spare prose; all lovely and I find I will keep OUR SOULS AT NIGHT, to reread over and over again!

My review copy came from Random House, and I am so blessed to have it.  The opinions are all mine.


Great Novels Coming This Season

Kristin Hannah

The Great Alone

THE GREAT ALONE by Kristin Hannah  hits the shelves in February 2018. I was one of the lucky ones who have a review copy. I will publish my review much closer to pub date, but, I am here to tell you it is dynamite!!

Melanie Benjamin

The Girls In The Picture

January brings us the newest historical novel from Melanie Benjamin. Haven’t read it yet but, I’m about to.

Jennifer Egan

Manhattan Beach

MANHATTAN BEACH by Jennifer Egan is going to be on every bookclub’s list this season! My review will pub soon. I loved it. Comes out next month.

Isabelle Allende

In The Midst Of Winter

IN THE MIDST OF WINTER is coming out the end of October. She is back with a novel in present -day Brooklyn and Guatamala, then in 1970 Chile and Brazil.

Laura Lee Smith

The Ice House

I absolutely adored Smith’s first novel HEART IF PALM. She’s back with what looks like another winner. Love the cover. Soon.

As you can see there are many great new titles coming out in the next few months. And this is only a smattering of them. I will post more covers soon. Don’t want to overwhelm anyone.

I’m reading heartily now that our community has gotten back to almost normal. While the storm was coming, then while it was here, and then after, reading and concentrating was impossible. Impending doom is not a good situation. But now I’m feeling more like myself and reading and reading and reading. I hope you are too!

Peppers Of The Americas by Maricel E. Presilla


Peppers of the Americas

This gorgeous big book all about peppers includes unique and powerful recipes for all you lovers of heat out there.

As Presilla details, peppers bring much more than fire to the plate. Their distinct flavors–fruity, sweet, floral, herbal–add nuance and depth to cooking that no other ingredient can conjure. Here, Presilla describes nearly 200 varieties of fresh and dried peppers, each one photographed to showcase it’s distinguishing features. Information on how to grow, buy, store, process, and cook peppers now available in markets everywhere. More than 40 pepper-forward recipes for everything from ground dried pepper blends, piquant vinegars, bright sauces and lively sides to memorable main dishes round out Presilla’s tribute to this inimitable ingredient. 

I love this book. It’s a great addition to our kitchen library and will make a great gift during the upcoming holidays for those on your list who love food and cooking.

My finished copy of PEPPERS OF THE AMERICAN’S arrived from Blogging For Books in exchange for an honest review. Honestly, I think it’s a must-have for those of us foodies! Published by Ten Speed Press.

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

Celeste Ng

Little Fires Everywhere

The year is 1997. The setting is Shaker Heights an affluent suburb of Cleveland, Ohio. The Richardson family consists of mom and dad and four high-school age teenagers.  They’ve been living a near perfect life of privilege all their lives. Shaker Heights is a planned community that works well for Elena Richardson who likes everything planned. All is well until that certain summer when single mother Mia rolls into town with her 15-year-old daughter Pearl.

Everyone in Shaker Heights was talking about it that summer: how Isabelle, the last of the Richardson children had finally gone around the bend and burned the house down.”

What a first sentence! Wow.  If that won’t grab you, I don’t know what will. I was off and running right off the bat.

Mia Warren is one of those modernist artists with a mysterious past. .  She’s quite talented but something is very wrong with this picture.  She’s been moving from town to town with her daughter ever since her daughter’s birth. They drive an ancient VW Rabbit which they stuff with all their worldly possessions each time they move on.  Of course I was wild to know what was going on.  Pearl is shy but quite smart.

The Richardson family consists of  Elena Richardson and her husband. He’s a lawyer; she writes for the local paper. Elena has inherited the family home from her parents. Lexi, Moody, and Trip seem to be pretty normal teens. But Isabele, the one they call Izzy, is a problem child the likes you’ve rarely seen in novels.  The outcome of this novel leans heavily on her.

Mia rents a house from Elena and begins working as a housekeeper for them. Pearl becomes friends with the Richardson kids and the so the two families become enmeshed.

Izzy finds solace by spending time with Mia. Izzy has never had a good relationship with her mother and things have gotten even more strained lately.  In Mia, Izzy finds someone who is caring and sympathetic.  And Pearl gets closer to Moody. In fact, they become fast friends who are rarely seen apart. Until one day Trip and Pearl begin something they can’t stop.

When one of Elena’s close friends becomes involved in a heated custody battle over a Chinese baby, that’s when this story moves into a higher realm. Each family takes a side.  And the dynamic changes.

Filled with old secrets, moral issues of abortion and surrogacy, and adoption, this novel is bound to become one of the big ones for book clubs this season and far into the future.

Told in different perspectives, LITTLE FIRES EVERYWHERE becomes a real page-turner.  It’s a great follow-up to her debut novel, EVERYTHING I NEVER TOLD YOU.

Celeste Ng grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Shaker Heights, Ohio.  I can’t wait to read her next novel.

My review copy came from Penguin Press. I really enjoyed it!