Preloved — Shirley Marr

I feel like this review is a bit sloppy and doesn’t adequately convey how much I loved Preloved. It’s more like a high 4.5 stars than a full 5, though, and I’ll get to why eventually. But first I’d like to share with you the Mr Matey commercial that plays such a pivotal part in this novel. I’ll wait.

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Did you see it? I feel very cheated for being an American with only Mr. Bubble to remember from my youth. I mean, this is all we got here. What is with all the singing? Why is no one yelling that they want their pants off?

Anyway, now that’s out of the way–the review! Continue reading

Awkward: A Survival Guide for When All You Can Do is Cringe — Sam Scholfield

4/5 stars

This is a quick review for a quick read. I am by nature a very awkward person, so I was beyond excited to win an ARC of this through First Reads. And it’s full of useful advice! For example:

* What to do if you change your Facebook relationship status and your new flame doesn’t.
* How to handle the STD talk–I have one, I just found out I have one, you gave me one.
* When you say something snarky about a friend/coworker/family member and that person overhears it.
* How to handle communal fridge wars (this is one I particularly appreciated, since human decency seems to completely break down in the face of a shared refrigerator).
* When you are dating two or more girls at once and at #1’s office holiday party you guys meet up with #2 (favorite hypothetical scenario: Neither girl cares, so “propose a threesome immediately. Opportunities like this don’t come around every day.”)
* How to let someone down on a first or second date when you realize there’s no way it’ll work out.
* What to do when you spill pinot on your girlfriend’s parents’ new white suede couch during your first Thanksgiving at their house (“look up ‘how to remove red wine from a white suede couch’ on your phone. Contemplate, while the answer is loading, whether or not you should be concerned that your girlfriend’s parents just bought a white suede couch”).
* What to do when someone confesses their love for you and says they’ll hurt themselves if you don’t reciprocate.

Scholfield also shares humorous awkward stories from herself and others. It was a fun read that had me laughing out loud quite a few times. Though she does make some tongue-in-cheek suggestions on how to deal with awkward situations, there are also many realistic and truly helpful ones and I imagine I’ll be referencing this book many times in the years to come.

Also posted on Goodreads.

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking — Susan Cain

3/5 stars

Description from Goodreads: At least one-third of the people we know are introverts. They are the ones who prefer listening to speaking, reading to partying; who innovate and create but dislike self-promotion; who favor working on their own over brainstorming in teams. Although they are often labeled “quiet,” it is to introverts that we owe many of the great contributions to society–from van Gogh’s sunflowers to the invention of the personal computer.

Passionately argued, impressively researched, and filled with indelible stories of real people, Quiet shows how dramatically we undervalue introverts, and how much we lose in doing so. Taking the reader on a journey from Dale Carnegie’s birthplace to Harvard Business School, from a Tony Robbins seminar to an evangelical megachurch, Susan Cain charts the rise of the Extrovert Ideal in the twentieth century and explores its far-reaching effects. She talks to Asian-American students who feel alienated from the brash, backslapping atmosphere of American schools. She questions the dominant values of American business culture, where forced collaboration can stand in the way of innovation, and where the leadership potential of introverts is often overlooked. And she draws on cutting-edge research in psychology and neuroscience to reveal the surprising differences between extroverts and introverts.

Perhaps most inspiring, she introduces us to successful introverts–from a witty, high-octane public speaker who recharges in solitude after his talks, to a record-breaking salesman who quietly taps into the power of questions. Finally, she offers invaluable advice on everything from how to better negotiate differences in introvert-extrovert relationships to how to empower an introverted child to when it makes sense to be a “pretend extrovert.”

This extraordinary book has the power to permanently change how we see introverts and, equally important, how introverts see themselves.

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Upcoming reviews

In no particular order, here are some of the books I’ll be reading/reviewing soon, in exciting pile form!

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A few of these I won through the Goodreads First Reads program, which is an excellent institution and probably something my mailman curses every day. In two days I’ve received three books, plus another non-book package. He probably thinks there’s some kind of black market book trade going on here.

Living Dead Girl — Elizabeth Scott

I finished reading this one Tuesday morning and had a vaguely unsettled feeling all day.

This book deals with a horrifying topic–the kidnapping, rape, and subjugation of a girl three days shy of her tenth birthday–in a non-exploitative and minimally graphic way. It deserves five stars for that.

This book is well-written, if a bit heavy on the “once upon a time” device. It deserves five stars for that.

And from the standpoint a psychological study, this book definitely deserves five stars.

But I give it 3/5 stars.

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