No Regrets: Adventuring Through Life

No Regrets: Adventuring Through Life by Linda McDermott

No Regrets is the story of how one woman travels all seven continents in an effort to grow from the small, Midwestern beliefs with which she’d been raised. Linda leads the reader through an inspirational memoir including adventures that once seemed out of reach—from washing elephants in Nepal to working (twice) in Antarctica—all the while learning to trust herself.

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(A copy of this book was provided by the publicist in exchange for an honest review)

I don’t do that many sponsored posts on this blog – partially because I don’t always have time to read to a deadline and partially because if I’m going to do one, I try to pick a book I think I’ll really like.

Life’s been more than a little busy lately, but when I saw what this memoir was about, I immediately knew I wanted to read it. I’ve always wanted to travel, but it’s only now that I’m older that I feel like I have the opportunity to make that a reality. The last few years I’ve been fortunate enough to travel to one new place each year…a practice I hope to keep up for as long as I can.

Because I totally understand the motivation behind Linda McDermott’s wanderlust and the title of the book, No Regrets. We only get this one life, something I’ve also been intentionally conscious of the last few years. This quote from Tuck Everlasting often runs through my head:

“Don’t be afraid of death; be afraid of an unlived life. You don’t have to live forever, you just have to live.”

I’m constantly trying to remind myself that I have choices to make about how I want to live, so that when I come to the end of my life, which will hopefully be a long, long time from now, I can look back with no regrets. That I packed a lot of life in my years and made the most of the time I was given on Earth. Which includes going out to explore said Earth.

No Regrets is a memoir of Linda McDermott’s life in travel. McDermott began traveling the mid-1980s on adventures that would take her from a road trip through the US to the Swiss Alps to Nepal to Fiji and even to Antarctica. Along the way she chronicled her adventures and experiences. I really enjoyed this book because I liked that her adventures weren’t run of the mill – there was a lot of spontaneity and a lot of off-the-beaten-path adventures. Not the typical tourist things. I also enjoyed that McDermott wasn’t a very young girl when she started and most of her travel was done as a middle-aged woman or older. In the epilogue, she tells the story of a trip to the Swiss Alps conducted in her seventies! This is not the memoir of a privileged young adult who set off to travel the world before settling down, but rather the story of a woman who worked hard and prioritized making the most of her time on Earth to have new experiences –  exactly the sort of woman I aspire to be!

This is a feel-good story filled with that sense of awe and wonder that only comes when you’ve truly opened your eyes to seeing the beauty in everything and everyone around you. This book is the perfect spring break or summer beach read – perhaps while you’re off having your own grand adventure!

I’m also pleased to share that if you review this book on Goodreads or Amazon, the publicist is offering two additional stories by the author for free. If you read and review this book, make sure you email Alyssa at Mind Buck Media to get your free stories (alyssa [@] mindbuckmedia.com)

 

Will It Fly?

Will It Fly? by Pat Flynn

Stop rushing into businesses born from half-baked ideas, misguided theories, and other forms of self-delusion. A lack of proper validation kills more businesses than anything else. As Joel Barker says, “Speed is only useful if you’re running in the right direction.” Will It Fly? will help you make sure you are clear for takeoff. It answers questions like: 

– Does your business idea have merit?
– Will it succeed in the market you’re trying to serve, or will it just be a waste of time and resources?
– Is it a good idea for you? 

In other words, will it fly?

Chock-full of practical suggestions you can apply to your business idea today, Will It Fly? combines action-based exercises and real-world case studies with anecdotes from the author’s personal experience of making money online, hosting successful podcasts, testing niche sites, and launching several online businesses.

Will It Fly? will challenge you to think critically, act deliberately, and dare greatly. You can think of the book as your business flight manual, something you can refer to for honest and straight-forward advice as you begin to test your idea and build a business that takes off and soars.

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I was initially hesitant to post a review of this book for fear it would make be seem like an obsessed fangirl. I’ve actually met the author before and I started going to his monthly entrepreneur meet-up in Downtown San Diego. BUT. This book is really good. Really good. And I figured you, the readers of my blog, should know about it!

After all, that’s why I started this blog right? To give reviews of books I’d read and liked to people in need of recommendations? So here you go!

This book is very practical and interactive. It walks you through the framework and encourages you to actually take time to do it as you move through the book.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Shannon there’s a million books like that on the market, why should I get this one?”

You should get it because I, who have spent a good chunk of the last couple years consuming podcasts and books about self-development, entrepreneurship, business, and marketing, still got something new out of this book. Something about the way Pat Flynn describes the Five Years exercise really made me think about my business in a different way and deepened my focus and commitment to what I really want and don’t want out of life.

But more than that, as I said, this book is highly actionable. Meaning if you put in the work, you will get something out of it. In fact I’ve had this book on my desk for two months since I finished it (yeah, I’m just now writing the review, leave me alone) and I keep thinking I need to go back and do the exercises from Part 3 because I didn’t have time when I was reading it to do the exercises. Though I’m know they’re really good and worth doing because I heard a scaled down version of it at a talk Pat gave that I attended.

Also if you enjoy his podcast, you will not be disappointed in the book because it sounds exactly like him. You can practically hear him reading it aloud in your mind. So that’s nice!

Leapfrog

Leapfrog: The New Revolution for Women Entrepreneurs by Nathalie Molina Niño

Think the most critical factor for becoming a great entrepreneur is grit, risk-taking, or technical skills? Think again. Despite what every other business book might say, historical data show the real secret ingredients to getting ahead in business are being rich, white, and male.

Until now. Leapfrog is the decades-overdue startup bible for the rest of us. It’s filled with uncompromising guidance for winning at business, your way. Leapfrog is for entrepreneurs of all stripes who are fed up with status quo advice–the kind that assumes you have rich friends and family and a public relations team.

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Let me start by saying this is a good read for any female in business, not just entrepreneurs. And though this book does talk to and assume its audience is female minorities, there’s still good stuff to be gained if you’re a woman that’s not a minority. Basically, the only people I don’t recommend this to are the old money white males Niño names on the back cover blurb.

I heard about this book from an interview with the author on Sunny Lenarduzzi’s podcast. It was a really good episode, you can listen to it here. And as has happened to me so many times this past year, after the podcast was done I went to Amazon and purchased a copy of the book. I’m always looking for new books to fill up my Miracle Morning book pipeline since that’s the only thing I seem to be reading these days!

Leapfrog has a very loose structure: the fifty hacks in the book are divided by the themes of Ready-Set-Go-Fund-Grow. But what’s great about this book is that, similar to Tribe of Mentors, you don’t really need to read it in order or even read the whole thing in a timely fashion. You can pick it up and just read a hack here and there. Each of the hacks are only a couple pages long so the content is pretty digestible. But they’re also highly actionable!

When I’m reading fiction, I usually judge how well I’m enjoying a book by how often I get the craving to just pick it up and read a few more pages or another chapter. With non-fiction, I still use that same metric, but I also add in how passages I marked or how many pages I dog-earred (I know, I know). Leapfrog hit the mark on all three points.

I’ve already recommended this book to some female entrepreneur friends in my life so today, I’m recommending it to you too if you’ve ever found yourself frustrated or feeling alone as you build your business or career! This is a book I’m sure you’ll return to often.

13 Books on My TBR List for 2019

For 2019 I’ve set myself the (hopefully) doable goal of reading 35 books in 2019. Just a couple more than I ended up reading in 2018!

I feel like I’ve gotten very far behind on all of my series and fiction reading because I mostly read non-fiction this year. As such, there are some new releases I’m excited about…but then I realize I haven’t even read the book the previous book in the series. So instead of doing a list of new releases I’m excited about, I’ll just going to highlight some books that are on my TBR list for 2019, regardless of whether they’re a new release or not.

13 Books on My TBR List for 2019

The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi

Paris, 1889: The world is on the cusp of industry and power, and the Exposition Universelle has breathed new life into the streets and dredged up ancient secrets. In this city, no one keeps tabs on secrets better than treasure-hunter and wealthy hotelier, Séverin Montagnet-Alarie. But when the all-powerful society, the Order of Babel, seeks him out for help, Séverin is offered a treasure that he never imagined: his true inheritance.

To find the ancient artifact the Order seeks, Séverin will need help from a band of experts: An engineer with a debt to pay. A historian who can’t yet go home. A dancer with a sinister past. And a brother in all but blood, who might care too much.

Together, they’ll have to use their wits and knowledge to hunt the artifact through the dark and glittering heart of Paris. What they find might change the world, but only if they can stay alive.

This one IS actually a new release for 2019 and I’m so, so excited to get my hands on it. It sounds like a mix of everything I love in books and I think I am going to thoroughly enjoy it.

Talk Triggers by Jay Baer

Word of mouth is directly responsible for 19% of all purchases, and influences as much as 90%. Every human on earth relies on word of mouth to make buying decisions. Yet even today, fewer than 1% of companies have an actual strategy for generating these crucial customer conversations. Talk Triggers provides that strategy in a compelling, relevant, timely book that can be put into practice immediately, by any business.

The key to activating customer chatter is the realization that same is lame. Nobody says “let me tell you about this perfectly adequate experience I had last night.” The strategic, operational differentiator is what gives customers something to tell a story about. Companies (including the 30+ profiled in Talk Triggers) must dare to be different and exceed expectations in one or more palpable ways. That’s when word of mouth becomes involuntary: the customers of these businesses simply MUST tell someone else.

Consumers are wired to discuss what is different, and ignore what is average. Talk Triggers not only dares the reader to differentiate, it includes the precise formula for doing it.

I saw Jay Baer talk about Talk Triggers (say that five times fast) last year at Social Media Marketing World and just recently got around to ordering a copy of the book. As referral marketing is my very favorite type of marketing, I’m super excited to dive into this book because his talk was one of the best at the conference last year!

Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell

In this stunning new book, Malcolm Gladwell takes us on an intellectual journey through the world of “outliers”–the best and the brightest, the most famous and the most successful. He asks the question: what makes high-achievers different?

His answer is that we pay too much attention to what successful people are like, and too little attention to where they are from: that is, their culture, their family, their generation, and the idiosyncratic experiences of their upbringing. Along the way he explains the secrets of software billionaires, what it takes to be a great soccer player, why Asians are good at math, and what made the Beatles the greatest rock band.

I finally got around to reading The Tipping Point in 2018 so I’m itching to read the other Gladwell book I have. Love him or hate him, Gladwell’s books are interesting and entertaining reads that, if nothing else, should prompt you to do your own research and deepen your understanding of the topic that is presented.

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

They killed my mother.
They took our magic.
They tried to bury us.

Now we rise.

Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zélie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls.

But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope.

Now Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good.

Danger lurks in Orïsha, where snow leoponaires prowl and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers and her growing feelings for an enemy.

This is a carry-over from last year’s list of new releases I was looking forward to 2018. I finally got a copy of this book after Christmas! Super excited to finally jump in and read the book that’s been super buzzed about over the last year!

The Stand by Stephen King

This is the way the world ends: with a nanosecond of computer error in a Defense Department laboratory and a million casual contacts that form the links in a chain letter of death. And here is the bleak new world of the day after: a world stripped of its institutions and emptied of 99 percent of its people. A world in which a handful of panicky survivors choose sides — or are chosen.

I’ve actually had a copy of this book for a few years now and have had every intention of starting it, but it’s absolutely massive so I’ve been putting it off. Hopefully 2019 is the year to change that!

Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis

Founder of the lifestyle website TheChicSite.com and CEO of her own media company, Chic Media, Rachel Hollis has created an online fan base of hundreds of thousands of fans by sharing tips for living a better life while fearlessly revealing the messiness of her own. Now comes her highly anticipated first book featuring her signature combination of honesty, humor, and direct, no-nonsense advice.

Each chapter of Girl, Wash Your Face begins with a specific lie Hollis once believed that left her feeling overwhelmed, unworthy, or ready to give up. As a working mother, a former foster parent, and a woman who has dealt with insecurities about her body and relationships, she speaks with the insight and kindness of a BFF, helping women unpack the limiting mind-sets that destroy their self-confidence and keep them from moving forward.

From her temporary obsession with marrying Matt Damon to a daydream involving hypnotic iguanas to her son’s request that she buy a necklace to “be like the other moms,” Hollis holds nothing back. With unflinching faith and tenacity, Hollis spurs other women to live with passion and hustle and to awaken their slumbering goals.

This was a book that was EVERYWHERE in 2018. And love her or hate her, Rachel Hollis is really good at doling out the inspiration. I’m excited to see what the buzz is about and hopefully, finish the book feeling a tad more inspired about life!

Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury

A carnival rolls in sometime after the midnight hour on a chill Midwestern October eve, ushering in Halloween a week before its time. A calliope’s shrill siren song beckons to all with a seductive promise of dreams and youth regained. In this season of dying, Cooger & Dark’s Pandemonium Shadow Show has come to Green Town, Illinois, to destroy every life touched by its strange and sinister mystery. And two inquisitive boys standing precariously on the brink of adulthood will soon discover the secret of the satanic raree-show’s smoke, mazes, and mirrors, as they learn all too well the heavy cost of wishes – and the stuff of nightmare.

As I’m about to close out another draft of Shadow of the Magician and believe I’m finally just months away from starting to query agents, I’ve been looking at books to consider for possible comp titles for mine. This was a suggestion from a friend and I have to admit, this book just sounds good.

A Map of Days by Ransom Riggs

Having defeated the monstrous threat that nearly destroyed the peculiar world, Jacob Portman is back where his story began, in Florida. Except now Miss Peregrine, Emma, and their peculiar friends are with him, and doing their best to blend in. But carefree days of beach visits and normalling lessons are soon interrupted by a discovery—a subterranean bunker that belonged to Jacob’s grandfather, Abe.

Clues to Abe’s double-life as a peculiar operative start to emerge, secrets long hidden in plain sight. And Jacob begins to learn about the dangerous legacy he has inherited—truths that were part of him long before he walked into Miss Peregrine’s time loop.

Now, the stakes are higher than ever as Jacob and his friends are thrust into the untamed landscape of American peculiardom—a world with few ymbrynes, or rules—that none of them understand. New wonders, and dangers, await in this brilliant next chapter for Miss Peregrine’s peculiar children. Their story is again illustrated throughout by haunting vintage photographs, but with a striking addition for this all-new, multi-era American adventure—full color.

After reading the first three books in The Miss Peregine’s Home for Peculiar Children trilogy, I’m interested to read this new book and see how the story continues. There’s always a bit of nerves involved when you hear that a series that has supposedly wrapped up is getting new books. Will the new book do the original series justice? Will it be just as enjoyable? We will find out…

Origin by Dan Brown

Robert Langdon, Harvard professor of symbology and religious iconology, arrives at the ultramodern Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao to attend a major announcement—the unveiling of a discovery that “will change the face of science forever.” The evening’s host is Edmond Kirsch, a forty-year-old billionaire and futurist whose dazzling high-tech inventions and audacious predictions have made him a renowned global figure. Kirsch, who was one of Langdon’s first students at Harvard two decades earlier, is about to reveal an astonishing breakthrough . . . one that will answer two of the fundamental questions of human existence.

As the event begins, Langdon and several hundred guests find themselves captivated by an utterly original presentation, which Langdon realizes will be far more controversial than he ever imagined. But the meticulously orchestrated evening suddenly erupts into chaos, and Kirsch’s precious discovery teeters on the brink of being lost forever. Reeling and facing an imminent threat, Langdon is forced into a desperate bid to escape Bilbao. With him is Ambra Vidal, the elegant museum director who worked with Kirsch to stage the provocative event. Together they flee to Barcelona on a perilous quest to locate a cryptic password that will unlock Kirsch’s secret.

Navigating the dark corridors of hidden history and extreme religion, Langdon and Vidal must evade a tormented enemy whose all-knowing power seems to emanate from Spain’s Royal Palace itself… and who will stop at nothing to silence Edmond Kirsch. On a trail marked by modern art and enigmatic symbols, Langdon and Vidal uncover clues that ultimately bring them face-to-face with Kirsch’s shocking discovery… and the breathtaking truth that has long eluded us.

I was supposed to see Dan Brown when he came to San Diego on tour for this book, but after the event was canceled, it took me a bit to get around to buying a copy. Not because I was upset or anything, I just tend to put off buying books because I know I really, really have a lot. I actually thought about buying another bookshelf from IKEA to match the one I have, but then I remembered my original bookshelf was discontinued and the new version, though similar, is not an exact match. Being that the bookshelves will go next to each other, my OCD can’t handle that. So I continue to have piles of books on the floor. Annnddddd this has nothing at all to do with Origin.

Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson

Lee Westfall has a strong, loving family. She has a home she loves and a loyal steed. She has a best friend—who might want to be something more.

She also has a secret.

Lee can sense gold in the world around her. Veins deep in the earth. Small nuggets in a stream. Even gold dust caught underneath a fingernail. She has kept her family safe and able to buy provisions, even through the harshest winters. But what would someone do to control a girl with that kind of power? A person might murder for it.

When everything Lee holds dear is ripped away, she flees west to California—where gold has just been discovered. Perhaps this will be the one place a magical girl can be herself. If she survives the journey.

The acclaimed Rae Carson begins a sweeping new trilogy set in Gold Rush-era America, about a young woman with a powerful and dangerous gift.

A friend told me about this series and when I looked it up, it sounded like something I would like. Also, absolutely love the title. And the cover is gorgeous. But I recently started thinking this book could also be a comp for my book so it’s moved up my TBR list.

The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken

When Ruby woke up on her tenth birthday, something about her had changed. Something frightening enough to make her parents lock her in the garage and call the police. Something that got her sent to Thurmond, a brutal government “rehabilitation camp.” She might have survived the mysterious disease that had killed most of America’s children, but she and the others emerged with something far worse: frightening abilities they could not control.

Now sixteen, Ruby is one of the dangerous ones. When the truth comes out, Ruby barely escapes Thurmond with her life. She is on the run, desperate to find the only safe haven left for kids like her—East River. She joins a group of kids who have escaped their own camp. Liam, their brave leader, is falling hard for Ruby. But no matter how much she aches for him, Ruby can’t risk getting close. Not after what happened to her parents. When they arrive at East River, nothing is as it seems, least of all its mysterious leader. But there are other forces at work, people who will stop at nothing to use Ruby in their fight against the government. Ruby will be faced with a terrible choice, one that may mean giving up her only chance at having a life worth living.

This book was recently made into a movie which I haven’t seen yet. I hate watching the movie first because I never enjoy the book after. But after seeing the trailer, this book also moved up my gargantuan list.

The Last Days of Night by Graham Moore

New York, 1888. Gas lamps still flicker in the city streets, but the miracle of electric light is in its infancy. The person who controls the means to turn night into day will make history–and a vast fortune. A young untested lawyer named Paul Cravath, fresh out of Columbia Law School, takes a case that seems impossible to win. Paul’s client, George Westinghouse, has been sued by Thomas Edison over a billion-dollar question: Who invented the light bulb and holds the right to power the country?

The case affords Paul entry to the heady world of high society–the glittering parties in Gramercy Park mansions, and the more insidious dealings done behind closed doors. The task facing him is beyond daunting. Edison is a wily, dangerous opponent with vast resources at his disposal–private spies, newspapers in his pocket, and the backing of J. P. Morgan himself. Yet this unknown lawyer shares with his famous adversary a compulsion to win at all costs. How will he do it?

In obsessive pursuit of victory, Paul crosses paths with Nikola Tesla, an eccentric, brilliant inventor who may hold the key to defeating Edison, and with Agnes Huntington, a beautiful opera singer who proves to be a flawless performer on stage and off. As Paul takes greater and greater risks, he’ll find that everyone in his path is playing their own game, and no one is quite who they seem.

Another entry on the possible comp title search. But being that Nikola Tesla is actually a character in this book, this one will probably be a sure bet. I’ve put off reading it because I didn’t want to do anything to include my own writing. So this one will not be read until I’m absolutely done done.

Iron Gold by Pierce Brown

A decade ago, Darrow was the hero of the revolution he believed would break the chains of the Society. But the Rising has shattered everything: Instead of peace and freedom, it has brought endless war. Now he must risk everything he has fought for on one last desperate mission. Darrow still believes he can save everyone, but can he save himself?

And throughout the worlds, other destinies entwine with Darrow’s to change his fate forever: 

A young Red girl flees tragedy in her refugee camp and achieves for herself a new life she could never have imagined.

An ex-soldier broken by grief is forced to steal the most valuable thing in the galaxy—or pay with his life.

And Lysander au Lune, the heir in exile to the sovereign, wanders the stars with his mentor, Cassius, haunted by the loss of the world that Darrow transformed, and dreaming of what will rise from its ashes.

Another carryover from last year’s list, I’ve had this book since it came out, but haven’t gotten around to reading it yet! Can’t wait to dive back into the Red Rising world!

So tell me: what’s on your TBR list for 2019? Any new releases you’re looking forward to buying? Any books you’ve had forever that you’re determined to finally get around to ready? Leave me a comment below!

 

 

War Storm

War Storm by Victoria Aveyard

Victory comes at a price.

Mare Barrow learned this all too well when Cal’s betrayal nearly destroyed her. Now determined to protect her heart—and secure freedom for Reds and newbloods like her—Mare resolves to overthrow the kingdom of Norta once and for all… starting with the crown on Maven’s head.

But no battle is won alone, and before the Reds may rise as one, Mare must side with the boy who broke her heart in order to defeat the boy who almost broke her. Cal’s powerful Silver allies, alongside Mare and the Scarlet Guard, prove a formidable force. But Maven is driven by an obsession so deep, he will stop at nothing to have Mare as his own again, even if it means demolishing everything—and everyone—in his path.

War is coming, and all Mare has fought for hangs in the balance. Will victory be enough to topple the Silver kingdoms? Or will the little lightning girl be forever silenced?

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This will be a pretty short review for fear of spoiling much for this book (or the series), but wanted to share my review since I did finally finish reading this.

I’ve noticed that when I know I’m reading the last book in the series, I really drag my feet reading it. It takes me forever. Usually this is because I love the series so gosh-darn much that I know if I start reading, I won’t get anything done. Or get to sleep. And sleep is precious to me and time is in short supply right now.

So I did finish reading War Storm this fall and I was very, very happy with it. It’s no easy feat to wrap up such a massive story and really, no matter what you do some of your readers are going to be unhappy with you. I couldn’t imagine having to write a series with so much hype around it, knowing you’re kind of damned if you do, damned if you don’t with your story decisions.

I am glad this series is wrapped though. The Red Queen series was one I loved with such an intensity that it actually made the reading experience kind of exhausting. There are few books that really get in deep enough that my thoughts tend to drift back to them over and over again, to the point where it feels consuming and obsessive. Throne of GlassRed Rising, The Passage, The 5th Wave, and Game of Thrones have all been that way for me and there’s honestly only so many of these series I can take at a time.

I am looking forward to the book of short stories I know are coming in the Red Queen universe and I know Aveyard is working on another project that looks super intriguing. I do hope she’ll come back to this universe…so much world-building was done for Red Queen that there’s a lot of story to be mined here.

And yes, I still really, really want to be best friends with the author…she’s kind of my spirit animal!

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

January 1946: London is emerging from the shadow of the Second World War, and writer Juliet Ashton is looking for her next book subject. Who could imagine that she would find it in a letter from a man she’s never met, a native of the island of Guernsey, who has come across her name written inside a book by Charles Lamb…

As Juliet and her new correspondent exchange letters, Juliet is drawn into the world of this man and his friends—and what a wonderfully eccentric world it is. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society—born as a spur-of-the-moment alibi when its members were discovered breaking curfew by the Germans occupying their island—boasts a charming, funny, deeply human cast of characters, from pig farmers to phrenologists, literature lovers all.

Juliet begins a remarkable correspondence with the society’s members, learning about their island, their taste in books, and the impact the recent German occupation has had on their lives. Captivated by their stories, she sets sail for Guernsey, and what she finds will change her forever.

Written with warmth and humor as a series of letters, this novel is a celebration of the written word in all its guises and of finding connection in the most surprising ways.

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I’ve almost bought this book so many times because I thought the premise sounded good, but I always stopped when I saw it was a WWII book. I almost bought it again when I saw the trailer for the Netflix movie. But I didn’t pull the trigger until my book club decided to read it this fall.

To me this is a funny book because I’m honestly surprised I liked it as much as I did. It has elements I normally don’t really like in books, but somehow in this instance it worked for me.

I didn’t care for the main character though I liked the actions she took and her behavior. But I loved all of the Guernsey inhabitants and some of the other characters she writes to like Sidney.

To me, this book is a good bookclub read because it contains a multitude of things that could appeal to a group. The style and subject matter are unique. It’s easy to read. And the large cast of characters means that there are a lot of subplots going on that you can follow.

This letter (epistolary) format made it easy to keep turning the pages and the book is not too long. And for the most part, it is pretty lighthearted. Certainly the most lighthearted WWII book I think I’ve ever read.

But it did have its moments of levity. This book did a good job educating the reader about an overlooked piece of history. I had no idea that any of the British Isles were ever occupied during WWII. And I didn’t know much about Guernsey in general, but even with the letter style, I feel like I could really picture the island and its people. Now I want to go visit (of course). I should plan a Europe trip to visit the various book settings I’ve read about. Maybe someday…

The experience of this book is honestly like sitting down for a cup of tea with a couple of good friends to exchange news and stories. The time passes quickly, you leave happy and warm, but you can’t quite remember the main thrust of the conversation or everything you talked about. But you leave thoroughly satisfied just the same.

Mastering Fear

Mastering Fear: A Navy SEAL’s Guide by Brandon Webb

Brandon Webb has run life-threatening missions in the world’s worst trouble spots, whether that meant jumping out of airplanes, taking down hostile ships on the open sea, or rolling prisoners in the dead of night in the mountains of Afghanistan. As a Navy SEAL, he learned how to manage the natural impulse to panic in the face of terrifying situations. As media CEO and national television commentator, he has learned how to apply those same skills in civilian life. 

Drawing on his experiences in combat and business, along with colorful anecdotes from his vast network of super-achiever friends from astronauts to billionaires, Webb shows how people from all walks of life can stretch and transcend their boundaries and learn to use their fears as fuel to achieve more than they ever thought possible. “Fear can be a set of manacles, holding you prisoner,” writes Webb. “Or it can be a slingshot, catapulting you on to greatness.”

The key, says Webb, is not to fight fear or try to beat it back, but to embrace and harness it. In the process, rather than being your adversary, your fear becomes a secret weapon that allows you to triumph in even the most adverse situations. In Mastering Fear, Webb and his bestselling coauthor John David Mann break this transformation down into five practical steps, creating a must-read manual for anyone looking for greater courage and mastery in their lives.

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Though I haven’t been keeping up with my weekly Week in Review updates, consider this a mini one wrapped up in a book review.

Up until August I was sailing along. And I mean sailing. Everything was great, nothing was too hard.

And then August happened and I got so damn busy. I also realized I didn’t take my business plan out far enough. That niggling fear I I had that my 2-year plan was on track to collapse into a 6-month plan, became a 4-month plan. And oh boy, did I have to make a lot of decisions quickly.

And I’m still making decisions quickly, hoping they are the right ones. And if they aren’t the right ones, well hopefully they’re pretty fixable.

I picked this book up in the midst of one of the few afternoons I’ve had off lately. I was at the Amazon bookstore, which I actually really like if I just need a book and not something in particular. Because everything they stock is highly reviewed so you can be pretty sure if the book sounds good, you’ll probably like it.

Anyway. I was looking at the self-improvement and business books and when I saw the title, I knew I had to buy it. Because if there is one thing I have been trying to strongarm into place, it’s my fear.

If there’s any advice I can give to would-be entrepreneurs at this point in my journey, it’s that every day is really about your mindset and shoving yourself back in line when your fears, your desires, and your ego are trying to take over. Entrepreneurship (at least for me) requires a level of cool, unconcerned detachment. And that is not a level I naturally operate at.

So anyway, a book about mastering fear sounded like something I needed to buy and read. The fact that it was written by a Navy SEAL sold me on it.

I really liked this book and thought it was helpful. It’s one of those books that kind of pulls together all the things you know on some level and packages it up into an easy-to-read guide. I know all these things; I just need someone else to tell me in a way that will hopefully stick.

The writing style is very conversational. I don’t know the author, but I feel like I know him after reading the book. He reminds me of a few of the more charismatic military guys I’ve met. Which means he kills it at the motivational speaking.

This is a pretty short book so I won’t summarize it too much since you should just go and read it. But I do want to share the one point that has really stuck with me: the story you’re making up about the thing you’re afraid of is almost always worse than the reality.

I feel like this is true. I’ve seen it be true in my own life. So as I keep plunging forward and heading for new horizons, I’ll keep reminding myself of that.