Archive for June, 2008

Helping Me Help Myself by Beth Lisick

Posted in Lisa, Non-Fiction with tags , , on June 29, 2008 by Lisa

Crossposted at Books. Lists. Life.

Helping Me Help Myself: One skeptic, ten self-help gurus, and a year on the brink of the comfort zone has a great premise. On New Year’s Day Beth Lisick wakes up and takes stock of her life. She’s not so happy with where she’s at professionally or personally and she’s looking for a way to get back on track. Initially full of disdain for self-help books, she decides to read one each month and fully commit herself to it’s guidelines. She starts off in January with Jack Canfield’s The Success Principles. She’ll eventually work her way through Steven Covey’s Seven Habits, Suze Orman, John Gray, Julie Morgenstern, 1-2-3 Magic by Thomas Phelan, Julia Cameron, Deepak Chopra, a cruise with Richard Simmons and a night with Sylvia Browne.

As the subtitle would suggest, she’s pretty skeptical that all this will help her solve her problems. She disdains the idea of a life coach like Canfield. She spends (literally) the last of her money on a two-week trip to Italy. She sees Chopra as “spirituality lite.” She is funny and sarcastic and makes fun of just the right things. She goes on a Richard Simmons cruise and falls in love with the man himself. (Honestly, the Richard Simmons chapter makes the whole books awesome. I find myself a little in love with him now as well!) At the end of the year, Lisick feels a bit smarter, but watching her journey I’m not convinced that she really learned anything. I am also not totally convinced she was completely honest with us- she continues to tells us again and again how very broke she is, but still manages to spend money on things like a trip to Italy. It seems like some aspects of her life are a bit exaggerated to make for a better story. Despite this, I still found the book to be enjoyable, and would recommend it to anyone looking for a very light memoir.

TBR Day: Naked in Death by J.D. Robb

Posted in Fiction, Gina, TBR Challenge, Uncategorized on June 18, 2008 by Gina

I was told I just had to read this series almost a decade ago.  In fact, annually one or two friends would say, “You haven’t read them yet.”  I just never did.  This month I chose to jump into the series head first for the TBR Day Challenge.   I read the first two books in the series, Naked in Death and Glory in Death.

I enjoyed the books and can’t wait to read more.  Roarke is mysterious and exciting.  I love his passion for life and for Eve.  Eve is a great main character.  Strong with just a touch of vunerability.  One of the best aspects is that there are hints of Eve’s past and her situation, but it is not what the book is about.  The main mystery of the book takes center stage and doesn’t get overshadowed by Eve’s past. 

The crime solving mystery is outstanding.  I loved the twists and digging for the truth. It was complex enough that I was able to guess the some of the details but not all of them.   The crimes were interesting and Eve’s passion for the victims made the stories interesting.

My initial hesitation at some of the technology used in their future has been calmed.  While I still don’t think it is all plausible, I don’t get hung up on it anymore.   

Great books.  I am excited that there are plenty for me to read without waiting for the new one to come out. 


Thicket: Alabama Redefined June/July 08 issue

Posted in Gina, Magazine, Non-Fiction, South on June 4, 2008 by Gina

Our household has been getting a free sample subscription of a new Alabama magazine for a few months.   The magazine is called Thicket.   I have enjoyed the two issues that we have gotten.  So much so, I am considering subscribing to it when our household never actually subscribes to ANY magazines.  Sure we get some as gifts.  But we don’t subscribe and haven’t for years.  

The name Thicket is catchy.  It  comes from the Native American origin of Alabama.  al-a-bam-a: from the Choctaw alba (meaning plants) and amo (meaning to cut); to clear the thicket.  It isn’t a huge magazine only about 80 pages.  But it is full of articles about our great state.  I counted nine actual articles.  (Which is far more page per page than the Glamour that the flight attendant passed to me during our flight out of Rhode Island last weekend.) 

There is an excellent article on Patricia Barnes aka Sister Schubert.  If you haven’t had a Sister Schubert roll then you are missing something great. You should go directly to you grocery store to see if they carry them (in the freezer section.)   (I personally like the rolls wrapped around the little sausages best.  Patricia’s favorites are the orange rolls….which I also can attest are awesome.)  In the 1980’s, Patricia had a small side catering business.  She donated eight pans of her rolls to a church fundraiser in 1989.  Two years later, in 1991, the church had preorders for 300 pans.  By 2000, she sold the company, where she and her husband still work, for $40million.  The article was very interesting. I especially enjoyed the part where the mayor of a struggling Luverne, AL wooed her to open her first large bakery in his town.  Also, interesting was the part about how she and her husband have chosen to give back to the world from the wealth they have worked for. 

Thicket also has the staples of these types of magazines.  It has a few book and music recommendations.  It has a calendar of events for the state.  Anyone interested in the 4th Annual Gulf Coast Hot Air Balloon Festival in Foley or The Alabama Blueberry Festival in Brewton or possibly the Hank Williams Festival of Georgiana is more your cup of tea.   The photos in the magazine are beautiful and truly embrace Alabama at its best.

My favorite part of Thicket has to be the human interest mini-articles (some not much more than a paragraph.)  I fell in love with Chris and Gary Wheeler or Locust Fork.  They are a couple who retired from their jobs with the Postal Service and quilt together.  They are pictured with their quilts.  One is hers. One is his.   I love a man who can quilt! 

I love this magazine.  I am an Alabamian.  This magazine just puts the greatness that is Alabama in the forefront of people’s minds. 



1 Dead in Attic by Chris Rose

Posted in Lisa, Non-Fiction with tags , , , on June 1, 2008 by Lisa
Review also posted at Books. Lists. Life.
One of the books that I read while on maternity leave was 1 Dead in Attic: After Katrina by Chris Rose. As you can probably tell by the title, this was about Hurricane Katrina.  Rose is a writer for the New Orleans Times-Picayune and chronicled the aftermath of the hurricane in it’s pages. This book is a collection of his columns spanning the next 18 months or so. He addresses the death, the smell, the expectations, the mayor, the New Orleans Saints, Mardi Gras and, near the end, depression and PTSD.

I feel odd saying this was a great book. It seems a little cruel to enjoy a book about such a tragedy. However, it’s a very readable book. Since it began life as a series of newspaper columns, it’s written in a very conversational way. You can imagine Rose sitting there and telling you these things over coffee. Rose is very open about his own life and how he was directly impacted. His family evacuated and his house was not lost and he doesn’t pretend otherwise. He does, however, take you on a tour of the areas that were devastated.

Rose addresses the topic of how people can go on over and over. Why have Mardi Gras? Why celebrate the return of the N.O. Saints? Why spend money to rehabilitate small businesses instead of building homes and streets? All of these things are directly tied to the morale of the city. New Orleans is a city people love. It has a personality and a character all it’s own and those who live there are invested in recovering that feeling. At times it seems an uphill battle and near the very end of the book Rose includes this editorial about his depression following the hurricane. I found this particular one, and the one that immediately followed it in the book to be very powerful. I highly recommend that anyone who loves New Orleans pick this one up.

This is the second book I’ve read about New Orleans post- Katrina lately. The first was fiction (The Tin Roof Blowdown) and this is non-fiction.  I have a soft spot in my heart for Anne Rice’s The Witching Hour. Does anyone have any suggestions for other New Orleans flavored reading, fiction or non-fiction?