The Nobodies
September 16th, 2019 by diane92345

Joan Dixon is having a bad year. She’s an unemployed journalist who can’t even get listicle jobs. This new reality has forced her to sell her car and move in with her parents—at age thirty-six. She truly is one of The Nobodies.

Joan interviews as a junior copywriter at Bloom, a tech company selling digital storage space without using server farms.

Note from my internal armchair detective: how can you sell storage space without any space to sell? Tech, am I right?

Back to review: Bloom is so trendy that its conference rooms are named after dead singers regardless of genre like Tupac, Freddie, and Selena. Not feeling hopeful, Joan is surprised when she gets the job. Unfortunately, once working there, her journalistic Spidey-senses start firing. Is Bloom hiding a deep secret that could be Joan’s way back into journalism?

I have yet to find a Flatiron Book that was not fantastic and innovative. The Nobodies is no exception. Despite being a millennial herself, Joan is a great foil to an entire company full of their nonsense. As the mother of a millennial, I enjoyed the gentle joshing. But if you are 20 and work at Google, you may not. Underlying all the thought-provoking questions bothering Joan, this is a book for women. Joan does find romance at Bloom—and with a younger man. She also finds empowerment in taking control of her own life. 4.5 stars!

Thanks to Flatiron Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

Posted in Humor, New Books, Women's Fiction Tagged with: ,

September 15th, 2019 by diane92345

“Being Indistractable means striving to do what you say you will do.”

The author presents four steps that fight the major time sucks in your life and how you deal with them. First, there are concrete methods to master internal triggers that distract from the task you should be doing. The author then states how to make time in your busy schedule for tasks that are a better match to your values. Next up are ways to avoid external triggers that lead to distraction. Finally, ways to prevent distraction are analyzed. There are several chapters on how to encourage your children to be indistractable too.

I see a lot of my behaviors in this book. Even though I blame my pesky co-workers for my lack of focus, many of my problems are actually internal. I get bored easily. I can envision using the tips in this book, essentially gamifying my mundane tasks, will help me focus more. I’ve been setting Alexa’s timer for ten minutes to see if I really need to do something different as the book suggests. Often the desire for doing something else vanishes. The book calls this “surfing the wave” and it has worked for me. Reading Indistractable is a great use of your time so you can schedule time for what matters most to you. 5 stars!

Thanks to BenBella Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

Posted in Diane's Favorites, New Books, Non-fiction Tagged with: ,

Soulful Art of Persuasion
September 14th, 2019 by diane92345

In our modern world of teenage online influencers making six-figure incomes, it is natural to want to learn the Soulful Art of Persuasion.

The book details four traits that make a person more persuasive: originality or genuineness, generosity, empathy, and soulfulness. Soulfulness is further defined as being ethical and an inspiration to others. It also includes eleven habits that can be used to increase your persuasive powers.

It is hard to shake the cognitive dissonance resulting from the conflict between saying “be genuine” and then showing how to “learn” it. However, the author almost convinces me that genuineness can be learned by disagreeing with two frequent mantras of self-help books: be confident, and fake it till you make it. In fact, the book disputes many so-called truisms. Always Be Closing is perceived as manipulation for profit with no concern for the customer’s wellbeing. The idea of personal branding is also dismissed as shockingly old-fashioned. Even corporations are moving away from branding to marketing their values instead.

Overall, the Soulful Art of Persuasion has some thought-provoking ideas. 4 stars!

Thanks to Crown Publishing and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

Posted in New Books, Non-fiction Tagged with: ,

29 Seconds
September 13th, 2019 by diane92345

“You give me one name. One person. And I will make them disappear. For you.”—from the pulse-pounding new thriller, 29 Seconds.

Sarah is having a bad year. Her husband has run off with another woman and won’t answer her phone calls. Her kids constantly fight. Her boss is refusing to give her tenure and could even fire her because she won’t sleep with him. The only positive thing happening in her life is when she stops a potential child kidnapper by hitting him with her car. The child is the daughter of a mafia kingpin who offers her a one-time deal to make any person she selects permanently disappear. She has only seventy-two hours to decide if she will accept.

I would like to think everyone who hears the offer quoted in the first paragraph of this review immediately pictures the person that they would choose. It’s not just me, right? RIGHT? Ahem, so the novel does feel genuine even with the absurd offer. The cat-and-mouse game with Sarah and her boss is exhilarating. The story effectively propels the reader forward just to see who will win and, more importantly, how. Fast-paced thriller fans will be entranced by this mesmerizing page-turner. 4 stars!

Thanks to St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

Posted in Mystery & Thrillers, New Books Tagged with:

Mother Knows Best
September 13th, 2019 by diane92345

As gene research and CRISPR gene editing become more common, it may soon be possible to use doctored embryos to create “designer” children. That science, amped up on steroids, is the subject of Mother Knows Best.

Claire and Ethan watch their eight-year-old son die from a rare inherited disease. Claire is a carrier of a bad gene. It is 100% likely that her children will get the disease, though some may be asymptomatic like her. Ethan wants another child regardless of the risk. Claire finds an answer at a mothers’ support group. Using that innovative but illegal option, without telling Ethan, starts off a chain reaction involving family, deception, and prison.

Mother Knows Best starts out as a fast-paced science thriller. I loved the beginning. However, once the science was explained, I quickly lost interest as the typical crazy stalker plot played itself out. Also, Abby is literally the most annoying teenager in a fifth grader’s body ever. I had to grit my teeth through each of her scenes. Why didn’t she just believe her parents? Although this thriller wasn’t my favorite, it is well-written so 3 stars.

Thanks to Crooked Lane Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

Posted in Mystery & Thrillers, New Books Tagged with: ,

Imaginary Corpse
September 12th, 2019 by diane92345

I adored Imaginary Corpse! It is an inventive take on a noir private investigator plot using a fantasy setting.

The Stillreal is where ideas that are too real go when their creator abruptly sends them away. Tippy is a stuffed dinosaur who solves crime in the Stillreal. However, even he is perplexed when Spindleman is beaten to “death” by The Man in the Coat. The problem is ideas can’t be killed in Stillreal, they quickly regenerate. When Spindleman doesn’t, Tippy must investigate.

Wow, I love this clever book! I admit I requested this book more for curiosity than for a great plot. I was surprised by the author’s ability to suspend my initial skepticism by chapter two.

All the noir details are here. Tippy has a root beer problem and drinks it out of a flask. He reads Encyclopedia Brown, the real children’s detective series that started my love of mysteries. Despite being a stuffed dinosaur, Tippy is a fully fleshed-out character haunted by his person’s rejection of him and the rain that caused that rejection.

Setting it in an It’s a Small World-level childhood dream is a brilliant counterpoint to the usually depressing noir world. Who doesn’t love the concept that beloved ideas live elsewhere after their creators abandon them?

Don’t worry that the Imaginary Corpse will be too kitschy. It will suck you into its universe quickly. If you have read one too many standard mysteries or noirs and feel like a palate cleanser, please take a chance on this book. You won’t be sorry. 5 stars and one of my favorite books of 2019!

Thanks to Angry Robot and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

Posted in Diane's Favorites, Fantasy, Humor, Mystery & Thrillers, New Books Tagged with: ,

Ice Cold Heart
September 11th, 2019 by diane92345

Minneapolis during a freezing snowstorm is the setting for the serial killer police procedural Ice Cold Heart.

Kelly Ramage is stuck in a marriage with boring Todd, an accountant. Todd won’t satisfy her need for bondage play. So Kelly looks elsewhere for satisfaction. Unfortunately, she met James, who took it too far and she died of suffocation. Detective Leo Magozzi and his partner Gino Rolseth investigate.

Petra Juric is fighting PTSD after being victimized by Peter Praljik, a notorious serial killer last seen in Minnesota eleven years earlier. After taking her happy prescribed medication, she walks into the snowy evening. She is saved from freezing by a random neighbor, Roadrunner. Roadrunner works with Leo’s wife Grace at the Monkeewrench software firm.

Peter is holding seven victims hostage in a remote cabin. He decides to kill them when he realizes that an old acquaintance is watching him. When confronted, the man states he wants to set aside their differences and work together. Is Peter’s last name Praljik and who is his unnamed accomplice?

The ice cold setting was so realistic that it cooled me down on a hot September night as I was reading Ice Cold Heart. I haven’t read any other books in the series and it was fine read as a stand-alone. The mystery was relatively is to solve but characters were well-written and genuine. Most police procedural fans will enjoy this tale. 4 stars!

Thanks to Crooked Lane Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

Posted in Mystery & Thrillers, New Books Tagged with: ,

Robert B. Parker's The Bitterest Pill
September 10th, 2019 by diane92345

Jesse is fighting the opioid epidemic, his desire for a drink, and to connect to his newly found son in Robert B. Parker’s The Bitterest Pill.

I read each of Robert B. Parker’s novels as they were released. I’ve only read one of the books by Michael Brandman, which I didn’t care for at all. This is my first book in the series by Reed Farrel Coleman. He does a better job making the writing style sound similar to Mr. Parker’s writing. However, I feel that Jesse’s highly controlled alcoholism was what made him unique. By removing that trait, Jesse doesn’t feel genuine. I also thought the addition of a long lost son was kind of a stretch. It seemed like a plot device rather than a natural shift in Jesse’s world.

Overall, I would recommend Robert B. Parker’s The Bitterest Pill to readers new to the series. The mystery was good and the writing style excellent. But it may be a disappointment to longtime fans of the original author. 3 stars.

Thanks to G.P. Putnam’s Sons and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

Posted in Mystery & Thrillers, New Books Tagged with: