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Book Review: You Look So Much Better in Person

True Stories of Absurdity and Success

You Look So Much Better in Person is an autobiography from Al Roker, who you probably know from The Today Show! The book tells all about how his career got its start with each chapter or “Altruism”.  This was a quick read but very amusing and interesting! I’ve always liked Al so it was nice to read more about how he got his start and the challenges he faced.  I also really liked hearing his behind the scenes take on what it was like playing Old Joe in Waitress! (The only show on Broadway I have seen twice!)  He also tells a great story about the ONE time he overslept and didn’t get up at his usual 3:45am wake up time. (I can’t even imagine being up that early – let alone doing it thousands of days in a row, yikes!)

I received a free e-copy of this book in order to write this review, I was not otherwise compensated.

About the Book

Today coanchor Al Roker presents an entertaining guide to achieving a life of happiness and success through the power of “yes!”
These days, the road to success can feel jam-packed with scheduling, networking, nonstop hustle, and flat-out absurdity. And no one knows that better than Al Roker-beloved cohost of the Today Show, weatherperson extraordinaire, and the man we all secretly wish we could turn to for wisdom and wisecracks in our everyday lives. From his college days as a polyester-suit clad weather forecaster in Syracuse to battling and buttering up the “Butter Man” during the legendary Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, Al has learned worthwhile lessons over a long successful career. And now, for the first time, Al is ready to unleash savvy advice on how to embrace happiness and the power of saying “yes,” alongside a host of humorous tips and tricks about how to succeed in life.

In You Look So Much Better in Person, Al teaches us how we can weather the storm of life, no matter how torrential the downpour, and shares anecdotes from his own treasure trove of memories in the spotlight. And it hasn’t always been easy-believe it or not, even Al has been yelled at by his boss, suffered an emotional breakdown at work, and told he’d be better suited in another position. Within these pages, he looks back on his own career and shares valuable “Altruisms” that can be applied to our own endeavors, such as how to:

· Navigate the special hell that is socializing

· Craft the perfect comeback line during a confrontation-and know when to use it

· Get up early and actually make the most of your time

· Cry at work without freaking people out

· And much, much more!

Packed to the brim with cackle-inducing and cringeworthy behind-the-scenes insight and observations from over four decades in the media, this book reminds us all that long-term success in our personal lives and our careers is just within reach. You Look So Much Better in Person will leave you laughing out loud and inspired, and feeling not alone amidst life’s best and worst moments.

Book Review: Doable

DOABLE is a book about habits and human behavior. It breaks apart human nature and things that you can do to help change your bad habits and decisions that you make in life. I always want to make a change but feel too overwhelmed with what I have to do to make it happen. DOABLE helps break it down a bit.

The book states that people are faced with 35000 decisions a day. 225 about food alone. (I think I probably make even more food related decisions, but I digress.) Throughout the book are a lot of different stories from the author and a lot of really great quotes that are relevant to each chapter of the book. Each chapter ends with a chapter summary, so if you want to quickly reference any section again at a later date you can quickly figure out which topics were covered.

I will admit I have a lot of bad habits – the book breaks this down as:

Simply put, a habit formed

You saw it

You liked it

You wanted it

You got it

Habits can be formed that are both good and bad. Picking up a snack every morning with your coffee may end up a bad habit because you’ll gain weight from it.

Some advice from the book that stuck with me? “If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed” – Admiral William H McCraven I never make my bed. Maybe it’s time to start. Other advice? Do I love it? Is it useful? I may have to put that to good use and make it a habit when deciding what to buy and what not to. As well as what to keep and what not to during my next cleaning/purge.

“Today is today, not tomorrow. Like the decisive moment, this moment is now, then gone forever. Did you use it wisely?”

If you’re looking to make changes in your life but aren’t sure where to start – one decision you should make in your day is to read this book.

I received a free copy of this book from Reedsy Discovery in order to complete this review.

About the Book

Through witty, inspiring stories, combined with decades of cutting-edge research, DOABLE takes you on an adventure to explore what motivates all human behavior, the pitfalls that will trip you up, and the elements crucial to your success and happiness.

Whether it’s to change your waistline or to change the world, DOABLE delivers bite-sized practical advice that will transform your life. This book is an entertaining one-stop-shop for inspiration and life-improvement made simple, relevant and doable.

Book Review: COVID-19

The Pandemic that Never Should Have Happened and How to Stop the Next One

I’m not exactly sure why I chose to read this book as I had been trying to mute and avoid all things Covid related for the last couple months in order to try and not go absolutely nuts.  But this book ended up being very informative – breaking down what we knew about the virus, how many experts knew that a pandemic was coming and the missteps that were made in trying to contain it.  I can only hope that there were some very big lessons learned and while the book talks about here possibly being more viruses coming in the future, I hope that these lessons will help us move forward and not end up having anything like this happen to the world again.  Very eye opening and I am sure there could be several sequels written for this book as we are still in the middle of it and have so much more to learn!

I received a free e-copy of this book in order to write this review, I was not otherwise compensated.

About the Book

In a gripping, accessible narrative, a veteran science journalist lays out the shocking story of how the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic happened and how to make sure this never happens again

Over the last 30 years of epidemics and pandemics, we learned nearly every lesson needed to stop this coronavirus outbreak in its tracks. We heeded almost none of them. The result is a pandemic on a scale never before seen in our lifetimes. In this captivating, authoritative, and eye-opening book, science journalist Debora MacKenzie lays out the full story of how and why it happened: the previous viruses that should have prepared us, the shocking public health failures that paved the way, the failure to contain the outbreak, and most importantly, what we must do to prevent future pandemics.

Debora MacKenzie has been reporting on emerging diseases for more than three decades, and she draws on that experience to explain how COVID-19 went from a potentially manageable outbreak to a global pandemic. Offering a compelling history of the most significant recent outbreaks, including SARS, MERS, H1N1, Zika, and Ebola, she gives a crash course in Epidemiology 101–how viruses spread and how pandemics end–and outlines the lessons we failed to learn from each past crisis. In vivid detail, she takes us through the arrival and spread of COVID-19, making clear the steps that governments knew they could have taken to prevent or at least prepare for this. Looking forward, MacKenzie makes a bold, optimistic argument: this pandemic might finally galvanize the world to take viruses seriously. Fighting this pandemic and preventing the next one will take political action of all kinds, globally, from governments, the scientific community, and individuals–but it is possible.

No one has yet brought together our knowledge of COVID-19 in a comprehensive, informative, and accessible way. But that story can already be told, and Debora MacKenzie’s urgent telling is required reading for these times and beyond. It is too early to say where the COVID-19 pandemic will go, but it is past time to talk about what went wrong and how we can do better.

Book Review: Broken Genius

Broken Genius was my pick for my “beach read” for my trip earlier this year.  Unfortunately, cyber security grad school work got in the way of “for fun” reading time, so this book got pushed on the back burner.  But the timing ended up working out pretty nicely, as this book will be officially released next week.  Right up my alley, this book contains coding mistakes (a bit more high stakes than any I have made), cyber security and hacking as well as it all takes place at a Comic Con!

Our main character is Will Parker – a prodigy, silicon valley guy.  But when a mistake he makes with code costs a student her life and a tsunami in Japan ends up changing his plans to buy a company there he ends up finding himself working with the FBI in the Cyber Division.  When a man ends up dead at a comic con, things start to get very interesting, very quickly.  In his possession was a radioactive quantum computer – a unicorn – created by the company in Japan Will was working with but that seemed to disappear after the tsunami and its after effects.  It turns out the victim knew exactly what he had and had turned to the dark web to try and sell it.  Will this auction bring out a high profile hacker that one of Will’s FBI associates has been after for years?

This book seems to be straight forward, but it had so many twists and turns throughout (some that I did see coming and some that absolutely blindsided me) that it was a roller coaster ride to read.  I absolutely loved it.  The front cover says “A Will Parker Thriller” so I am hopeful that this means there will be more books based around him (or maybe they already exist?)  I will have to do some research…

I received a free e-copy of this book in order to write this review, I was not otherwise compensated.

About the Book

In 2011, Will Parker, the young prodigy CEO of a big tech company, makes a coding mistake that costs a college student her life. To assuage his guilt, Will pursues a career in the FBI Cyber Division. Now, Special Agent Will Parker is called to investigate a murder scene at a Comic Con event in the Midwest, where the victim has ties to a radioactive quantum computer that Will was working on before he left his gig as CEO. Working with smart local homicide detective Dana Lopez and FBI stuffed-shirt Thomas Decker, Will discovers the victim was holding an auction for the computer on the Dark Web—and the bidding is still live. With bidders including a legendary Chinese hacker, Russian criminals sent by the Kremlin, and a corporate executive desperate to escape a scandal, Will once again finds a life in his hands when the victim’s daughter is taken hostage. A trail of blood and high-tech breadcrumbs leads Will deeper into mystery, danger, and a race against time to keep unlimited power out of the wrong hands.

Book Review: Not Dressed

Not Dressed is a romantic comedy that is 45 chapters split into 3 parts.  Our main character and narrator is Jake who hates his job and is currently living with his girlfriend Lindsay who LOVES her job. Like, a lot.  The book begins with him claiming he will not be at this new job for more than 6 months and then jumps to 2 years later and he is still stuck.  Lindsay comes off to me as absolutely insufferable and almost immediately I wonder why Jake is still with her.  Jake’s sister is getting married soon so Lindsay signs them up for dancing lessons without telling Jake until after he reluctantly agrees to go along with her plan.  Then Lindsay’s talk radio show gets bumped to the evening time slot meaning that she won’t be able to attend the dance lessons.  Rather than cancel them, she suggests Jake go on his own and teach her what he has learned on the weekends.  Somehow, Jake agrees.

Jake goes to the dance lessons and thinks he is going to be stuck being paired with the teacher, but it turns out that there is another student who is solo and just happens to be a female, so of course they pair up.  Kaylee is a Trekkie and geeky fangirl to the extreme and she doesn’t know when to shut up. She drops Star Trek references everywhere but despite all this, she and Jake seem to hit it off and form an odd friendship.

I was intrigued by this book because it was a romantic comedy with a male author instead of a female. I tend to lean towards the female written books so I was curious to see how this might be any different, aside from the main narrator being from the guy’s perspective. (Most other books either alternate or are from the female’s perspective.)  There were a few instances where I thought, “no girl would ever say that” but for the most part I enjoyed it.  By about halfway through I found myself either absolutely hating or being very, very annoyed with all 3 of our characters – Lindsay (I was hoping with every new page that Jake would dump her ass), Jake and Kaylee.  They all bugged me for different reasons – yet while this may have made me opt out on finishing other books there was also something about them that just drew me in and I had to see how these stories would end.  There were some twists and turns along the way and I think I was pretty much ok with things in the end.

If you are a fan of a romantic comedy, maybe a smart geeky girl or hate your job in architecture, you might want to check out this book.  I received a free e-copy of this book from Reedsy Discovery in order to review this book. I was not otherwise compensated.

About the Book

A romantic comedy of how love goes wrong—and right—when you’re a twenty-something still figuring out how to adult.

Jake, an architectural designer pushing thirty, is stuck in a job he hates. He’s spent the last two years overworked and underpaid in the dark basement of Burnham & Modine. He and his coworkers get through the day pulling pranks and gambling on how long interns will last.

Lindsay loves her job as the producer for a talk radio show. But her new timeslot means she and Jake are now working different hours. Worse, she expects Jake to teach her what he learns in a ballroom dancing class she can no longer attend. Already hurt by Lindsay’s prioritization of her career over their relationship, Jake feels betrayed when he accidentally discovers that to help pay the bills she’s been moonlighting—as a nude model.

Kaylee is Jake’s new partner at dance class. She’s a cute and free-spirited Trekkie geek who’s trying to figure her life out after going from high school valedictorian to college dropout. Soon Jake and Kaylee are spending more time together off the dance floor than on it … and the state of being ‘not dressed’ just might be contagious.

Book Review: Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge: Traveler’s Guide to Batuu

Since my next trip is somewhat up in the air due to all the virus concerns, I’ve turned to day dreaming and planning future trips.  One location on my bucketlist is Batuu.  If you’re not in the know, Batuu is part of Galaxy’s Edge at the Disney resorts.  But this “in-world” guide is written as if it is it’s own actual location in the galaxy and gives you all the details you need to know about eating, shopping, etc just like any other travel guide for any “real” location.  I now am totally prepared for my future trip to Batuu! (And already picked out some outfits I may want to buy once I am there thanks to all the photos in the book of the shops!)

I received a free e-copy of this book in order to write this review, I was not otherwise compensated.

About the Book

Set your course for the edge of the galaxy to the planet Batuu where you’ll be immersed in the alluring offerings of a mysterious outpost and thriving port that is a haven for scoundrels, rogues and smugglers.

Upon arrival, you will have access to an authentic, in-world environment unlike anything you have ever experienced before! This official guide to Batuu is written completely in-world, as if you are a visitor from another part of the galaxy looking for recommendations on where to eat, shop, and sightsee while on your trip to this exciting location.

Highlighted features: Full-color photos, illustrations, and mapsOriginal content from Lucasfilm and Walt Disney ImagineeringBackstories to characters and locations found in Black Spire Outpost Whether living your adventure in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge or simply being an armchair traveler, this in-depth literary companion will delight any fan of Star Wars.

Book Review: Your Year In Art: Watercolor

I have never been much of a watercolor painter, I never really got the right ratio of water to color and things would end up a runny mess.  I have seen some beautiful water colors though and I am always very jealous of those who can do it.  I was happy to read Your Year In Art: Watercolor which gives you all sorts of basics and techniques to get your started and then a project for each week of the year, getting more and more difficult as your skills advance!  I don’t have any of the art supplies needed for these but there were quite a few weekly projects that caught my eye (you know one was that panda on the front cover!) so I may have to remedy this and give water color another try with the help of this book.

I received a free e-copy of this book in order to write this review, I was not otherwise compensated.

About the Book

Overcome your creative blocks and fears and start painting with confidence with Your Year in Art: Watercolor! Filled with weekly art challenges, step-by-step watercolor lessons, helpful tips and techniques, and gorgeous artwork, this follow-up to the drawing-focused Your Year in Art is a must-have for any watercolor artist.

Written and illustrated by Kristin Van Leuven, owner of the popular online art shop Hello Lovely People and author of Modern Watercolor (Walter Foster Publishing), Your Year in Art: Watercolor seeks to motivate and inspire. The book is divided into weekly art challenges and prompts that cover appealing themes like floralsbirds, and portraits, as well as inspirational ideas for painting patternsholiday decorationsscenery, and so much more. Lessons and prompts are guided but invite personalization so you can build your skills while celebrating your own unique style.

If you’re a beginning artist, you might feel intimidated by watercolor, a medium that doesn’t allow for many errors. However, Kristin Van Leuven makes watercolor fun and approachable with her easy-to-follow tips and free-flowing, expressive style. With her guidance, you’ll learn to embrace imperfection and use the lessons as inspiration, rather than something to imitate exactly.

With Your Year in Art: Watercolor, develop your own painting style and express yourself using watercolor!

Book Review: Mini Chibi Art Class

Mini Chibi Art Class is a book all about how to draw Chibi characters.  I’m not much of an artist and even with these step by step details on how to draw a whole bunch of different adorable characters, I didn’t get very far.  But there are a ton of ideas in this book with the characters that already exist and then different outfits and hairstyles so you can make things your own!

I received a free e-copy of this book in order to write this review, I was not otherwise compensated.

About the Book

In this highly portable mini version of Chibi Art Class, renowned anime artist Yoai teaches you the art of chibi, step by adorable step.

Chibi is Japanese slang for “short,” and popular Instagram anime artist Yoai (@yoaihime) shows you how to draw these adorable doll-like characters in Mini Chibi Art ClassChibis are mini versions of Japanese anime and manga characters and are defined by their large heads and tiny bodies, both of which contribute to their kawaii, or cuteness, factor.

Here, you’ll learn how to create chibis’ signature bodies, facial features, and props, including dreamy eyes, fun clothes and shoes, vibrant hair, colorful accessories, and lively backgrounds. You’ll also learn how to color and shade your vertically challenged characters for optimal cuteness. This book also features 19 chibi tutorials with simplestep-by-step illustrations and instructions, inspiration galleries, blank body bases for you to start your own chibi drawings, and uncolored chibis for practicing coloring and shading.

Mini Chibi Art Class is part of a series of adorable mini versions of Race Point art reference books that include Mini Kawaii Doodle Class and Mini Kawaii Doodle Cuties.

Thanks to this take-anywhere crash course, soon you will be enhancing your notebooks, stationery, artwork, and more with your own unique chibi world. Mini Chibi Art Class is now in session!

Book Review: The Grown-Up’s Guide to Crafting with Kids

The Grown-Ups Guide to Crafting with Kids has a TON of fun projects to do with kids and some of them seem to be pretty easy to pull off! And really fun and cute results.  Painting rocks to make them photo holders, painting leaves to make beautiful pastel rainbow wreaths, there are a ton of great ideas in here and a lot of ones I want to try and I don’t even have kids! (The space themed painted rocks are amazing, but I am not sure I am that talented!)  Definitely a lot of ideas to try if you are stuck inside and you may even already have some of these supplies around the house.

I received a free e-copy of this book in order to write this review, I was not otherwise compensated.

About the Book

The ideal follow-up to the much-buzzed-about The Grown-Up’s Guide to Making Art with Kids, The Grown-Up’s Guide to Crafting with Kids features more tactile projects that will improve kids’ fine motor and visual processing skills, in addition to strengthening their focus and memory. Plus, crafting is super fun!

The book follows the same format as the first in the Grown-Up’s Guide series, consisting of multiple creative promptsexercises, and step-by-step crafting projects that children and adults can do together. Author Vicki Manning, who runs a popular Instagram account where she regularly posts craft projects that she’s done with her own kids, The Grown-Up’s Guide to Crafting with Kids appeals to parents, caregivers, grandparents, teachers, and anyone else who wants to spend creative time with the kids in their lives. Kids will love working with adults to make crafts, which include:Clay robotsPom-pom ice-cream conesSun printingTreasure boxesWax-resist bookmarksAnd much moreChapters on tools and materialssourcing materials around the home and outside, and suggestions for engagement and craft-making are included as well.

With fun, colorful, and appealing artwork and projectseasy-to-follow instructions; and crafts made from accessible, affordable, and popular materialsThe Grown-Up’s Guide to Crafting with Kids will quickly become an essential book for families, preschool and elementary schools, art classes, and more.

Book Review: Color Your World: A Walk On The Beach

In addition to being a really fun coloring book all about a trip to the beach, this book is also a journal with activities to draw and write about your trip to the beach!  Lots of fun things to color, do and learn in this book!

I received a free e-copy of this book in order to write this review, I was not otherwise compensated.

About the Book

Collecting seashells, building towering sandcastles, playing in the surf, and having a picnic lunch are all part of a great day at the beach! Young beachcombers are guaranteed hours of fun as they enjoy the cute read-along story while coloring adorable pictures and learning fascinating facts in this imaginative book. Plus, there are easy recipes for take-along snacks, and even some journal pages for recording their own seaside discoveries.