It’s October, and it finally feels like Fall. The leaves changed overnight, and I am relishing rocking in my porch chair with my books. So as we move into the last three months of 2022, here is a wrap-up of the books I read in September.
Why do I post book reviews? With so many millions of books on the market, marketing is a big part of a book’s success. And with more people writing books independently without a publisher’s help, book reviews are essential in getting the word out about an author’s work.
Yes, my career in Marketing is long gone, and I stay on the side of book editing and proofreading. Still, books are the focal point of my work, so I can’t help but kick in my review to boost an author’s sales.
I also want to help you pick your next best read and avoid ones not worthy of your hard-earned cash. So enjoy the latest reviews for the books I read in September.
Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin
Gabrielle Zevin wrote one of my favorite books, The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry. If you ever get the chance, please read it; it’s a tear-jerker. And Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow is another Zevin hit.
What’s It About?
Sam and Sandy are the first main characters introduced. They met in a hospital when they were younger and became fast friends by playing video games and developing a friendship. However, they have a falling out. Sam and Sandy reconnect in college, and the reader meets Sam’s roommate, Mark. They create a smash-hit video game, and Mark keeps everyone in line while Sam and Sandy concentrate on game-building.
The trio becomes tight and deals with the ups and downs of any close friendship. The story develops while the kids are growing up, so expect a little romance too.
What Did I Think?
You don’t have to be a gamer to love this book. I loved this book, and I know nothing about gaming. I especially enjoyed when Zevin tinkers with the reader’s mind toward the last third of the book.
The story naturally follows the three growing up from youths to adults, so expect great character development. Also, it makes a great discussion book. Pick a theme, and chances are this novel developed it: romance, friendship, culture, rejection, acceptance, mistakes, reconciliation, ambition, coming-of-age, success, failure, temptation, and MORE.
This book should be a pick for you if you are a Millennial or Zoomer. However, if you love Zevin’s books, be prepared that this is an entirely different writing approach than the others I’ve read from her. Keep in mind that this book is lengthy.
Also, note the beautiful cover image behind the book’s title. It is Katsushika Hokusai’s “The Great Wave,” which resides at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
For more information about Gabrielle Zevin and her other books, visit her website at https://gabriellezevin.com/.
Fourteen Talks by Age Fourteen: The Essential Conversations You Need to Have with Your Kids Before They Start High School by Michelle Icard
This book is perfect for me because I am a parent of a 13-year-old. Basically, I had nine months to take Fourteen Talks by Age Fourteen: The Essential Conversations You Need to Have with Your Kids Before They Start High School by Michelle Icard off my wish list and onto my reading list. So, I am the perfect candidate.
First, I liked this book because it was practical. Lots of good nuggets came out of this one, like, why, when I endlessly nag my teenager she needs to manage her self-care, does she still come downstairs with hair a mess, unbrushed teeth and a field of acne on her face? Or why does my teenager go upstairs to her room and stay up there for hours?
What Did I Think?
Thankfully, my daughter is easy to parent, so most of the advice tackling the important conversations covers the typical unresponsive and challenging preteens and teenagers. Even so, I could practice the conversation examples Icard provided throughout the book and try them out in real life. Funny, Icard was right. I got no response or an “Ugh, really?” from my perfect child. So I guess she knows what she’s writing about.
In the beginning, Ikard explains her methodology and then walks you through each topic using the same formula for each chapter. Her system makes it easy for the reader to get in the groove and get right to the point. In fact, this is what I liked most about the book. She was consistent, so I didn’t have to catch up with each chapter. Instead, I could understand her methodology and get right to what I needed to know.
The book’s theme is understanding kids at fourteen go through a lot, both physically and psychologically. The parents’ job is listening and understanding, even when their logic isn’t quite 100%. Parents need to understand that we are transitioning from running the family to handing it off to our teenagers to take on the responsibilities.
And don’t worry if you are already past 14; the advice is still useful.
For more information about Michelle Icard, visit her website at: https://michelleicard.com/.
The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It by Michael E Gerber
In this book, the author uses an example of one of his typical clients to illustrate how entrepreneurs often start a company because they follow their passion. Then, one day, fed up with their daily job, they cannot take it anymore and leave their steady paycheck to start their business.
Gerber explains that life at first is grand in this new career venture. Yes, starting a new business is challenging, but the joy of being their own boss outweighs their troubles. Until one day, the new entrepreneur finds themselves on the floor, totally stressed out and panicked, overloaded with work, not knowing how to pick themselves up and keep going.
The author presents a systematic way for a business owner to understand what it takes to move a company from business-owner led to team-led and how that method can be applied systematically to sustain and grow the business to astounding levels.
What did I think?
Gerber has a wealth of hands-on experience helping entrepreneurs and small business owners get themselves out of these situations. His know-how cannot be disputed. So, the advice was practical, relatable, and, most of all, helpful.
Unlike most business books I’ve read, this one explains concepts in a narrative style. Gerber takes one client and walks them through the entrepreneur process from start to burnout and success again. I enjoyed most of the book, but unfortunately, the case study he used drug on for too long, and I found myself skimming some of the chapters.
Most of the advice can be useful if the distressed business owner gets a hold of this book before it is too late. But, as we know, small business owners and entrepreneurs often do not have time to fix their businesses. They get wrapped up in their passions and forget about running the actual business. This leads to frustration, burnout and spinning wheels.
Unfortunately, this happens to most entrepreneurs, and they will probably see Gerber’s book when it is too late. Either way, this book will be comforting for small business owners to know that they are not alone and the pit they are in can be reversed. They can be happy again doing what they love— running and growing their own company if they take time out to follow Gerber’s advice and do some hard work to get back to normal.
The Paper Palace by Miranda Cowley Heller
Here we go again. Another book receives high-star ratings, and I sit on the low end. First, I’m disturbed that readers enjoy purchasing and reading content discussing sexual and physical abuse, especially those about children. Right from the get-go, infidelity scenes start and are prevalent throughout.
What Did I Think?
Second, it took way too long for the book to start getting to an actual conflict or reason someone would be reading about these ordinary people. And even when the book threw the first thing that would keep me interested in reading it, it wasn’t that attention-grabbing. It wasn’t until much later that the story turned up a notch, and I wanted to see how the conflict would resolve itself.
Next, I found the author confused readers with the language she used to describe the book’s setting. I would often start a chapter with a description of the beautiful scenery, imagining myself in an 1800s English garden—adjectives, adjectives, and more adjectives. Then the author abruptly switched to the characters using modern-day language and crude sexual scenes. I wasn’t sure where I was supposed to live or in what period. This fancy language did nothing to set up the sexual abuse scenes that went on and on and on. If the setting was such an essential piece to the character’s development, I wish the author connected the scenery with the action more explicitly so we could understand this. The metaphor of the home built out of paper/pressed cardboard was lost because it was over-described and disconnected from the action.
Finally, I could not stand to read about the main character’s mother. The character was so critical and pessimistic that I did not want to read another chapter with her in it, and she’s in most of the scenes. I wish the author did not wait until the end to give readers a sliver of a redeeming quality in the mother that made it understandable that she even served a purpose in the book besides being another branch of the family tree.
Besides these books I read in September, I also had the opportunity to enjoy some advanced reader copies of unreleased books. I’m looking forward to sharing these with you in my October reviews.
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