Review: I Dare Me: How I Rebooted and Recharged My Life by Doing Something New Every Day by Lu Ann Cahn

i dare meReviewed by Karin

I’m not through reading this book, but wanted to share how much I was enjoying it. It is like having a romance with oneself.

Cahn was 53 years old with a stable marriage, a daughter, and had survived 3 bouts with cancer. But she was not happy, basically depressed, angry, frustrated, with nothing to look forward to. And she has an impressive resume: veteran journalist and eight-time Emmy award winner

Her 23 year old daughter challenged her to do one thing each day that was a first for her — it didn’t have to be big — and to blog about it (with videos). She had never blogged. (luanncahn.com) She didn’t even know what it was. The book came out of her experiences.

She started the year with a Polar Bear swim — which was more difficult for her because she had been afraid of the ocean since she was 8. She spent a day without mirrors and a few hours in a wheelchair.

Along the way, she found herself invigorated, engaged with life again, and looking forward to her days. She said it was OK to count as a first if you hadn’t done it in 10 years — and it didn’t have to be (and shouldn’t be) anything dangerous or risky.


I have a feeling I tend to live like this anyway, because I’m not afraid to do things on my own (such as take myself to the movies, BTDT, and it is nice to share a smile with the person next to you, even if you miss a scene since movies go so fast now…) And one thing I did solidified my fear of heights rather than eliminating it (overhead at the zoo, more difficult than it sounds — but hey, I tried!)

I give the book 5 * out of 5. A good read, with humor and self-depreciation, as well as exhilaration and joy. Read it if you need a jumpstart on your life. You might be inspired.

Rating: ★★★★★

Buy: I Dare Me: How I Rebooted and Recharged My Life by Doing Something NewEvery Day

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Review: Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson

let's pretend this never happenedReviewed by Karin

This book is a memoir based on her blog posts. She has 200,000+ followers. She was encouraged by her readers to make them into a book, and she was met along her book tour by many of them.

The book has nothing to do with sexual abuse. It is funny and comedic in a dark way. Sometimes you find yourself laughing out loud, thinking how absurd it is to be laughing. One time I actually laughed until I cried.

There are some F-bombs, and even a couple of irreverent references to Jesus, but somehow they sound funny in her voice. And it may be that you have to be in the mood, like for some movies.

The title, which I think is very clever, refers to her eccentric childhood. Her father was a taxidermist, so you can imagine the kinds of things happening around their house. I don’t want to give away any of the fun of reading it. And as the publicist writes, her family is ‘bizarrely loveable.’

There are pictures throughout the text to prove the things actually happened.

She meets her husband at college, and they are pretty nearly opposites, but they have been married now for 15+ years. Some of the funniest parts of the book are her conversations with her husband and the post-it notes she leaves him. OMG. Funny. He can be as absurd as she is. And meeting his family for the first time was priceless.

Within the book she talks about serious things in an upbeat way: infertility, miscarriages, then her daughter — I knew her miscarriage heartbreak; anxiety disorder — and how this plays out when she attends parties; OCD; weird moments in her life. I seem to remember where she says something like: high school exists so you know everything after that is better. (Only she says it better.)

One of the sweet things was her trip with other women bloggers, the first time she had met them in real life. Another was when one of these women helps her when her beloved dead dog is being disinterred by vultures.

I especially loved how she wrapped up the last part of the book.

“…most important, I see me…or rather, the me I’ve become. Because I can finally see that all the terrible parts of my life, the embarrassing parts, the incidents I wanted to pretend never happened, and the things that make me ‘weird’ and ‘different,’ were actually the most important parts of my life. They were the parts that made me me….Because you are defined not by life’s imperfect moments, but by your reaction to them. Because there is joy in embracing — rather than running screaming from — the utter absurdity of life.”

She is a woman worth knowing.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: Let’s Pretend This Never Happened: (A Mostly True Memoir)

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Review: Learning to Fly (An Uncommon Memoir of Human Flight, Unexpected Love, and one Amazing Dog) by Steph Davis

learning to flyReviewed by Karin

If you ever wanted to know the motivation of one who climbs mountains with and without gear, this book is for you.

When Davis’ marriage to a fellow climber disintegrates, after a long time relationship, together and apart, she is left shiftless. Somehow out of the ashes she decides she wants to learn to jump from a plane, then she learns to base jump and more. And she finds love again.

It is clear she loves her dog Fletch, and her new relationship has both care for her and for her dog. There is surely love.

I found the book fascinating, especially since my cousin was very into jumping.

This is not something I have any interest in doing whatsoever because I don’t do well with heights, but I sure enjoyed the book. Personally, I can’t imagine climbing a sheer cliff alone, without gear, with no one knowing where I was. More power to her. She makes it clear that she was cautious and careful — and trained. But it hardly seems possible.

On the other hand, there is something to be said for moving past so-called human limits.

And on top of that, she has a couple of serious accidents — and she gets out there again.

The pictures are worth the price of the book. Yowser! The pictures, both in color and black and white, are amazing. They make my stomach swoop, even when I’m not standing in the position of the camera. And the way she moves to get the next foot and hand hold are breath taking — she is very limber.

The cover is beautiful.

Rating: ★★★★★

Buy: Learning to Fly: An Uncommon Memoir of Human Flight, Unexpected Love, and One Amazing Dog

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Review: Big Daddy’s Rules by Steve Schirripa with Phillip Lerman

big daddys rules by steve schirripaSteve Schirripa is known for the parts he plays on The Sopranos and The Secret Life of the American Teenager. He is the father of two daughters.

The book is funny and insightful. He is smart, with equal parts of crazy and tender. He peppers the book with other fathers’ stories of raising their own kids.

While not a romance per se, it is the story of the deep love of a father for his daughters.

He’s not afraid to take a stand. He empowers you to take your own stand. You don’t have to be a dad to gain insights to use as a mother.

He says you aren’t supposed to be their friend, but you are supposed to be in their corner, helping them make choices that will stand them in good stead through their lives — such as getting out of bed, not living in a darkened room, or only playing video games.

He discusses tattoos — not to get ones you have to hide your whole life to hold a job.

My one objection is his constant F bombs — and at the same time he does not want or allow his girls to swear.

And he believes in early curfews — be home by 11:30. Nothing good happens after midnight. And while he took trains in the city at night and was safe — as he says surprisingly — his girls will not. His first priority is to keep them safe.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: Big Daddy’s Rules: Raising Daughters Is Tougher Than I Look

Review: Dodging Machetes by Will Lutwick

dodgingmachetesReviewed by Karin

I really enjoyed this book and recommend it to anyone who has an interest in the era of the Vietnam War. I give it 5 out of 5 stars.

It’s a toss up whether it is a memoir or a memoir-cum-novel with a lot of poetic license. Either way it was a lot of fun and quite evocative of the times.

I was given an e-book by the author and LRP. One thing I like with a paper book is the ability to skip ahead, which I can’t do easily with an e-book, so it wasn’t until the end that I learned he wrote the book in a memoir writing class he took in San Francisco.

The book details his time in the Peace Corps in Fiji. He’s changed some names and recreated events and conversations. He meets ‘Rani’, a beautiful Indian woman at work. The Indians did not assimilate into the mixed culture of Fiji at that time, and they had to meet on the sly. Their love affair began very quickly for a protected woman (who dressed in mini skirts.)

It was quite dangerous for them to date, because of honor killings.

Ultimately they marry, and he returns to the US with her. Then he needs to extend his deferment.

I was sorry to learn that he is no longer with her.

If you liked Forrest Gump, you will enjoy this book. I loved it!

Rating: ★★★★★

Review: Paris in Love by Eloisa James

Reviewed by Karin

I absolutely love this memoir! J’adore! It is a book to be enjoyed and savored — and one I will likely reread either if I am visiting Paris again or only hankering to visit Paris again.

The book is made of little sound bytes — or if you will, word bytes — of the small daily events that occur in a family uprooted to a new city where the teenage boy who is bilingual goes to Italian school and finds it more difficult than his previous school, and where the city sparkles with the Eiffel Tower and pastry shops and little known shops, restaurants, and pastries. Yum!

I love the honest interactions of family, raising an 11 year old daughter and a teenage son. Eloisa James is married to an Italian man who grew up in Florence. That is interesting to read also.

My advice: run out and buy this book. Or get it from Amazon. ( not sure if available for Kindle.)

Rating: ★★★★★

Buy: Paris in Love: A Memoir

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