Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Book Review: American Radical

My Rating: 4

My latest book review is something I don’t typically read, but when I saw a recent interview with the author/undercover FBI agent on tv, I knew I had to check this one out.

American Radical is the story of Tamer Elnoury (not his real name), a Muslim American working undercover in the FBI’s counterterrorism unit. Originally from Egypt and able to speak Arabic, he was recruited by the FBI after 9/11 to join their elite group and gain the trust of known terrorists who are plotting to take out as many innocent lives as possible. It is his duty in the beginning to simply portray a radical to suspected jihadists and see what their reaction is, but his unique background and superior experience quickly requires much more.

The agency soon puts him on the case of a suspected Canadian radical, Chiheb. Chiheb is plotting an attack and Elnoury must try to find out details about his plans, but first, he has to get him to trust him. I found the entire process fascinating as the author shares his journey as well as the process he uses. He also shares the struggles of his job as well as what he goes through as an undercover agent (not being able to talk to his family for months at a time, having to essentially take on his undercover identity, etc). The book covers his whole relationship with Chiheb, as well as the conclusion.

Overall, this book was very informative about necessary things people do everyday to keep us safe, even if we don't realize it. While the book was entirely Elnoury's story, and didn't go into too much more detail about other Muslims helping the US, it was still engrossing and interesting. A final fascinating note is that the author had to use a pseudonym not only to protect his identity, but also because he is still highly involved in undercover work for the government. This book is an excellent reminder of those brave individuals who protect us and our freedom.

-Busy Brunette

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Book Review: Little Fires Everywhere

My Rating: 4

I stayed up waaaaay past my bedtime to finish this one last night, but once I got about 40% in, I literally couldn’t put it down.

Voted as the best book of 2017 by Goodreads, I knew that I was going to have to check this one out as soon as I could. Pushing it to the top of my list thanks to the raving reviews, I didn’t really know what to expect when going in, but honestly, that’s just fine with this one.

On the surface Little Fires Everywhere is the story of a suburb in Cleveland, Shaker Heights, that was founded on very strict and planned principles which trickled down to the society and residents who currently lived there, including the Richardsons and their four kids. All of that would change, however, once Mia and her daughter Pearl moved to town, disrupting the order of everything.

Deeper down, the book is a complex character portrait that displays the intricacies and gray areas we all have, no matter how hard we try to hide them. It brings forth tons of questions about right and wrong, relationships and motherhood, friends and enemies, and most of all, how we follow rules or follow the little voice of passion inside. There are tons of characters in the book, and the author puts you in all of their heads at some point, showing the thoughts behind their actions and the reasoning behind their words. At first I didn’t think I would like jumping around so much, but the author did it wonderfully and it ended up adding that much more depth and compassion to the story.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book and understood why so many people suggested it. It started off a little slow for me in the beginning, but as I got into the groove of the author’s style and became more connected to each character, I simply couldn’t stop eating it up. This is definitely one that people will be talking about for years and I guarantee this blaze won’t be extinguished anytime soon.

-Busy Brunette 

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Book Review: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine

My Rating: 5

Ugh. My heart is happy even just thinking about this book.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine is a book that wasn’t even on my radar until my virtual book club (major nerd status) chose it for a monthly pick. Although slightly hesitant at first as it didn’t fit into the psychological thriller binge I’ve been on, I saw the raving reviews by seemingly everyone who read it and knew I needed to see for myself what it was all about.

And I already want to read it again.

Eleanor Oliphant is one of the best characters I have ever read, and she is so quirky and honest that you can’t help but love her. She always says what’s on her mind and is completely socially clueless, but that makes her all the more endearing and you just want to tuck her under your wing and take care of her.

The book goes over some good days, and bad days, in her life as she meets new people, gets in interesting predicaments, and finds herself slowly figuring out life along with some of her past that she has been trying to block out for as long as she can remember. Although the book isn’t a mystery, there are some intriguing situations that have you wondering what happened to her when she was younger and how she ended up doing a lot of the things she does.

Overall, my review can’t do this book justice. I’ve tried to write this one for a few weeks now and don’t feel like whatever I say is good enough for the beautiful work this is. So instead of waiting any longer, I’m posting this as is and am just hoping that you will trust me. You will fall in love with Eleanor and not be able to get her out of your head. And believe me, that is completely fine.

-Busy Brunette

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Book Review: Love Warrior

My Rating: 4

If you are looking for raw and honest- read this book.

Part of my 2018 resolution was to continue sharing more of my authentic self with my friends and the world, and Glennon Doyle is one of the best people to follow when trying to achieve this goal. First famous for her blog Momastery and her collection-of-posts-turned-book Carry On, Warrior, Glennon switched it up a little with this one and just offered a true memoir regarding her marriage journey, roles as a mother and author, and all of the struggles that come with it.

Glennon dives into the beginning of everything, including her entire ordeals with bulimia, alcohol, sex, and drugs, leaving nothing off the table and being brutally honest in sharing her story. This leads up into her surprise pregnancy and quick wedding, then continues on through their marriage problems and how she deals with her husband’s infidelity.

While it is a memoir at its core, Glennon puts forth plenty of wisdom and reflection, sharing what she learned along with her new views of life, family, and love. I am a huge fan of her’s and I feel it takes a truly special person to divulge the good parts of life along with the ugly, as we all have plenty of ugly parts to share. It is through this sharing that we can come together and know that we are not alone.

Overall, I loved learning more about this beautiful person along with her life. We all see someone in the spotlight (or on social media) and assume things are perfect which makes us feel like we are less than. Through her book, Glennon reminds us that there is so much going on inside of a person that we don’t know about, and we must treat each other with patience and love, including and especially ourselves. I am so happy this was one of my first books of the new year and I am excited to take Glennon’s courage and bravery and help it inspire me in my own journey of authenticity.

-Busy Brunette

Monday, January 1, 2018

Book Review: Pretty Girls

My Rating: 4

Have you ever read a book that was so dark and twisted that you literally felt like you lost a piece of your innocence after finishing it? Yeah, that’s what I felt as I was reading Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter.

Needless to say, this book threw me for quite the loop. I was expecting a story about missing girls (which I got), what I wasn’t expecting, however, was an extremely graphic tale of violence and gore full of shocking scenarios and senseless acts that would leave me slightly traumatized and lying awake at night thinking about (which is what I also got).

I’m not trying to be dramatic with this review, but honestly, this book will seriously mess you up. It is not at all for the faint of heart and it will exhaust you every time you finish a chapter. Still with me? Don’t say I didn’t warn you…

Pretty Girls was a crazy psychological thriller that continued to throw plot twists and mysteries at me until I didn’t think I could handle it anymore, then it took a sharp left turn again and again. I literally never saw a majority of this book coming and I promise you won’t be disappointed in the suspense or the details. You won’t be able to figure this one out and you will be shocked at every twist.

Overall, I loved how real and raw the characters were. Both sisters Claire and Lydia had their own issues and I liked that they weren’t the typical perfect heroines. The entire book was full of vivid descriptions which really put you into the story- both a good thing and a bad thing. I definitely need a break from psychological thrillers after reading this one but I know that I will be back for more from this author just as long as it has nothing to do with pretty girls.

-Busy Brunette

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Book Review: The Last Mrs. Parrish

My Rating: 4

The Last Mrs. Parrish is a story of lies and revenge, jealousy and manipulation. It is lavish, shocking, and completely over-the-top. And I loved it.

Amber is from a small town and grew up with nothing. She is sick of always being the underdog and is ready for her turn at the privileged life she deserves. Planning her every move, she targets Daphne Parrish, wife of billionaire Jackson Parrish, in order to slip into their lives and tear the power couple apart, in turn becoming the next Mrs. Parrish.

This story is filled with more twists and turns than you could ever see coming, and it has plenty of parts that will leave your jaw dropped. However, it takes a little while to get there. I would say the first 40 pages of the book were a little slow for me as the authors spend a lot of time glamorizing the lifestyle of the rich and showing off all of the wealth. I understand it's necessary background and buildup, but I did almost completely stop the book a few times during the beginning. But I’m warning you- don’t!

Even if you feel the start is slow, and you absolutely cannot stand Amber (because she is basically just a horrible person), I promise it all pays off, especially once you get about halfway through the book. Oh, does it pay off. I would say this is one of the best psychological thrillers I read in 2017 and I can’t wait to see what else this team of sisters has in store.

Overall, I REALLY liked this book. I was so close to giving it a 5 as I would love to read it again, but due to its slow start I went down to a 4. Still an excellent read, however, and definitely worth your time. If you are looking for a twisted and suspenseful psychological thriller, you will find it in The Last Mrs. Parrish.

-Busy Brunette

Monday, November 6, 2017

Book Review: Carry On, Warrior

My Rating: 5

If you are in need of a good laugh- read this book. If you are in need of raw honesty- read this book. If you are simply in need of some relatable writing that will leave you laughing and crying- read this book.

Carry On, Warrior is a collection of stories that explore all of the ups and downs of motherhood, marriage, friendship, mental health, addiction, and family. Written by the founder of blog Momastery, Glennon Doyle Melton had a huge following before she even published the book, and after reading her real words, I can see why.

Honestly, I had never heard of Momastery or Glennon before picking up the book, but I started on one of the stories and found I could not stop. Glennon lives far from the perfect life, as do we all, but instead of being ashamed of her past (she suffered from addiction and bulimia) or trying to put up a front about how put-together she is (she often has stories about her depression or lack of housekeeping skills), she literally embraces her messy life and makes you want to do the same.

After reading her words and thoughts, she truly inspired me to want to be more real and authentic in my own life, as it does me no good to try to appear to have it figured out or that I’m doing okay when I’m not. Whether you are married and have kids or not, I feel like you can still benefit from her insights, words of wisdom, and ideas about life and love.

Overall, this book is quick, funny, heartbreaking, inspiring, real, raw, and authentic. Made up of short snippets and chapters, you will gobble it up and love her every word. I can’t wait to read more from this author. In the meantime, I’ll be embracing my messy, beautiful life.