Book Review: Unhinged

Unhinged by Omarosa Manigault Newman

I wasn’t terribly familiar with Omarosa. I was aware she had been on The Apprentice, but I had never seen the show, so this was my introduction.

She came off pretty well in the account, as is the case in most self-written books, but she did have an insider’s view after knowing him for 15 years.

What came through most was her alarm at his dramatic mental deterioration since The Apprentice. She thought that he was sharp minded then, but when she was part of the WhiteHouse staff, he seemed incapable of grasping simple concepts.

Even when carefully briefed, he went off script, not just because he needed to make every event about him, but because he simply couldn’t retain information.

Other points:

Kellyanne Conway (Who Omarosa dubbed “Swamp Creature.”) switched to the Trump team seamlessly after opposing him vociferously, like a vacuum cleaner salesperson who had begun shilling for another brand.

Reince Prebis laid down the law early in “Trumpworld” that no matter what the president said, the White House would back him up. This is what lead to Sean Spicer’s assertion that theirs was the largest inaugural crowd ever, when it was a mere fraction of the size of his predecessors.

Trump wanted to be sworn in on The Art of the Deal, a highly fictionalized ghostwritten book about his business tactics in the 70s.

Don Jr constantly seeks his father’s approval, usually in vein.

Melania finds her husband as distasteful as most Americans do.

He reads at maybe an eighth grade level and has no attention span.

General Kelly’s arrival at the White House seemed to further destabilize him. He isolated him from those he trusted most, either unthinkingly or by design.

Not sure if a tape of him saying the “n” word will make any difference. He has a decades long history of racism which hasn’t hurt him. Also the tape in which he bragged about sexual assault didn’t keep him from winning the election.

Lots more tidbits in the book.

Not particularly well written, organized or edited, but worth a look. A bit self-serving, confirms what most of us suspect, but it’s a quick read.


Book Review: The 5 Second Rule

The Five Second Rule by Mel Robbins5 Second Rule by Mel Robbins

I expected this book to be gimmicky or like a blog post that had gone on far too long. I was pleasantly surprised. I picked 5 Second Rule after seeing Amy Landino interview Mel Robbins.

The 5 second rule offers practical advice for overcoming procrastination, anxiety and fear. Properly applied, it can give you a kick in the pants to be your authentic self or to prevent introverts from turning into hermits.

My personal experience: I woke up before my alarm and wanted to put the 5 second rule into action, so 5,4,3,2,1 … I opened my eyes. Turned out it was only 12:41, so I had several more hours to sleep. But the spirit was willing.

Definitely worth an open-minded read. It has the potential to be life-changing.

Book Review: The Trespasser

The Trespasser by Tana French

One of the things I enjoy most about about Tana French’s books are the unpredictable twists and turns. For fans of mystery or thrillers there is a delicate balance between figuring out the puzzle and being baffled by it. French seems to have the perfect knack for leading you down one path then pulling the rug out from under you.

The weather is like an additional character here. The dampness, the bone-chilling cold. She seeds the clouds with paranoia. You don’t know who’s on Detective Conway’s side and who’s not.

You’re inside her head one moment and trying to pull back in another. Is she imagining things? Is she overreacting? Is someone trying to throw her off the trail? Who?

Must reads for fans of suspense, Ireland and strong female protagonists.

My Outdoor Writing Kit

Lenova Yoga. Small, light, holds a charge forever. Can be used as a tablet too. Easily goes from the patio to the coffee shop and even to bed, when I just have to finish one more scene before closing up shop.
Blue Sky Spiral Planner. There are tons of beautiful high-end planners out there, but this one does the job for me and comes in under $30. I do most of my planning in a bullet journal. I use this one so that I can see a month at a glance and tag specific dates with events. The one in the picture is last year’s. I linked to a 2018-2019 Academic Year in blush which is prettier anyway.
Pentel Energel Pens. Smooth and not smeary. I’m using a blue one at the moment, but they are available in all sorts of vibrant colors that really show up on the page.
Shatterproof wine glasses. I don’t know why I can’t hold onto a wineglass outdoors, but these are cute and unbreakable with a thumb indentation that helps you keep your grip even if your mind wanders.
What are your indispensible outdoor writing tools? Are you participating in Camp NaNoWriMo?

Choose Your Own Disaster

Choose Your Own Disaster by Dana Schwartz

Equal parts Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar and Jenny Lawson’s Let’s Pretend This Never Happened. I wanted to say this book is a fun read, and it is, in the sense of how you proceed through the book, but it’s loaded with uncomfortable pings of recognition.

As you grow older and “wiser” it would seem that you no longer feel these feelings, or are faced with situations that provoke them, but you never forget those feelings or what it was like to live inside that twenty-something brain.

Because of the structure of the book, I was anxious that I would miss important parts of by skipping around. Also, I couldn’t tell Goodreads what page I was on, because I was on all the pages.

The only solution was to devour it in a day, which seems kind of rude considering the time it must have taken to write (not to mention live). I felt  like someone devouring Thanksgiving dinner in 10 minutes while watching football.

I definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a funny, insightful book, by a smart, talented writer.

Kitchen Confidential

Kitchen Confidential  by Anthony Bourdain

I binge read this the weekend after Anthony Bourdain died. I had never read it previously. I knew him to be churlish and talented. I was unaware that he had struggled with substance abuse.I saw him as larger than life, a man who grabbed hold of life with both hands.

Reading this book, it’s impossible not to hear his voice.

I worked in the restaurant industry for a hot second. The very things that sucked Bourdain in, spun me on my heel. The punishing pace, inhuman hours, vulgar behavior, not to mention rampant drugs and alcohol.

In the restaurant business, he found his tribe, his calling. He learned the ropes from the ground-up.

He tries not to be sexist, but seems to most appreciate women who took a typically male approach to the business. I’d like to think he evolved over the years.

He did appreciate the dedication of immigrants who often peopled the back of the house of NYC restaurants, stating:

No one understands and appreciates the American Dream of hard work leading to material rewards better than a non-American.

One of my favorite insights he shared was to check out restaurant bathrooms before eating there:

I won’t eat in a restaurant with filthy bathrooms . This isn’t a hard call. They let you see the bathrooms. If the restaurant can’t be bothered to replace the puck in the urinal or keep the toilets and floors clean, then just imagine what their refrigeration and work spaces look like. Bathrooms are relatively easy to clean. Kitchens are not.

The last words of the book are:

I’ll be right here. Until they drag me off the line. I’m not going anywhere. I hope. It’s been an adventure. We took some casualties over the years. Things got broken. Things got lost. But I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.

Definitely worth a read.

A Toast to Toast

One of our recent prompts was “do you have any foods that are tied to specific memories or emotions?”

I’m going to go a couple of different directions here.

Oddly enough, the first thing that popped into my head was a canned cling peach half.

Way back in the dark ages, when I was a kid, going out to dinner was a relatively rare occurrence. Choices were pretty limited and I was pretty picky in those days. (now I’m just particular and demanding) I think my dad used to order Salisbury steaks, but I’m not sure what my mom and brother did. I usually ordered fried chicken which invariably came with mashed potatoes and a peach half sitting forlornly on a lettuce leaf.

I don’t even remember if I ever ate it.

The other food that comes to mind is toast and tea.

This is my ultimate comfort food.

Yeah, Toast.

We didn’t really have snack food or soda in the house when I was growing up. Sometimes we would have Tastykakes or a bag of Chips Ahoy, but that was more of an occasional treat.

The only soda we usually had was a two liter bottle of 7up for my parents’ highballs.

But we always had the makings of tea and toast. White bread, toasted and lightly buttered with black tea with milk.

I have been drinking tea since I was young enough to drink it from a baby bottle. It was very milky then and quite sweet. I drink it without sugar now, but toast and tea is my go to when I’m sick or in a hurry or just in the mood.

I would never make it on Atkins.