My Houseplant Changed My Life by David Domoney

My Houseplant Changed My Life by David Domoney

Rating: 3 out of 5.

I bought this one amidst my blossoming houseplant obsession last year (pun most certainly intended), along with a few others that focused on plant varieties and care on a more basic level. I’m not so daft as to believe my green thumb could understand the intricacies of plant biology enough to get a real gardening book, so this one is my base-level, art-filled compromise.

My Houseplant Changed My Life is the infographic version of a houseplant companion; it takes you through nearly one hundred common houseplants, how to care for their basic needs, and important or interesting facts about each. It also highlights the importance of color (particularly green) in the home, teaching children responsibility through houseplants, and how to use houseplants to improve your health and mental well-being.

The book was as I expected it to be, just not much else. It didn’t astound or wow me, but it had some great starter-knowledge and some really cute art. I guess this just isn’t the groundbreaking wonder of The Comic Book Guide to Growing Food or something, but it’s certainly not bad.

One of my biggest complaints was that it didn’t actually cover the majority of plants I have in my home. Only four of the nearly fifteen plants I have in my house made it into the book. I was hoping reading this might further enlighten me to some of the tips and tricks of the plants I have, but no such luck. In fact, the majority of the plants featured in this book, I noticed, were not pet-safe (and some not even child-safe!). I don’t actually feel like that’s accessible or makes sense for the common person looking into getting houseplants. Like, I can’t tell you how many of these had non-pet-safe notes! When I go to my local plant shop/nursery, they’re awesome about telling me which ones are safe and which aren’t. The only ones I have currently that are problems are the ones my friend has had to relegate to my care during her three month trip to Ireland – and they’re high up and away from my kitties. But regardless, I don’t usually invite plants that aren’t safe for my bajillion cats into my home, and I’m guessing most other people don’t either. This seems like a better fit for a city person, living in an apartment where they can’t have pets, than the common person who typically has a pet or child or maybe both.

Additionally, some of the pages felt repetitive in nature. It’s difficult for me to gauge how big of an issue this is because I don’t think it’s meant to be read cover to cover (which is how I read everything, of course), but I also don’t think it makes a good “field guide” type book either, because it lacks many of the basic plants not only in my house but found at shops in my area. So the repetitive nature of it was noticed by me, but may go unnoticed by someone using the book in a different way.

Cute as this book was, I was definitely looking for something *slightly* more comprehensive. I’m hoping Houseplants for All ends up being better suited to the point I’m at now with my little indoor jungle.

Have a fabulous weekend and happy spring!

I’m Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy

I’m Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Damn, dude. I knew from the rave reviews this had to be a good one. I was not disappointed in McCurdy’s writing, though heartbroken and left raw from her story.

Jennette McCurdy is well known for her Nickelodeon roles as Sam Puckett on several popular kids shows. She was a huge part of my own childhood, and that is why I felt it so important to read this story, detailing the real life behind the mask she wore on television. McCurdy experienced every kind of abuse at the hands of her mother, who forced her into acting as a child, taught her the eating disorder that still plagues her today, and continued to emotionally destroy her through many of the years that we saw Jennette on screens in our own homes.

The writing in this book is absolutely top notch. The pacing, the voice behind it, are absolutely incredible and showcase McCurdy as an up-and-coming writing talent. I would be honored to read more of her work. I don’t want to acknowledge the substance in this book until I’ve acknowledged that, because as important as it is to read this story for the perspective shift it will create in your childhood memories, it’s just as important to know that this is no ordinary celebrity memoir. Jennette has real talent for writing and creating art from the written word. I was highly impressed and truthfully surprised by that.

That said, it was really hard to read about all that she endured from her mother through her childhood. You can see the echoes of the abuse and the way she’s been programmed to think about herself and others following her into adulthood, with her own relationships and relationship to her mental health being the most critically affected. My heart was breaking and simultaneously screaming over the internalized and broken sense of self that Jennette’s mother created in her.

Terribly disturbed and kind of disgusted that the negative reviews of this book were just mad because they thought Jennette was handling adulthood badly, or not actually looking to grow from her trauma…or even suggesting that the title showed a lack of maturity. I would like to tell those reviewers to kindly !&($ off, and how dare you. I don’t know how anyone can read this and not see an authentic account of what it’s like to come to terms with your own grief and mental illness. It doesn’t have to be pretty. It sure as hell doesn’t have to be wrapped up neatly with a bow. Her angst and impassivity and even her desires not to change or confront the issue were real: I think it’s just as important and poignant to write about a journey towards betterness as it is to write about being better.

I think, by the end, it’s easy to see why Jennette would be glad her mom died. I know the title has created a lot of shock value, but if you step back from it, I think understanding the mixed feelings of grief and growth make it true. She’s glad her mom died, because under her suffocating abuse, she could never grow beyond the problems she created for her. She’s glad her mom died, because she couldn’t be her own person until she did. She’s glad her mom died, because holding your breath and waiting for it to finally happen when you’re expecting it can be crushing, draining, and exhausting. And I don’t blame Jennette for anything she feels in the wake of her mom’s death. I genuinely wish her the best in continuing to get well.

This was a hugely emotional read and I think you will find it to be a rollercoaster of feelings, but I think it’s well worth it. I will read anything else McCurdy publishes; she is a very talented writer and I’m excited to see how she grows.

Enjoy the weekend, friends.

Helter Skelter by Vincent Bugliosi and Curt Gentry

Helter Skelter by Vincent Bugliosi and Curt Gentry

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Other Possible Prompts: 5. Chapters have titles, 7. A non-fiction bestseller, 10. A book based on a real person, 13. Includes a club, 23. An author with an X, Y, or Z in their name, 24. Addresses a specific topic, 29. Over 500 pages long, 30. Audiobook is narrated by the author, 32. A book that intimidates you, 40. A book with photographs inside

Helter Skelter has been on my tbr longer than almost every other book in my possession, I kid you not – I brought this book on a vacation to NYC in January 2019 and remember distinctly getting stopped by TSA because they couldn’t see through the book on the scanner and oh my god it was a book about a serial killer.

What a day.

I finally just cracked and got the audiobook of Helter Skelter, as read by Vincent Bugliosi! I really enjoyed it in this format, perhaps more than I might have just reading the book, because I can hear it in his voice and it felt a bit more like a true crime podcast.

Obviously, this book is the story of the Manson Family Murders, most famously the Tate and LaBianca homicides in California. If you’re unfamiliar with the murders or the case, they are notable for having ended the 60s as people know it: free love, peace not war, drugs and all that…because the Manson “Family”, led by Charles Manson, collectively killed seven people in senseless murders under the direction of Manson and his cult rule. His tribe of vagabonds was intending to ignite “Helter Skelter”, or a race war, that (according to Manson) would eventually lead to African Americans coming to him for direction and rule. His followers literally believed him to be the second coming of Jesus Christ.

I like true crime, but I don’t think I’ve ever read true crime in its actual format. I really enjoyed The Phantom Prince, but I felt that to be more memoir-style. Helter Skelter as its lead prosecutor tells it is analytical and riddled with the law and facts. I actually liked it, it just wasn’t what I was expecting. This reminded me more of The People Vs. OJ Simpson than of the Bear Brook podcasts (quite literally the only podcast I’ve ever listened to, and well worth it). Lucky for me, I *love* The People Vs. OJ Simpson. My near obsession with that show in high school made my mom convinced I needed to be a lawyer. I just found everything about it so damn fascinating.

This is much the same, but with less mystery and more…creepy stuff. The parts of this book that focus on the family are truly disturbing. Manson is such a bizarre enigma of a man that even Bugliosi plays into it…his watch stops, and Manson smiles right at him…stuff like that. He’s a weirdo, to put it nicely, and a murderer to put it frankly. But what was even more captivating is all of the girls under his spell, and even some of the men: he must have had some charisma, some way about him that sucked in people with no direction – and never let them go. Bugliosi does a wonderful job diving into all of that.

I love hearing about how these cases affect history and the world around them, too. That’s something I think Bugliosi does well. I like to be told what makes all of this so important, because otherwise we are simply rehashing a horrible murder. Manson, however, was a product of the time, a product of the 60s – and of some really fascinating influences from the system, our system, that should cause you to think more critically about them.

This was such a bizarre case. Despite the long length of the book, I never lost interest. It was a lot, a lot of content, but everything was pertinent and interesting. There was so much that I didn’t know about the case, from the fact that Manson still had very dedicated fans even ten years ago, to the fact that the LAPD seriously bungled the evidence and everything about this case, to the very critical role the Beatles played in Manson’s ideology. Very cool stuff. I mean, not murder, but the law and the psychology of it all.

I would recommend this book, but I would specifically recommend listening to it. I believe it is only available from Audible, but it’s worth it. Bugliosi does a great job narrating his work, and it makes it feel more like a true crime podcast. I really liked it!

Have an awesome week, friends!

Cricut Maker by Jennifer Hendry

Cricut Maker by Jennifer Hendry

Rating: 1 out of 5.

The 52 Book Club 2022 Challenge Prompt: 40. A book with photographs inside

Other Possible Prompts: 5. Chapters have titles, 6. Household object on the cover, 8. Involving the art world, 11. A book with less than 2022 Goodreads ratings, 23. Author with an X, Y, or Z in their name, 24. Addresses a specific topic, 31. Technology-themed, 42. An indie read, 46. A job title in the title

Uggghhhhhhhhh. I can’t say that I’ve ever been so disappointed by a crafting book, even when it was intended for old ladies or something.

Cricut Maker: 5 Books in 1 includes what amounts to five of the *exact same book* but just slightly adjusted for the several machines currently on the market. But I’m not even in to my feedback yet. To summarize, this book takes you through unboxing the machine, using Design Space, and some project ideas…five separate times.

It’s really unfortunate that I read the way that I do (obsessive, from beginning to end with zero flexibility) because I think *perhaps* bits and pieces of this book might be useful to some people. And there were approximately three tips throughout all 264 pages that I will take on to my future work, with my own Cricut Explore Air 2 (come to think of it, the typo on the cover should have clued me in). This is the basics of all basics. If you figured out how to turn the machine on yourself, there really is no need to purchase this (surprisingly expensive) volume.

Additionally, there is not a single ounce of business-related tips in here. Not one. I run an Etsy shop, so that is one of the things I was seeking books for…and this is false advertising.

I feel kind of badly because this was given to me as a gift…which is another reason I was unable to quit it like I should have.

As many other reviewers have mentioned, I don’t think English was the first language of the writer. Normally, I wouldn’t give a shit. Honestly. But absolutely no one has edited this book, and it shows. If there was a grammar mistake here and there, but the content was good, it would be easier to swallow, but often the grammar mistakes are encompassed by a bunch of nonsense that didn’t need to be in this book. See here:

A dual tool holder is that has 2 clamps attached to it. One could be used for cutting, and the other can be used for writing. The biggest advantage of this function is that it saves too much time. It’s possible to cut and write at the exact time.

Hendry 172

And no, I did not add those typos myself.

I don’t share this to be an asshole, but it made the entire experience of reading it absolutely grueling. This is just *one* example of about 100 while reading that are not only not helpful or relevant, but so, so difficult to read because of the stunted language.

It reads like an AI system was asked to scour the internet for crafting blogs, and then write a book on each. Actually, it reads like someone copied and pasted Jennifer Hendry’s crafting blogs, then published it as a book. It is wildly repetitive and uninformative.

At least this, my 52nd book of the year – thus fulfilling my Goodreads challenge for 2022 – is complete.

I wish I had better news to report, since I don’t read crafting books all that often, but this one is a no-go!

I hope you all have a lovely rest of your week.

The 5 Love Languages Military Edition by Gary Chapman & Jocelyn Green

The 5 Love Languages Military Edition by Gary Chapman & Jocelyn Green

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The 52 Book Club 2022 Challenge Prompt: 24. Addresses a specific topic

Other Possible Prompts: 4. Title starting with the letter “F”, 5. Chapters have titles, 7. A non-fiction bestseller, 11. A book with less than 2022 Goodreads ratings, 23. An author with an X, Y, or Z in their name

A family friend gave this book to Nate and I several months ago; they said if we were going to get married, we should definitely read this book. Apparently gifting this book to other couples is part of the sort of cult following around it, but we appreciated it nonetheless! I read it first and I’ll be handing it off to Nate next.

Just a military spin on the classic five love languages (words of affirmation, quality time, acts of service, gifts, and physical touch), this book walks you through each of the five love languages, what understanding them means in your relationship, and how to discover you and your partner’s love languages. Being military focused, this edition focuses primarily on military couples, and includes examples of how to speak your partner’s love language during deployments or the special circumstances of a military marriage.

Nate and I are not even married yet let alone experiencing some of the problems expressed in this book, but I almost think that puts us in a better position to read it! Knowing this information before you get into a tough spot where you are hurting is really valuable. Your relationship could always be better for understanding these principles. And besides, when we tell people how long we’ve been together (usually following the “why aren’t you married yet?” question), they typically inform us we’re basically married anyways.

Military relationships move at a different speed, on a different wavelength, but we’ve been fortunate enough to have that sense of relative normalcy for much of our time together. Because of that, some of the stories didn’t really relate to us yet, particularly regarding deployments. We just haven’t had that experience yet, though I think this book will be good preparation!

The concept of love languages is something I’ve only had a relative understanding of prior to reading this book: I knew about the love languages, but I don’t think I understood anything about how you’re supposed to use them in your daily married life until I read this. While I can’t speak to its effectiveness personally yet, I do plan to try some of the tips in this book, and I think this book is a very well laid out guide for getting started incorporating this into your relationship.

My one complaint as a reader would be the “preachiness” aspect of some parts of the book; the organization is very clear, but there are times when the book feels like it’s patting its author on the back, or trying to sell you on the idea instead of providing straight facts or accounts. They’re pretty easy to look past, though, to its credit.

I did really like this book, and I think it changed my perspective on love and relationships, and even the way I see my own needs. My own love language is acts of service. I often feel like a nag asking for help constantly with things around the house, or things I really need done. Truthfully, I derive my energy from a clean and organized environment, so those pieces of my life are absolutely crucial to my individual success. Not only does it feel like being respected when he helps me do these things, it helps me feel loved and more able to give love in return. I always just thought I was crazy. To see this as a love language, instead of annoying personality quirk of mine, is actually kind of nice. I think it will be really helpful in reframing my requests for “love”, too.

Further, it changed my opinions on relationships, because it does truly take work in a marriage. I’ve always loved that what Nate and I have feels effortless, but I think that comes partly from the fact that my secondary love language is quality time, which I believe is his primary love language (he still needs to read the book and fill out hins profile, but I’m pretty confident!). So, we both give and receive love in a similar language and even a similar dialect. But there will come a time in our lives, especially with the military as a third party to it, where that may not come naturally. It’s just a great thing to be cognisant of.

Alright, enough harping on about my relationship. I did think this book was a valuable read, and I’ll be happy to pass it on to another couple when the time comes!

Have a great week friends.

The Burning: Black Wall Street and the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921 by Tim Madigan and Hilary Beard

The Burning: Black Wall Street and the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921 by Tim Madigan and Hilary Beard

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The 52 Book Club 2022 Challenge Prompt: 32. A book that intimidates you

Other Possible Prompts: 5. Chapters have titles, 11. A book with less than 2022 Goodreads ratings, 17. A book based on its spine, 24. Addresses a specific topic, 26. Has an “Author’s Note”, 39. A middle grade novel, 50. A person of color as the main character

Tons and tons of prompt options for this one, but I picked it up last week with the intention of using it as my book that intimidates me: not because of the length or complexity (as you can see I actually picked up the young reader’s edition anyways) but because of the really heavy subject matter. And heavy it was.

Tulsa and Black Wall Street weren’t even in my field of vision until Trump tried to hold a rally there maybe one, two years ago? I remember the (very justified) cries of outrage, and learning that there had be a massacre there…which in and of itself was not knowledge I had up to that point. This book really opened my eyes to just how horrible the Tulsa Race Massacre was, and shed some interesting light on why I never knew it existed in the first place. It takes you from the events leading up to it, explaining Black Wall Street and how it came to be in the wake of emancipation, through all the atrocities of the “riot”, why it was covered up and forgotten, and all the way to today and discussion of reparations.

How can we heal if we don’t know what we’re healing from?

Madigan 258

This line, coming from the author’s note, is among my favorite in the book. This accurately describes why I wanted to read it in the first place. I saw the spine in Gibson’s and picked it up, and after reading the description, I knew it was really required reading for me. I’m pro-reparations to begin with, but I don’t think you can truly know how to help, how to do better, until you know what happened and where the pain comes from. This was a really hard book to read; I took a lot of breaks and cried several times, but overall, this is important and I’m so, so glad I read it. This should really be required reading in high schools!

Additionally, on that note, I want to explain my reasoning for picking up the young reader’s edition. At almost 22 (by the time you read this, I will have been 22 nearly a month anyways!), it’s not that I need the content “dumbed-down” – but I do like and appreciate how any young reader’s edition takes complex ideas and compresses them, or removes content that isn’t deemed essential information. It’s a bite sized piece of a whole pie. I don’t think I could have made it through Tim Madigan’s original publication, both for its length and its emotional weight. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with anyone, whether you’re 18 or 68, picking up a young reader’s edition to get a “taste” of the original story and content. If you’re inspired by this “taste” of the story, you can always pick up the full edition! For me, it’s meant to inspire further reading or research.

As sad as this book can be, as there’s obviously a lot of death and suffering, there’s also such an incredible sense of determination and resilience that cannot be ignored. It was one of the most redeeming parts of the reading, the aha moment, even if it never truly ended “happily” for the people of Greenwood, or their descendents. That sense of resilience, I think, is meant to be one of the main takeaways of the book.

Towards the end, as Black Wall Street is being rebuilt in a matter of months (yes, MONTHS), I couldn’t help but let my jaw drop. I can hardly recover from dropping my iced coffee, let alone from the level of massacre and destruction that the Black people of Tulsa experienced – and yet, they persevered. The quote below is one of my favorites from the book:

To be enslaved before the Civil War, or to be a Black person in America afterward, was to learn how to demonstrate endurance and resilience, to assume the moral high ground in the face of depravity, to possess the ability to advance toward a vision that didn’t yet exist, to create something out of nothing with every faithful step, and to express love in the face of hate. It meant figuring out how to move onward through terrible things that White folks did and to deal with the troubles that Black folks had come to expect life to bring.

Things that would make members of a weaker people turn to dust.

Madigan 213

Just, in awe.

Like I said, I’m so very glad I read this. My only complaints were in regards to writing style; the major players in this story can be hard to recall, and I would have loved a list with a brief explanation of who they were. Additionally, I also wished for more analysis on the impact of this event. The book does bring it through to the current time and political landscape, but that’s the stuff I find most interesting, so I would always love more of that. That’s my only reason for knocking it a star!

Pick this one up! It’s heavy reading, so practice self care, but don’t miss this story. Don’t miss the impact of this event in our lives.

Have a great week.

The Home Edit by Clea Shearer and Joanna Teplin

The Home Edit by Clea Shearer and Joanna Teplin

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

The 52 Book Club 2022 Challenge Prompt: 7. A non-fiction bestseller

Other Possible Prompts: 5. Chapters have titles, 6. Household object on the cover, 24. Addresses a specific topic, 30. Audiobook is narrated by the author, 40. A book with photographs inside

I recently got a job as a professional organizer and decided to pick up The Home Edit (though that’s not the company I’m working for – just happens to be the easiest-to-access literature at the moment!). At the same time, I started watching the show, which kind of felt like a mistake because I ended up letting their TV personalities bleed into my reading experience. But I digress.

The Home Edit is set up as a how-to game plan to tackle the chaos of your home, and rein it in with baskets and labels. It establishes some principles and ground rules for organizing, and then takes you room by room with tips and tricks and inspiration photos. The book itself is laid out in Clea & Joanna’s preferred order based on project size and emotional weight.

If you need a sense of zen, just perusing the photos of this book ought to do it for you for a little while, at least. I really liked a lot of these spaces, and they look straight out of a magazine. Looking a little closer, though, I don’t know if I would choose to do things the same way they do in many instances. I’ve felt that way sometimes on the job myself. Not everyone is going to organize the same space the same way, which I think might be part of the problem! We can use principles that apply to most everyone to guide us (keep your utensils toward the front of the drawer, alphabetize or rainbow order whenever possible to assist your brain to stay naturally organized…) but your use of items and preferred systems could be totally different than Joanna & Clea’s, or mine, or anyone else’s.

But again, I guess that’s not book criticism!

As for the book, anyways, I liked it overall but was not generally wowed by it. It didn’t feel revolutionary or life changing. Maybe when it came out, it was, but I feel like these might be pretty basic steps for organization by now. Especially in a post-COVID world, where we all became pretty organized anyways… or at least tried.

Further, there’s not enough of the ~process~ in this book. I want to read about how you went from nine boxes of expired cereal to decanted and labeled jars of Cheerios. I think I like the decision making process, the part that comes in between, more than I like the Instagram-able after, which I think is what Joanna and Clea focus on.

That said, much of the advice and principles for organizing are GREAT. The “no guilt” and “do I really need it” guidelines are things I use ALL. The. TIME with friends and family when I help them purge and clean. It doesn’t work on everyone, admittedly, but reading it in this book was like preaching to the choir. A lot of their rules were much the same, and definitely steer the ship so-to-speak for your organizing projects.

I liked this book, but I originally intended on reading the rest of the “series”, if it can be called that, and now I’m not sure. We’ll see where the breeze takes us.

Have a great week friends!

Georgiana: Duchess of Devonshire by Amanda Foreman

Georgiana: Duchess of Devonshire by Amanda Foreman

Rating: 3 out of 5.

The 52 Book Club 2022 Challenge Prompt: 19. A book that has an alternate title (ie. The Duchess)

Other Possible Prompts: 5. Chapters have titles, 7. A non-fiction bestseller, 10. A book based on a real person, 24. Addresses a specific topic, 25. A wealthy character, 33. A bilingual character, 40. A book with photographs inside, 45. A book with illustrated people on the cover, 46. A job title in the title

This book is just rich with possible prompts!! Ultimately I’m going with the alternate title because I think that’ll be a hard one for me to fill. Like I’m sure many did, I picked up Georgiana because years ago, I saw the movie The Duchess and absolutely fell in love with her.

This traditional biography tells the story of Georgiana Spencer, who becomes the Duchess of Devonshire after her marriage to the Duke at the mere age of seventeen. Despite many setbacks and a life filled with tragedy and problems, the Duchess becomes one of the most influential figures of her time, launching herself into the political world and becoming a statement of the era (makes much more sense knowing she is of relation to the late Princess Diana!). Wrought by a loveless marriage, a life of gambling, miscarriages and the pressure to produce an heir, Georgiana was still much loved and gave love freely to those who surrounded her, captivating eighteenth century society and landing her name in the press on the daily. Georgiana: Duchess of Devonshire paints a near complete picture of her personal and political life through letters, news articles, and more.

When I first watched The Duchess, I spent much of the latter half of the movie inconsolably in tears. Georgiana is painted to have lived this horribly depressing life, she loses much of what she loves and spends much of her time anxious. It was one of the few movies that I immediately restarted and watched a second time as soon as the credits rolled. I couldn’t help myself: both in literature and on film, Georgiana is a captivating figure.

I think what I learned through reading this, however, is that the movie took quite a few liberties to assume certain parts of her life that we cannot confirm nor deny (though I will have to rewatch!). Instead, as I read the book, I felt like her story is a sad and grating one at times, but she found true happiness and purpose in eighteenth century life and politics, and she should be remembered more for her contributions than her tragedies.

I was in awe of the drama of the book. Affairs, debts, exile, scandal… the story of British aristocracy and the rise and fall of the Whig party has it all. But Georgiana dominates this tale. Whereas she starts behind the scenes politically, she’s soon at the forefront and as Foreman explains, made real political change during her time. She was a primary “influencer” of her day. Even still, I found the hypocrisy of her situation hard to swallow at times. Obviously I think her character superior than that of those around her, but she wasn’t without faults…her continuous line of gambling debts chief among them. But while they constantly gave Georgiana trouble for this, her husband, her sister, and her mother had the same problems. And SHE took on those debts for them, at times, but was herself ridiculed for the amounts she owed. Similarly, after she bears an illegitimate child, the Duke casts her out for two years and does not allow her to see her own children – but he himself had multiple illegitimate children, including his eldest, and no one batted an eye. Stuff like that really bugged me, but it makes the story all the more intriguing.

And for that part, the biography element, I have few complaints. I was amazed by the sources of Foreman’s information, the depth of her knowledge and research, and the incredible picture she’s able to paint of such an interesting figure in history. As biographies go, this is a very good one. Additionally, I felt that the political aspect of things was very well done – Foreman clearly outlines how the British system worked and how Georgiana asserted influence over it in her own way, which I thought wildly interesting to read about.

My two biggest complaints, and the reasons it gets three stars from me, is the way it sometimes drones in its narrative, as well as the confusing aspect of time. While most of the information is important, I sometimes found it hard to follow because of the way it’s presented. It comes off droning when the story branches off, but eventually comes to a point I may have been more apt to pay attention to if given proper reason from the start. Additionally, I found time did not move quite as linearly as I thought; seasons would come and go but we would be covering the same year, or now we are moving backward to a different period to reflect on previous events that are only important now…I’m not a person who frequently reads biographies, so it may just be me, but I did find this extremely difficult to follow at times. When I began a new chapter and it recounted the year, I could’ve been sure I’d already read about such a time. But anyways.

I plan now to rewatch The Duchess which I so loved to begin with, to see how to the two compare! I consider the book the utmost authority on her character, of course, but I’m curious if watching it will bring back my feelings of pain for Georgiana rather than of her triumph. I don’t know how to feel about that…she’s so enthralling as a figure because of her political prowess; I’d hate to see the film reduce her to one who only experienced such trials and tragedy.

Have a wonderful week, my friends!

She Sheds Style by Erika Kotite

She Sheds Style by Erika Kotite

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The 52 Book Club 2022 Challenge Prompt: 9. A book that sparks joy

Other Possible Prompts: 5. Chapters have titles, 6. Household object on the cover, 8. Involving the art world, 11. A book with less than 2022 Goodreads ratings, 24. Addresses a specific topic, 40. A book with photographs inside

I LOVE a she shed. I have wanted one since I was sixteen. In my wildest dreams, it has its own sitting area, built in bookshelves that harbor my entire collection, and a desk by a window overlooking gorgeous gardens from which I work. When I saw She Sheds Style at Gibson’s a few months back, I instantly added it to my list!

She Sheds Style focuses more on the nitty gritty than the whimsical idea of a she shed. It’s more of a how-to manual for the trend than a lookbook, though it is filled with others’ gorgeous ideas and projects. It blends a combination of practical building considerations, color theory, and design concepts with a smattering of do it yourself projects to make the she shed your own. I quite enjoyed its organization and its thoughts.

This book did exactly what it was supposed to: inspired me to design my own shed, and give me the tools to get started. I’m in no position to have a she shed at the moment, being a renter who will likely move in the next few years, but a girl can dream! Considering its purpose, what finer details I’ll need, even down to the colors…that can bring you a lot of joy, too. It filled my Sunday.

My reasoning for not giving this five stars is that I do think some of this is a bit, hmmm…flowery, I guess? It’s language designed to fill out the page rather than provide practical advice. Kotite seems completely taken with the she shed idea and it spills onto her pages, but she needn’t sell me on the idea – like I said, I’ve wanted one for five years now!

What I was really here for were the design ideas, and unexpectedly, the solid building advice. Kotite brings up awesome considerations I hadn’t even thought of, like where in your yard you place the shed mattering. Not only is it affected by drainage, levelness, etc…but you want it to blend into your yard, become one with the landscape, and look like it belongs there. I loved her practical tips on this and many other things I never would have come up with on my own.

In addition, that design advice was really great. There are several projects in here that I plan to give a try, even before I get a she shed. They were original and sweet, and helped highlight some of the more important features of the shed. Really, this was a well organized and thoughtful manual on a topic I love.

However, another thing I didn’t like: throughout the book, Kotite touches on five distinct styles that the shed can fall into, and she runs with them for everything from paint colors to type of door. And I didn’t dislike any of them, but I do feel like my own personal style, and what I’ve always envisioned for a shed of my own, falls somewhere between many of them and maybe even a bit outside of them. The five themes were eclectic, modern, rustic, green, and romantic. I feel my own style felt like a blend of green and romantic, with a touch of rustic. It’s all going to depend on my home, and my surroundings, but they’re all styles I identify with.

If you’ve ever considered a she shed, or if you’re crafty and you’d like to know more about the idea, check this one out! I loved the advice and the projects, and I’ll definitely return to this book in the future. I can’t wait for spring to be here so I can get out in the sunshine and flowers that this book really highlights!

Have a great week!

Mind Your Business: A Workbook to Grow Your Creative Passion Into a Full-time Gig by Ilana Griffo

Mind Your Business: A Workbook to Grow Your Creative Passion Into a Full-time Gig by Ilana Griffo

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Hello again! I hope you all had a fabulous weekend soaking up fall and doing autumn things! My review this week is a long time in the making: I think I’ve been reading Mind Your Business since I started college…and I graduated last December. And that’s not to say it’s bad, as evidenced by my four star review! More on that later.

Griffo’s workbook is an awesome start-to-finish, crawl walk run of a book for small business owners in creative fields. She takes you from the brainstorming stage, through understanding work life balance, all the way to resources and tools to help you grow and stay profitable. I loved her mix of personal accounts and advice combined with solid resources and plans to help you get from point A to point B. The workbook style makes it easy to stop and reflect.

Like I was saying, I’ve legitimately been reading this book for years, and I think I might be reading it for several more years. I can now officially say that I have successfully read the book cover to cover, but this is definitely an awesome resource I’m going to keep coming back to. From the time I picked it up to the time I finally finished it, I had no fewer than three completely different business ideas. Every time I had a new one I wanted to flesh out I would grab my eraser and work my way back to page one to start from the top. Mind Your Business functions like the step before a business plan, which works well when you consider many small business owners might start with something just like this instead of skipping right to a thirty page plan.

I picked up Mind Your Business for the third and probably-not-final time recently because I was considering a graphic design business, and I think now that I’ve made it to the end, I might just go out and buy another copy to fill in. I’ve got far too many eraser marks in mine now to start again, but there’s just some really sound and valuable advice in this book that I think provides a great starting point and an excellent resource when you struggle.

My only complaint is that it sometimes feels preachy. I think there’s a self-help element to this book that I didn’t necessarily dislike but that occasionally became more boring and repetitive, and less constructive and helpful. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with providing that sort of “are you cut out to run a business?” sort of advice, though. I went to business school, I’ve been pretty sure for a couple years now that this is the kind of thing I eventually want to do. But if you work in a creative career, and you’re thinking about striking it out on your own? It’s actually really important to be asking yourself some of these questions. A workbook is certainly cheaper than a failed business. In that respect, I think the flow of this book is awesome.

I do highly recommend Mind Your Business. Like I said, I think I’ll be picking up another copy…and if you’d like one too, you can order it here. I hope you all have a fantastic week!