5 Great “Best Self” Books

I used to think I hated January. It’s cold. Dark. Rather bleak. But the past couple of years, I’ve gotten through January by going gangbusters on the self-help or, as I like to call them, “best self” books. Below are five of my favorites. They keep me going so I can keep working on my hottie shifter novels!

self-help book covers

  1. Deep Work, by Cal Newport
  2. The Power of Habit, by Charles Duhigg
  3. You Are a Badass, by Jen Sincero
  4. Focus, by Daniel Goleman
  5. In Defense of Food, by Michael Pollan

Have you read any of these? Or maybe you have others to recommend?

The Riders (duology) by Veronica Rossi

 

Riders was the kind of book that I really could not stop reading. Once I started, I didn’t want to stop, and heaven help any poor soul who tried to interrupt my reading. Chores didn’t matter, I think I ate whatever food was easily made while the book was open on the counter, and I literally could not sleep until I’d finished the novel. I both hate and love books like this. I love them because I fall completely under their spell. I hate them because I get absolutely nothing done.

Riders is about a boy, Gideon, who literally dies but comes back to life as War, one of the four horsemen of the apocalypse. He soon meets the other three horsemen, as well as a girl, Daryn, who has a mysterious ability to find them and bring them together.

I don’t want to spoil any of the mysteries in here, but let’s just say the writing is flawless, the plot fast-paced, and the characterization takes my breath away. This was a beautifully written book.

Seeker was also un-put-downable. I started it early in the afternoon and ignored everything around me just so I could keep reading! I love Gideon so, so much, and Daryn, too. I really needed this glimpse into her head. The ending was surprising and fulfilling, and man, Rossi’s dialogue. She’s a master.

I highly recommend these books to any lovers of contemporary fantasy.

Film Review: Romantics Anonymous

romantics-anonymousSomeone recommended Romantics Anonymous (original title: Les émotifs anonymes) to me ages ago–and then it sat in its Netflix envelope next to my television for weeks. Finally I opened the envelope again and read the description. I saw “chocolatier” and I was sold.

This isn’t my usual aliens-taking-over-the-world escapist kind of movie. Lately I haven’t had much patience for slow-paced anything. But this was funny and awkward and oh, so endearing. Characters’ social anxiety is always great fodder for funny, awkward moments, and sometimes I worry that social anxiety is being made light of. However, I didn’t feel that the film was taking advantage of people with anxiety–rather, showing how people overcome difficulties and still manage, however fumbling, to find each other.

I don’t want to spoil the ending, but there’s a point near the climax where she has an argument against their relationship that felt so real and true, but then there was a rebuttal that was equally real and true. I thought this was masterfully done!

Book Review: A Promise of Fire

promise-of-fire-coverBrilliant book! I loved the characters, and I loved the world–a place where Greek gods are very present.

The heroine sometimes used words or phrases that felt too contemporary for a fantasy world, with some silly idiom replacements “the olive doesn’t fall far from the tree” and “don’t beat around the harpy’s nest” (not exact quotes) which took me out of the story, but compared to how much I liked everything else, that’s such a minor thing.

The voice also had a YA feel to me, which is great because I love YA.

The romance was slow-burn at first, and it was scintillating. Usually I write insta-love, but I’m definitely seeing the appeal of the slow burn! Some of the scenes where Cat makes herself invisible for bathing, but she’s totally naked right there next to him–WHEW!

I also liked how lighthearted the book was. Yes, people died, and there’s some gore and violence, but the tone isn’t dark or gory at all.

This was fast-moving adventure, not a slow-paced epic fantasy, and really it’s the characters I fell in love with, and the characters I want to see more of.