Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Fiction Review: The Chilbury Ladies' Choir by Jennifer Ryan

The Chilbury Ladies' Choir is American author Jennifer Ryans' first book.  It is very clearly inspired by Annie Barrows and Mary Ann Shaffer's lovely and wonderful 2008 novel The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.  The cover even reminds me a bit of that brilliant and touching novel.  This is itself a lovely novel that also takes place in a small English village during World War II.  This is an ensemble drama as well, and deals with the struggles of those left behind.  Instead of literature, it is music that provides the connection between the various voices that speak here.  This is a charming and touching novel, but it is not quite on the level of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.  I can't help but be bothered, also, by the obvious way in which this book attempts to piggyback on the popularity of Barrows and Shaffer's early novel.  I do love that this novel gives us World War II from the perspective of women and others not on the frontline.  The story is told in the form of letters and diary entries.  It is a strong novel, but it is a little bit too much of what we've seen already.
(This book was received from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.)

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Self-Help/Pop Psychology Review: The Four Tendencies by Gretchen Rubin

Gretchen Rubin's latest self-help book, The Four Tendencies, follows on the heels of Better Than Before and The Happiness Project.  With The Four Tendencies, Rubin has written another book that approaches popular psychology from an outside perspective, although at this point, Rubin is not that much of an outsider to self-help.  She is a journalist, and brings less jargon and more practical application and explanation to the genre.  Here, Rubin has come up with a new and very simple set of personality categories.  Her book includes a very short quiz that will sort readers into one of four personality categories: Upholder, Obliger, Rebel, or Questioner.  After readers figure out their category, they can go on to read the two chapters that apply to their type, one called "Understanding the X" and the other called "Dealing with a X."  After these sections, Rubin includes a few chapters on how to date or speak to the different types.  I appreciated the stream-lined approach that Rubin brings to the overstuffed self-help personality type bookshelf.  It's refreshing to take a personality quiz that takes less than 10 minutes, and the brilliance of Rubin's categories is that they focus on how people respond to inner and outer expectations, thus making it possible to figure out your type with just a few questions.  As with all of her books, this one is well-written, clear, and straight-forward, and I enjoyed her insights. 
(I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.)