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review 2017-12-13 22:53
Mixed bag.
Thanks, Obama: My Hopey, Changey White H... Thanks, Obama: My Hopey, Changey White House Years - David Litt

Despite everything going on and not really sure if I wanted to read a memoir so recent, the title made me smile. This is the story of Litt's work in the White House from the joys and pains, the highs and the lows, what it's like to work in the White House and to work with the president himself (as you probably can tell, he served in the Obama administration). Litt reviewed another book and had written elsewhere and seemed genuinely funny and endearing. The book would certainly seem the same.


Litt was with Obama starting with the 2008 campaign and wouldn't leave the White House until 2016. In between we watch him on the campaign trail, managing speeches, trying to figure out the President's voice, being a front row witness to history as well as managing the daily grind of both the campaign trail and then in the administration. Some of it is genuinely hysterical as to what could go wrong and what it was like to try to get the most powerful man in the world to deliver this speech as written or seeing first-hand some of the highest or lowest or most emotional times (good and bad) in the White House. 


And sometimes it's not great. The book feels like a mixed bag. There are times when Litt had me riveted by the campaign anecdotes and what it's like trying to work for President Barack Obama, etc. Sometimes it's extremely tedious. Sometimes it all comes out in a jumble, like Litt is telling us anecdotes after fun story but it isn't a coherent narrative. It's almost like Litt has a really great second or third draft or something where there is a structure that could emerge if maybe an editor took another go at it to hammer it out.


I enjoyed some of it and am grateful for the work he and the other staffers and the administration (and President Obama of course!) have done. It'll be interesting to see when more of his staffers come out with their memoirs and see how they, the Obamas themselves (really, these books really only want their stories so much more), etc. will view his administration. 


It's not for everyone but if you're curious as to what it's like to be Sam Seaborn (except in real life) this could whet your appetite. Might make a good reference for presidential scholars or people specifically interested in the Obama administration but I'm glad that this was available at my library.

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review 2017-12-07 18:40
A Love Song for the Sad Man in the White Coat
A Love Song for the Sad Man in the White Coat - Roe Horvat

“I regret the wasted time and energy. I regret what you went through. I will forever doubt there’s more to life than a limp shuffling toward a grave with just a few bright spots in between…”

Matěj snorted at the last one. “That’s a neat way to sum it up,” he commented sarcastically, making Simon smile into his hair.

Simon breathed in and out, the warm scent coming from Matěj’s nape underlined by the crisp air around them. “But tonight, my beautiful boy, the light is so bright I might as well be blind.”


I am going to try very hard as I write this review not to completely fall apart.  It has been a while since a book has impacted me quite as emotionally as this one has.  And while the tears have fallen, behind them was such beautiful and heartfelt emotion for these characters.  The writing is quite captivating and like with all of Roe’s books, quite unique. The structure of this one drew me in from the start and while it is the journey of 2 characters, it is the story of a group of friends as well.  It is about finding Home, about finding YOUR family and about finding “happiness and peace of mind”.


This is not what I would call a traditional romance but it is a love story.  As the title indicates, this is in fact “A Love Song”.  For me music can be felt in your soul.  It can impact you with no words at all.  And like with this beautiful “Love Song”, not everything is said with words.  To end one section of a book and simply turn a page, only to find yourself so emotionally impacted takes a talent that is hard to fully understand.  This book does that.  You will feel every emotion.  Every act. Every touch. Every breath and every action.  There are small gestures which read in the context of the book, mean everything.  This is about darkness and light and the colors in between.  This is about finding the person who helps you see though the darkness to find happiness and joy, love…to see light.


Matěj treated life like delicious food, just like he appreciated Simon’s books and hummed around a beer bottle. The boy knew how to enjoy things, how to marvel at things, how to savor impressions, how to feast on a pleasurable moment to its maximum capacity. It was a singular skill, wildly to be admired. When Simon found himself at the center of the man’s attention, those were easily the happiest minutes of his entire life. Everything in between lost color.


Let me not forget all the little things (which are actually quite big things)…the stick figures (yes, I just caught my breath and shed a tear); Tom Waits (who alone can conjure the right feelings and emotional tone of this story); dear Simon’s black and white apartment, and one of the most memorable and heartwarming trips to an ER I have read.  Add to this a cover that alone captures so much emotion and relates brilliantly to the darkness that surrounds these characters.


I know I have not said what this book is about.  Honestly I can’t put it into any words that will make sense.  It is a Song that must be heard for yourself…because how can you describe music that touches your soul?  You can’t.


*An ARC was received from the Author in exchange for an honest review.*

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review 2017-12-07 15:45
Decluttering At the Speed of Life
Decluttering at the Speed of Life: Winning Your Never-Ending Battle with Stuff - Dana White

Author: Dana K. White

Rating: 5 stars


Why am I giving a book on clutter 5 stars? Cuz of statements like this:


"I know these things are obvious, and I would have said they were obvious to me too. But I wasn't living like they were obvious."


That statement is not just about clutter. It can be applied to principles or life lessons we are reluctant to accept. It was an "Aha!" moment and helped me in an unrelated situation I was facing. Truth is truth - no matter where you find it. But I digress...


This book has some solid advice on how to declutter your home. Decluttering, Ms. White stresses is different than cleaning, and she explains why in this book. She talks to you as a friend giving you some hard-won advice. I like how she addresses your snarky self. The snarky backtalk of that doubtful, sarcastic self who hates change and wants to continue in what's comfortable.   


What I really enjoyed about this book was Ms. White recognizes there is often an emotional component to clutter. She does this on a personal level, getting into the emotions people experiencing as they try to get rid of clutter. Where the book really elevated itself was in its chapters on helping others. I recently helped someone declutter their home. And Ms. White states so clearly what I had to learn in the moment - the person I was helping wasn't reluctant to get rid of papers and things because she was blind as to how it looked ... but because these papers and things belonged to a husband she loved dearly who had passed away. Going through those things and changing how he left them meant reliving memories. It meant grief. So I cried and shared memories and yes, we did make headway on the clutter. Respecting the emotional component is what Ms. White stresses. I applaud that. 


Also, there's this gem about  knowing your boundaries when helping those close to you:


"You may have been invited to help. You may have been begged to help. But today is not the day that you get to fix this person you've always wanted to fix. It's the day just to declutter."



She does address actual hoarding, as well as knowing when to step back and realize your frustration is not helping the situation.  Again the emotional component.  Another section on what to do when you want to declutter but your spouse doesn't. Just practical advice on real-world situations. 


Overall I highly recommend this book on decluttering.


I received this book free in exchange for an honest review. The opinion that I'm glad I randomly requested it through Netgalley cuz its a dang good book on clutter is purely my own.



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text 2017-12-07 15:05
Reading progress update: I've read 100%.
A Love Song for the Sad Man in the White Coat - Roe Horvat

I am going to need a minute.


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text 2017-12-07 12:47
Reading progress update: I've read 93%.
A Love Song for the Sad Man in the White Coat - Roe Horvat

Matěj covered his eyes with his right hand. Most days, his head was a cargo container stuffed with ingenious ideas, and now…nothing. The Czech language had three hundred thousand words. Facing the love of his life, finally having the opportunity to talk to him again, Matěj could barely remember twenty, half of which were expletives.


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