Reviews of what you should be reading next.

Tag: psychology

An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

Seeking women ages 18–32 to participate in a study on ethics and morality. Generous compensation. Anonymity guaranteed. 

When Jessica Farris signs up for a psychology study conducted by the mysterious Dr. Shields, she thinks all she’ll have to do is answer a few questions, collect her money, and leave. But as the questions grow more and more intense and invasive and the sessions become outings where Jess is told what to wear and how to act, she begins to feel as though Dr. Shields may know what she’s thinking…and what she’s hiding. As Jess’s paranoia grows, it becomes clear that she can no longer trust what in her life is real, and what is one of Dr. Shields’ manipulative experiments. Caught in a web of deceit and jealousy, Jess quickly learns that some obsessions can be deadly.

Thanks to NetGalley for this ARC!

Just like most of the other reviewers, I absolutely loved this book and could not put it down. The plot was immediately interesting despite Jessica’s vacuous personality and poor decision making. Dr Shields was someone I loved to hate, with her internal monologues and her unemotional personality. At times she reminded me of a robot, until she started having feelings – and boy, were they unexpected!

The authors made each character an unreliable narrator, so you are thrown off balance towards the end, where the twists start to happen. The characters’ past affects their future in unexpected ways, and the authors do a great job of showing how tragedy affects people differently. The underlying tension of the morality study’s probing questions juxtaposed with Jessica’s difficulty with her own morals will make you think about your own actions, both past and present.

The psychological scars of each character shape their actions and decisions, giving the impression that we are no better than the sum of our past. As more light is shed on each character and their own past, things start to make sense – sort of. Once we learn Dr Shield’s motivation, the tension ramps up and you simply must devour each page in order to find out what happens next.

I found it quite interesting that the authors chose to have both women be strong characters, with Dr Shield’s husband somewhat of a weak link. He shows up in the book later on and is just as unreliable as the two women. Despite a strong beginning, he is no match for Jessica and Dr Shields as the story line comes to a head.  That being said, all three of these characters manipulate morality for their own benefit.

Dr Shields is a nearly perfect example of someone who needs control at all costs and will go to great lengths to gain it. At times she seemed too perfectly perspicacious, always seeming to be one or two steps ahead of Jessica’s machinations. However, each character has a flaw that can be exploited, and once those flaws are revealed the story starts to twist and turn as the characters unravel. I stayed up all night until I finished AN ANONYMOUS GIRL – it truly was that good. This is the book everyone will be talking about this year – don’t miss it!

You can get your copy here.

The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor


Conventional wisdom holds that if we work hard we will be more successful, and if we are more successful, then we’ll be happy. If we can just find that great job, win that next promotion, lose those five pounds, happiness will follow. But recent discoveries in the field of positive psychology have shown that this formula is actually backward: Happiness fuels success, not the other way around. When we are positive, our brains become more engaged, creative, motivated, energetic, resilient, and productive at work. This isn’t just an empty mantra. This discovery has been repeatedly borne out by rigorous research in psychology and neuroscience, management studies, and the bottom lines of organizations around the globe.
In The Happiness Advantage, Shawn Achor, who spent over a decade living, researching, and lecturing at Harvard University, draws on his own research—including one of the largest studies of happiness and potential at Harvard and others at companies like UBS and KPMG—to fix this broken formula. Using stories and case studies from his work with thousands of Fortune 500 executives in 42 countries, Achor explains how we can reprogram our brains to become more positive in order to gain a competitive edge at work.
Isolating seven practical, actionable principles that have been tried and tested everywhere from classrooms to boardrooms, stretching from Argentina to Zimbabwe, he shows us how we can capitalize on the Happiness Advantage to improve our performance and maximize our potential.


I was told about this book at a management seminar; almost immediately I ordered it from Amazon.

The author’s writing is clear and often self deprecatingly funny. He uses relevant stories to illustrate his points, and offers reasons that explain the “why” of why being happy makes things better.

Before I read this book, I was personally aware of a phenomenon in my own life: since changing jobs I was a lot happier, and things always seemed to go my way in that new job. This book seemed to be about my own life changes! We all have that mindset that “once I get this job, I’ll be happy”, and for me, it was the reverse. My job made me happy, and I had that spill over in the rest of my life. There were promotions, responsibilities, knowledge, and success for me. Was this all due to my happiness? Or was it my hard work that did it?

In any case; THE HAPPINESS ADVANTAGE should be required reading for anyone wondering how they can make their life better. Imagine a world where everyone was smiling at each other – Achor tells a story of how people became more engaged with each other as they took a moment to smile at and acknowledge their co-workers. This is similar to the management adage that the boss sets the tone of the office; if the boss comes in and is happy, the office is happy and more productive. This makes perfect sense and I’m quite sure this would work almost everywhere.

One of the great things about this book is that each chapter is a separate point. It’s easy to reach a chapter and then go out in the world to practice the tenets he puts forth. As  you get further into the book you will want to search your own life for signs of happiness, and then create more of it in your personal circle. It’s not a sappy self help book; it’s an encouraging way to look inward and understand the workings of your mind in such a way to truly make a change for the better.

Don’t have time to read? (Horrors!) You can also catch some TED talks with Shawn Achor – he is super personable and makes relevant points in an entertaining and thoughtful way.

You can pick up your copy [easyazon_link identifier=”B015QK3RB2″ locale=”US” nw=”y” tag=”gimmethatbook-20″]here[/easyazon_link].

Doctor, Doctor by Merry Freer

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I found this book through my Twitter feed and the blurb made it sound exellent; so I downloaded it to my Kindle. The author Merry Freer said it was a “love it or hate it” kind of book.

Well, I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t love it either. I started to grow weary about halfway through, and then I started skimming, to see if I could get to some juicy parts. When I got to the 3/4 mark I gave up, with the reasoning that I have many other novels in my bullpen to get to, and life is too short to waste on bad books.

The story is based on true events; the author is manipulated and abused by both her boyfriend and her therapist. I didn’t get to the part that explains why the police were called to Mark’s (the boyfriend) house, but I really didn’t care either. See, the book starts off with the author waiting for the police to go to Mark’s house, and she feels guilty about it. The story then starts as a flashback–how she got a divorce, how her therapist helped her through the bad times, how she meets Mark, a handsome doctor–and then it just gets strange. Mark treats her well, then dumps her; the therapist offers to start seeing Mark, they get back together; the therapist seemingly tells the author “secrets” of what happens in Mark’s therapy sessions; and so on.

The first alarm bell was when I read about the unethical behavior of the therapist. Then I wondered why Freer would stay with a man that was so distant, manipulative, untrustworthy, and deceitful. I felt truly sorry for her, that she wasted her time with Mark when it would have been better for her to be alone. It seems like she was desperate and felt unworthy of someone better. It was annoying to me to keep reading about how she felt bad because of how he treated her, yet she was so in love with him and thought that things would become better somehow. Mark was a drug addict that cheated on Freer multiple times. Who would want to stay with a man like that? Maybe if I wasn’t so frustrated in her inability to get this guy out of her mind I would have kept going, but there was just a little too much of “I loved him so, why did he treat me like this? Why isn’t he calling me? Why is my therapist asking me to do this?” I know the idea of the book was that things were so off kilter, but I have no patience with hearing about how men take advantage of women. Since I didn’t finish the book, I can only hope that Freer has exorcised her demons and has found happiness either on her own, or with a real man who knows the meaning of love.

Want to read this yourself? Click [easyazon_link asin=”B00NO0VV7E” locale=”US” new_window=”default” nofollow=”default” tag=”gimmethatbook-20″ add_to_cart=”yes” cloaking=”default” localization=”yes” popups=”yes”]here[/easyazon_link] to purchase it. Let me know what YOU think.


Confessions of a Sociopath by M.E. Thomas


confessions sociopath


Sociopaths are hot topics now, apparently, as this is the second book I’ve read recently with this subject matter. What makes this one different is that it’s written by an actual, authentic, self proclaimed and later-diagnosed, sociopath. She describes her life from childhood, as she grows up, interacts with others, and ponders (ad nauseum) her every move and why she is wonderful.

Goodreads has so many scathing reviews on this book, I laughed out loud. Unfortunately, here is another one to throw on the pile. I realize that she is a sociopath, and that she is expected to be a megalomaniac and self promoting. However, her stories seem full of detail, all contradictory. She will say she had an awful childhood and was beaten, then later on she will wax nostalgic about how her parents loved her and did nothing but the best for her.  Most of her tales describe how she has no emotion, for a crying friend, for animals that need help, for no one and nothing. I found this to be tiresome after the first third of the book. By page 166 I loathed her, not for her alleged sociopathy, but for her boring writing style and major self absorption. I think this person, if she really does exist, has Borderline Personality Disorder. Her exploits at using and “ruining” (her words) people just made me roll my eyes and want to smack her. Actually, leaving her alone and not basking in the glow of her wonderfulness would probably hurt her more.

Oh, but that’s right–she has no emotion. Other than that, she is perfect in every way, and is making the world better by her cunning ways and ability to cut through to what is needed most.

I can’t even write this review without rolling my eyes and sneering. Sorry. And as a final note, one I’ve not seen mentioned in any other reviews, is that her use of a certain italic font, is disturbing and disconcerting. I’m not sure of the typeface, but it’s very hard to read, due to the unusual way the “s” is printed. This, most of all, made me want to throw this book across the room.

Don’t waste your time or money reading this. It was awful.  If you do not heed my warning and wish to slog through it anyway;  here is the Random House page on the book.

I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for this honest review.

If, for whatever reason, you decide that you want to own this tripe for yourself, you can get it here.

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