Book Club Feature: Dead Wake by Erik Larson

Dead Wake FL2W Book Club Banner

Dead Wake FL2W Book Club Banner

We’re so thrilled to feature Erik Larson’s new book Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania as our next book club selection. Well written narrative non-fiction truly brings history alive for me.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the disaster and Larson will have you hooked by page one:

On May 1, 1915, with WWI entering its tenth month, a luxury ocean liner as richly appointed as an English country house sailed out of New York, bound for Liverpool, carrying a record number of children and infants. The passengers were surprisingly at ease, even though Germany had declared the seas around Britain to be a war zone. For months, German U-boats had brought terror to the North Atlantic. But the Lusitania was one of the era’s great transatlantic “Greyhounds”—the fastest liner then in service—and her captain, William Thomas Turner, placed tremendous faith in the gentlemanly strictures of warfare that for a century had kept civilian ships safe from attack.

Germany, however, was determined to change the rules of the game, and Walther Schwieger, the captain of Unterseeboot-20, was happy to oblige. Meanwhile, an ultra-secret British intelligence unit tracked Schwieger’s U-boat, but told no one. As U-20 and the Lusitania made their way toward Liverpool, an array of forces both grand and achingly small—hubris, a chance fog, a closely guarded secret, and more—all converged to produce one of the great disasters of history.

It is a story that many of us think we know but don’t, and Erik Larson tells it thrillingly, switching between hunter and hunted while painting a larger portrait of America at the height of the Progressive Era. Full of glamour and suspense, Dead Wake brings to life a cast of evocative characters, from famed Boston bookseller Charles Lauriat to pioneering female architect Theodate Pope to President Woodrow Wilson, a man lost to grief, dreading the widening war but also captivated by the prospect of new love.

Dead Wake by Erik Larson

Grab your copy of Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson and join us on March 26 as From Left to Write members discuss the book.

Follow Erik Larson on his website, Facebook, and Twitter.


Book Club Challenge: Thrive by Arianna Huffington

Thrive FL2W Book Club Banner

Thrive FL2W Book Club Banner

For our latest book club discussion, we’re approaching the book a little differently.

Inspired by Arianna’s book, I challenged my fellow From Left to Write book club members to take a 7-day Thrive challenge. Some of us opted to unplug in the evenings, while others attempted to get more sleep in the evenings. So how did we do?

Since we’re all bloggers and work in social media, this is no small challenge. Head over to our members’ sites to learn how they succeeded (and failed) their challenges for our book club discussion of Thrive by Arianna Huffington:

As you can tell, we had fun revisiting Thrive.  Make sure you check out our Thrive book club discussion when we discussed it last year.

Book Club Challenge: Thrive by Arianna Huffington

Thrive by Arianna Huffington

Thrive FL2W Book Club Banner

Last year From Left to Write members read Arianna Huffington’s Thrive, where she shares the story of her wake-up call and how to make changes for a better work-life balance. As shown in our Thrive book club discussion, the book resonated with many of our members. We’re excited to revisit the book this month.

For our second March book club, we’re doing things a little bit different for the paperback release of Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder.

Thrive by Arianna Huffington

We’re taking a 7-day challenge inspired by one of Arianna Huffington’s tips in Thrive. Whether it’s getting 8 hours of sleep a night or unplugging completely on the weekends, we’re going attempt it for an entire week. Since we’re all bloggers and social media influencers, this will definitely be a big change for us!

Want to join us? Grab a copy of Thrive on hardcover or Kindle (you can pre-order the paperback).

Then come back on March 19 for our challenge results and book club discussion of Thrive by Arianna Huffington.

What would your 7-day work-life balance challenge be?

Book Club Discussion: The No More Excuses Diet

No More Excuses Diet FL2W Banner

No More Excuses Diet FL2W Banner

It’s tough to think about spring after the brutal winter we’ve had. Most of the snow outside my office window has melted and the birds are singing. Yes, spring is in the air and I’ve got a spring in my step. Not coincidentally, this time of the year is when many of us start becoming physically active again. In fact, it’s a perfect time for our book club discussion of Maria Kang’s The No More Excuses Diet (Harmony).

Today From Left to Write book club members share their thoughts about fitness, body image and Maria’s no-nonsense philosophy about getting fit. Head over to their sites to read their personal stories inspired by The No More Excuses Diet:

As you can see, we make excuses for more than our diet and fitness plans, but other goals in our lives. Grab your copy of The No More Excuses Diet by Maria Kang and tell us what you think!

Learn more about Maria Kang on her website and follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

Review: The Bees by Laline Paull

The Bees by Laline Paull book review

The Bees by Laline Paull book review

It’s been three months since I read The Bees by Laline Paull and I can’t stop thinking about it. It’s been awhile since I’ve fallen this hard for a novel. After staying up late into the wee hours binge reading it, I couldn’t even fall asleep. The Bees is a dystopian novel toted by the publisher as “The Handmaid’s Tale meets The Hunger Games.” I’m not a big fan of describing a novel with another novel (or in this case, two), but now looking back, I think the description is apt.

Who knew that a novel entirely about the caste system of a beehive would draw me so completely? Flora is a sanitation worker, the lowest caste of her beehive. She and her sisters are deemed as dirty because they do jobs no other bees want. Even though Flora was born into her job, she is not like other bees. She is curious about everything, including the jobs her other sisters have. Her love and worship of the queen, who spreads her love daily through a release of pheromones, keeps her loyal to the hives.

However, she struggles between following the rules and following her heart to do more, be more, and mean more than just a sanitation worker. Her desire to become more than her caste can destroy her hive and life as she knows it.

A beehive’s caste structure was a perfect an allegory about doing what society tells us to do versus following our heart and our dreams.  It’s obvious that Paull meticulously researched beehive society and dynamics when writing it. The details are incredibly vivid. I could easily picture the bees dancing directions to the new mecca of nectar and pollen. I could feel the hive mind working together to stay alive as they hibernated during winter.

I can’t say enough good things about this novel. I bought the ebook on whim and was so glad I did. It’s definitely worth a reread in the near future. I know I missed a details during my binge read.

The Bees by Laline Paull  is on my list of best books ever. I’ve recommended it to all my friends. Don’t miss this debut novel. Now read it so we can talk about it together!

Have you read The Bees? What did you think?

Book Club Feature: The No More Excuses Diet by Maria Kang

The No More Excuses Diet by Maria Kang

No More Excuses Diet FL2W Banner

Can you believe it’s March already? I don’t know about you all, but I’m totally over winter. Thankfully with spring on the horizon and our new March book club picks, I can wait out the cold weather a little bit longer.

Our first March book club is The No More Excuses Diet by Maria Kang. It’s perfect timing because all the snow and below freezing weather does not motivate me to move my body. Kang doesn’t just offer concrete steps to become more fit, but her shares her no excuses philosophy to motivate us:

We all know that we should exercise and eat right, so why is it so hard to follow through? We make excuses for why we aren’t taking better care of ourselves, saying things like, “I’m too tired,” “I don’t have time,” or “I’m just not built to look that way.” But Maria Kang, the mother of three behind the viral “What’s Your Excuse?” mom photos, is here to say that the excuses stop now.

The No More Excuses Diet combines short term goals with healthy habit-forming behaviors to create permanent lifestyle changes. Using a specially designed transformation calendar, readers set clear, personal goals and make an easy-to-follow plan for each day.  The program uses a balanced diet of 30% carbs, 30% protein, 30% fats, and includes a 10% flexible portion that can be customized depending on your goals— whether it’s extra protein for building muscles, or a sugary treat at the end of the day. The No More Excuses Diet also provides a completely customizable workout guide, with over 50 illustrated exercises designed to build strength, flexibility, endurance, and to shed fat. The program also includes 7 weeks of worth of exercise programs that can be done at home with no extra equipment. Packed with meal plans, grocery lists, lots of encouragement and a clear plan of action, The No More Excuses Diet is a must-read book for anyone who is ready to bust through the excuses the hold them back and take their health and fitness to the next level.

The No More Excuses Diet by Maria Kang

This is the first time we’re reading a fitness book for our book club, but I have no doubt we’ll have plenty to discuss!

Pre-order The No More Excuses Diet by Maria Kang and join us on March 12 as From Left to Write members discuss the book.

Learn more about Maria Kang on her website and follow her on Twitter and Facebook.