Another Day, Another Book Review

Nicole Schlinger Rebecca Serle

In Five Years: A Novel by Rebecca Serle

After Rebecca Serle’s last dumpster fire of a book, you may wonder why I picked this one up. Once again the premise for the book seemed so compelling, the execution just had to be worth the ride. Once again, disappointment.

As the story opens, “Type -A Manhattan lawyer” Dannie Kohan is on the cusp of getting everything she wants. She is about to get the job she has not only dreamed of, but doggedly, determinedly worked towards every day of her life. She is about to get engaged to a man who by all rights, seems perfect for her. Not a wallflower. Not a lazy lout. But content with Dannie being the one whose career takes precedence in their upcoming marriage. On the eve of all this joy, Dannie has a weird dream where she wakes up five years in the future, in a different apartment, next to a different man. From there, the rest of the book is a journey of discover to find out what happens to screw up her life so that it does not end up as planned. I won’t spoil the surprises if you plan to read the book.

Here’s my problem with the premise of this book. Just because she has this weird dream, just because some terrible things happen to people she cares about, does not mean that the career she’s fought for and man she picked suddenly is not good enough. This woman goes from being completely all there and put together to being a typical Chick-Lit “Bridget Jones” mess. I just don’t buy it. Read my prior review here:


Nicole Schlinger allison pataki

The Queen’s Fortune: A Novel of Desiree, Napoleon, and the Dynasty That Outlasted the Empire by Allison Pataki

This book had everything I look for in historical fiction: action, suspense, and an education.

I’d never heard of Desiree Clary and her amazing, lifelong connection to Napoleon Bonaparte. She was Napoleon’s first fiancé and eventually his sister in law. She was a lady in waiting at the court of Empress Josephine. And it was Napoleon himself who introduced her to her eventual husband, Jean Baptiste Bernadotte, the future King of Sweden.

Fun side note — Allison Pataki is the daughter of former NY Governor, George Pataki. He was given little chance of defeating Mario Cuomo in 1994, that glorious year of the Republican revolution. He came to Syracuse University where we few college Republicans valiantly waved signs on his behalf. Unbelievably, he won and became the longest serving Republican Governor of the State of New York. It was George Pataki who suggested Desiree would make an incredibly subject for Allison’s next book. Once again, he was right.

The Daily Stoic by Ryan Holiday

Nicole Schlinger Ryan Holiday

And then the pandemic started.

If this was your first existential crisis … welcome. Hope it didn’t kick you too hard.

For those of us in the arena, whose backs have been up against the wall before, who have had to make the decision “do I live or die today?” … do I put up my hands in surrender or do I turn and fight? We’ve been practicing for this our whole lives. We’re made for this. Like Marcus Aurelius says, “What do I have to complain of, if I’m going to do what I was born for — the things I was brought into the world to do?

So when it felt like the walls were closing in, I picked up my copy of the Daily Stoic, ironically on March 20th. “Ready and At Home.”

I read the entire year again in under a week. If you want to come out the other side of this mess as a winner, read this now. If you need further convincing, check out my prior review.

Thanks for reading,


Nicole Schlinger


P.S. – If you’re looking for some page turners, check out my complete book list for 2018 for a good place to start.

Nicole Schlinger’s Pandemic Reading

Hey friends — how has your pandemic reading been going?

If you haven’t been using this time to expand your knowledge, get organized, make plans and set goals … you have missed out. The world is opening back up, and given the history of pandemics, it’s not likely you’ll have another chance like this in your lifetime. Shakespeare wrote Macbeth during a pandemic. Newton called his semester away from school his “year of wonders.” It was during this time he first set forth his laws of motion.

Like Robert Greene says, it’s either Dead time or Alive time. Either way the time will pass. What will you make of it?

Check out this fantastic podcast clip from Ryan Holiday and Tim Ferriss here:


If you’ve been wondering about the reading I’ve been doing during the pandemic (of course you’re wondering) you can always follow along very closely on my Medium page . 

In the meantime, here is a quick look at a few books I spent some time with:

Nicole Schlinger Country Living

The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living: A Novel by Louise Miller

I read this book at the recommendation of Elise Stefanik. Yes, that’s right. The very same Rep. Elise Stefanik who represents NY’s 21st District, the youngest Republican woman ever elected to Congress, who persisted while being repeatedly called out of order by an older man of the opposing party, reads for at least 30 minutes before going to bed each night. She publishes the list of books she’s read each year.

Now, onto the book itself.

This is the kind of engaging, light-hearted story that will take your mind off the day’s troubles. A fast, fun, easy read.

However, don’t mistake this book for an accurate depiction of rural life. If you are a city dweller seekingthe permanent social distancing of rural life, do not expect country folk eagerly embrace sassy, urban newcomers with purple hair. Expect the nail that sticks up to get hammered down.

Nicole Schlinger all the ways we said goodbye

All the Ways We Said Goodbye: A Novel of the Ritz Paris, by Beatriz Williams, Lauren Willig, Karen White

If you like historical fiction, it doesn’t get better than Beatriz Williams. While most Beatriz Williams novels have two intersecting plot lines, this one has THREE! This is because Williams has teamed up yet again with Lauren Willig and Karen White. Each one writes a different point of view and the result is amazing.

All three plot lines — World War I, World War II, and peacetime 1960’s — center around the Ritz Hotel in Paris. The WWI and WWII plotlines have plenty of excitement, suspense, and adventure. It was fun to unravel how the characters in one era would show up in the other. However, the 1960’s characters seemed shallow and contrived, as if their only purpose was to tell you what eventually happened to the earlier characters.

As always, characters from Beatriz Williams’ previous novels made cameo appearances, and it’s quite possible a minor character in this book will show up as the star in a future one. So while this wasn’t my favorite Williams novel, it’s definitely worth a read.

Nicole Schlinger the power of bad

The Power of Bad: How the Negativity Effect Rules Us and How We Can Rule It by John Tierney

Well, it’s fitting that I read this right before a global pandemic decimated the economy. Who knew the American people would surrender their liberty so willingly?

The long and short of this book is that you are genetically hard-wired to look on the negative side of most events. People who tend to see the good in everything are outliers, and natural selection weeds them out over time. Thank goodness, because they are terribly annoying!

This book spent a lot more time on why negativity is so powerful than on “how we can rule it.” So if you want advice on that, check out The Daily Stoic instead.

I’ll be back with more books next week. In the meantime, drop me a line and let me know what you’ve been reading or if you have anything you think I should check out.
Nicole Schlinger

Flash Reading List – Part III

Welcome to the third installment on my series of super short book reviews! I hope these flash reading lists give you some inspiration to pick up something new and different.

You can catch the first two sets of reviews HERE and HERE.

As we enter the second half of the year, I’m just finishing book #21, roughly 9 books behind average and a full 14 off my personal best.

Let’s get right to the next five books that YOU may want on your reading list …Click through to read my reviews. 

Nicole Schlinger Victoria's daughtersNicole Schlinger America's First DaughterNicole Schlinger Park Avenue SummerNicole Schlinger David McCulloughNicole Schlinger I will teach you to be rich
Which ones look interesting to you? I’d love to know.
Have a great week,
Nicole Schlinger and Chief Canine Officer Martha Waffles
Nicole Schlinger

A Look Ahead

Well, after the giant dumpster fire that was my 2018 reading list, I’m setting the bar at 55 books this year. For a book to be “counted” that means reading the first page, the last page, and every page in between. No skimming, no summaries, no cheating.

While I’ve been known to finish the year with a quick re-read of Seth Godin (short) masterpiece “The Dip” … I ordinarily do not let the length of the book or the time it will take to finish influence my selections.

This year, I’m starting off with The Life of Elizabeth I by Allison Weir, albeit not the super cool leather bound edition pictured below.

Check out the rest of what I’m reading this year on my Medium post here: 

What are you looking forward to reading this year? Leave me a comment or shoot me an email.



Nicole Schlinger, President of Campaign Headquarters

Start Your New Year Off Right

Now that we’re getting settled into 2019, I thought I’d give you the perfect way to start your year off right – with 5 good books for you to try.

If you’re new here, you should know I’m a book lover and I am constantly looking for good recommendations and enjoy sharing a few thoughts of my own. In fact, I started a Medium page solely dedicated to book reviews. Be sure to follow it here 

Anyway, here are my Top 5 reads from last year – you should pick these up today.

1. Conspiracy: Peter Thiel, Hulk Hogan, Gawker, and the Anatomy of Intrigue, by Ryan Holiday

2. Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou

3. Sales Differentiation: 19 Powerful Strategies to Win More Deals at the Prices You Want by Lee B. Salz (Nicole Schlinger book review coming soon!)

4. Principles: Life and Work by Ray Dalio

5. Hetty: The Genius and Madness of America’s First Female Tycoon by Charles Slack


Conspiracy and Bad Blood were full of action and adventure. Conspiracy was the story behind Peter Thiel’s decade-long quest for revenge against Nick and Gawker. Bad Blood was the larger than life, almost unbelievable tale of the rise and fall of Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes.

Sales Differentiation delivers much more than its fishy title implies. It’s a real, how-to guide for giving your customers extraordinary value.

Principles by Ray Dalio is an instant classic. It delivers on its promise as an operating system for life and work. (And even suggests that we should not try separating the two.)

And last by not least … Hetty. You probably didn’t learn about Hetty Green in public school. She was caricatured and ridiculed in life and death. So much of what’s said about her is an exaggeration, and never … ever flattering. This is the true story of the first female tycoon in America. It’s not pretty. But I challenge you to come away from this book without respect and admiration for this American pioneer.

I hope you’ll pick up a new book this year.


Thanks for reading,


Wrapping Up the Year in Books

I know we closed the books on 2018 a few weeks ago now, but I thought I’d take a quick look back on the year in terms of books.

Coming in at 38, this is the fewest books I’ve read in a year since I began tracking in 2013.

Like Ryan Holiday says, “I promised myself a long time ago that if I saw a book that interested me, I’d never let time or money or anything else prevent me from having it … Enjoy these books, treat your education like the job that it is, and let me know if you ever need anything.”

I’m setting might sights on 2019 to for more exciting books to come (which I’ll preview in another post). But here is my complete book list for 2018, if you’re interested.

I’d love to hear your thoughts if you’ve read any of these or suggestions for books to add to my 2019 list.

Keep reading, friends.

Nicole Schlinger, President of Campaign Headquarters


This Got Me Thinking…

Back to my book reviews, for just a second, I read Behind the Cloud at the time CampaignHQ was contemplating a move to Salesforce.

I figured it was worth finding out the philosophy behind a company before committing to the financial, organizational and emotional commitment a Salesforce build requires.

On the surface, I liked what Marc Benioff had to say. I understood and connected with the reasons why he left Oracle, why he chose to build Salesforce the way it is. All of these sound like good things, and I’m certain Marc Benioff is personally committed to them.

But the biggest lesson came in the months after I read this book and we signed the contract.

Our Salesforce experience in no way matched Marc Benioff’s high standards.

At no point were mid-level Salesforce salesmen in any way emotionally committed to customer delight. they were very good at saying “Yes, Salesforce can do that.” But not at making sure it actually DOES. They were exceptionally committed to making the appropriate number of contacts on the appropriate timeline, making sure we signed their non-negotiable forms, and then entering their daily activity into Salesforce.

We’ve been with Salesforce coming up on a year and we are on our fourth sales rep. So by the time we get one to figure out what we’re doing … it’s time to train another. Any time you want to change anything on your Salesforce account, it takes 7 approvals in 7 different departments. If that doesn’t happen on time … tough darts.

That got me to thinking.

What is it like to be a brand new, relatively small customer at CHQ?

Looking back to 2012 … there’s a lone invoice to an unknown candidate in a crowded Senate primary. It was a $100 minimum order project, sold to none other than Ted Cruz. Senator, I hope we did well for you. I suspect that since it was a lone $100 order with no follow up, we fell short.

For the clients who trusted your calls to CampaignHQ in 2018 — if you were running for City Council or County Commissioner … I probably did not get a chance to meet you. So frankly, I’m not a lot different to you than Marc Benioff is to me.

Win or lose, I hope we exceeded your expectations.

You have my commitment I’ll find out how your experience was. I know what it means.

Thanks for reading,


Nicole Schlinger, President of Campaign Headquarters