On April 20, 1999, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold walked into Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado. Over the course of minutes, they would kill twelve students and a teacher and wound twenty-four others before taking their own lives.
For the last sixteen years, Sue Klebold, Dylan’s mother, has lived with the indescribable grief and shame of that day. How could her child, the promising young man she had loved and raised, be responsible for such horror? And how, as his mother, had she not known something was wrong? Were there subtle signs she had missed? What, if anything, could she have done differently?
I listened to this on audiobook, and it is read by Sue Klebold herself. This book was depressing, and puts in perspective just how much you might not know about the people who are closest to you. Sue could have never imagined that her son would be one of the most notorious school shooters in history. He was able to put on a completely different persona around his family, and the Klebold’s could not understand why he would commit such an act. She does not just discuss her disbelief that her son did such a thing, but also gives her deepest sympathies to the victims families. I could not imagine being in this women’s shoes, and being hated by thousands of people. Many people blame the parents of troubled teenagers who commit heinous crimes, and she also discusses how in her darkest times, there were many moments that she would have liked to commit suicide. Sad, but I rated this book 5 out of 5 stars. I recommend.
Leah Remini has never been the type to hold her tongue. That willingness to speak her mind, stand her ground, and rattle the occasional cage has enabled this tough-talking girl from Brooklyn to forge an enduring and successful career in Hollywood. But being a troublemaker has come at a cost.
That was never more evident than in 2013, when Remini loudly and publicly broke with the Church of Scientology. Now, in this frank, funny, poignant memoir, the former King of Queens star opens up about that experience for the first time, revealing the in-depth details of her painful split with the church and its controversial practices.
I listened to this as an audiobook, and I loved it. It was read by Leah Remini herself, and she definitely made it super enjoyable to listen to. She is hilarious, and the way she discusses her upbringing in Scientology, you can’t help but laugh out loud throughout the entire story. Some sections of the book were extremely interesting, especially how the church seems to treat Tom Cruise like he is a god of some sort. I also never realized how much money is required to be a Scientologist, and I can now understand why people say its a ‘rich people’s’ religion. We also get to see how Leah got her start as an actress, and how her friendships with Kevin James and Jennifer Lopez started. I can say that this was probably the most interesting and entertaining audiobook I have ever listened to, and I would definitely recommend it. I rated it 4 out of 5 stars on Goodreads.
Mara Wilson has always felt a little young and a little out of place: as the only child on a film set full of adults, the first daughter in a house full of boys, the sole clinically depressed member of the cheerleading squad, a valley girl in New York and a neurotic in California, and one of the few former child actors who has never been in jail or rehab. Tackling everything from how she first learned about sex on the set of Melrose Place, to losing her mother at a young age, to getting her first kiss (or was it kisses?) on a celebrity canoe trip, to not being “cute” enough to make it in Hollywood, these essays tell the story of one young woman’s journey from accidental fame to relative (but happy) obscurity. But they also illuminate a universal struggle: learning to accept yourself, and figuring out who you are and where you belong. Exquisitely crafted, revelatory, and full of the crack comic timing that has made Mara Wilson a sought-after live storyteller and Twitter star, Where Am I Now?introduces a witty, perceptive, and refreshingly candid new literary voice.
I listened to this on audiobook over the last couple of days and I quite enjoyed it! It is read by Mara Wilson herself, and I am always interested in looking up child stars and reading into what they are up to nowadays, especially if I haven’t seen anything about them in the media recently. I can remember one of my favorite movies as a kid was ‘Matilda’, and wanting to be like Matilda, with all her books and her powers. I also remember that Mara Wilson was the little girl in ‘Mrs. Doubtfire’, which I have seen a numerous amount of times. I found it interesting to hear all about Mara’s personal life, and what she had gotten into after she left Hollywood. I actually found that we are pretty similar in a lot of ways, and I could relate to many of her experiences. She is an excellent story teller, and it amazes me that she can remember so many little details about the things that she has done from many years ago. She also talks about what it was like to know and work with Robin Williams, which I enjoyed. While this book was nothing spectacular, I found it an entertaining audiobook that is worth a listen. Overall, I rated this 3 out of 5 stars on Goodreads.
The arsons started on a cold November midnight and didn’t stop for months. Night after night, the people of Accomack County waited to see which building would burn down next, regarding each other at first with compassion, and later suspicion. Vigilante groups sprang up, patrolling the rural Virginia coast with cameras and camouflage. Volunteer firefighters slept at their stations. The arsonist seemed to target abandoned buildings, but local police were stretched too thin to surveil them all. Accomack was desolate—there were hundreds of abandoned buildings. And by the dozen they were burning.
The culprit, and the path that led to these crimes, is a story of twenty-first century America. Washington Post reporter Monica Hesse first drove down to the reeling county to cover a hearing for Charlie Smith, a struggling mechanic who upon his capture had promptly pleaded guilty to sixty-seven counts of arson. But as Charlie’s confession unspooled, it got deeper and weirder. He wasn’t lighting fires alone; his crimes were galvanized by a surprising love story. Over a year of investigating, Hesse uncovered the motives of Charlie and his accomplice, girlfriend Tonya Bundick, a woman of steel-like strength and an inscrutable past. Theirs was a love built on impossibly tight budgets and simple pleasures. They were each other’s inspiration and escape…until they weren’t.
Though it’s hard to believe today, one hundred years ago Accomack was the richest rural county in the nation. Slowly it’s been drained of its industry—agriculture—as well as its wealth and population. In an already remote region, limited employment options offer little in the way of opportunity. A mesmerizing and crucial panorama with nationwide implications, American Fire asks what happens when a community gets left behind. Hesse brings to life the Eastern Shore and its inhabitants, battling a punishing economy and increasingly terrified by a string of fires they could not explain. The result evokes the soul of rural America—a land half gutted before the fires even began.
I enjoyed this book well enough; however, I did find myself getting a little bored near the end. I thought the story of this case dragged on a bit too long, and it could have been shortened just a hair. I had never heard of this case though, and I did find it quite interesting. Arson seems to be a crime that you don’t often hear much about, and these particular people decided to set fire to a bunch of abandoned homes for no particular reason, which I found interesting. I liked how the author talked about the history behind those who commit arson, and the shared traits that many of them have with each other. I also enjoyed learning about Accomack, my husband is from Virginia and I am not, so I learned a little bit more about the state that I did not already know. While this was not the best nonfiction book I have read so far this year, it was still quite good. I think it is worth a read if you are someone interested in true crime. Overall I gave this book 3 out of 5 stars on Goodreads.
Over the past few months I have become inundated with review requests from authors. Many of the book reviews I have listed are from authors who have graciously provided me a copy of their book in exchange for an honest review. While I absolutely love to be given the opportunity to give back to these people who have worked so hard, I have started to think that I need to take a little bit of a step back.
When I first started my blog, it was solely for the purpose of talking about all the great books I have chosen to read for myself, and hoping to get the chance to read some for review as well. I started to list my blog name under book blogger lists and directories and became really excited when I started getting an influx of requests on a daily basis. During this point in time, I would pretty much accept anything. There are definitely a few titles under my book review list that I would have never considered reading in the first place, but had felt bad about rejecting. While I never lied in my reviews if the book wasn’t good, there are still many times that I have been brought into horrible ‘reading slumps’ because of them, and it has gotten to the point many times that I don’t even want to read. Unfortunately, I am now in a dilemma because I know I told people that I would review their books; however, I am no longer excited for them.
At this point in time, I have about 6 books that I am ‘supposed’ to read and review; however, I think I am going to have to narrow it down to 2, and then start out fresh. I am currently reading one (and am enjoying it), and that is ‘Home to Roost’ by Chauncey Rogers, and I have another one that I am interested in, but after that I think it will be time for a break.
I want to read and review more books that I WANT to read, and feel less pressured into pumping out the reviews from requests. Since I am not getting paid around here, its time to start being a little more picky with what I choose to read. With that being said, how often do y’all review books for authors that request?
I never do tag posts, but I figured I would switch things up a bit today. I also was not specifically tagged by anyone to do this.
1: Best Book You’ve Read in 2017 So Far?
Looking back at all the books I have read so far this year, I have only rated 4 books 5 stars..I think I am getting more critical and picky with my books as the years go on. I would have to say that ‘The Interestings’ by Meg Wolitzer would be my favorite so far. I really love character study type books, where the characters are what drives the story along, and not necessarily the plot. This is a slow novel, but you really get invested in every single one of the characters lives.
2: Best Sequel You’ve Read so Far?
I have not read a sequel this year. I don’t generally read books that end up having a sequel, or a series.
3: New Release You Haven’t Read Yet, But Want To?
I would really like to read ‘The Bear and the Nightingale’ by Katherine Arden. I have been intrigued by it ever since I’ve seen it. It was released in January of this year.
4: Most Anticipated Release for the Second Half of 2017?
I honestly do not pay attention to books that have yet to be released.
5: Biggest Disappointment?
Easy. ‘Since We Fell’ by Dennis Lehane. I really did not like this book, and I had high hopes for it. You can read my review for it here
6. Best Surprise?
I really enjoyed ‘The Killers of the Flower Moon’ by David Grann. I was unsure of how I would get along with this nonfiction story, but I thought it was awesome and very informative. I recommend it to anyone who enjoys nonfiction. There is also a rumor that this is getting turned into a movie, and I sure hope so!
7: Favorite New Author?
I read ‘A Spool of Blue Thread’ by Anne Tyler earlier this year, and even though I only rated it 3 stars, I would still be interested in reading more from this author. I really enjoyed her writing style, and I hear nothing but good things about many of her other works.
8: Newest Fictional Crush?
Yeah…I don’t have fictional crushes, that is a bit juvenile for me.
9: New Favorite Character?
I don’t have a favorite character, I know I am boring.
10: Book That Made You Cry?
Call me heartless, but I don’t cry while reading books. I do, however, think that I would have to say that ‘The Killers of the Flower Moon’ was the saddest book I have read this year so far, and its true!
11: Book That Made You Happy?
Definitely ‘A Walk in the Woods’ by Bill Bryson. I think this is one of the most hilarious books I have ever read, and its about hiking. Something about two overweight men throwing themselves onto the Appalachian Trail, with a goal of hiking the entire thing without problems was absolutely historical.
12: Favorite Book To Movie Adaptation?
I think I have only read one book and seen its movie this year, so I will have to give that to ‘Wild’ by Cheryl Strayed. The book was definitely better, but the movie was still quite good.
13: Favorite review you’ve written?
I started this blog in February, and honestly, my reviews were not that good early on, but as I have gotten the hang of it, they have progressed significantly. I think my review for ‘The Killers of the Flower Moon’ by David Grann, or my review for ‘Marlena’ by Julie Buntin are done well.
14: Most Beautiful Book You’ve Bought This Year?
I don’t buy a lot of books, the new books I do get come from the Book of the Month’ subscription box, and I don’t consider any of the covers particularly beautiful. I read a lot of ebooks or ebooks that people send me for review, but the one book I did go out and buy this year was ‘Shelter’ by Jung Yun, and I think the cover is quite pretty.
15: What Books Do You Need to Read By The End of The Year?
There are so many books I want to get to by the end of the year. I will just insert pictures of some of them. No guarantee that I will get to them….
I tag whoever wants to do it!!! Im already late to the game.
This is a very detailed nonfiction book about the murders of the Osage people, or what is considered the ‘Osage Reign of Terror’ that occurred in Oklahoma in the early 1900’s. The Osage tribe, who were relocated from their ancestral lands in Kansas, and then transported to Oklahoma in the 1800’s, struck luck and became some of the richest people in the country when valuable oil was found on their new lands. The author mainly details the life of Mollie Burkhart, who was a full blooded Osage woman that dealt with many of her family members who were mysteriously murdered, and the investigations that followed. In this book, we find out all about why these people were getting killed off, and we learn about some of the prolific investigators who were apart of this case. We also learn about how corrupt the judicial system was in dealing with this case, and that many of the people who were supposedly their to ‘help’ these people, ended up against them the entire time.
As for my thoughts, this was definitely one of my favorite books of the year so far. I was extremely impressed by the amount of research that went into writing this story. It is obvious that this is a subject that the author is very passionate about. Like many people, I had no idea that any of these murders even occurred in the early 1900’s, and it is sad that the majority of the murders that happened at this time, were swept under the rug and completely ignored due to the crooked system in place. I don’t read nonfiction very often, but I might need to change that because I am normally very impressed with what I do read in the genre. I would definitely read anything else that this author comes out with in the future, as well as going back and reading his older works. Rumors are out that this is going to be turned into a moving starring Leonardo DiCaprio. I sure hope so!
I rated this book 5 out of 5 stars on Goodreads. Excellent, and I highly recommend!
#1 of my ‘Endeavors of the Man Booker International Prize’ series.
Publication Date: February 21st, 2017
This review does not contain spoilers.
Let me just say, that this is not my typical type of read. I primarily chose to read this due to the fact that it was short listed for the Man Booker International Prize, and as I stated in my previous post, I would like to read a good chunk, if not all of the short list.
The entirety of this novel takes place at a comedy club in Retanya, Israel, and focuses on Dovaleh Greenstein, the comedian who is in his 50’s and past his prime. From the moment he gets on stage for his standup routine, the audience senses that what they will be listening to is not what they paid for. Dovaleh throws out some jokes, and singles out members of the audience to poke fun of, but as time goes on, you are essentially watching a man have a breakdown on stage. The author is really good at making it seem as if you are actually there watching this breakdown unfold.
Before the show, Dov gets in contact with a District Court Justice who used to be a childhood friend and invited him to come out to his show. We are unsure of the reasoning behind this throughout the entire book; however, Dov simply asks that he watches him and tells him what he sees in the end. Throughout this standup performance, Dov starts revealing painful memories from his past which is what causes his downfall on stage. Without revealing the stories that he shares due to spoilers, you learn that one by one audience members start getting angry and disappear. It is almost as if you are watching some tragic event occur, and you want to look away, but can’t.
I thought this book was very cleverly told and extremely unique. I haven’t heard of many novels all taking place in one point of time, especially during a standup performance so I really did like that aspect. There are a few discussions about Israeli politics and their military that I was unfamiliar with; however, it is not too hard to follow along. You have to remember that this book was written by an Israelian author where what seems distant to some of us, is very real for him. David Grossman’s own son Uri was killed in 2006 in the war between Israel and Hizbollah, so I had to question if some of this story was memoir-‘esque’ to some of his own personal experiences. All in all, I think this book is worth a read.
I loved this book, but it may be because I am a massive fan of hiking. I had hiked in Arkansas, and Alaska before, but I never really fell in love with hiking until I moved to Hawaii. After reading this book; however, I want to go and hike everywhere and everything. This novel is about Cheryl’s personal account of hiking 1,100 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail in 94 days. There are two time frames she discusses throughout this book, one being before she decided to take this journey, and the second being while she is out on the trail. We learn about Cheryl’s broken family, personal struggles, addictions, and why she decided to set out for the PCT, and we also read about her physical and emotional struggles while hiking. As you read this story, you will learn the changes that she goes through and self realization of the type of person she was before she went on this journey. I have read many reviews where people say that Cheryl is a terrible human being because of the things she did before she hiked the PCT, but I don’t think people are understanding that hiking the PCT is what made her become who she is today, which is a better person. I have also read complaints that she seemed to be bragging about herself a lot throughout the novel. Honestly though, if I were to accomplish something like she did, I would probably be bragging just as much if not more. Long day hikes are challenging enough, I can not even imagine what 94 days and 1,100 miles would be like. If you like outdoorsy, true life adventure tales, I would definitely check this one out.