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50 Book Reviews



Climbing Over Grit: Memoir

I discovered this book after following the author’s blog on for a while, then realizing that she had written a book as well. I found it so interesting to read and only wished that it had continued, as it ended at a rather frustrating point. I love to read about other cultures, and it was quite descriptive and mostly an easy reading book. The memoir tells about her life growing up in Iran with her large family and the changes that happen when the latest generation begins marrying and how it came about. I only ran into a few language glitches that were mostly easy to decipher through.

It gives a very good look at life in that part of Iran, in her extended family, at that time period in the writer’s opinion. She shares what family outings were like whether just a gathering in the backyard with the adults smoking shisha, or going on a roadtrip for either pleasure or business with the man of the house taking charge to drive and arrange all the accommodations as they went.

Educated: A Memoir

I really loved reading this book by Tara Westover about growing up in a family of survivalists. Her father has a junkyard and preaches end-of-days, her mother is a midwife and does healing work, selling herbs and tinctures. They hoard food like peaches and things from their garden and can it, stockpiling it for when the end comes. They try to live totally off the grid with the kids being homeschooled or self-schooled. The brothers are a very different bunch altogether. A recommended read for those who like non-fiction.
An advance digital copy was provided by NetGalley, Tara Westover, and Random House Publishing Group for my honest review.        Publication date is Feb. 20, 2018.

Permanent Marker: A Memoir

I found this memoir by award-winning high school English teacher Aimee Ross to be very moving and I’m so glad she shared it with the rest of us. It comes across as a heartfelt, empowering and a cathartic read that sprinkles bits of her growth across its pages as she opened up about the horrible “Trifecta of Shit” as she refers to it that happened to her in a 6-month period of her life. At the age of forty-one and unhappy in her marriage, she asked her husband for a divorce.

Just three days later, she suffers a heart attack. Slowly recovering from that and starting over in her own place, five months later, she survives a near-fatal car crash caused by an intoxicated driver.
This book is about her recovery and in a way IS her recovery as she explores the connection between writing and healing…physically, emotionally..and learning to forgive. A very moving book that touches on many topics, some unexpected. Very honest and emotion filled.

I was provided with a free advance reader copy by Ki-Cam Projects and the author for my honest review.      Publication date is March 13, 2018

THE SHAWCROSS LETTERS: My Journey Into The Mind Of Evil

I first read about Arthur Shawcross as the Genessee River Killer many years ago after bodies had started turning up in New York and he’d become notorious and a book had come out about him. But this unusual book is written by Brian Whitney and John Paul Fay. Fay is kind of a screw-up that’s going down the tubes. He doesn’t want to work at a real job, so he can drink booze all the time and do drugs now and then. So he sells murderabilia on Ebay when he can remember to ship it out on time and keep his feedback ratings high enough to keep his customers returning.

Then out of the blue, he gets a letter from Arthur Shawcross after Arthur hears that one of his drawings has been sold on the murderabilia market, and tracks down and writes to the dealer of said item, John Paul Fay. He tells him that he’s aware of the sale and he’d like a money order for it and gives him another drawing to sell. Fay is floored, having always been a twisted sort of admirer from afar, wondering how he found his home address. But he’s also excited and flattered and accepts the position of salesman of the killer’s art.

John Fay writes back to him to try to let him know that they are much alike in many ways, and should really be friends. Letters pass back and forth between the convicted serial killer and the alcoholic, mentally ill Fay who has desires of doing wrong but has never killed anyone. They do become friends after a time, and Fay began writing this book based on the letters that went back and forth between them. Fay has a very distinct writing style and plenty to say about his life before he even began exchanging letters with Shawcross about how his life is so messed up and spiraling. This is one bizarre book on a sleigh ride to hell as they become best buds, and Arthur gives him all kinds of twisted advice and suggestions.

I was provided with a free advance digital copy by NetGalley, the authors, and WildBlue Press in return for my honest review. Publication date is Feb. 13, 2018

How to American: An Immigrant’s Guide to Disappointing Your Parents

I was pleasantly surprised by this book, it was funny and smart and ended before I was ready to be finished with it. I found myself enjoying it a lot more than I expected to, as I’d never heard of Jimmy O. Yang, or seen anything he’s been in prior to getting it.

Lucky for me, it turned out to be a good experience. After reading the foreword by Mike Judge, I learned that Jimmy was born in Hong Kong and moved to the US just before starting high school. He learned English by watching BET, the Black Entertainment Television station and seeing videos by all of the hottest rappers like Tupac, Jay-Z, Snoop Dog, etc.

After college, he started doing stand up comedy, but it wasn’t enough to support him. He branched out into acting jobs doing commercials, whatever kind of acting jobs he could to get experience. Then he landed a role on HBO”s “Silicon Valley” playing Jian Yang, and started becoming recognized by some fans. He also later got the hero Dun Meng in Mark Wahlberg’s movie about the Boston Bombing “Patriot’s Day”. Now his book is coming out well done, Jimmy It could be interesting to see what direction his goals and interests take him in next. We will just have to watch him and see.

An advance digital copy was provided by NetGalley, Jimmy O. Yang, and DaCapo Press for my honest review.             Date of publication is March 13

Drawing Cute with Katie Cook: 200+ Lessons for Drawing Super Adorable Stuff

This is a super easy way for kids or adults to learn how to draw all kinds of really cute and cartooned out things using a basic shape like a potato and simple fun directions for success. Guru of cuteness and cartoons Katie Cook shows you how to make over 200 things using simple shapes.

Chapter 1 is all kinds of Animals – pets, sea life, woodland creatures, bugs, jungle animals and others. This chapter is my favorite, making really adorable critters that you’ll want to at least try, and maybe even become good at because they really are cute and it’s such a neat skill to have.

Chapter 2 is Food – desserts, drinks, fruits & vegetables, meals and others.

Chapter 3 is Hobbies & Sports – art, musical instruments, sports, outdoor activities, and gaming.

Chapter 4 is Holidays and Seasons – winter, spring, summer, fall. Another favorite chapter, so cute.

Chapter 5 is Handy Dandy Objects – electronics, household items, useful tools. That is how the sections are set up.

An advance digital copy was provided by NetGalley, Katie Cook, and IMPACT for my honest review. Publication date is Feb 14, 2018

Wild Escape: The Prison Break from Dannemora and the Manhunt that Captured America

I thoroughly enjoyed this fairly fast read about the escape of two men who used a female prison employee to help them break out from Clinton prison in upstate New York. The book eventually came to be written much afterward by the author with the help of one of the escapees who survived it. It is exciting, filled with inside details that could only be told by one who was there from the beginning and made it through the entire ordeal. It’s perfect for the true crime reader who enjoys non-fiction narratives and may remember some of when this story was in the headlines involving a married female employee that was charged in the escape plot who was also caught.

An advance digital copy was provided by NetGalley, Chelsia Rose Marcius, and Diversion Books for my honest review. The publication date is Feb. 13, 2018