Category Archives: Nonfiction

The Borden Murders

Finished The Borden Murders by Sarah Miller.  I received a copy from the publisher for review.

Summary (from Goodreads):

Here’s middle-grade nonfiction that reads like a thriller. With murder, court battles, and sensational newspaper headlines, the story of Lizzie Borden is compulsively readable and perfect for the Common Core.

Lizzie Borden took an axe, gave her mother forty whacks. When she saw what she had done, she gave her father forty-one.

In a compelling, linear narrative, Miller takes readers along as she investigates a brutal crime: the August 4, 1892, murders of wealthy and prominent Andrew and Abby Borden. The accused? Mild-mannered and highly respected Lizzie Borden, daughter of Andrew and stepdaughter of Abby. Most of what is known about Lizzie’s arrest and subsequent trial (and acquittal) comes from sensationalized newspaper reports; as Miller sorts fact from fiction, and as a legal battle gets under way, a gripping portrait of a woman and a town emerges.

With inserts featuring period photos and newspaper clippings—and, yes, images from the murder scene—readers will devour this nonfiction book that reads like fiction.”

I don’t read very much nonfiction and this book makes me want to change that.

Everyone’s heard of Lizzie Borden, right? The girl who took an ax and murdered her parents?

Well…not really.

For one thing, Lizzie was found not guilty of those crimes.  And for another, no one got the “40 whacks.”

And also, it’s still unknown exactly who killed the Bordens.  No one else was ever charged and, like I said, Lizzie was found not guilty.

Even weirder, she stayed in her hometown and was basically shunned by pretty much everyone for years.  And for a little while, she stayed in the house.  (She did move, but not right away.)

If you’re into true crime novels (or court cases), this is absolutely the book for you.  And even if you’re not, this is an interesting and compelling read.

Hillary Rodham Clinton: Do All the Good You Can

Finished Hillary Rodham Clinton: Do All the Good You Can by Cynthia Levinson. I received a copy from the publisher for review.

Summary (from Goodreads):

An inspiring and meticulously researched middle grade biography of Hillary Rodham Clinton—First Lady, senator, secretary of state, and Democratic candidate for president in 2016.

Hillary Rodham Clinton is a true leader. Growing up in Park Ridge, Illinois, Hillary was inspired by the philosophy of John Wesley, who urged his followers to “do all the good you can.” Rising to prominence in 1992 as the First Lady of the United States, Hillary captured the world’s attention with her bold ideas and political forcefulness.

From her time at Wellesley to her life at the White House and beyond, Hillary has been at the forefront of huge change—and despite setbacks and political scandals, she has worked for good in the world.

Acclaimed author Cynthia Levinson creates a compelling and personal portrait of Hillary’s historic journey from her childhood to her service as secretary of state and beyond. Includes a timeline of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s life and an eight-page photo insert.”

The first thing you should know about this is that it’s very pro-Hillary Clinton.  (As a liberal, this doesn’t bother me at all, but if you are looking for a neutral portrait, this is not for you.)

I enjoyed this and there were a lot of things about Hillary I didn’t know.  (Like basically anything about her childhood.)  Also, I was 12 when Bill Clinton was elected president and I didn’t really develop a political interest until I was older, so I was really only dimly aware of her as first lady until his second term.

It’s funny now the controversy that she caused for doing things like wanting to work and be the first lady of Arkansas and for not taking her husband’s last name. (And honestly, I want to give her a high five for both those things—although now, of course, she’s Hillary Clinton and not Hillary Rodham.  And there’s nothing wrong with compromise, so a high five for that, too.)

I haven’t decided who I’m voting for for president, but this book made me like Hillary more than I did before.  (And honestly, I liked her before.)

If you like badass women who get shit done, read this book.  (Note: it’s written for young adult audiences.)

Year of Yes

Finished Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes.  I received a copy from the publisher for review.

Summary (from Goodreads):

The mega-talented creator of Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal and executive producer of How to Get Away With Murder chronicles how saying YES for one year changed her life―and how it can change yours, too.

With three hit shows on television and three children at home, the uber-talented Shonda Rhimes had lots of good reasons to say NO when an unexpected invitation arrived. Hollywood party? No. Speaking engagement? No. Media appearances? No.

And there was the side-benefit of saying No for an introvert like Shonda: nothing new to fear.

Then Shonda’s sister laid down a challenge: just for one year, try to say YES to the unexpected invitations that come your way. Shonda reluctantly agreed―and the result was nothing short of transformative. In Year of Yes, Shonda Rhimes chronicles the powerful impact saying yes had on every aspect of her life―and how we can all change our lives with one little word. Yes.”

I was so excited when I received an email pitch for this book because I am a huge fan of Shonda Rhimes. (I love all her shows, including Private Practice!)  And it turns out I didn’t even know because now I want to marry her.  (If either of us wanted to get married which, as it turns out, we don’t.)  Maybe we can be best friends or live across the hall or something.

Anyway.  You know how sometimes you read a book at the exact perfect time and it just becomes this huge source of inspiration? That’s Year of Yes.

Obviously read this if you love Grey’s and Scandal (note: while they both obviously come up a little, this is not a book about either) or if you love strong women.  But also read this if you’re at a crossroads and you need advice.  I  guarantee you you’ll find it in here.

Highly recommended.

 

My Name is Mahtob

Finished My Name is Mahtob by Mahtob Mahmoody.  I received a copy from the publisher for review.

Summary (from Goodreads):

The daughter at the center of the international bestseller and film Not Without My Daughter finishes the story that captivated the world: held hostage in Iran, escape over the mountains, growing up in fear of kidnapping, battling deadly disease, and leaning on the sustaining power God’s goodness.

Two decades ago, Not Without My Daughter (a global phenomenon made into a film starring Sally Field) told of the daring escape of an American mother and her six-year-old child from an abusive and fanatical Iranian husband and father. Now the daughter tells the whole story, not only of her imprisonment and escape but of life after fleeing Iran: living in fear of re-abduction, battling recurring nightmares and panic attacks, taking on an assumed name, surviving life-threatening illness—all under the menacing shadow of her father.

This is the story of an extraordinary young woman’s triumph over life-crushing trauma to build a life of peace and forgiveness. Moving from Michigan to Tehran, from Ankara to Paris, Mahtob reveals the profound resilience of a wounded soul healed by her faith in God’s goodness and his care and love for her.”

So this is almost a sequel of sorts to Not Without My Daughter, from Mahtob’s perspective.  If you’ve ever wondered about what happened to Betty and Mahtob Mahmoody after the events of that book/movie, this is for you.

You may think you know the whole story just from reading (or watching) Not Without My Daughter, but not surprisingly, Mahtob’s story is different from Betty’s.  (Obviously, right? Because who doesn’t see things differently as a child than as a grownup?)  It’s bigger value, though, is in letting us know what happens after they get back to the states and about the rest of their lives up to this point.

It’s also (as you might expect) an incredibly inspiring story.  It’s incredible to think of what the two of them survived, especially in light of the fact that they both seem to be incredibly kind, giving people.

Recommended.

2015: The Books

January:

1)  All the Rage by Courtney Summers (1) (2015)

2) Changing Teams by Jennifer Allis Provost (2) (beta read)

3) The Tragic Age by Stephen Metcalfe (3) (2015)

4) Yes Please by Amy Poehler (4)

5) The Memory of Things by Gae Polisner (5) (beta read)

6) The Witch of Carpathia by Rhys A. Jones (6) (beta read)

7) The Book Thing by Laura Lippman (7)

8) Five Fires by Laura Lippman (8)

9) Her by Harriet Lane (9) (2015)

10) Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson (10)

11) Another Day as Emily by Eileen Spinelli (11)

12) Absolutely Almost by Lisa Graff (12)

13) Sophie Simon Solves Them All by Lisa Graff (13)

14) Locomotion by Jacqueline Woodson (14)

15) One of the Guys by Lisa Aldin (15) (2015)

16) American Murder Houses by Steve Lehto (16) (2015)

17) Peace Locomotion by Jacqueline Woodson (17)

18) Witness by Karen Hesse (18)

19) Double Dog Dare by Lisa Graff (19)

20) The Thing About Georgie by Lisa Graff (20)

21) Touch Blue by Cynthia Lord (21)

22) The Blossoming Universe of Violet Diamond by Brenda Woods (22)

23) Rules by Cynthia Lord (23)

24) Extraordinary Guidance by Liza Weimer (24)

25) My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga (25) (2015)

26) The Price of Blood by Patricia Bracewell (26) (2015)

27) The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins (27) (2015)

28) May B. by Caroline Starr Rose (28)

29) The Lonely Hearts Club Band by Elizabeth Eulberg (29)

30) We Can Work It Out by Elizabeth Eulberg (30) (2015)

31) Oh Yeah, Audrey! by Tucker Shaw (31)

32) The Year of the Book by Andrea Cheng (32)

33) The Third Twin by CJ Omololu (33) (2015)

February:

1) Split Second by Kasie West (34)

2) Canary by Duane Swierczynski (35) (2015)

3) Something Real by Heather Demetrios (36)

4) I’ll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios (37) (2015)

5) When I Was the Greatest by Jason Reynolds (38)

6) Vaquero Summer by Darby Karchut (39) (beta read)

7) Matriarch by Shauna Kelly (40) (beta read)

8) Shattered Angel by Carrie Beckort (41) (2015)

9) Gallowglass by Jennifer Allis-Provost (42) (beta read)

10) Riding Tandem by Liza Wiemer (43) (beta read)

11) The Other Side of Home by Renee Watson (44) (2015)

12) The Crossover by Kwame Alexander (45)

13) Rumble by Ellen Hopkins (46)

14) Ask the Dark by Henry Turner (47) (2015)

15) Undertow by Michael Buckley (48) (2015)

16) Camp Crush by J.K. Rock (49) (2015) (beta read)

17) Finding Jake by Bryan Reardon (50) (2015)

18) The Imaginary by A.F. Harrold (51)

19) A Work of Art by Melody Maysonet (52) (2015)

20) The Shining Avenger by Rhys A. Jones (53) (beta read)

21) The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma (54) (2015)

22) Dreamfire by Kit Alloway (55) (2015)

23) My Secret Guide to Paris by Lisa Schroeder (56) (2015)

24) How to Fall by Jane Casey (57)

25) Bet Your Life by Jane Casey (58) (2015)

26) Boarding School Girls by Helen Eve (59) (2015)

27) Playlist for the Dead by Michelle Falkoff (60) (2015)

28) The Stranger by Harlan Coben (61) (2015)

March:

1)  Follow Me Through Darkness by Danielle Ellison (62)

2) Duplicity by N.K. Traver (63) (2015)

3) Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver (64) (2015)

4) We All Looked Up by Tommy Wallach (65) (2015)

5) Dead Wake by Erik Larson (66) (2015)

6) The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord (67) (2015)

7) The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand (68) (2015)

8) The Color War by Jodi Picoult (69)

9) Guns by Stephen King (70)

10) The Apex Predator by Michael Koryta (71)

11) Leaving Amarillo by Caisey Quinn (72) (2015)

12) Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel (73)

13) Girl in the Dark by Anna Lyndsey (74) (2015)

14) Mind of Winter by Laura Kasischke (75)

15) This Side of Salvation by Jeri Smith-Ready (76)

16) Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands by Chris Bohjalian (77)

17) Don’t Stay Up Late by R.L. Stine (78) (2015)

18) Maybe One Day by Melissa Kantor (79)

19) An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir (80) (2015)

20) Seek Me in Shadows by Danielle Ellison (81) (2015)

21) The Truth About Us by Janet Gurtler (82) (2015)

22) On the Fence by Kasie West (83)

23) Where They Found Her by Kimberly McCreight (84) (2015)

24) The One Safe Place by Tania Unsworth (85)

25) The Chance You Won’t Return by Annie Cardi (86)

26) Bright Before Sunrise by Tiffany Schmidt (87)

27) Above by Isla Morley (88)

28) I Kill the Mockingbird by Paul Acampora (89)

29) Lacy Eye by Jessica Treadway (90) (2015)

30) Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard (91) (2015)

31) The Drop by Dennis Lehane (92)

32) The Black Hour by Lori Rader-Day (93)

33) The Moment of Everything by Shelly King (94)

34) Inside the O’Briens by Lisa Genova (95) (2015)

April:

1) Lying Out Loud by Kody Keplinger (96) (2015)

2) Days Like This by Danielle Ellison (97) (2015)

3) Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen (98) (2015)

4) Eeny Meeny by AJ Arlidge (99) (2015)

5) The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdiah (100 (2015)

6) Movie Star by Lizzie Pepper by Hilary Liftin (101) (2015)

7) If You’re Reading This by Trent Reedy (102)

8) Life On Mars by Jennifer Brown (103)

9) Watch the Sky by Kirsten Hubbard (104) (2015)

10) Some Kind of Normal by Juliana Stone (105) (2015)

11) Shirley, I Jest by Cindy Williams (106) (2015)

12) All the Answers by Kate Messner (107) (2015)

13) The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle (108)

14) Blessed are Those Who Weep by Kristi Belcamino (109) (2015)

15) Scarlett Undercover by Jennifer Latham (110) (2015)

16) Funny Girl by Nick Hornby (111) (2015)

17) Hallie Hath No Fury by Katie Finn (112)

18) Revenge, Ice Cream and Other Things Best Served Cold by Katie Finn (113) (2015)

19) Just Like the Movies by Kelly Fiore (114)

20) Better Than Perfect by Melissa Kantor (115) (2015)

21) Dead to Me by Mary McCoy (116) (2015)

22) Gracefully Grayson by Ami Polonsky (117) (2015)

23) The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan (118) (2015)

24) Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli (119) (2015)

25) Saving Lucas Biggs by Marisa de los Santos and David Teague (120)

26) Bird Box by Josh Malerman (121)

27) 17 First Kisses by Rachael Allen (122)

28) Don’t Touch by Rachel M. Wilson (123)

29) None of the Above by I.W. Gregorio (124) (2015)

30) Absolutely True Lies by Rachel Stuhler (125) (2015)

May:

1)  Sophomore Year is Greek to Me by Meredith Zeitlin (126) (2015)

2) The Boy Vanishes by Jennifer Haigh (127)

3)  Julian by RJ Palacio (128)

4)  The Devil You Know by Trish Doller (129) (2015)

5) Joyride by Anna Banks (130) (2015)

6) The Life and Crimes of Bernetta Wallflower by Lisa Graff (131) (2015)

7) The Heir by Kiera Cass (132) (2015)

8) The Fill-In Boyfriend by Kasie West (133) (2015)

9) Delicate Monsters by Stephanie Kuehn (134) (2015)

10) Guyliner by J. Leigh Bailey (135) (2015)

11) The Status of All Things by Liz Fenton (136) (2015)

12)  Devoted by Jennifer Mathieu (137) (2015)

13)  Shattered Glass by Gail Giles (138)

14) All Played Out by Cora Carmack (139) (2015)

15) Things We Know By Heart by Jessi Kirby (140) (2015)

16) Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll (141) (2015)

17) Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella (142) (2015)

18) The Woman Who Stole My Life by Marian Keyes (143) (2015)

19) The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly by Stephanie Oakes (144) (2015)

20) Local Girls by Caroline Zancan (145) (2015)

21) Daughter of Deep Silence by Carrie Ryan (146) (2015)

22) Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine (147) (2015)

23) Broken Promise by Linwood Barclay (148) (2015)

24) A Book of Spirits and Thieves by Morgan Rhodes (149) (2015)

25) It’s Just a Jump to the Left by Libba Bray (150)

26) Happy Again by Jennifer E. Smith (151)

27) Just One Night by Gayle Forman (152)

28) Disconnected by Jennifer Weiner (153)

29) Recalculating by Jennifer Weiner (154)

30) Monster by Bridget Clerkin (155)

31) Eight Hundred Grapes by Laura Dave (156) (2015)

32)  PS I Still Love You by Jenny Han (156) (2015)

33) More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera (157) (2015)

June:

1)  All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr (158)

2) Finders Keepers by Stephen King (159) (2015)

3)  A Memoir of Grief (Continued) by Jennifer Weiner (160)

4)  In the Unlikely Event by Judy Blume (161) (2015)

5)  Lost in the Sun by Lisa Graff (162) (2015)

6)  Truly Madly Famously by Rebecca Serle (163) (2015)

7)  Disclaimer by Renee Knight (164) (2015)

8)  Freshman Year and Other Unnatural Disasters by Meredith Zeitlin (165)

9)  Summer Secrets by Jane Green (166) (2015)

10)  Those Girls by Lauren Saft (167) (2015)

11)  Survive the Night by Danielle Vega (168) (2015)

12)  The Witch Hunter by Virginia Boecker (169) (2015)

13)  Hello I Love You by Katie M. Stout (170) (2015)

14)  The Last Leaves Falling by Sarah Benwell (171) (2015)

15)  A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay (172) (2015)

16)  Let Me Die In His Footsteps by Lori Roy (173) (2015)

17)  Charlie, Presumed Dead by Anne Heltzel (174)

18)  A Million Miles Away by Lara Avery (175) (2015)

19)  Exquisite Corpse by Penelope Bagieu (176)

20)  The Lives Between Us by Theresa Rizzo (177) (2015)

21)  365 Days of Wonder by RJ Palacio (178)

22)  Armada by Ernest Cline (179) (2015)

23)  Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine (180)

24)  My Basmati Bat Mitzvah by Paula L. Freedman (181)

25)  Jessica Darling #3 by Megan McCafferty (182) (2015)

26)  The Perfectionists by Sara Shepard (183)

27)  The Good Girls by Sara Shepard (184) (2015)

28)  Because You’ll Never Meet Me by Leah Thomas (185) (2015)

29)  Weightless by Sarah Bannan (186) (2015)

30)  Everybody Knows Your Name by Andrea Seigel and Brent Bradshaw (187) (2015)

31)  All We Have is Now by Lisa Schroeder (188) (2015)

July:

1)  Brush Back by Sara Paretsky (189) (2015)

2)  Random by Tom Leveen (190)

3)  Goodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead (191) (2015)

4)  Loving Dallas by Caisey Quinn (192) (2015)

5)  If I Could Turn Back Time by Beth Harbison (193) (2015)

6)  Two Across by Jeff Bartsch (194) (2015)

7)  Every Day by David Levithan (195)

8)  Another Day by David Levithan (196) (2015)

9)  Love, Santa by Martha Brockenbrough (197)

10)  Who Do You Love? by Jennifer Weiner (198) (2015)

11)  Last Words by Michael Koryta (199) (2015)

12)  Map to the Stars by Jen Malone (200) (2015)

13) Trouble is a Friend of Mine by Stephanie Tromly (201) (2015)

14)  Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee (202) (2015)

15) The Best of Enemies by Jen Lancaster (203) (2015)

16)  The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen (204)

17) The Snatchabook by Helen Doherty (205)

18)  X by Sue Grafton (206) (2015)

19) My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick (207)

20)  The Boy Most Likely To by Huntley Fitzpatrick (208) (2015)

21)  Becoming Maria by Sonia Manzano (209) (2015)

22)  Honor Girl by Maggie Thrash (210) (2015)

23)  A Little In Love by Susan Fletcher (211) (2015)

24)  George by Alex Gino (212) (2015)

25)  The Guest Room by Chris Bohjalian (213)

26)  Of Dreams and Rust by Sarah Fine (214) (2015)

27)  Trust No One by Paul Cleve (215) (2015)

28)  The Accident Season by Moira Fowley-Doyle (216) (2015)

29) The Yeti Files: Monsters on the Run by Kevin Sherry (217) (2015)

30)  The One Thing by Marci Lyn Curtis (218) (2015)

31) Never Never by Brianna Shrum (219) (2015)

32) Under the Lights by Dahlia Adler (220) (2015)

August:

1)  Until Beth by Lisa Amowitz (221) (2015)

2)  Clara’s Room by Kimberly McCreight (222)

3)  UR by Stephen King (223)

4)  Say Something by Jennifer Brown (224)

5)  Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson (225) (2015)

6)  Play On by Michelle Smith (226) (2015)

7) Max the Brave by Ed Vere (227) (2015)

8) What I Thought Was True by Huntley Fitzpatrick (228)

9) Beautiful Music for Ugly Children by Kirstin Cronn-Mills (229)

10) Tonight the Streets Are Ours by Leila Sales (230) (2015)

11) Rome in Love by Anita Hughes (231) (2015)

12)  Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates (232) (2015)

13)  The Killing Kind by Chris Holm (233) (2015)

14)  State of Grace by Hilary Badger (234)

15)  The End Or Something Like That by Ann Dee Ellis (235)

16)  The Summer of Good Intentions by Wendy Francis (236) (2015)

17)  Not After Everything by Michelle Levy (237) (2015)

18) The Night Sister by Jennifer McMahon (238) (2015)

19)  Behind the Scenes by Dahlia Adler (239)

20) Stella & Charlie: Friends Forever by Bernadette Peters (240)  (2015)

21) Switchblade by Michael Connelly (241)

22)  Kissing in America by Margo Rabb (242) (2015)

23)  When Everything Feels Like the Movies by Raziel Reid (243)

24)  Things You Won’t Say by Sarah Pekkanen (244) (2015)

25)  Dream Things True by Marie Marquardt (245) (2015)

26)  Happiness for Beginners by Katherine Center (246) (2015)

27)  Infinite In Between by Carolyn Mackler (247) (2015)

28) Chadwick the Crab by Priscilla Cummings (248)

29) Chadwick and the Garplegrungen by Priscilla Cummings (249)

30) The Invisibles by Cecilia Galante (250) (2015)

31) The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow (251) (2015)

September:

1) Ally Hughes Has Sex Sometimes by Jules Moulin (252) (2015)

2) Days of Awe by Lauren Fox (253) (2015)

3) Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon (254) (2015)

4) All-American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely (255) (2015)

5) Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz (256) (2015)

6) The Crossing by Michael Connelly (257) (2015)

7) Chadwick’s Wedding by Priscilla Cummings (258)

8) Chadwick Forever by Priscilla Cummings (259)

9) Jem and the Holograms: Showtime by Kelly Thompson (260) (2015)

10) After You by Jojo Moyes (261) (2015)

11) I Know What You Did Last Summer by Lois Duncan (262)

12) Killing Mr. Griffin by Lois Duncan (263)

13) Locked in Time by Lois Duncan (264)

14) Don’t Look Behind You by Lois Duncan (265)

15) They Never Came Home by Lois Duncan (266)

16)  Gallows Hill by Lois Duncan (267)

17) Mary Unleashed by Hillary Monahan (268) (2015)

18) Among the Dolls by William Sleator (269)

19) Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling (270) (2015)

20) Alive by Chandler Baker (271) (2015)

21) Diary of a Haunting by M. Verano (272) (2015)

22)  The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich (273) (2015)

23)  Took by Mary Downing Hahn (274) (2015)

24)  Blood and Salt by Kim Liggett (275) (2015)

25)  Nightfall by Jake Halpern and Peter Kujawinski (276) (2015)

26)  Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray (277) (2015)

27)  The Creeping by Alexandra Sirowy (278) (2015)

28)  Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by JK Rowling (279)

29)  Daughters unto Devils by Amy Lukavics (280) (2015)

30) The Dollhouse Murders by Betty Ren Wright (281) (2015)

31) The New Girl by RL Stine (282)

32)  Through the Woods by Emily Carroll (283)

33) Dangerous Lies by Becca Fitzpatrick (285) (2015)

October:

1)  Black-Eyed Susans by Julia Heaberlin (285) (2015)

2)  What We Knew by Barbara Stewart (286) (2015)

3)  Need by Joelle Charbonneau (287) (2015)

4)  The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler (288) (2015)

5)  10% Happier by Dan Harris (289)

6)  What We Left Behind by Robin Talley (290) (2015)

7)  Don’t Fail Me Now by Una LaMarche (291) (2015)

8)  Breath to Breath by Craig Lew (292) (2015)

9)  Smoke by Catherine McKenzie (293) (2015)

10) Just Visiting by Dahlia Adler (294) (2015)

11)  The Sound of Letting Go by Stasia Ward Kehoe (295)

12) Traffick by Ellen Hopkins (296) (2015)

13)  Notorious RBG by Irin Carmon and Shana Khizhnik (297) (2015)

14)  First and Then by Emma Mills (298) (2015)

15)  Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo (299) (2015)

16) Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume (300)

17)  Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great by Judy Blume (301)

18)  It’s Not the End of the World by Judy Blume (302)

19)  Blubber by Judy Blume (303)

20) Deenie by Judy Blume (304)

21) Then Again, Maybe I Won’t by Judy Blume (305)

22) Iggie’s House by Judy Blume (306)

23)  Tiger Eyes by Judy Blume (307)

24)  Forever… by Judy Blume (308)

25)  Starring Sally J. Freedman as Herself by Judy Blume (309)

26)  This is Where it Ends by Marieke Nijkamp (310)

27)  Thicker Than Water by Kelly Fiore (311)

28)  Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by JK Rowling (312)

29)  How to be Brave by E. Katherine Kottaras (313) (2015)

30)  Hillary Rodham Clinton: Do All the Good You Can by Cynthia Levinson (314)

31)  The Impostor Queen by Sarah Fine (315)

32)  Carry On by Rainbow Rowell (316)

33)  Brave Enough by Cheryl Strayed (317) (2015)

November:

1)  Stars Over Sunset Boulevard by Susan Meissner (318)

2) Sinful Longing by Lauren Blakely (319) (2015)

3) This Song is (Not) For You by Laura Nowlin (320)

4)  The Grownup by Gillian Flynn (321) (2015)

5)  The Bazaar of Bad Dreams by Stephen King (322) (2015)

6)  The Borden Murders by Sarah Miller (323)

7)  Teen Frankenstein by Chandler Baker (324)

8)  Shade Me by Jennifer Brown (325)

9)  Sword and Verse by Kathy MacMillan (326)

10)  The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald (327)

11)  Up to this Pointe by Jennifer Longo (328)

12)  Front Lines by Michael Grant (329)

13)  Dumplin’  by Julie Murphy (330) 2015)

14)  The Mystery of Hollow Places by Rebecca Podos (331)

15)  The Year We Fell Apart by Emily Martin (332)

16)  The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett (333)

17) Anna and the Swallow Man by Gavriel Savrit (334)

18) Don’t Get Caught by Kurt Dinan (335)

19) The Heart is a Muscle the Size of a Fist by Sunil Yapa (336)

20) Wolverton Station by Joe Hill (337)

21) Twittering from the Circus of the Dead by Joe Hill (338)

22) Missing Dixie by Caisey Quinn (339) (2015)

23) The Bassoon King by Rainn Wilson (340) (2015)

24) Bookishly Ever After by Isabel Bandeira (341)

25) The Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes (342) (2015)

26) Instructions for the End of the World by Jamie Kain (343) (2015)

27) My True Love Gave to Me by Stephanie Perkins (344)

28) His Country Bride by Debra Holt (345)

29) El Deafo by Cece Bell (346)

30) Dark Sparkler by Amber Tamblyn (347) (2015)

December:

1) My Name is Mahtob by Mahtob Mahmoody (348) (2015)

2) Firsts by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn (349)

3) Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by JK Rowling (350)

4) Mercy’s Rescue by Debra Holt (351) (2015)

5) When We Collided by Emery Lord (352)

6) Holding Out For Forever by Brooke DelVecchio (353) (beta read)

7) The Darkest Secret by Alex Marwood (354)

8) Concentr8 by William Sutcliffe (355)

9) Shallow Graves by Kali Wallace (356)

10) The Truth by Jeffry W. Johnston (357)

11) Missing Pieces by Heather Gudenkauf (358)

12) Pax by Sara Pennypacker (359)

13) Brambleheart by Henry Cole (360)

14) The Pages Between Us by Lindsey Leavitt and Robin Mellom (361)

15) The Word For Yes by Claire Needell (362)

16) Breakfast Served Anytime by Sarah Combs (363)

17) Just My Luck by Cammie McGovern (364)

18)  Unholy Blue by Darby Kaye (365)

19)  The Love that Split the World by Emily Henry (366)

20) My Kind of Crazy by Robin Reul (367)

21)  The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson (368)

22) The Outliers by Kimberly McCreight (369)

23)  Find Her by Lisa Gardner (370)

24)  Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys (371)

 

Notorious RBG

Finished Notorious RBG by Irin Carmon and Shana Khizhnik.  I received a copy from the publisher for review.

Summary (from Goodreads):

You can’t spell truth without Ruth.
Only Ruth Bader Ginsburg can judge me.
The Ruth will set you free.

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg never asked for fame—she was just trying to make the world a little better and a little freer. But along the way, the feminist pioneer’s searing dissents and steely strength have inspired millions. Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, created by the young lawyer who began the Internet sensation and an award-winning journalist, takes you behind the myth for an intimate, irreverent look at the justice’s life and work. As America struggles with the unfinished business of gender equality and civil rights, Ginsburg stays fierce. And if you don’t know, now you know.”

I knew before I read this book that I liked Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.  But I wasn’t very familiar with her before she became a justice on the Supreme Court.  (Given her age and the fact that she was only the second female justice—and the fact that there have only been four—I knew she was a trailblazer, but I didn’t understand just how amazing her life has been.)

The book includes excerpts of opinions she’s written and has  a lot of pictures, but the real joy (for me) is in learning more about her personal life.  Her marriage to Marty GInsburg is an actual inspiration and if I could find a lady like Marty (or like Ruth, that’d be pretty awesome, too), I’d be incredibly lucky.  Their marriage was fantastic and I love the fact that they each didn’t seem to have an ego where the other was concerned.  Neither of them felt the need to be the one in charge.  (I also love the fact that Marty pitched in at home while Ruth was working.  It seems like that’s still rare now, so you can imagine how rare it was decades ago.)

If you need or want to know more about “Notorious RBG,” this is the book for you.

Highly recommended.

10% Happier

Finished 10% Happier by Dan Harris.

Summary (from Goodreads):

After having a nationally televised panic attack on Good Morning America, Dan Harris knew he had to make some changes. After learning about research that suggests meditation can do everything from lower your blood pressure to essentially rewire your brain, Harris took a deep dive into the underreported world of CEOs, scientists, and even marines who are now using it for increased calm, focus, and happiness. “10% Happier” takes readers on a ride from the outer reaches of neuroscience to the inner sanctum of network news to the bizarre fringes of America’s spiritual scene, and leaves them with a takeaway that could actually change their lives.”

I didn’t know when I bought this that it’s basically about how meditation can be incredibly helpful.  (This turns out to be a good thing, because I’m not sure that I would’ve bought it if I had known.)

I tend to lump meditation in with things like acupuncture…it may work for you, but I’m probably not trying it.  (Except now I kind of want to; there are apparently studies that prove that meditating regularly can lower your stress, which makes sense, but also lower your risk of heart disease and even cancer.)

Dan Harris spends a lot of the book talking about himself and you will either love that or hate it.  (It worked really well for me; when I read nonfiction, I want it to seem like a novel, because I want people I can root for. Please don’t give me things like statistics and studies; I need people.)

Best of all, 10% Happier actually provides different ways to meditate.  (Yes, there’s more than one way.  And probably at least one of those ways would work for me.)

So yes, possibly I will try it.  (Another reason is the fact that when a coworker kind of teases him about meditating, he says, “It makes me 10% happier.*”  And that seems really attainable, right?  And it sounds interesting that a simple thing—relatively speaking—could make you 10% happier.)

* = Hence the title!

 

Why Not Me?

Finished Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling.

Summary (from Goodreads):

From the author of the beloved New York Times bestselling book Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? and the creator and star of The Mindy Project comes a collection of essays that are as hilarious and insightful as they are deeply personal.

In Why Not Me?, Kaling shares her ongoing journey to find contentment and excitement in her adult life, whether it’s falling in love at work, seeking new friendships in lonely places, attempting to be the first person in history to lose weight without any behavior modification whatsoever, or most important, believing that you have a place in Hollywood when you’re constantly reminded that no one looks like you.

In “How to Look Spectacular: A Starlet’s Confessions,” Kaling gives her tongue-in-cheek secrets for surefire on-camera beauty, (“Your natural hair color may be appropriate for your skin tone, but this isn’t the land of appropriate–this is Hollywood, baby. Out here, a dark-skinned woman’s traditional hair color is honey blonde.”) “Player” tells the story of Kaling being seduced and dumped by a female friend in L.A. (“I had been replaced by a younger model. And now they had matching bangs.”) In “Unlikely Leading Lady,” she muses on America’s fixation with the weight of actresses, (“Most women we see onscreen are either so thin that they’re walking clavicles or so huge that their only scenes involve them breaking furniture.”) And in “Soup Snakes,” Kaling spills some secrets on her relationship with her ex-boyfriend and close friend, B.J. Novak (“I will freely admit: my relationship with B.J. Novak is weird as hell.”)

Mindy turns the anxieties, the glamour, and the celebrations of her second coming-of-age into a laugh-out-loud funny collection of essays that anyone who’s ever been at a turning point in their life or career can relate to. And those who’ve never been at a turning point can skip to the parts where she talks about meeting Bradley Cooper.”

If you are a fan of Mindy Kaling, you need to read this book.  (If you aren’t a fan, examine your life choices.)

Mindy Kaling is probably pretty much my imaginary best friend.  And, like her earlier book (and books by Amy Poehler and Tina Fey), come for the laugh-out-loud parts and stay for the chunks of wisdom (all through this book but especially in the last essay, “Why Not Me?”).

Basically all I got accomplished today was read this book.  (And I watched the season four premiere of her show, The Mindy Project.)  It was a really good day and I regret nothing.

If you’re a fan of The Office or The Mindy Project, there is a lot here to enjoy, but even beyond that, Mindy Kaling’s outlook on life is pretty freaking awesome.  (I could probably quote the entire book, but that would get pretty tedious for both of us, so just buy it and read it already.)

The only downside to this book is the fact that now I probably need to wait years for another one.

Highly recommended.

Between the World and Me

Finished Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates.

Summary (from Goodreads):

“This is your country, this is your world, this is your body, and you must find some way to live within the all of it.”
 
In a profound work that pivots from the biggest questions about American history and ideals to the most intimate concerns of a father for his son, Ta-Nehisi Coates offers a powerful new framework for understanding our nation’s history and current crisis. Americans have built an empire on the idea of “race,” a falsehood that damages us all but falls most heavily on the bodies of black women and men—bodies exploited through slavery and segregation, and, today, threatened, locked up, and murdered out of all proportion. What is it like to inhabit a black body and find a way to live within it? And how can we all honestly reckon with this fraught history and free ourselves from its burden?

Between the World and Me is Ta-Nehisi Coates’s attempt to answer these questions in a letter to his adolescent son. Coates shares with his son—and readers—the story of his awakening to the truth about his place in the world through a series of revelatory experiences, from Howard University to Civil War battlefields, from the South Side of Chicago to Paris, from his childhood home to the living rooms of mothers whose children’s lives were taken as American plunder. Beautifully woven from personal narrative, reimagined history, and fresh, emotionally charged reportage, Between the World and Me clearly illuminates the past, bracingly confronts our present, and offers a transcendent vision for a way forward.”

I read this for book club, and found out about it because people were discussing it while I was reading Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee.  Some blogger friends of mine were saying that their experience reading this was going to make it much harder for them to read that book.

This is such an incredibly powerful book but as a warning, there were times for me reading this that I became really defensive.  (At every time that happened, I was able to remind myself that my job as a white person and an ally—or aspiring ally; based on my occasional reactions to this, I’m not 100% there yet—is to shut up and bear witness and that every instance where my reaction is to be, “But wait, not everyone…!” proves that we all still have a long way to go.)

Ta-Nehisi Coates is clearly brilliant, and his arguments are reasoned out.  This is such an important book, and I hope everyone will read it.

Highly recommended.

365 Days of Wonder

Finished 365 Days of Wonder by RJ Palacio.  I received a copy from the publisher for review.

Summary (from Goodreads):

“In the #1 New York Times bestselling novel Wonder, readers were introduced to memorable English teacher Mr. Browne and his love of precepts. Simply put, precepts are principles to live by, and Mr. Browne has compiled 365 of them—one for each day of the year—drawn from popular songs to children’s books to inscriptions on Egyptian tombstones to fortune cookies. His selections celebrate kindness, hopefulness, the goodness of human beings, the strength of people’s hearts, and the power of people’s wills. Interspersed with the precepts are letters and emails from characters who appeared in Wonder. Readers hear from Summer, Jack, Charlotte, Julian, and Amos.

There’s something for everyone here, with words of wisdom from such noteworthy people as Anne Frank, Martin Luther King Jr., Confucius, Goethe, Sappho—and over 100 readers of Wonder who sent R. J. Palacio their own precepts.”

I love this book and it appealed to me for the same reasons that Postsecret does: these sentences and thoughts all affect me.  Some are applicable to my life now and some aren’t but they’re all worth thinking about.

For people who aren’t sure this is something they’d enjoy, each month is also bookended by thoughts from Mr. Browne (the teacher from Wonder who solicited these precepts).  There are also notes from students in those chapters (including Auggie, the hero from Wonder).

This book is a fun stocking stuffer, especially if you pair it with Wonder.  I read that when it first came out and this makes me really want to re-read it.