Posted in Chatty

Upcoming & Recent holds I’m excited about!

Hey y’all! Just sharing some excitement and good luck I’ve had with getting in holds for newer books lately at my library. Have you heard of any of these?

From Borrower to wizard, Tom Felton’s adolescence was anything but ordinary. His early rise to fame saw him catapulted into the limelight aged just twelve when he landed the iconic role of Draco Malfoy in the Harry Potter films.

Speaking with candour and his own trademark humour, Tom shares his experience of growing up on screen and as part of the wizarding world for the very first time. He tells all about his big break, what filming was really like and the lasting friendships he made during ten years as part of the franchise, as well as the highs and lows of fame and the reality of navigating adult life after filming finished.

Prepare to meet a real-life wizard.

Good people can be bad at relationships.

One night during his divorce, after one too many vodkas and a call with a phone-in-therapist who told him to “journal his feelings,” Matthew Fray started a blog. He needed to figure out how his ex-wife went from the eighteen-year-old college freshman who adored him to the angry woman who thought he was an asshole and left him. As he pieced together the story of his marriage and its end, Matthew began to realize a hard truth: even though he was a decent guy, he was a bad husband.

As he shared raw, uncomfortable, and darkly humorous first-person stories about the lessons he’d learned from his failed marriage, a peculiar thing happened. Matthew started to gain a following. In January 2016 a post he wrote–“She Divorced Me Because I left the Dishes by the Sink”–went viral and was read over four million times.

Filtered through the lens of his own surprising, life-changing experience and his years counseling couples, This Is How Your Marriage Ends exposes the root problem of so many relationships that go wrong. We simply haven’t been taught any of the necessary skills, Matthew explains. In fact, it is sometimes the assumption that we are acting on good intentions that causes us to alienate our partners and foment mistrust.

Maggie is fine. She’s doing really good, actually. Sure, she’s broke, her graduate thesis on something obscure is going nowhere, and her marriage only lasted 608 days, but at the ripe old age of twenty-nine, Maggie is determined to embrace her new life as a Surprisingly Young Divorcée™.

Now she has time to take up nine hobbies, eat hamburgers at 4 am, and “get back out there” sex-wise. With the support of her tough-loving academic advisor, Merris; her newly divorced friend, Amy; and her group chat (naturally), Maggie barrels through her first year of single life, intermittently dating, occasionally waking up on the floor and asking herself tough questions along the way.

Posted in Reviews

Review: Smoke Gets in Your Eyes by Caitlin Doughty

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory by Caitlin Doughty
Recommended: YESSS!!!
for what happens to your body when you die, for the secrets of the mortuary business, for options about what to do after you die

Summary

Most people want to avoid thinking about death, but Caitlin Doughty—a twenty-something with a degree in medieval history and a flair for the macabre—took a job at a crematory, turning morbid curiosity into her life’s work. With an original voice that combines fearless curiosity and mordant wit, Caitlin tells an unusual coming-of-age story full of bizarre encounters, gallows humor, and vivid characters (both living and very dead). Describing how she swept ashes from the machines (and sometimes onto her clothes), and cared for bodies of all shapes and sizes, Caitlin becomes an intrepid explorer in the world of the deceased. Her eye-opening memoir shows how our fear of dying warps our culture and society, and she calls for better ways of dealing with death (and our dead). In the spirit of her popular Web series, “Ask a Mortician,” Caitlin’s engaging narrative style makes this otherwise scary topic both approachable and profound.

Thoughts

I fucking loved this book. It answered a lot of the questions I never knew where to find answers to.

Example #1: is cremation a more natural or environmentally friendly option over casket burial? Answer: no not really.

I don’t know, there were a lot more, but I loved learning more about what’s done to a body after death, at least in California, USA. There’s a little warning at the start of the book about how it deal with dead bodies (duh) and has some stuff that’s not for squeamish folks. I don’t think of myself as squeamish, but I also don’t like gore and violence. This book was fine for me though, and at no point did it feel like too much.

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Review: More Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops by Jen Campbell

More Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops by Jen Campbell

Book one review here! Mini Review: Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops by Jen Campbell

Summary

‘Customer (holding up a book): “What’s this? The Secret Garden? Well, it’s not so secret now, is it, since they bloody well wrote a book about it!'”

From “Did Harry Potter kill Hitler?” to “Can we play cricket in your bookshop?”, a selection of the most ridiculous conversations from the shop floor. Bewildering, hilarious and slightly alarming, this is a book for dedicated booksellers and booklovers everywhere.

Illustrated by the Brothers McLeod, this collection includes queries and incidents from bookshops (and libraries) around the world, and even a section of Weird Things Customers Say at ‘Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops Book Signings.’

Thoughts

Well I enjoyed book one and I figured book two would be much the same. Lo and behold, it was! There were still some references to books or cultural things that I could see sailing over the heads of people less familiar with reading overall. For example, the customer looking for the book about a boy with autism and a dog and called “the curious something something…” would have had me chiming in with “the curious incident of the dog in the night-time” with the other 3 booksellers in that moment.

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Review: The Dark Queens:The Bloody Rivalry that Forged the Medieval World by Shelley Puhak (nonfiction!)

The Dark Queens: The Bloody Rivalry that Forged the Medieval World by Shelley Puhak

Recommended: yup!
For a detailed narrative nonfiction about those crazy Merovingians, for insight into history not often taught that you have to intentionally seek out, for an impressively well-researched piece of writing

Summary

Brunhild was a Spanish princess, raised to be married off for the sake of alliance-building. Her sister-in-law Fredegund started out as a lowly palace slave. And yet—in the 6th-century Merovingian Empire, where women were excluded from noble succession and royal politics was a blood sport—these two iron-willed strategists reigned over vast realms for decades, changing the face of Europe.

The two queens commanded armies and negotiated with kings and popes. They formed coalitions and broke them, mothered children and lost them. They fought a years-long civil war—against each other. With ingenuity and skill, they battled to stay alive in the game of statecraft, and in the process laid the foundations of what would one day be Charlemagne’s empire. Yet after Brunhild and Fredegund’s deaths—one gentle, the other horrific—their stories were rewritten, their names consigned to slander and legend.

In The Dark Queens, award-winning writer Shelley Puhak sets the record straight. She resurrects two very real women in all their complexity, painting a richly detailed portrait of an unfamiliar time and striking at the roots of some of our culture’s stubbornest myths about female power. The Dark Queens offers proof that the relationships between women can transform the world.

Thoughts

Y’all this book is impressive as shit. It is so incredibly annotated and footnoted and it’s like every other sentence has a point of reference. That doesn’t distract or take away from the reading, and you can look at them after if you want and just sink into the narrative without pulling away to check out the notes, but boy was I impressed every time I saw the density of them on the page. The author and their cohort really did their work on this and it shows. Brunhild and Fredegund are absolutely incredible to read about and every new scene was compelling.

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Review: How to be Married by Jo Piazza (nonfiction!)

How to Be Married: What I Learned from Real Women on Five Continents about Building a Happy Marriage by Jo Piazza

Recommended: absolutely
for people who do or do not want to get married, for people who are already married, for people who are interested in people, for good advice on creating healthy and loving long term relationships of any kind, for a really lovely read about love around the world and from different people

Summary

At age thirty-four, Jo Piazza got her romantic-comedy ending when she met the man of her dreams on a boat in the Galapagos Islands and was engaged three months later. But before long, Jo found herself riddled with questions. How do you make a marriage work in a world where you no longer need to be married? How does an independent, strong-willed feminist become someone’s partner–all the time?

In the tradition of writers such as Nora Ephron and Elizabeth Gilbert, award-winning journalist and nationally bestselling author Jo Piazza writes a provocative memoir of a real first year of marriage that will forever change the way we look at matrimony.

A travel editor constantly on the move, Jo journeys to twenty countries on five continents to figure out what modern marriage means. Throughout this stunning, funny, warm, and wise personal narrative, she gleans wisdom from matrilineal tribeswomen, French ladies who lunch, Orthodox Jewish moms, Swedish stay-at-home dads, polygamous warriors, and Dutch prostitutes.

Written with refreshing candor, elegant prose, astute reporting, and hilarious insight into the human psyche, How to Be Married offers an honest portrait of an utterly charming couple. When life throws more at them than they ever expected–a terrifying health diagnosis, sick parents to care for, unemployment–they ultimately create a fresh understanding of what it means to be equal partners during the good and bad times.

Thoughts

For perspective, I don’t want to get married. I’m in a long term relationship and plan to stay with this person, but as for marriage? I’m not interested, and I’d say I’m even somewhat against it (for myself). One of the biggest reasons for that was always a bit hard for me to express properly, but this book put it into simple concise words for me:

There was something appealing about actively choosing your partner again and again.

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2 Second Review: My Inner Sky by Mari Andrew

My Inner Sky: On Embracing Day, Night, and All the Times in Between by Mari Andrew

Summary

A whole, beautiful life is only made possible by the wide spectrum of feelings that exist between joy and sorrow. In this insightful and warm book, writer and illustrator Mari Andrew explores all the emotions that make up a life, in the process offering insights about trauma and healing, the meaning of home and the challenges of loneliness, finding love in the most unexpected of places–from birds nesting on a sculpture to a ride on the subway–and a resounding case for why sometimes you have to put yourself in the path of magic.

My Inner Sky empowers us to transform everything that’s happened to us into something meaningful, reassurance that even in our darkest times, there’s light and beauty to be found.

Thoughts

Made me feel a lot of feels. Inspired, energetic, depressed, cautious, pessimistic, hopeful, grateful, touched. Possibly my favorite element of this was the beauty of the physical book itself. It’s truly so gorgeous to look at. Since I found Mari Andrew through her art originally, then her writing after, I love seeing that she found a way to incorporate both into a printed version. Even the page numbers change color for each section to match the theme, and it’s touches like that in the printed hardback that I loved. Of course the inside content matched. I feel like this could be useful to have on hand any time I need a dose of determination, or gratitude, or a reminder of the goodness of humanity. This will probably be a purchase soon because I always need good books on hand for the dark days of winter.

The blurb gives a good impression of the emotions and mood of the book, but not the concrete content. Mari talks about her travels and mental health as she is in her young adulthood. She also focuses on her healing journey after a life-changing physical injury, which is the sort of triggering point and framework for a lot of this.

Posted in Reviews

Review: I Named My Dog Pushkin by Margarita Gokun Silver

I Named My Dog Pushkin by Margarita Gokun Silver

Recommended: yes!
For a how-to on getting out of Soviet Russia, for culture clash and integration stories told with a smile and a wink, for a lot of general Russian culture and lifestyle information

Summary

Buy a pair of Levi’s, lose the Russian accent, and turn yourself into an American. Really, how difficult could it be?

Fake an exit visa, fool the Soviet authorities, pack enough sausage to last through immigration, buy a one-way Aeroflot ticket, and the rest will sort itself out. That was the gist of every Soviet-Jewish immigrant’s plan in the 1980s, Margarita’s included. Despite her father’s protestations that they’d get caught and thrown into a gulag, she convinced her family to follow that plan.

When they arrived in the US, Margarita had a clearly defined objective – become fully American as soon as possible, and leave her Soviet past behind. But she soon learned that finding her new voice was harder than escaping the Soviet secret police.

She finds herself changing her name to fit in, disappointing her parents who expect her to become a doctor, a lawyer, an investment banker and a classical pianist – all at the same time, learning to date without hang-ups (there is no sex in the Soviet Union), parenting her own daughter ‘while too Russian’, and not being able to let go of old habits (never, ever throw anything away because you might use it again). Most importantly, she finds that no matter how hard you try not to become your parents, you end up just like them anyway.

Thoughts

This book had been on my list for a long time, and I don’t even remember how I originally found it. I am so glad I finally can around to reading it, because I was just as good as I had hoped it would be! Granted, I had no idea who/what “pushkin” was or why that would matter but I got the sense this would be filled with humor and I was correct.

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Review: As You Wish by Cary Elwes

As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride by Cary Elwes

Recommended: Yes!!
For fans of The Princess Bride, for insight into a movie set and the process from before-start to twnety-years-after-finish, for the chance to listen to Cary Elwes’ soothing voice for about eight hours

Summary

The Princess Bride has been a family favorite for close to three decades. Ranked by the American Film Institute as one of the top 100 Greatest Love Stories and by the Writers Guild of America as one of the top 100 screenplays of all time, The Princess Bride will continue to resonate with audiences for years to come.

Cary Elwes was inspired to share his memories and give fans an unprecedented look into the creation of the film while participating in the twenty-fifth anniversary cast reunion. In As You Wish he has created an enchanting experience; in addition to never-before seen photos and interviews with his fellow cast mates, there are plenty of set secrets and backstage stories.

With a foreword by Rob Reiner and a limited edition original poster by acclaimed artist Shepard Fairey, As You Wish is a must-have for all fans of this beloved film.

Thoughts

I have listened to, I think, 3 audiobooks in my life besides this one (and one I ended up switching to a printed copy about halfway through to finish). So I have no idea why I decided to grab the audiobook version of this book and start listening. However, I am so glad I did! This is basically exactly what I never knew I’d want in an audiobook. I suppose if I’m going to listen to one that isn’t narrated by Stefan Rudnicki, Cary Elwes is a pretty good follow-up! And in honor of my successful audiobook foray, I voice-to-text wrote this review. 🙂

Cary narrates the majority of the book, as most stories are from his perspective. However, multiple other people who were involved in the movie include stories of their own, and their own perspectives on ones that carry tells. In the audiobook, most of them read their extracts and those who are unable to have a dedicated person to speak for them. This made it really easy to tell when it swapped, though they also said each person’s name before it was their words that came. It was really fun to hear everybody’s voices though, as it felt more like a group conversation and made it really engaging and almost interactive.

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Review: Will by Will Smith

Will by Will Smith


Recommended: yep!
for a book that will change the way you see Will Smith for better or for worse, for a lot of self-discovery that might even help you, for interesting tidbits and insight into some of the projects Smith has worked on in his life

Summary

One of the most dynamic and globally recognized entertainment forces of our time opens up fully about his life, in a brave and inspiring book that traces his learning curve to a place where outer success, inner happiness, and human connection are aligned. Along the way, Will tells the story in full of one of the most amazing rides through the worlds of music and film that anyone has ever had.

Will Smith’s transformation from a West Philadelphia kid to one of the biggest rap stars of his era, and then one of the biggest movie stars in Hollywood history, is an epic tale—but it’s only half the story.

Will Smith thought, with good reason, that he had won at life: not only was his own success unparalleled, his whole family was at the pinnacle of the entertainment world. Only they didn’t see it that way: they felt more like star performers in his circus, a seven-days-a-week job they hadn’t signed up for. It turned out Will Smith’s education wasn’t nearly over.

Thoughts

First off, a warning or at least an informational tidbit: this is not a fun, silly book. If you, like me, thought this might be a lighthearted and warm peek behind the curtain at some of the projects Will has worked on, interspersed with humor and love, you are very wrong. I was very wrong.

Frankly, I’ll never see Will Smith the same way again, and that’s because I’ll now see him as a whole person instead of a collection of on-screen personalities and characters.

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Review: Star Stories: Constellation Tales From Around the World by Anita Ganeri & Andy Wilx

Star Stories: Constellations Tales From Around the World by Anita Ganeri

Recommended: sure
for children as an entry to global myths and legend and culture in general, for adults who want a gentle into to the same, for lovely art and a physically delightful book to hold

Summary

For thousands of years people have looked up to the night sky and told stories about the stars. These epic tales tell of vengeful gods and goddesses, of monsters and heroes. Others try to make sense of the natural world, or unravel the mysterious forces of the universe. This stunning book brings together a selection of these legends from all over the world – from Ancient Greece to North America, Egypt, China, India and the South Pacific. Written by award-winning author Anita Ganeri and with beautifully detailed artwork by illustrator Andy Wilx, this is a magical book to be treasured for generations to come.

Thoughts

This would be a lovely book for kids probably around 10 or so, as it has exciting and varied stories from around the world, plus wonderful and engaging art. Honestly anyone would probably enjoy this, but it’s definitely a good option for children.

This collection has fairly short and simple versions of each story around a constellation, with stories chosen from around the world. The fact that they are somewhat condensed means that some of the nuance can be missing from them. In exchange, it’s easier to get through several without it dragging or getting bogged down in details. For children, I think that’ll be great, particularly as a nighttime story. It would be easy to re-read favorites.

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