20. February 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Autobiographies, NonFiction, Paula

Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography by Harris, Neil Patrick, 294 pages, read by Paula, on 02/19/2015

hw7.plTired of memoirs that only tell you what really happened?
Sick of deeply personal accounts written in the first person? Seeking an exciting, interactive read that puts the “u” back in “aUtobiography”? Then look no further than Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography! In this revolutionary, Joycean experiment in light celebrity narrative, actor/personality/carbon-based-life-form Neil Patrick Harris lets you, the reader, live his life. You will be born to New Mexico. You will get your big break at an acting camp. You will get into a bizarre confrontation outside a nightclub with actor Scott Caan. Even better, at each critical juncture of your life you will choose how to proceed. You will decide whether to try out for Doogie Howser, M.D. You will decide whether to spend years struggling with your sexuality. You will decide what kind of caviar you want to eat on board Elton John’s yacht.

Choose correctly and you’ll find fame, fortune, and true love. Choose incorrectly and you’ll find misery, heartbreak, and a hideous death by piranhas. All this, plus magic tricks, cocktail recipes, embarrassing pictures from your time as a child actor, and even a closing song. Yes, if you buy one book this year, congratulations on being above the American average, and make that book Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography!

 

28. January 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Autobiographies, Becky, NonFiction · Tags:

Dancing with Myself by Billy Idol, 326 pages, read by Becky, on 01/15/2015

hw7.plIn this bold and candid memoir, music legend Billy Idol shares his life story, from his childhood in England to his rise to fame during the height of the punk pop revolution, revealing intimate details about the sex, drugs, and rock and roll that he is so fabulously famous for-all told in his own utterly indelible voice. An integral member of the punk rock revolution whose music crossed over into ’80s pop mainstream–and one of MTV’s first stars–Billy Idol remains an iconic music legend. Now, in his long awaited Dancing With Myself, he delivers a lively, candid account of his journey to fame, including intimate and unapologetic details about his life’s highs and lows, all rendered with the in your face attitude and exuberance his fans have embraced. Idol brings to life the key events that shaped his life, his music, and his career, including his early childhood in England, his year at Sussex University, and his time spent hanging out with the Sex Pistols and as a member of punk bands Chelsea and Generation X. He shares outtakes from his wildly and unexpectedly successful solo career and stories behind his string of popular hits, including “White Wedding,” “Eyes Without a Face,” and “Rebel Yell,” which involved close collaboration with Steve Stevens and ultimately led to the creation of some of the most groundbreaking music videos ever seen. Featuring sixteen pages of full color, behind the scenes photos, Dancing With Myself is both a tale of survival and a celebration of the heady days when punk was born, a compelling and satisfying insider’s tale from a man who made music history firsthand.

This is one of the best books I have read in a long time.  I’ve always loved Billy Idol, but this gave me a new sense of affection for him.  I am so glad he wrote this!!!

24. January 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Autobiographies, NonFiction, Paula

As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales From the Making of the Princess Bride by Elwes, Cary, 259 pages, read by Paula, on 01/22/2015

From actor Cary Elwes, who played the iconic role of Westley in The Princess Bride, comes a first-person account and behind-the-scenes look at the making of the cult classic film filled with never-before-told stories, exclusive photographs, and interviews with costars Robin Wright, Wallace Shawn, Billy Crystal, Christopher Guest, and Mandy Patinkin, as well as author and screenwriter William Goldman, producer Norman Lear, and director Rob Reiner.

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.

 

22. January 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Autobiographies, Brian, NonFiction

Not My Father's Son by Alan Cumming, 294 pages, read by Brian, on 01/22/2015

alanAlan Cumming is one of those actors who is fantastic in any role he played, yet many people do not know his name.  Like so many entertainers his early life was full of pain.  His father hated him and abused Alan throughout his childhood, actually he abused everyone he knew.  His father was a womanizer and later in life this made Alan wondered if his father was really his father.  This book is touching and heart filled.

 

21. January 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Autobiographies, Brian, NonFiction, Sports · Tags:

Open by Andre Aggasi, 388 pages, read by Brian, on 01/20/2015

andreOpen is a very sad book.  Andre talks about how he never wanted to play tennis and doesn’t really like sports.  How his father, in cruel way, pushed him to be a tennis player.  We also get to see how all those years of tennis has worn down his body.  Very good read.

 

14. January 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Autobiographies, Humor, Memoirs, Noelle, NonFiction

Yes Please by Amy Poehler, 329 pages, read by Noelle, on 01/08/2015

In a perfect world . . .

We’d get to hang out with Amy Poehler, watching dumb movies, listening to music, and swapping tales about our coworkers and difficult childhoods. Because in a perfect world, we’d all be friends with Amy—someone who seems so fun, is full of interesting stories, tells great jokes, and offers plenty of advice and wisdom (the useful kind, not the annoying kind you didn’t ask for, anyway). Unfortunately, between her Golden Globe-winning role on Parks and Recreation, work as a producer and director, place as one of the most beloved SNL alumni and cofounder of the Upright Citizens’ Brigade, involvement with the website Smart Girls at the Party, frequent turns as acting double for Meryl Streep, and her other gig as the mom of two young sons, she’s not available for movie night.

Luckily we have the next best thing: Yes Please, Amy’s hilarious and candid book. A collection of stories, thoughts, ideas, lists, and haikus from the mind of one of our most beloved entertainers, Yes Please offers Amy’s thoughts on everything from her “too safe” childhood outside of Boston to her early days in New York City, her ideas about Hollywood and “the biz,” the demon that looks back at all of us in the mirror, and her joy at being told she has a “face for wigs.” Yes Please is chock-full of words and wisdom to live by.

Descriptive content provided by Syndetics™, a Bowker service.

 

03. January 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Autobiographies, NonFiction, Sarah, Teen Books

Positive by Paige Rawl, 272 pages, read by Sarah, on 12/28/2015

Paige Rawl is a courageous young lady who is positive for HIV.  She was born with HIV and took meds everyday since she was three, but didn’t know of her diagnosis until she was in the 6th grade.  This memoir is deeply moving about how ignorance can breed hatred and bullying situations that are completely uncalled for.  Many of her “friends” turned on her after finding out about her HIV status, and this sent her on a roller coaster of despair as she tried to cope emotionally while acting like everything was ok.  This goes to show you that even a positive, optimistic person can be devastated by bullies and overcome the worst.  This is a must read.

19. December 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Autobiographies, Children's Books, Memoirs, NonFiction, Poetry

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson, 336 pages, read by Angie, on 12/18/2014

Brown Girl Dreaming is Jacqueline Woodson’s wonderful novel in verse memoir of her childhood. She moves from her birthplace in Ohio to her mother’s people in South Carolina to New York. It is a story of leaving things behind as she leaves her father behind in Ohio and her beloved grandparents behind in South Carolina. It is a story of love and loss and hope and dreams. Woodson dreamed of creating stories and being a writer from an early age but struggled with a learning disability. The book also shows the struggle of Blacks during the Civil Rights era. We are shown what it means to be Black in South Carolina and how that is different in New York. Woodson’s story is beautiful and lyrical and a wonderful story to read. I’m not sure how much traction it will get with the elementary/middle school readers as novels in verse are sometimes a hard sell.

18. December 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Autobiographies, Memoirs, NonFiction, Paula

Running With Monsters by Bob Forrest, 230 pages, read by Paula, on 12/17/2014

index.aspxCelebrity Rehab star and Thelonious Monster frontman Bob Forrest’s memoir about his drug-fueled life in the L.A. indie rock scene of the ’80s and ’90s and his life-changing decision to become a drug counselor who specializes in reaching the unreachable.

Life has been one strange trip for Bob Forrest. He started out as a suburban teenage drunkard from the Southern California suburbs and went on to become a member of a hip Hollywood crowd that included the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Johnny Depp, and River Phoenix. Los Angeles was their playground, and they hung out in such infamous haunts as the Viper Room and the Whisky a Go Go.

Always one to push things to their limit, Bob partied the hardest and could usually be found at the center of the drama. Drugs weren’t Bob’s only passion. He was also a talented musician who commanded the stage as the wild and unpredictable lead singer of Thelonious Monster. They traveled the world, and their future seemed bright and wide open. But Bob’s demons grew stronger as he achieved more success and he sank deeper into his chemical dependency, which included alcohol, crack, and heroin habits. No matter how many times he went to rehab, sobriety just wouldn’t stick for him. Soon he saw his once-promising music career slip away entirely.

Eventually Bob found a way to defeat his addiction, and once he did, he saw the opportunity to help other hopeless cases by becoming a certified drug counselor. He’s helped addicts from all walks of life, often employing methods that are very much at odds with the traditional rehab approach.

Running with Monsters is an electrifying chronicle of the LA rock scene of the 1980s and ’90s, the story of a man who survived and triumphed over his demons, and a controversial perspective on the rehab industry and what it really takes to beat addiction. Bob tells his story with unflinching honesty and hard-won perspective, making this a reading experience that shocks, entertains, and ultimately inspires.

 

05. December 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Autobiographies, Cats, Inspirational, Tammy

Two Cats and the Woman They Own: or Lessons I Learned from My Cats by Patti Davis, 96 pages, read by Tammy, on 12/05/2014

two catsAuthor Patti Davis shares how she became the owner of a cat and found out how fulfilling having cats as pets can be. Though she formerly considered herself a dog person and was unprepared for the differences between cats and dogs. Soon she discovers how cats are actually in charge and the life lessons they can teach humans if only we listen.

 

05. December 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Autobiographies, Madeline, Memoirs, NonFiction

Hand to Mouth: Living in Bootstrap America by Linda Tirado, 195 pages, read by Madeline, on 11/05/2014

We in America have certain ideas of what it means to be poor. Linda Tirado, in her signature brutally honest yet personable voice, takes all of these preconceived notions and smashes them to bits. She articulates not only what it is to be working poor in America (yes, you can be poor and live in a house and have a job, even two), but what poverty is truly like—on all levels.  Frankly and boldly, Tirado discusses openly how she went from lower-middle class, to sometimes middle class, to poor and everything in between, and in doing so reveals why “poor people don’t always behave the way middle-class America thinks they should.”

05. December 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Autobiographies, Madeline, Memoirs, NonFiction

Men We Reaped by Jesmyn Ward, 256 pages, read by Madeline, on 11/01/2014

“We saw the lightning and that was the guns; and then we heard the thunder and that was the big guns; and then we heard the rain falling and that was the blood falling; and when we came to get in the crops, it was dead men that we reaped.” —Harriet Tubman

In five years, Jesmyn Ward lost five young men in her life—to drugs, accidents, suicide, and the bad luck that can follow people who live in poverty, particularly black men. Dealing with these losses, one after another, made Jesmyn ask the question: Why? And as she began to write about the experience of living through all the dying, she realized the truth—and it took her breath away. Her brother and her friends all died because of who they were and where they were from, because they lived with a history of racism and economic struggle that fostered drug addiction and the dissolution of family and relationships. Jesmyn says the answer was so obvious she felt stupid for not seeing it. But it nagged at her until she knew she had to write about her community, to write their stories and her own.

29. October 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Autobiographies, Memoirs, NonFiction, Tracy

An Open Book: Coming of Age in the Heartland by Michael Dirda, 335 pages, read by Tracy, on 10/09/2014

The acclaimed literary journalist Michael Dirda recreates his boyhood in rust-belt Ohio. The result is an affectionate homage to small-town America, as well as a paean to what could be called the last great age of reading.

25. October 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Autobiographies, Humor, Informational Book, Inspirational, Noelle, NonFiction

Bossypants by Tina Fey, 277 pages, read by Noelle, on 10/04/2014

LOVED THIS BOOK!

Before Liz Lemon, before “Weekend Update,” before “Sarah Palin,” Tina Fey was just a young girl with a dream: a recurring stress dream that she was being chased through a local airport by her middle-school gym teacher. She also had a dream that one day she would be a comedian on TV.

She has seen both these dreams come true.

At last, Tina Fey’s story can be told. From her youthful days as a vicious nerd to her tour of duty on Saturday Night Live; from her passionately halfhearted pursuit of physical beauty to her life as a mother eating things off the floor; from her one-sided college romance to her nearly fatal honeymoon — from the beginning of this paragraph to this final sentence.

Tina Fey reveals all, and proves what we’ve all suspected: you’re no one until someone calls you bossy.

jennifer's wayThe National Foundation for Celiac Awareness estimates that as many as one in 133 Americans has celiac disease. This includes my 7-year-old niece who was recently diagnosed after almost a year of unexplained severe stomach pains. People with celiac disease are unable to process gluten which is found in wheat, rye and barley and many everyday items you wouldn’t think of such as some brands of toothpastes. The gluten triggers there body to mount an immune response that attacks the small intestine causing pain and preventing the body from receiving nutrients and being able to process some other foods often dairy.

Unfortunately, 83 percent of people who have this disease are undiagnosed or misdiagnosed—suffering through years of pain and misunderstanding.Actress Jennifer Esposito received an accurate diagnosis only after decades of mysterious illnesses and myriad misdiagnoses.

Now Jennifer shares her personal journey—from her childhood in Brooklyn to her years as a young actress, all the while suffering from unexplained ailments. Jennifer’s struggle to finally receive an accurate diagnosis is one that anyone who has a chronic disease will share.

Not only will you learn Jennifer’s personal story through her diagnosis to healing, but you’ll find recipes she uses at home, along with recipes for some of the delicious treats she offers at her own gluten-free bakery, Jennifer’s Way, in New York.

For anyone with a chronic illness or friend or family member with a chronic illness this is an encouraging and uplifting read about getting through the daily struggles.

23. October 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Autobiographies, Brian, NonFiction · Tags:

Bill Self: At Home In the Phog by Bill Self, 240 pages, read by Brian, on 10/22/2014

billUniversity of Kansas coach, Bill Self is one of the greatest college basketball coaches of all times.  His book details his early playing days, an assistant to Larry Brown and coaching days at four universities.  He talks about all the memorable moments as a coach.  Highly recommended.

 

11. October 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Autobiographies, Lisa, Memoirs, NonFiction

Men We Reaped by Jesmyn Ward, 256 pages, read by Lisa, on 10/10/2014

“We saw the lightning and that was the guns; and then we heard the thunder and that was the big guns; and then we heard the rain falling and that was the blood falling; and when we came to get in the crops, it was dead men that we reaped.” —Harriet Tubman

In five years, Jesmyn Ward lost five young men in her life—to drugs, accidents, suicide, and the bad luck that can follow people who live in poverty, particularly black men. Dealing with these losses, one after another, made Jesmyn ask the question: Why? And as she began to write about the experience of living through all the dying, she realized the truth—and it took her breath away. Her brother and her friends all died because of who they were and where they were from, because they lived with a history of racism and economic struggle that fostered drug addiction and the dissolution of family and relationships. Jesmyn says the answer was so obvious she felt stupid for not seeing it. But it nagged at her until she knew she had to write about her community, to write their stories and her own.

02. October 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Autobiographies, Graphic Book, Humor, Kristy, Memoirs, NonFiction

Sisters by Raina Telgemeier, 200 pages, read by Kristy, on 09/29/2014

SistersWhile I think I liked “Smile” a tad better, I had a blast reading “Sisters.” I love how Raina’s graphic novels are so humorous but realistic at the same time. I can relate to many of the situations her characters encounter.

The tidbits of the the past added to this novel helped me to understand the

​unique ​

relationship that the sisters have. It also showed the struggles of the parents trying to raise 3 children in a tiny apartment.

Cute little novel. Can’t wait for the next!​

 

27. August 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Autobiographies, NonFiction · Tags:

I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai, Christina Lamb, 327 pages, read by Angie, on 08/27/2014

While I think Malala’s story is an inspirational one I think this book was very poorly written. Malala is the Pakistani girl who was shot by the Taliban and became an international icon for girl’s schooling. She and her father had both been very outspoken opponents to the Taliban’s closing of girl’s schools and the reduced opportunities for education for girls in Pakistan. After she was shot she was taken to England to receive treatment. I believe in her cause and think more people need to stand up to the Taliban as she does. However, this book was pretty hard to listen to. Maybe if I had read it instead of listening to the audio I might have been able to brush off the weaknesses of the text; however, listening to the story just highlighted how poorly written the book really was. The book is set up as her autobiography where she talks about her family history, her childhood, her fight for education and the aftermath of the shooting. Interspersed with that is a lot of Pakistan history and especially history of her beloved Swat Valley. The problem with this book was the lack of cohesive storytelling. It was almost like the co-author took notes as Malala was speaking and instead of putting those notes into a cohesive story she just typed them up verbatim. So the story jumps topics and is more of a stream of consciousness telling than anything else. It may or may not get back to the point or it just might start on another tangent and completely abandon original topic. And this stream of consciousness will be broken up as a part of Pakistan history has to be explained so the reader will understand where her opinion is coming from. Some of this may have been translation but I think most of it has to be the responsibility of the co-author Christina Lamb. I had high hopes for this story and was deeply disappointed. I would not recommend it. If you want to be inspired by Malala I would probably recommend finding some of the articles about her and reading those.

16. August 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Autobiographies, Fiction, Humor, Kira, NonFiction

Diary of a Mad Diva by Joan Rivers, 289 pages, read by Kira, on 08/15/2014

Wow! If you think Tina Fey’s humor is scathing, you need to check out Joan Rivers.  I’d heard snippets of her on TV years ago, and didn’t think she was all that much.  But I heard another snippet more recently and all I can say is OUCH!  Well, I do find her funny, well mostly, some of her numbers are pretty harsh.  But she does direct a lot of the really nasty stuff at herself.  And by nasty I mean in both senses of the word, more offensive terminology and raunchy scenes than perhaps anyone else (though often I can’t understand the words of some of the raunchier comics, so I don’t bother).  She is entirely shameless and unapologetic.  51tATqwNyvL._SL500_AA300_PIaudible,BottomRight,13,73_AA300_Joan-Rivers-4