03. July 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Autobiographies, Graphic Book, NonFiction

Arab in America by Toufic El Rassi, read by Angie, on 07/02/2013

Arab in America is an interesting look at what it is like to be Arab and Muslim in a post-911 America. Toufic El Rassi delves into his personal history and the history of the Middle East to give us a look at what it is like to be discriminated and hated just because of how you look. He not only talks about his personal experiences, but he highlights others who were caught up in the anti-Muslim tide; some innocent, some not so much. As a white, middle class America I really don’t know what it is like to be hated and feared because of my ethnicity or looks. Arabs and Muslims have known for a long time. This book opened my eyes to the different ways we might discriminated against groups of people and it educated me on the difference between Arabs and Muslims and what has been going on in the Middle East. An excellent read and a good source of information into the current and past political climate in regards to Arabs/Muslims.

I received a copy of this book from Toufic El Rassi at ALA 2013. Thank you!

29. April 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Autobiographies, Kim, NonFiction · Tags:

Worth Fighting For: Love, Loss, and Moving Forward by Lisa Niemi, read by Kim, on 04/27/2013

This is the story of Patrick Swayze’s struggle with pancreatic cancer. It is a very moving story by his wife of thirty-four years, Lisa Niemi. I promise that this book will make you laugh AND cry.

24. April 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Autobiographies, Kim, NonFiction · Tags:

The Time of My Life by Patrick Swayze and Lisa Niemi, read by Kim, on 04/23/2013

I have a dear friend who is suffering with pancreatic cancer and so I wanted to read the Swayze’s experience with it even though the end was inevitable. Patrick had a lot of gumption and a lot of fight left him even at the end. It is a beautiful love story and well written story of courage and grit.

04. February 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Autobiographies, Kim · Tags:

A Song Flung Up To Heaven by Maya Angelou, read by Kim, on 02/03/2013

The culmination of a unique achievement in modern American literature: the six volumes of autobiography that began more than thirty years ago with the appearance of Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.

A Song Flung Up to Heaven opens as Maya Angelou returns from Africa to the United States to work with Malcolm X. But first she has to journey to California to be reunited with her mother and brother. No sooner does she arrive there than she learns that Malcolm X has been assassinated.

Devastated, she tries to put her life back together, working on the stage in local theaters and even conducting a door-to-door survey in Watts. Then Watts explodes in violence, a riot she describes firsthand.

Subsequently, on a trip to New York, she meets Martin Luther King, Jr., who asks her to become his coordinator in the North, and she visits black churches all over America to help support King’s Poor People’s March.

But once again tragedy strikes. King is assassinated, and this time Angelou completely withdraws from the world, unable to deal with this horrible event. Finally, James Baldwin forces her out of isolation and insists that she accompany him to a dinner party—where the idea for writing Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is born. In fact,A Song Flung Up to Heaven ends as Maya Angelou begins to write the first sentences of Caged Bird.


23. January 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Autobiographies, Kim, NonFiction

Mrs. Kennedy and Me by Clint Hill, read by Kim, on 01/22/2013

Mrs. Kennedy and MeI greatly enjoyed Mr. Hill’s retelling of the Kennedy White House years because it was from an insider’s point of view. I felt a little uncomfortable at times with his depiction of Jacqueline Kennedy because it almost sounded as if he was half in love with her. If you’ve ever read Paul Burrell’s account of his years with Princess Diana, you’ll know what I’m talking about. One thing that I liked about the book was that he did not dwell morosely on the assassination even though he was a personal witness to this event. Still, from an historical perspective it was fascinating reading especially for anyone who is interested in the Kennedys and this era of history.

26. November 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Autobiographies, NonFiction

Tough Sh*t: Life Advice from a Fat, Lazy Slob Who Did Good by Kevin Smith, read by Angie, on 11/23/2012

I have always been a fan of Kevin Smith…Mallrats, Chasing Amy, Dogma, Red State. I enjoy his humor and his commentary on life and the world around us. This book is perfectly Kevin Smith. It is full of profanity and profound wisdom. He gives us an inside look into the indie movie business (Mirimax specifically) and how he makes movies. If you don’t like to see sex or profanity in your books this is definitely not the one for you. Kevin Smith wrote this book like he talks on his SModcasts; in fact it reads just like a really long SModcast. Even though this book touches on all aspects of his career, Smith is really telling the world of movies good-bye with this book. He outlines the reasons why he is retiring from movie making: his idol/mentor Harvey Weinstein has gone to the dark side, he endured horrible “celebrity” movie stars for a movie, he made the movie he was passionate about (Red State), and he has embarked on a new enterprise (Smodcasting). I love the insider knowledge Kevin Smith gives us about moviemaking. It is interesting to know that Bruce Willis is a diva, Quentin Tarrantino is genuinely a great person and that the Weinsteins have changed and the big studios aren’t all bad. I really enjoyed his rationale for how he marketed Red State and his ode to his wife Jen. The Southwest Airlines section made me cringe…he was treated horribly and I can’t believe they embarrassed a young woman just to make their point. I think we are going to miss Kevin Smith at the movies, but I am going to enjoy seeing what he comes up with in the future.

31. August 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Andrea, Autobiographies, Graphic Novel · Tags: , ,

Persepolis: The Story of a Return (Persepolis #2) by Marjane Satrapi, read by Andrea, on 08/30/2012

Marjane is back with her black and white drawings to tell the story of her growing up. It opens with her school experiences in Austria and eventually going back home to Tehran. It showed the struggles she went through knowing her family and friends were still in a war-stricken country while she was safe in Europe and the transition she had to go to when she got to Europe and then when she finally came home. Just as she got used to the fudamentalism of Iran she went to Europe where everything was open and more liberal. Then just as she got used to Europe, she had to go back to Iran where Islamic law was already in place. As Marjane understood more in this era of her life, it was a little more depressing than the first book. She knew what it meant to be under a regime and understood the consequences of disobeying it. Due to her experiences in Austria, Marjane is not a naive little girl anymore and is almost bitter when she returns to her home country. It was interesting to read a little more about Iranian history during the 80s and 90s and see how Marjane uses her experiences in a positive way to become the stronger and more independent woman she wants to be.

30. August 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Andrea, Autobiographies, Graphic Novel · Tags: , ,

Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood (Persepolis #1) by Marjane Satrapi, read by Andrea, on 08/28/2012

With simple black and white drawings, Marjane Satrapi explains a very painful part of her childhood. Persepolis is a memoir of what it was like for her growing up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution, while explaining what the country’s people went through during the war with Iraq and with the religious revolutionaries. It chronicles Marjane’s struggles from about the time she is 10, when the revolution begins, to age 14, when she moves away at her parent’s request from the dangers in Iran to live and go to school in Europe.

Although it was a little slow in some parts and the illustrations didn’t really intrigue me, Persepolis really did give me a quick glimpse of Iran in its early days before it became the country everyone knows now. Marjane explains very simply the major transitions Iran has gone through over the last 4 decades and how it has divided its people from one another and the country as a whole from the rest of the world. The thing I like most about graphic novels is how simplistic yet powerful they can be. If Persepolis was simply a nonfiction book, it wouldn’t have had the same impact for me as the graphic novel was able to give. Overall, a good, quick read with a bit of educational info about Iran.

30. August 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Autobiographies, Memoirs, NonFiction, Tammy · Tags: , ,

If Chins Could Kill: Confessions of a B Movie Actor by Bruce Campbell, read by Tammy, on 08/30/2012

Bruce Campbell is probably best know for his “sidekick” roles in Burn Notice, Xena: Warrior Princess and Hercules tv series. He also starred in a couple of short-lived action comedy series: The Adventures of Brisco County Jr and Jack of All Trades. In this autobiography, Bruce Campbell takes you along on his journey from a kid in Detroit, Michigan who loved to make 8mm movies with classmate Sam Raimi to his “blue-color” career in Hollywood. Detailed chapters take you along for the ride as he and other Detroit “boys” make their first feature-length horror film, they produced, Sam directed and Bruce acted in, Evil Dead. If your a fan of his tv career you won’t be surprised that Campbell opts for humor over deep reflection in his descriptions of his work in Hollywood. 

The memoir of a young British girl as she enters the world of work as a kitchen maid and works her way up to a cook serving in a variety of homes in England. Each house and the family “upstairs” is each different and unique. Kindness and generosity depending much more upon the individuals than on their economic means. An interesting look back at the day to day life of a household servant in very class conscious England.

30. April 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Autobiographies, NonFiction, Tammy

Stories I Only Tell My Friends by Rob Lowe, read by Tammy, on 04/29/2012

This is a funny and surprisingly moving account of a life lived almost entirely in the public eye. Going from small town Ohio and community theater to being uprooted by a loving but unstable mother and moved to the unique counterculture of Malibu in the seventies, Rob Lowe handles his early fame as best he can. A teen idol at fifteen, an international icon and founder of the Brat Pack at twenty he is easily seduced by the excesses that marked the eighties, leading to his quest for family and sobriety. Never mean-spirited or salacious, Lowe delivers unexpected glimpses into his successes, disappointments, relationships, and one-of-a-kind chance encounters with people who shaped our world over the last twenty-five years. These stories are as entertaining as they are unforgettable. .

30. March 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Autobiographies, Children's Books, NonFiction

Drawing from Memory by Allen Say, read by Angie, on 03/29/2012

This is a wonderful autobiography/picture book/graphic book of Allen Say. It covers his life from young child until he leave Japan as a teenager. The book is full of Say’s drawings, photographs, cartoons from Say and his sensei Nori Shinpei, and snippets from his life along with text describing what is going on. Say’s young life was filled with more than you can imagine. His father abandons him and basically turns his back on him because he wants to be an artist. His mother sends him to live with his grandmother who really doesn’t want him. So he moves into his own apartment at the age of 12! Then he becomes the apprentice to the famous cartoonist Shinpei. This book really gets you into the life of Say in just a few words. The pictures paint you into his world and show you the loneliness he felt but also the joy in discovering his life’s work. The mix of art is woven through the story and helps tell the tale. It really is a brilliant book about a wonderful artist.

29. March 2012 · 1 comment · Categories: Autobiographies, Nikki, NonFiction

A Stolen Life by Jaycee Dugar, read by Nikki, on 03/21/2012

A Stolen Life is an autobiography about Jaycee Dugard. She was kidnapped at 11 years old and held captive for 18 years by Phillip Craig and Nancy Garrido. During Jaycee’s imprisonment she gave birth to two girls by Phillip. Jaycee had lived in a tent and trailer in Phillip and Nancy’s backyard for the entire 18 years.

Jaycee’s story was extremely difficult to read. At one point when she spoke of her first rape by Phillip I had decided I could not read the book. But I felt it was important to read her whole story. In the book during her reunion with her mother was very emotional and you almost feel what she might have been feeling right before she saw her mother again 18 years later. I want to recommend this book to everyone so you understand that it can happen to you, but it was such a devastating sad story that I almost hate to have someone else read it. Although she was freed and reunited with her family, she will be forever scarred. This is one of those books I’ll think about constantly.

13. March 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Autobiographies, Janet, NonFiction

William Augustus Bowles, Director General of the Creek Nation by J. Leitch Wright, Jr., read by Janet, on 03/07/2012

William Augustus Bowles, Director General of the Creek NationThis is the biography of a very busy young man who was born in Maryland to British parents, joined the Maryland Loyalists when the American Revolution broke out, became unhappy with military life and joined the Indians, then spent the rest of his short life working with both sections.  He married two Indian women and a white woman and had a family with each.  He was talented in theater, art, baking, trading, and outdoor sports.  He tried to establish an independent Indian Nation aligned with Britain, but was unsuccessful.  He was captured by Spanish-American-half-breed soldiers at a council meeting and placed in a fort cell in Havana.  There, Bowles was chained in a dungeon and eventually starved to death.  This was a tragic end of a colorful and controversial figure who was a natural leader and was both admired and disliked by many political groups,  He had wide-spread interests and was at home in both a London drawing room or an Indian village

26. January 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Autobiographies, Melody

Money for Nothing by Edward Ugel, read by Melody, on 01/25/2012

Money for Nothing is the memoir of a former lottery annuity buyer.  He worked for The Firm which bought lottery annuity payments for lump sum payouts, minus a very juicy cut for itself.   Turns out that winning the lottery isn’t always the dream come true that it would seem.  There is of course the stories of lottery winners blowing through enormous amounts of cash in a very short time, of greedy relatives and hanger ons, and of how that problems that winners had before the millions are invariably the problems they have after the millions.  I did learn quite a bit that I did not know.  When the lottery says that it pays for schools, not really.  If the state budgets 200 million for schools and the lottery gives 75 million, the state simply pays 125 million and lets the lottery pick up the rest,  Schools do not get extra money because of the lottery. Money for Nothing was a fast read with interesting characters and very relevant issues given our society’s love/hate relationship with gambling.  He closes with the sentiment that we value and respect money that we earn, not money that is found.  Of course, I’d still like my chance to blow a chunk of someone else’s cash.