04. October 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Graphic Book, Memoirs

Are You My Mother? by Alison Bechdel, read by Courtney, on 09/22/2012

We’ve heard about Alison’s father in her other memoir, “Fun Home”. Now it’s her mother’s turn. Bechdel uses this book to explore her relationship with her mother who is an interesting character in and of herself. Both mother and daughter are writers and intellectuals and their relationship is as complicated as you might expect from such individuals. Bechdel uses a variety of psychological theorists to explore the nature of the mother/daughter bond.
This is not a graphic novel for lightweights. It’s something of a ponderous tome, with extensive reflection on child psychology, feminism and the writing process. This book could keep a Women’s Studies class busy for quite awhile. Plenty of food for thought, particularly for mothers and daughters.

01. October 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Graphic Novel, History, Memoirs, NonFiction, Tammy · Tags: , ,

American Widow by Alissa Torres, read by Tammy, on 09/14/2012

A moving story of one woman’s day to day life after losing her husband in the 9/11 attacks. This graphic novel backs the events of September 11th a personal tragedy rather than just a national tragedy. Gripping and beautifully told but difficult to read at times. But how could any true story accurately depicting that day not move one to tears?

15. September 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Biographies, Graphic Novel, History, Memoirs, NonFiction, Tammy · Tags: ,

Anne Frank: The Anne Frank House Authorized Graphic Biography by Sid Jacobson and Ernie Colon, read by Tammy, on 09/14/2012

Drawing on the unique historical sites, archives, expertise, and unquestioned authority of the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam, New York Times bestselling authors Sid Jacobson and Ernie Colón have created the first authorized and exhaustive graphic biography of Anne Frank. This is a concise introduction to not only Anne Frank and her family but history of Nazism, concentration camps, general history of WWII and how the conflict spread as well as the years immediately after the war. I had not realized prior to reading this the first concentration camp built and opened in Germany was to house German citizens who opposed the Nazi parties new policies.

06. September 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Andrea, Graphic Novel, Memoirs

Fun Home by Alison Bechdel, read by Andrea, on 09/05/2012

This was an interesting book. A memoir of her life, Fun Home describes what it was like in Alison Bechdel’s life from around age 10 to when she was in college. From discovering she was a lesbian and coming out to her parents to understanding her relationship with her father and his death, Bechdel weaves a story of self-discovery and -acceptance. It is kind of graphic at times (she is not shy about describing, very specifically through words and illustrations, her personal life), but I really thought it was well written and illustrated, and had a nice, almost philosophical feel to it. She describes her relationship with her family in such a cold and distant way, but then shows how her and her father become close in their own, rather odd way. The memoir she writes and draws is quite a detailed account of her life and really makes you connect with her and want to understand the process she went through to learn how to trust herself so she could start trusting others. I could not relate to her coming out problem, but the ideas she had of self-acceptance and understanding was beautifully written.

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. 

29. July 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: History, Memoirs, NonFiction, Tammy · Tags: ,

Silver Like Dust: One Family's Story of America's Japanese Internment by Kimi Cunningham Grant, read by Tammy, on 07/26/2012

Moving story of one Japanese families experiences in an internment camp in Montana during WWII. Author Kimi Grant wanted to learn more about her families history and especially about her quiet grandmother while an English major in college and this begins her informal interviews with her grandmother while visiting her each summer. She took several years to learn all she thought her grandmother could tell her, without intruding on her grandmother’s privacy or disrespecting her in any way. The story is told mainly from the grandmother’s memories but is fleshed out with historical research by the author. She also tries to relate how this heritage has affected her family and how being in her 20s the way the majority of the Japanese accepted internment as showing loyalty to their new country. Two of her great-uncles served in the U.S. military during WWII. One in the all Japanese Unit that has the distinction of having been awarded the most medals of any single unit during WWII. From geographic clues given in the grandmother’s memories this appears to be the same camp that Sandra Dallas used for her novel Tall Grass told from the viewpoint of people living between a Japanese camp and a small Montana town. Since I just read that novel a few months ago that made the story seem even more special to me… to be able to learn some more history and to read the memories of someone from the other side of the barbed wire and armed guards

20. July 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Informational Book, Memoirs, Tracy

Sixpence House by Paul Collins, read by Tracy, on 07/19/2012

There is a town in Wales called Hay-on-Wye that has forty bookstores. Paul Collins and his family visited it and decided to move there from San Francisco. Paul is an author and is writing a book called Banvard’s Folly.  This book, however,  is about their experiences at the “Town of Books”. He and his wife think it’s the perfect place to raise their son and search for a house to buy. Sixpence House was a pub at one time but is now for sale and falling apart. Anyone who loves books would want to live in Hay-on-Wye. Right? Is too much of a good thing bad? Maybe so.

19. July 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Inspirational, Memoirs, NonFiction, Tammy · Tags: , ,

The Devil in Pew Number Seven by Rebecca Nichols Alonzo, Bob DeMoss , read by Tammy, on 07/18/2012

A moving story about one family’s struggle to “stay the course” and follow God’s will for their lives and ministry despite dangerous opposition from one wealthy member of the community who is also their neighbor. Shootings, bombings, threatening mesages… none of this made the pastor and his family leave the church and community that begged them to stay until one fateful night when the author was 7 years old. The daughter of the pastor Rebecca tells us her story and fills in and verified her memory using court documents, interviews with adults who were also there, newspaper accounts etc. Despite the anger directed at them the parents continued to forgive their neighbor and young Rebecca learned that forgiveness is truly the only way to move on and heal. Honest but uplifting.

03. July 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Graphic Book, Memoirs, NonFiction

Smile by Raina Telgemeier, read by Angie, on 07/03/2012

Smile is the true story of Raina Telgemeier’s journey through orthodontia. It was not a pleasant or a short journey. It began with an overbite and a fall resulting in the loss of her two front teeth. The journey consisted of false teeth, braces, surgeries, headgear, and four years worth of visits to various dental professionals…all during junior and high school. Poor Raina! Throughout it all Raina is also dealing with boys, pimples, friends, mean girls, and all the other trials and tribulations of high school. She comes through it stronger and happier, but it is not an easy journey.

As someone who has had braces and retainers (thankfully not four years worth) I completely sympathized with Raina. They are an invented torture to make our teeth look perfect. They work but are definitely not pleasant. I winced with her when her braces were being tightened and when all she could eat was mashed potatoes. I think Raina definitely remembers this time of her life perfectly and she really captured it on the pages of Smile. The story and illustrations embody the torture of braces and the agony of middle and high school. I would recommend this to just about anyone.

02. July 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Memoirs, NonFiction, Tammy · Tags: , , ,

The Garner Files: A Memoir by James Garner, Jon Winokur, with an introduction by Julie Andrews Edwards, read by Tammy, on 06/29/2012

Best known to people of my generation as Jim Rockford a detective with a big heart and a since of humor, here’s his life story from Garner himself. He left home at the age of 14 after suffering physical abuse at the hands of his stepmother and tried a lot of jobs and served in the Korean War before trying acting. He was part of the end of the studio system where actors “belonged” to a studio and were paid a weekly rate no matter how many movies, tv shows, appearances etc., you were doing that week or how much the studio made from your work. He worked alongside Julie Andrews, Marlon Brando, Clint Eastwood, Audrey Hepburn and Steve McQueen. Garner became a star in his own right, despite struggles with stage fright and depression. He relates his acting career, family life and shares his personal beliefs including that he’s  “a card-carrying liberal—and proud of it,” and much more. Interesting stories from a man who overcame a poor homelife as a child … because what’s the alternative … and became a well-known movie and TV star.

02. July 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Memoirs, Tammy, Travel · Tags:

No Touch Monkey! And Other Travel Lessons Learned Too Late by Ayun Halliday, read by Tammy, on 06/30/2012

Ayun Halliday shares her adventures and misadventures around the globe as a backpacking low-budget traveler. Besides humorous stories you can also can some insight into some things NOT to do when traveling overseas. I’ve learned I am definitely NOT a backpacking traveler. I value indoor plumbing, clean sheets and mosquito repellant. Yes, if the monkey steals your shoes it really is better to just let him have them than risk injury AND have to replace them anyway, though you may amuse your fellow travelers and your hosts while you and the monkey chase each other through the rooms and stairways both running and screeching at each other.

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.

11. May 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Memoirs, Tracy

I'm With Fatty by Edward Ugel, read by Tracy, on 05/11/2012

When Edward Ugel’s wife plays a recording of his nightly snoring he decides to go to a doctor. He realizes what he’s known all along that he is overweight and has sleep apnea. This book is about his decision to lose 50 pounds in a year. Edward has a happy family, a nice house and a sense of humor.  But his food addiction is ruining his health. Finally after going through denial he hires a personal trainer, a nutritionist and goes for a cleansing and a colonic irrigation. Things go pretty good for a while until his wife and kids go on a trip and leave him alone.  He can’t control himself and has a food bender. It’s an honest and amusing journey which eventually leads to a Weight Watchers meeting where he feels like he’s suppose to be there.

07. May 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Melody, Memoirs, NonFiction

Fifty Acres and a Poodle by Jeanne Marie Laskas, read by Melody, on 05/02/2012

A delightful book about an avowed city girl with closet dreams of owning a farm.  When the farm of her dreams comes up for sale, complete with an Amish barn and beautiful vistas, she and her boyfriend buy it and trade a life of walking down the street for a paper and a bagel for bulldozing multiflora roses and pond mucking.  Wonderful memoir about how when your dreams come true, then the real work begins. Thanks Tammy for the recommendation. 

25. April 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Memoirs, NonFiction, Tammy · Tags: , , , ,

Cake Boss: Stories and Recipes from Mia Famiglia by Buddy Valastro, read by Tammy, on 04/21/2012

In this heartfelt memoir, Buddy from the popular TV show, Cake Boss shares his family’s history and the history of Carlo’s Bakery from the time his dad started working there until today where the bakery, his family and crew are featured on TLC. Buddy shares his journey and transformation from the youngest child in a big Italian family who loses his father as a young man and becomes a person who can run a busy, successful bakery. He also shares some of the recipes made famous by the show sized down for personal baking.

19. April 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Melody, Memoirs, NonFiction

Mennonite in a Little Black Dress by Rhoda Janzen, read by Melody, on 04/18/2012

Delightful memoir by Rhoda Janzen, touching and wry.  After the week from hell; her husband leaves her for Bob who he met on Gay.com and she is in a serious car wreck, Janzen returns to her Mennonite family to heal and pick up the pieces of her life.  Full of great advice (her mother suggests she date her first cousin because he has a tractor), an amazing array of cabbage dishes, and lots of love, she shows how funny going home can be.  Very funny and intelligent, a must read.  And I now know what Mennonites ladies wear under all those layers and how to make borscht.  

19. April 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Memoirs, Tammy · Tags: ,

Fifty Acres and a Poodle: A Story of Love, Livestock, and Finding Myself on a Farm by Jeanne Marie Laskas , read by Tammy, on 04/15/2012

Fun memoir of the author’s journey from a city dwelling, cat loving, mutt loving person who just casually dated to the owner of a fifty acre farm with multiple animals including a pure blood poodle with papers and a committed meaningful relationship. I will have to admit as someone who grew up in the country it was amusing at times to realize how unprepared the author and her boyfriend were for living in the country, and not just the farm, but the whole community. I’ve had the opposite kind of culture shock at different times in my life moving into a small town then into a city. So for me part of what made the story enjoyable was that she admitted they didn’t know something and she clearly expressed that these different lifestyles are both fine. You just have to find the one that’s right for you.

The author also shared her hopes and dreams, reaction to reality, then the realization that sometimes what you have, though nothing like you dreamed it would be, is better than you could have imagined.

18. April 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Memoirs, NonFiction, Tracy

Gypsy Boy by Mikey Walsh, read by Tracy, on 04/18/2012

If you’ve ever wondered if all those stories you’ve heard about Gypsies are true, this book is a tell-all. It’s a very graphic and heart wrenching story. I had a hard time reading it and almost didn’t finish. Hopefully the author is having a happier adulthood.

11. April 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Memoirs, NonFiction, Tracy

Brainiac by Ken Jennings, read by Tracy, on 04/11/2012

Ken Jennings is a 2.5 million dollar Jeopardy winner. He was lucky enough to get on the show after they changed the five day winning rule. This book is about his amazing winning streak on Jeopardy and a look at why trivia is so popular. I watch Jeopardy every night but would never consider auditioning. You have to be competitive and have a good memory. Game shows and trivia competitions are popular all over the world. It’s not just about winning money.

07. April 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Memoirs, Tracy · Tags:

Why I Came West by Rick Bass, read by Tracy, on 04/07/2012

Rick Bass describes himself as a poet, oil man, novelist, logger, elk hunter and an environmentalist. When he and his wife moved to Montana and found the Yaak Valley they knew it was going to be there home. Unfortunately he found out the wilderness he loved was not protected. His story is full of frustration and hard work trying to save the land and also help out the local loggers keep their jobs.