Hollywood Park

Hollywood Park is an amazing memoir of life affected by poverty as well as the results from living in a cult. The Airborne Toxic Event frontman shares his life story and how that affected the band and its music

I really enjoyed Mikel Jollett’s writing style. The book reads in terms of developmental language. That’s just a fancy way of saying that the beginning is written in a childlike manner and matures as he does. There is no pretentious look back at childhood through Printan adult lens, just his remembered experiences that he would reconcile later. This gives realism to each section and connects with the reader on a deeper level.

Jollett writes with honesty, not glossing over his own issues and how they impact his life. As an adult, he starts to use those childhood experiences to be a better person. He doesn’t subscribe to the idea that his life was messed up so he didn’t have to be better.  These chapters are the most intense because Jollett bears his soul and those who have battled emotional abuse will truly empathize with him and his journey to healthy relationships. As someone with a narcissist mom, I was brought to tears with sadness but also inspired for my own life.

Hollywood Park is accompanied by an album by the same name, a soundtrack if you will to the memoir. While they are great as separate pieces, it is hard to truly appreciate one without the other. The written and sung word becomes a dance of truth and humanity. This combination makes for an insanely moving and emotional experience. But it doesn’t end there.

This book gives readers a different perspective into The Airborne Toxic Event songs. As Jollett writes, you see “Sometime around Midnight” come to life. When you listen “to “Hell and Back”, you can see the issues with his mom you never saw before.  This book transcended being just a memoir showing a boy’s pain and how he deals with as a man; it becomes an experience that affects several senses. I haven’t seen anything that married music and prose so well since The Deep.

I would recommend this memoir to fans of the group, fans of memoirs, and people who enjoy a true literary experience.


I received an ARC from the publisher. I streamed the album through Spotify. All opinions are my own.

The Geeky Chef Cookbooks

I have been following The Geeky Chef for years. I love the creative recipes that brings the745c03ff-4f84-4f37-8635-18b66069997e food of your favorite fandoms to life.  I am psyched for these second editions of her books which separate one book into food and the other into drinks.

Cassandra Reeder runs a blog where she creates real-life versions of fictional recipes. She is an all-access geek: recipes come from movies, TV shows, books, and video games. That blog turned into three books of nerdy food and drink. This has culminated in these two hardback editions.

The Nerdy Chef Cookbook includes appetizers, entrees, and desserts based on your favorite fandoms such as Game of Thrones, Harry Potter, The Legend of Zelda and so many more. Reeder creates recipes with the intention of normal people making them allowing us to recreate the recipes easily.  Some of my favorites include Solvent Green and Special Bell Peppers and Beef from Cowboy Bebop. Special Bell Peppers and Beef was easy to make and tasted fantastic.


The Geeky Bartender Drinks contains adult cocktails and other nonalcoholic concoctions to make drinks inspired by your favorite fandom. Of course, there are the typical nerdy fandoms one might imagine including Star Wars and Final Fantasy. The book branches further into fandom including the It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’s Fight Milk and Archer’s favorite drinks.

The book details the tools you need as well as how-tos on flavored syrups, rims, and other fun side effects! Each drink is featured in full color in its nerdy glory. The instructions are easy to follow making this a great book to plan my next party!

I would recommend both of these books to my fellow Geeks!

Book Club: Dancing Through Life

Allen T. Brown became an amateur ballroom dancing champion in his 80s and, as a ballroom dancing fan, I was excited to read about pursuing your dreams through the lens of dancing.

To be upfront there isn’t a lot on the actual ballroom dancing that. It’s more a general 9546218CB4C0A904A0E568BB6CAC0A9D978E24CCmetaphor that is the theme for the chapters and ideas. The book itself is only about 130 pages which makes it a quick read.  This also means that the chapters aren’t too long or dense. Brown disseminates information in an easily understandable way.

Each chapter begins with an inspirational quote as a theme for that particular chapter. Then the chapter is divided into sections. Brown shares his stories of his life that give real-life examples of his own advice so the reader can see the guidance in action. The chapters end with questions to help you get started dancing through life. The only thing on format is the pull quotes are too close to the actual quote making it seem redundant instead of distinctive.

At first glance and reading about Brown, I was concerned about someone with money telling us how to have a good life. But Brown has true integrity. He understands the need to give and be grateful and he won me over; which isn’t an easy thing to do.

Overall, I enjoyed Brown’s outlook and his outlook made me question how I see things.  I truly came away with new ways to dance in my life. This would be a great book for your Self Help book club choice. The book is an easy read and the advice easy to understand with ideas on how to implement change.


I received a free copy for review; all opinions are my own.


Book Club Review: The Tenth Girl

The Tenth Girl is a beautiful ghost story weaving time and space.

When Mavi finds refuge in a unique and special school for girls, she brushes away the ideas of ghosts and curses that seem to permeate it. But it doesn’t help that the staff seem to have things they aren’t talking including the missing tenth girl. Mavi soon finds herself over her head both in teaching these girls and navigating the history of the school itself.

the tenth girl-MECH.inddSara Faring creates a beautiful world making the school a character all its own. The same level of attention is paid to the characters giving them an impish tint with deeper layers. The author envelopes you into this world while weaving several narrators into a seamless telling. Switching narrators adds something special from each respective building up to a new layer of the story. Each perspective is vital to the overall tale.

This starts as a beautiful Goth horror and seamlessly changes genres without upsetting the reader. This twist was amazing. There were hints along the way but I was so absorbed into the world that I seconded guessed myself and continued with the story. The ending was satisfying for the reader but the story continued exactly one chapter too long.

The book is ripe for the discussion about human consciousness and identity. Book club members will enjoy the mystery but will truly want to discuss the ethics of the final twist.  The Tenth Girl will delight all members of your club.

Running For Our Lives

I truly enjoyed reading Robb Ryerse’s tale of running for the House of Representatives. Ryerse is a progressive Republican who saw how his district in Arkansas could benefit from gun safety and health care. When his wife suggests he run as part of Brand New Congress, an effort to take out career politicians by bringing in everyday people who 9780664266219_p0_v1_s1200x630 (1)understand what the laws do on a practical level. Ryerse, a co-pastor a local church, knew this would be a hard competition but also knew this was something he had to do.
Ryerse walks you through running for office and how hard it for normal everyday people. The setup of campaign finances is cost-prohibitive to many and the way money is used from special interest keeps career politicians in power. He also discusses other issues that come up during campaigning and how it’s not as easy as the TV makes it look.
The best part though is that Ryerse uses his faith to guide him and he speaks out against the Religious Right that blindly follows the current administration. He details his interactions with members of this subsection of Christianity and explains that these people are often one-issue voters. Reyrse tries to explain during his campaign, as well as in this book, why Christian faith is about people. That we have to take care of our neighbor and these “progressive” views are doing just that. While he was met positively by most people for not being a career politician it never seemed to overcome the ideas he shared with the progressive left.
I would recommend Running for Our Lives, A Story of Faith, Politics, and the Common Good  to anyone who wants to see politics from the inside; how things really work; to see Republicans as progressive allied; to see that the Evangelicals aren’t always looking after the common good. This book will challenge many preconceived notion of those all along the spectrum.


Publication Date: February 18

I received an ARC through NetGalley; all opinions are my own.

Stronger Than Death

cover162744-mediumStronger than Death is the harrowing story of what real missionary work should be. There is more than just religion; there is action combined with care and love of the poor. Reading this book shows me this world has people who are truly good.
Annalena treated TB in places like Kenya and Somalia. She faces down violence every day but never stops caring for those in need. She knew that religion called for care and love for the needy. Unlike many of the biggest “missionary/pastors”, Annalena doesn’t live in opulence. She lives in the same poverty as those she assists pouring all her money into the saving of those with TB. If I say more, I’ll tell you the whole story.

Even though Annalena would never like the publication of this book, I agree with the author that this book should be written, her story must be told. By reaching just one person through this book, Annalena’s work continues.

The book itself is well written and researched. The background of the countries and wars are included in the tale are explored. The author spoke with as many people involved as she could giving many first account stories. There is just one negative here: the author inserts herself. These are odd moments that, instead of bolstering Annalena, make the author seem like she just wants to be connected to Annalena so she can feel better about herself. There is no need: Rachel Pieh Jones shares this story with dedication, love, and respect with a connection that never dies.

I would encourage everyone to read this book. To think about their calling. To challenge the idea of Christianity. I am blessed to have read this story.

Published: Oct 1

I received an ARC from the publisher; all opinions are my own.

What’s Next

In What’s Next: Your Dream Job, God’s Call and A Life That Sets you Free, Daniel Ryan Day walks you through figuring on what steps you should take in your life to heed God’s call. While the goal is to help you find what the next step in your career, it’s not really a book about careers or a dream job; instead the book focuses on the idea of God’s calling.
This approach makes sense in the fact that Day is trying to dispel the idea that God’s calling exclusively refers to your occupation. He walks you through a variety of biblical figures whose calling aren’t considering jobs as well as looks into the New Testament ideas of what we are called to be. We are called by God to be a specific kind of person, not just a laborer.
42046635._SX318_But fear not; the final chapter gives you ideas to help you figure out what you want to do next occupation-wise. The author provides readers with ideas of how to apply Biblical concepts of calling to find your dream job.
The book is well written and Ryan has a voice that is straightforward to the average reader. He doesn’t get too bogged down in scholarly material or wording letting the book flow from one pint to the next. The fact that he makes these ideas accessible to a broader audience is the best part of the book and shows that the author understands his audience.
For me, I had decided a long time ago my calling was’ necessarily my job. Personally, this book wasn’t helpful for me, and I wasn’t as invested as some might be. But I do believe it can be helpful for others. If you still think that your calling only refers to your occupation, then this is a book you need. God is calling you for so much more than a paycheck.
I received an ARC from the publisher; all opinions are my own.

Is There Still Sex in the City?

Is There Still Sex in the City is the story of one writer’s midlife crisis.
Candace Bushnell finds herself in middle age, divorced and worried about money. 42360872.jpgThings truly come apart when her dog dies and she moves out to Village. Bushnell chronicles the experience of Tinder “dating”, having younger boyfriends and the suicide of one her close friends.
This is one of the saddest books I have read in a long time. Bushnell refuses to accept she is in a middle life crisis and gives it a cute name and acronym. This is sad in and of itself. She refuses to truly accept her life. And then writes this book in order to make money from it.
It was hard to identify with her and her friends. Unlike her previous essays, there is no fantasy of being in the thrilling world of New York. I rolled my eyes when she complained living in the Upper East Side (if you can’t afford it don’t live there. Damn.). I despised her desperateness at thinking she would get something real from Tinder. And don’t get me started on her “not mom but acting like mom” chapter.
Maybe this something people her ages (late fifties/early sixties) would enjoy. But I don’t see many of normal people being able to empathize with a life that is still better than their because of economic status. Plus, many of the topics have been covered before in more entertaining and engaging ways (specifically The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt episode about the older woman/younger guy dynamic).
In her book, she mentioned she wrote several novels no one would publish. After reading this one, which has been chosen for publication, I have to wonder how bad those are.

Publication Date: August 6
I received an ARC from the publisher; all opinions are my own.


The Badass Girl’s Guide

C.J. Scarlet turns trauma from her past, throws way the “victim” label and helps women keep themselves safe. While attacks are the fault of the attacker, women, none the less, need to know how to keep themselves safe in this less than perfect world. Scarlet gives you tip on how to not become a victim as well as what to do if you do become one.

Scarlet walks you through failing the predator interview, the myths of rape and how to put aside preconceived notion of femininity that are putting you in danger. The chapters aren’t long and are written plainly which make it easy to understand and hold your attention.  The most important information is bulleted and easily digestible.  This isn’t just theo37561534ry and statistics (even though there are some important stats included); this is practical and valuable information.

I loved that the author includes what to do if you are attacked. As the author says, no method is one hundred percent successful in evading predators, so it is important to know what to do if you are attacked.  Personally, I feel that hearing this from someone who has been there is even more reassuring. She has been there and knows how uncomfortable the whole situation is. Hearing from someone who has been there and become a strong woman is highly motivating and hopeful.

My favorite part of the book, though, isn’t the advice on how to thwart an attacker or the practical safety tips. Scarlet bears her soul in “Escape from the Terrible Garden.” This prose piece puts words to the feelings trapped inside her. It is both moving and enlightening. I think anyone who has been abused in some way as well as family and friends should read it to truly understand what it feels like.

The Badass Girl’s Guide helps women empower themselves and help them (and others) stay safe in an imperfect world. After reading this book, I will be donating to my local Free Little Library; this information needs to be read and passed on.




I received a complementary copy for review; all opinions are my own.