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Welcome! The ultimate luxury for me is curling up with a good book and a warm blanket. The next best thing is reviewing books and sharing them with others.

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15 02, 2017

Review: Born Survivors by Wendy Holden

By | February 15th, 2017|Categories: Biographies, Historical, Nonfiction, Women's Studies|Tags: , , , |6 Comments

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born survivors book coverReviewed by Sarah McCubbin

The moment of one’s birth should be a special time remembered with an element of fanfare that celebrates the arrival of a new life with all its possibilities. But not every child arrives with a swell of baby showers, hand knit blankets and birth announcements. Some arrive quite humbly in the starkest of circumstances and begin their lives as overcomers. In her book, Born Survivors, Wendy Holden shares the stories of three young women who gave birth to their babies in the direst of times.

By 1944, World War II was nearing its end by all accounts. But the end was still a year away, plenty of time for more human suffering.

22 01, 2017

Review: The Pen and the Brush by Anka Muhlstein

By | January 22nd, 2017|Categories: Arts & Literature, Biographies, Historical, Nonfiction|Tags: , , |0 Comments

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pen and the brush book coverReviewed by Poppy Johnson

The Pen and the Brush by Anka Muhlstein is full of surprises. Apparently, – and unbeknownst to me – nineteenth-century French novelists were best buds with the painters of their era. The novelists turned out to be the front line critics of those famous painters–and those edgy painters were a big influence on the famous novelists of their time as well.

This story is more of an outline of the painters and novelists of the nineteenth century, and offers a snapshot into their lives and influences.

11 01, 2017

Review: Cast of Characters by Thomas Vinciguerra

By | January 11th, 2017|Categories: Biographies, Entertainment, Humor, Nonfiction|Tags: , , , , |10 Comments

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cast of characters book coverReviewed by Kate Schefer

I am familiar with The New Yorker, and I am familiar with E.B. White and James Thurber and a few of the other writers who were the publication’s founding voices. But I am not familiar with how the two created and influenced each other. Or at least I wasn’t until I read Cast of Characters by Thomas Vinciguerra. Originally intended as a biography of Wolcott Gibbs, the book developed into a retelling of the formative years of The New Yorker, highlighting its founders, their lives, and their iconic work. I could tell that the main focus was to be Gibbs, as the book began and ended with anecdotes about him, and his son Tony was Vinciguerra’s primary source. But I believe the book struck a good balance between Gibbs and his counterparts.

2 11, 2016

Review: My Own Words by Ruth Bader Ginsburg

By | November 2nd, 2016|Categories: Biographies, Law, Memoirs, Nonfiction|Tags: , , |4 Comments

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my own words book coverReviewed by Kelly Ferjutz

As a woman of a certain age (or even beyond) I have the greatest admiration and respect for Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. From the get-go, she had the wherewithal to do more than just dream–she did!!! And didn’t she just?

Justice Ginsburg has been writing all of her life, with one of her first published pieces happening while in the eighth grade, which is included in this book, as is one of her most recent writings for the Supreme Court, the highlights of the 2015-2016 Term, which just ended about four months ago! In case you’re curious, that covers a span of some seventy years, and she’s not about to run out of words anytime soon, considering the content of that recent piece.

3 10, 2016

Review: Wonder Women by Sam Maggs

By | October 3rd, 2016|Categories: Biographies, Historical, Nonfiction|Tags: , |4 Comments

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wonder women book coverReviewed by Christen Krumm

This is a super fun book. Sam Maggs’ Wonder Women: 25 Innovators, Inventors, and Trailblazers Who Changed History covers women from all times and all ages who did something to change history (the catch? You have probably, maybe, only heard about one or two of these fabulous women). Maggs has divided Wonder Women into five main chapters or categories: women of science, women of medicine, women of espionage, women of innovation, and women of adventure. Even though the book highlights only twenty-five women, each chapter ends with cliff notes on seven more rock awesome chicks and an interview with a current day rock awesome woman in that particular field.

23 09, 2016

Review: Moscow Nights by Nigel Cliff

By | September 23rd, 2016|Categories: Arts & Literature, Biographies, Historical, Nonfiction, Politics & Government|Tags: , , , , |2 Comments

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moscow nights book coverReviewed by Kelly Ferjutz

Let’s mash-up Once Upon a Time from the fairy tales of yore, and the iconic TV show of the mid-50s You are There hosted by the avuncular Walter Cronkite, and see what happens. One answer, and possibly the best one would be Moscow Nights by the excellent and elegant writer, Nigel Cliff. He tells the story of Van Cliburn, who was for a while, quite easily the most recognized face in the world! But not just the surface view – no, he really digs deep for a terrific and very comprehensive look at one of the wonders of the 20th Century!

Cliburn was born in July, 1934, and was inspired as a youngster by a photograph of St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow – as who wouldn’t be, especially if said child had already been exposed to the music of Russian’s many famous Romantic-era composers? An only child, Van – real name: Harvey Lavan –  was always simply known as Van, thanks to his mother Rildia Bee O’Bryan Cliburn. As a piano teacher in Shreveport, Louisiana, she had once been part of the welcoming committee for an appearance there of the Russian master – Sergei Rachmaninoff.

17 09, 2016

Review: Expect a Miracle by Jenny Long & Bob Der

By | September 17th, 2016|Categories: Biographies, Nonfiction, Sports & Outdoors|Tags: , |1 Comment

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expect a miracle book coverReviewed by Bethany Kelly

When a grown man or woman competes in a triathlon, we applaud their perseverance and hard work. It is a feat of immense endurance. But when one person competes and brings another along, that is an act of true courage and kindness. In her book, Expect a Miracle: A Mother’s Tale of Brotherly Love, Faith and the Race That Changed a Family’s Life, Jenny Long and Bob Der tell the story of Connor and Cayden Long who shared this incredible experience.

Like most young brothers, Connor and Cayden were the best of friends and enjoyed spending time together. Unlike most brothers, Cayden struggled with Cerebral Palsy which limited his ability to run, play outside and be active like the other kids.

27 08, 2016

Review: Andy and Don by Daniel de Vise

By | August 27th, 2016|Categories: Biographies, Nonfiction, Pop Culture, Social Sciences|Tags: , , , |2 Comments

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andy and don book coverReviewed by Kelly Ferjutz

Was there ever anywhere on earth more congenial than Mayberry? The made-for-television version, that is, which was home to Sheriff Andy Taylor and his deputy Barney Fife. Otherwise known as Andy Griffith and Don Knotts.

This enjoyable book is a long and loving, detailed look at the two men; their similarities and their differences. It is very even-handed, displaying with great sensitivity the sunny upsides along with the dark and melancholy undersides.

Although Andy and Don doesn’t spare the unhappy parts, it is not ever mean-spirited, presenting the facts just as they happened. Andy and Don were, after all, one of the most famous comedy duos in America, and every comedy act has its sad counterpart.

5 07, 2016

Review: Curtain Up by Julius Green

By | July 5th, 2016|Categories: Arts & Literature, Biographies, Nonfiction|Tags: , , |1 Comment

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curtain up book coverReviewed by Charity Lyman

Agatha Christie has always been one of my favorite authors. She was, and probably still is, known as the queen of suspense and mystery. But what I didn’t know is that she was also a playwright, authoring many plays that in time, made her the most successful female dramatist. I have read plenty of her novels, with over 50 of them on my shelves, but reading this big book, Curtain Up, made me sit back and realize just how talented Agatha Christie really was.

Curtain Up explores the life of Agatha Christie in the theatre. Many people know her for the well written tales of suspense and mystery, but in these pages, we see another side to this multi-faceted and very gifted lady. It isn’t really a biography, but rather a comprehensive study of how much she contributed to the theatre world.

27 05, 2016

Review: Tara’s Halls by Tom Gallagher

By | May 27th, 2016|Categories: Biographies, Memoirs, Nonfiction|Tags: , |3 Comments

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tara's halls book coverReviewed by Poppy Johnson

Tara’s Halls is a delightfully written memoir chronicling Tom Gallagher’s life in Ireland during the 1950s and 60s. He tells of his childhood in a large family–how the family loved, laughed, survived and sometimes barely managed. Gallagher traversed his childhood like a blind lamb and a brave bull at the same time. He lets readers into the inner circle of his life right away, revealing intimate details and showing them what it’s truly like to be Irish. The back of the book offers some regional word definitions, and there are black-and-white photos of the author and his family throughout the book.

There are 24 chapters in the book; these start rightly at the beginning of the author’s life and move easily through his upbringing. Gallagher lived on a farm, was sent to school for a time, had a first attempt at love,