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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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7 02, 2014

Review: American Savage by Dan Savage

By | February 7th, 2014|Categories: Memoirs, Nonfiction, Politics & Government, Social Sciences|Tags: , , , , |0 Comments


AMERICAN-SAVAGEReviewed by Jax Kepple

Dan Savage expertly switched off between hilarious (maybe I’m easily amused but the Introduction had me laughing hysterically) and the serious (his sorrow at the loss of his religious identity) in his latest collection of essays in American Savage: Insights, Slights, and Fights on Faith, Sex, Love, and Politics. Each essay is a different chapter, annotated with amusing asides and more support for that particular topic. This was my first taste of Savage’s writing in bulk – I had previously read some of his stand-alone articles – and felt that his writing was sharp, well-researched and contrite, when it needed to be.

This latest collection of essays focus mainly on equal rights for LGBT individuals, but Obamacare and gun violence are also tackled. He explains the reasoning behind starting up his charity, It Gets Better and how he

11 01, 2014

Review: Fire in the Ashes by Jonathan Kozol

By | January 11th, 2014|Categories: Memoirs, Nonfiction, Social Sciences|Tags: , |0 Comments


9781400052479_p0_v3_s260x420Reviewed by Poppy Johnson

Jonathan Kozol has frequented poor urban neighborhoods in the U.S and writes candidly about his experiences with the children and their families in Fire in the Ashes: Twenty-Five Years Among the Poorest Children in America. He explains how he went to New York City in 1985, and saw homeless families who were sheltered in formerly opulent hotels such as the Martinique Hotel. The Martinique held 1,400 children and 400 adults, and it was one of the largest “shelters” of its kind at the time. It was not a conventional shelter (the way we imagine them today), but rather a makeshift stopover with no services, few necessities, and a den for marauding drug dealers and thieves. But somehow, the children came out of this squalor and were able to make better lives for themselves and their families, and

5 12, 2013

Review: The United States of Paranoia by Jesse Walker

By | December 5th, 2013|Categories: Historical, Nonfiction, Social Sciences|Tags: , |5 Comments


9780062135551_custom-b59aef367c02e28f5b19c4597390912eb7cbf621-s6-c30Reviewed by Jenna Arthur

Have you ever wondered about America’s secret societies? What if George Bush was a member of the skulls? Or what if our former presidents were part of some global Freemason society that could change the world at the snap of their finger tips? Or maybe you’ve wondered about the cannibals preying on unsuspecting victims? Have you heard your parents or grandparents tell of Nazi conspiracies or the Enemy Below? Such is The United States of Paranoia. Jesse Walker delves into some of America’s dirtiest little thoughts and theories. These theories have given Americans identity and put a special fear in their hearts. Conspiracy theories, he explains, have been around since the dawn of time and play off of peoples’ anxieties about the war on terror, the American economy and even those controlling our governments. Jesse Walker provides

30 07, 2013

Review: Island by J. Edward Chamberlin

By | July 30th, 2013|Categories: Historical, Nonfiction, Social Sciences|Tags: , , |2 Comments


9781933346564_p0_v1_s260x420Reviewed by MaryLu McFall

How does a writer tackle a broad topic like “island” and tell us how significant it is? Chamberlin not only gives us a general overview, he tells us specifics. Not only does he tell us about the concept of an island and what that means, he tells us about islands all over the world. His writing about such a broad subject brings coherent thoughts into black and white, giving us a new perspective about all the different kinds of islands there are in the world.

This non-fiction book is so interesting, the topic so broad, and the meanings derived have so much depth that it makes for a fairly difficult read. This, in spite of the title, isn’t your summer beach book. That is, unless you are headed for an island, say, Jamaica. The first chapter of the book

21 06, 2013

Review: Saturday Night Widows by Becky Aikman

By | June 21st, 2013|Categories: Memoirs, Nonfiction, Social Sciences|Tags: |1 Comment


saturday-night-widowsReviewed by Claudia Robinson

“Walking into the store that day, I assumed I knew the underlying reason why a bunch of widows would band together to try on underwear. They were uncomfortable with their bodies, I presumed. They needed reassurance that they still had the requisite allure. Women are always hearing about how insecure they are supposed to feel about their physiques, and I had bought into the line. In fact, everyone looked fabulous, better than most men our ages. I didn’t know what the others were thinking, but if anyone was concerned about body issues, she shouldn’t be. No, I thought, it wasn’t our bodies we were most concerned about. The insecurity was over what to do with them.” – Saturday Night Widows

It is not often that I ask Vera to ‘just send me something you think I’ll like’.

15 03, 2013

Review: Oh My Gods by Philip Freeman

By | March 15th, 2013|Categories: Historical, Nonfiction, Social Sciences|Tags: , |3 Comments


9781451609981_p0_v1_s260x420Reviewed by Sara Drake

Dr. Freeman, a professor of classics, provides a modern, adult retelling of the classic myths in Oh My Gods. The myths of the classic world continue to touch modern life. We still know the stories of the Trojan horse, Hercules, and Midas of the golden touch. Children eagerly read myths today just as they have for centuries past. Yet, few of us have the time or energy to research the myths beyond the books of our childhood or the movies we watched. In this book, Dr. Freeman tells the tales from the ancients in a well-researched tome, using contemporary language and a fun sense of humor.

I loved mythology as a child and have read quite a few of the classic sources as an adult. So, I dove into Dr. Freeman’s retellings with a sense of

12 03, 2013

Review: Shadows of the Workhouse by Jennifer Worth

By | March 12th, 2013|Categories: Memoirs, Nonfiction, Social Sciences, Women's Studies|Tags: , , |4 Comments


9780062270047_p0_v2_s260x420Reviewed by Sophia Chiu

Shadows of the Workhouse is a poignant continuation of the Call the Midwife trilogy by Jennifer Worth based on her experiences training as a midwife in London’s East End during the 1950s. Recently adopted as a popular British television series shown on PBS in the United States, this second volume is devoted to more in-depth story telling.

Whereas Call the Midwife: A Memoir of Birth, Joy, and Hard Times (originally published as simply The Midwife) was mostly a montage depicting her acclimation to the life in the East End among the midwife-nuns based in Nonnatus House, this second volume is structured as three parts. Part I: Workhouse Children focuses on three characters who grew up in the workhouse, an early welfare-state attempt to take care of the destitute that morphed into a dreaded Dickensian institution. After an interlude devoted

23 01, 2013

Review: Hot & Heavy by Virgie Tovar

By | January 23rd, 2013|Categories: Nonfiction, Social Sciences|Tags: , |1 Comment


hotandheavy-225x330Reviewed by Heather Bryant

Fierce and Fat are the keys to this book. Written by many and edited by Virgie Tovar, this book helps a fat girl (me) feel fierce about herself.

No, Hot & Heavy is not a how to book per say. These ladies are overweight and have gone their fair share of ups and downs caused by their weight, and share their stories in this book. The reader finds out more about Self Acceptance groups and that it is OK to feel good about oneself at any size. This is a book I would love for teen girls to read. Though the language is colorful I can see that every story comes from the heart and the writers truly stand behind their self-acceptance.

I especially enjoyed these women’s opinions on love and their encouragement to go out and date; there are

12 01, 2013

Review: Airbrushed Nation by Jennifer Nelson

By | January 12th, 2013|Categories: Education, Nonfiction, Reference, Social Sciences, Women's Studies|Tags: , , , |2 Comments


Airbrushed-NationReviewed by Poppy Johnson

Most people have definite ideas about fashion. Men and women can tell you what it takes for a woman to be considered beautiful, how men and women are permitted by the public eye to age at different rates, and what we should, must or want to do to live up to the ideals when it comes to aging. Can we change how we are perceived as women as nature takes its course and wrinkles begin to appear? For example, if a woman makes a personal choice to forego dying her hair and remain truly and beautifully naturally grey, isn’t that her choice and her prerogative to define her own beauty ideal?

Who isn’t airbrushed or Photoshoped these days? The magazines dub it as “art” when a cover ready top model or popular celebrity is brushed to perfection. Airbrushed Nation reviews the media culprits who airbrush their photos

22 12, 2012

Review: No Excuses by Gloria Feldt

By | December 22nd, 2012|Categories: Health, Mind, & Body, Nonfiction, Self-Help, Social Sciences, Women's Studies|Tags: , , |2 Comments


9781580053884Reviewed by Poppy Johnson

Be prepared for an ultra-feminist perspective in No Excuses: Nine Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power by Gloria Feldt. If you don’t mind her bashing conservative politics, the misogynist misnomers and her acerbic personal opinion, you’ll still find plenty of information on the innovative techniques and strategies that women can use to change the way they think about power.

I was looking for the book to discuss ways women can reset their perspective to become more assertive in the workplace and in their personal lives. This book does explain best strategies for women to break barriers, overcome boundaries and take their rightful place in male dominated society. But be prepared for a feminist history regarding why women are afraid of power and why the author clearly hates conservative (read: Republican) values as America’s “unwanted agenda.”

I expected