Friday, June 23, 2017

Review: A Journey Into Dorothy Parker's New York

A Journey Into Dorothy Parker's New York A Journey Into Dorothy Parker's New York by Kevin C. Fitzpatrick
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A Journey into Dorothy Parker's New York is an excellent primer to those who are not entirely familiar with Parker, the Algonquin Round Table or New York in the writer's heyday between the wars. Although the book only touches on a wide range of topics within the writer's life and within the ever-changing landscape of the literary side of New York City, fans of Parker will get just as much enjoyment out of this book as newcomers to her work.

The book's layout provides plenty of room for photos, maps, postcards and other notes of interest in Parker's life, though it does seem at times the layout is reminiscent of an elementary school social studies book. The key highlights of this book is that it not only gives you Parker's place in her own timeline, but her place in the current events that were swirling around her, whether it was while she lived in New York or wrote screenplays in Hollywood.

Although this book is a celebration of a beloved figure in twentieth century literature and how the city shaped her life and career, it also presents the way that New York is always trying to reinvent itself, moving out the aged and in with the latest trends. More than half of the locations in this book that play a pivotal role in Parker's life no longer exist, and much of the rest have been repurposed to fit a more modern lifestyle, one that doesn't have as much of a need for residential hotels or tiny theaters with less than 200 seats. But it shows that as much as it seems transformed now, the city was doing the exact same thing in Parker's time, and her work was influenced both directly and indirectly by it.

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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Review: Sweet Memories

Sweet Memories Sweet Memories by Steena Holmes
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

With a lot going on, Tessa is putting full focus onto a party for her in-laws, even though she hasn't seen her husband in months. She's also on the brink of starting a new business, so when her husband returns, will she cut ties with him or see if their happily-ever-after still exists?

Sweet Memories in a nice, quick novella that lets you get a peek into the lives of these characters and see a pivotal moment in time. It makes you want to keep turning the page so you can see what happens next.

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Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Review: Drawing Free

Drawing Free Drawing Free by Elena Aitken
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Former artist Becca struggles with a teenager daughter, a tantrum-prone younger daughter, a husband who works too much and a father who's slipping away. The only thing that she can see to do is to escape from what her life has become to go and find herself.

This is a story that I think anyone can relate to--whether they are married, a parent or none of the above. At some point, we all get pegged into a life that we are supposed to have or are expected to have, whether that was our own vision for our lives or not. Through Becca, readers can see the point where it just becomes too much, and she has to escape in order to find her way back. It was an excellent story, and really makes you think about what can prompt a change when it becomes necessary.

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Thursday, May 11, 2017

Book Spotlight: The Blue Unicorn's Journey To Osm

The Blue Unicorn's Journey To Osm by Sybrina Durant (Illustrations by Dasguptarts)


Teen Unicorn Fantasy


Everybody loves unicorns! OK maybe not everybody but if you are one that does - this book has an interesting and fun story for teens and older readers plus it includes tons of illustrations to feast your eyes on. It's the tale of a little unicorn who is born into a tribe of magical metal horned unicorns. The poor little thing feels like an outcast because he just doesn't fit in with the rest of them. The story is about his journey to meet his destiny to save the tribe from extinction even though he is not magical and his horn is not like the others.

Want to learn more? Check out the book trailer

This book is available for purchase at:
Amazon ($3.99 ebook/$39.60 paperback)
Barnes & Noble ($3.99)
Smashwords ($3.99)
iTunes ($3.99)
Kobo ($3.99)

About the Author:

Sybrina Durant is the author of several children's picture books and one big illustrated
book for teens and older readers. All of her stories include songs and most were
inspired by her children and grandchildren.

Follow Sybrina Durant on social media:

Friday, May 5, 2017

Review: Finding Charlie

Finding Charlie Finding Charlie by Katie O'Rourke
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Charlie, a young woman, has gone missing and her family cannot seem to find her. Her father and her older sister, Olivia, are scared and don't know what to do. The one thing that they don't know is that when they are trying to find Charlie, she's trying to find herself.

This book does a great job of working with both meanings of the title--a physical search to find Charlie by her family, and the search that Charlie does to find herself. The synopsis leads readers to believe that this is much more of a mystery, but really it ends up being a solid family drama with a few twists.

The only part about this book that seemed abrupt is the ending. While the family was just finding all of the pieces and considering how they fit together again, the story's over. It would be interesting to see what happens with this family in the future.

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Friday, April 21, 2017

Review: In Their Lives: Great Writers on Great Beatles Songs

In Their Lives: Great Writers on Great Beatles Songs In Their Lives: Great Writers on Great Beatles Songs by Andrew Blauner
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In Their Lives is a collection of essays that take a look at the Beatles from the writer's perspective. It covers the entire career of the band with discussions on most of their major hits as well as a few deeper B-side cuts.

Although every essay has its interesting moment, I was surprised that I recognized so few of the writers featured here. I also noticed that there were very few essays included for those second generation fans—the ones that were born well after the breakup of the Beatles and would have a different perspective of the music (though some writers do include these experiences through child/grandchild anecdotes).

Some of the essays approach the songs and memories attached to it as you would expect—the song is representative of a moment in time for the writer, whether that's the first time they heard it or what changed after years of listening. Many of the essays hardly stitch a connection between the song and the main characters of the essay, giving those works the feeling that the song itself is just an afterthought.

And then there are the few special ones in this collection that borderline on the absurd, presenting a Beatles song in such an academic way that you laugh, even though the writer's intention was probably not for it to be humorous at all (even the Beatles themselves thought it was ridiculous that colleges offered courses that deconstructed every line of their lyrics for serious study).

Overall, it's a good read if you want to get into the mood to think about your own first experience with the Beatles or which song is deeply attached to a personal memory. A passage from Rick Moody's essay probably sums up the band and the way we all use their songs as a soundtrack to our lives very well: “Not capable of being confined by British popular music, or psychedelia, or Baroque music, or Indian music, or anything else, but magpies, claiming whatever shiny thing seized them, and refining and repurposing the material.”

*Provided by Penguin First to Read

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Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Review: Finding Gideon

Finding Gideon Finding Gideon by Eric Jerome Dickey
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Finding Gideon is a fast-paced action story that revolves around two mercanaries: the man they call Medianoche, and Gideon. While these two have a past, they seem to have more of a connection than their business. Gideon believes that Medianoche is his father. And Gideon won't rest until he's dead.

When it comes to action scenes, they were well-written and compelling. It's the rest of the book that I had serious trouble with. There are dozens (not exaggerating) side characters in this book that's really supposed to be focused on one man's daddy issues. While extra characters are necessary, I didn't need to know their whole past for them to end up dead two chapters later. If these characters hadn't been given more pages, this book could have easily been 100 pages shorter. I stuck it out until the end, but it just isn't the kind of book I enjoy reading.

*Book provided by Penguin First to Read

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