Category Archives: Book Review

It’s All Relative: Adventures Up and Down the World’s Family Tree Book Review

Genealogy, to me, is very interesting. While most of the focus of genealogy is our individual family trees, it also speaks of the large family tree that is the human race.

A.J. Jacob’s new book, It’s All Relative: Adventures Up and Down the World’s Family Tree, is not just about his three-year journey to put together his own family tree. It is also about finding distant cousins that he would have never even considered previously (a former US President, well-known performers) and the fact that underneath the labels of race, family origin, etc, we are one big human family.

The story was absolutely fascinating.  It is fascinating because he discovered what many in the genealogy community only dream of discovering. Most of us can only go back four or five generations, if we are lucky. But the fact that Mr. Jacobs was able to make familial connections with strangers and go back as far as he did is amazing to me.

I recommend it.




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Lies Jane Austen Told Me Book Review

On the surface, it’s easy to dismiss Jane Austen’s novels as just another series of romance novels. The key with Austen is to look deeper, to find the subtle and subversive message that Austen has left for her readers, if they know where to look.

In Lies Jane Austen Told Me, by Julie Wright, Emma Pierce thinks she has it all. A solid career and a boyfriend named Blake who is about to propose. But the proposal does not go as Emma though it would. Heartbroken and angry, Emma throws herself into work. Then Emma finds out that her boss is hiring Blake’s brother Lucas as a consultant.

Emma is determined to keep the relationship as professional as possible, but Lucas is the polar opposite of his brother. He also has his own secrets.  Emma will learn that romance and relationships are as complicated in real life as they are on the page. Can she create her own happy ending from the chaos that is her life?

There are two types of modern fiction writers who use Austen’s characters and narratives for the backbone of their novels. One type of writer only skims the surface without truly understanding what Austen was writing about. The other type of writer not only understands Austen, but finds a way to integrate her work into their own without making the reader feel like there is a disconnect. The problem with this book is that Ms. Wright is the first type of writer.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.



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Insane Clown President: Dispatches from the 2016 Circus Book Review

A circus is supposed to be entertaining. The political arena, especially when it comes to Presidential elections is not entertaining.

Earlier this year, writer Matt Taibbi published Insane Clown President: Dispatches from the 2016 Circus. Following the 2016 Presidential election from the moment that the candidates announced that they were running up until the moment that the election was called in favor or Donald Trump, Mr. Taibbi is writing on the moment, real-time essays about the mess, the chaos and yes, the circus like atmosphere that was the 2016 election.

While this book is sarcastic and funny, it is also quite scary. It is scary because it shows how far we, as a country, are from the political and social ideals that are cornerstone of our democracy.

Do I recommend it? Yes.


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Growing Up Fisher: Musings, Memories, and Misadventures Book Review

A celebrity autobiography is a funny thing. It is part confessional, part life story and part point of view that can only be told uniquely by the celebrity who is writing the book.

Joely Fisher is the daughter of Connie Stevens and the late Eddie Fisher, in addition to being the half-sister of the late Star Wars icon Carrie Fisher. Recently, she has published an autobiography entitled, Growing Up Fisher: Musings, Memories, and Misadventures. Written candidly and openly, Ms. Fisher talks about what it was like to grow up in a famous Hollywood family and how that experience shaped her career and her adult life. She also writes about her sister, as only a devoted and loving family member can.

I really loved this book. I loved it because Ms. Fisher is not afraid to reveal her faults and her missteps. She is also talks about what is to be the daughter of Hollywood and how it affects how one’s view the world.

I recommend it.

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Hunted Book Review

On the surface, fairy tales seem like frothy, predictable stories. But underneath that froth and predictable narrative, are lessons about life that can stay with us, even when we grow up and grow out of fairy tales.

Meagan Spooner’s novel, Hunted, is an adaptation of Beauty And The Beast. It starts out with the traditional telling of the story. The Beauty in this story is Yeva, the youngest daughter of a wealthy merchant. When her father’s business goes under, Yeva and her family must downsize. But this is where Ms. Spooner takes the story in a new direction. Yeva is a hunter, like her father. He is the only one who has come close to killing the mythical Beast that lives in the forest.

Then her father goes missing. Yeva has a choice: marry her wealthy suitor and return her family to the life of luxury they knew or find and kill the Beast that Yeva presumes has killed her father. Instead of taking the easy way out, Yeva hunts the Beast and unfortunately becomes his prisoner. While she is imprisoned in his castle, she will learn not only a few things about her captor, but about the fairy tales she was told as a child.

While every genre has its standard plot points, the author not only hits the plot points, but takes the reader in unexpected places.  There is so much emotional depth to the characters and the narrative, in addition to the magic and the mythology, that I felt like I was reading Beauty And The Beast for the first time. I also appreciated that Yeva is a strong female character who is not just a bad ass, but is also complex, interesting and human.

I absolutely recommend it.

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Nasty Women: Feminism, Resistance, and Revolution in Trump’s America Book Review

America woke up on November 9th, 2016. When Donald Trump won the Presidential election, it was a shock to us all. It was a reminder that freedom and democracy must be fought for. We cannot sit back and hope we will wake up tomorrow with the same rights as we did today.

The new book Nasty Women: Feminism, Resistance, and Revolution in Trump’s America, edited by Samhita Mukhopadhyay and Kate Harding  is a collection of essays by prominent female journalists and activists who are using their voices and their podiums to speak of the wrongs that Trump is doing to America and her citizens. The list of contributors the book include Rebecca Solnit, Cheryl Strayed and Nicole Chung.

I loved this book. The contributors all write about a variety of experiences, but their message is the same. We have to resist, there is no other choice in matter. If we don’t, our children and grandchildren will ask us questions we will be able to answer.

I absolutely recommend it.

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You Can’t Spell America Without Me: The Really Tremendous Inside Story of My Fantastic First Year as President Donald J. Trump (A So-Called Parody) Book Review

One of the best facets of a democracy is the ability to openly mock and satirize those in power without the fear of repercussion or execution.

Saturday Night Live has been satirizing politicians for as long as it’s been on the air.

With the election of Donald Trump, the comedy basically writes itself. The new book, You Can’t Spell America Without Me: The Really Tremendous Inside Story of My Fantastic First Year as President Donald J. Trump (A So-Called Parody), is co written by Alec Baldwin (who has played Trump on SNL since last year to hilarious perfection) and Kurt Andersen. Written from the point of view of SNL’s parody of Trump, the book tells the story of his Presidency  so far.

This book is so funny that the reader has choice but to laugh out loud at points.  It feels almost cathartic to read, especially considering that the real life Trump is possibly leading America down a black hole that we may not be able to climb out of.

I recommend it.


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The Great Gasbag: An A-to-Z Study Guide to Surviving Trump World Book Review

The View co-host and comedian Joy Behar is not known for being the quiet, retiring type.

Her new book, The Great Gasbag: An A-to-Z Study Guide to Surviving Trump World, lays out in very simple and direct terms why Donald Trump is ill-equipped and unfit to claim the title of President Of The United States.

This book is extremely funny and in no uncertain terms lays out that the fact that Americans have elected a man to the office of President Of The United States who is likely to destroy everything we have worked so hard over over the past 241 years. Using a voice that The View fans will immediately recognize, Behar speaks to all of us who feel disheartened, depressed and angry that a man of this nature is sitting in the Oval Office.

I absolutely recommend it.

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Beyond the Messy Truth: How We Came Apart, How We Come Together Book Review

The corner-stone of any democracy can be described in one word: compromise. These days in America, compromise is a dirty word, especially when one has to reach across the political aisle.

Earlier this year, writer and television news commentator Van Jones published Beyond the Messy Truth: How We Came Apart, How We Come Together. In this non-fiction book, Mr. Jones calls out the political bullsh*t on both sides of the aisle and forces the reader to examine how we all are guilty of putting our own interests and beliefs ahead of the good of our country and our fellow citizens.

This book is  wake up call for all Americans. It reminds us that at the end of the day, we must find a way to compromise and get along, even if we will never see eye to eye. In the book, he uses an analogy of a family reunion. A young child has wandered away from their parents and has fallen into a well. While the Democrats and The Republicans bicker and disagree, no one is doing what should be doing: finding a way to get the child out of the well. I can’t think of a better analogy for the current political climate in America.

I absolutely recommend it.

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What Happened Book Review

There is an old saying: when mortals plan, G-d laughs.

Last November, Hillary Clinton seemed to be a shoe-in to win the 2016 Presidential Election. She was running against Donald Trump, a snake-oil, used car salesman billionaire reality show star whose large ego was only matched by his extreme lack of political experience.  Instead of becoming the first female President in American history, she lost the election.

In her new memoir, What Happened, Mrs. Clinton takes a deep dive into the election, examining the players involved, the mistakes she made and how things might have gone differently had she won the election.

What I truly appreciated about this book is how candid and open Mrs. Clinton is. There is nothing robotic or stiff about this memoir. While it was clearly painful to lose the election, I feel like this book is cathartic for both the writer and the reader. Especially if the reader is a Democrat and a Clinton supporter who is counting down the days until the either Trump is impeached or loses the 2020 election.

I recommend it.

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