Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah

born-a-crimeTitle: Born a Crime: Stories form a South African Childhood
Author: Trevor Noah
Series: No Series
Publisher: Spiegel & Grau
Published: November 15th, 2016
Rating: ★★★★★ (5 out of 5)

Quick Look: I’d enjoyed Noah’s take on the world from watching him on The Daily Show. Born a Crime gave me new respect for him as a person, separate from his comedic ability, and is easily one of the best non-fiction books I’ve read in a long time. Continue reading

Review: Blood Sisters: The Women Behind the Wars of the Roses by Sarah Gristwood

Title: Blood Sisters: The Women Behind the Wars of the Roses
Author: Sarah Gristwood
Rating: ★★★★

I’ve only recently become interested in the time of the Cousin’s War, and mainly because of Philippa Gregory’s latest novel series. So when I came across this book dealing with the women of the time, I knew I wanted to give it a read.

Not a lot can be known for certain about the women discussed in this book. The records are spotty and not always reliable to begin with, but women weren’t usually considered important enough to have much written about them. It truly is a shame, because it seems as though these women played a huge part in getting England through this crazy time.

Each of the women has an interesting story, but some played a greater part than others. Margaret Beaufort worked nearly her entire life to get to her final position of mother of a king. Elizabeth Woodville came up from a low position to become queen. Her daughter saw how easily fortunes could change, but still made it through it all to become one half of the marriage that united a country divided.

Sometimes, books such as this one can become a little boring and textbook-like. There were parts of the book I glazed over, mostly because the material being discussed wasn’t all too interesting, like how much money was spent on what things, but overall the book kept me interested enough that I really took my time to read this. I wanted to gain a bit of knowledge from this book that I wouldn’t have otherwise found.

If you’re interested in the history of the Cousin’s War and want to learn more about it, this is definitely a good book to pick up.

If Blood Sisters sounds like your kind of book, you can purchase it here:
Barnes and Noble

Thank you to Basic Books and NetGalley for an advanced copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

Voyagers of the Titanic by Richard Davenport-Hines

I have a huge, and at times odd, fascination with all things Titanic. It started when I first heard about it in the second grade and since then, I’ve read and watched as much as I can about the disaster. It’s hard to spring information on me that I don’t already know. However, this book was able to bring more depth to my knowledge and brought more people out in the story I hadn’t known much about.

The set up of this book was simple to follow and allowed for a lot of information about each different aspect of the ship and its people. The first section focus on the building of the ship and the people connected with its construction. The second section looked at the passengers, broken down by class and crew. The last section was the most difficult for me to read because it dealt with the sinking and the aftermath, both for those on the ship and those that had lost someone. It was heartbreaking to read and brought tears to my eyes.

This book was extremely well researched and detailed, but not to the point of reading more like an essay than a book. It brought an even more human element to the disaster. It’s one thing to know that so many people died, but this book brings to life those that sailed and passed away on that trip. It makes the tragedy even more real and important, even after 100 years.

I know this book isn’t for everyone, but if you’re looking for a book about the people of the Titanic, this is a great book to pick up and read.

Seriously…I’m Kidding by Ellen DeGeneres

I adore Ellen and I never miss an episode of her talk show. I love her talk on life and how she never really takes herself seriously. This book read like a collection of monologues from her show’s openings and while I was expecting a little bit more about her life in the past 8 years, I wasn’t disappointed.

She offers little pieces of advice she has learned along the way. It’s the little things that make her who she is and what everyone could benefit from, like just being happy with you. It’s a light read that made me feel good and happy and lighthearted all at the same time. I kept turning page after page because it was so sweet.

The one thing that brought the rating down was I felt this was a book written to be an audio-book and some of the chapters didn’t come across well when simply reading them. Unfortunately, I’m not a person that can make it through an audio-book. I need to read it myself. That’s where this book fell a little flat for me.

Overall, if you love Ellen’s brand of humor and are looking for a light read (or listen), this is a good book to pick up. It will make you smile the entire way through and while it doesn’t delve into Ellen’s personal life much, it still is a wonderful read.

Through My Eyes by Tim Tebow

I will be the first person to tell you I am not a Tim Tebow fan. The hype that has surrounded him in Colorado has been enough to drive me insane, and I’m pretty sure my friend gave this book to me as a joke. I read it anyway, and while I’m still not behind him as a Broncos quarterback, I have tremendous respect for him as a person.

I was a little worried going in that it would be too football heavy. While there were some references I didn’t understand in terms of plays, I was able to picture what he was describing in my head and follow along with what he was saying. As long as you have a basic knowledge of football, I think you’d be able to understand what he’s talking about.

I was also worried that it would be a little preachy. Thankfully, the way he wove the Bible references in wasn’t in your face and it really held the story together. I’m not a religious person, but I was able to see how he was influenced by God and respect it. He talks about how he uses his religion to make him stronger and motive himself to be the best person he can be, and yet to not let that go to his head. It’s honorable and it made me like him a little bit more as a person.

Even if you aren’t a fan of Tebow, or football in general, this is a great and inspiring book to read. I highly recommend reading this book if you’re looking for something to get you thinking about how you live your own life.

The Fatal Gift of Beauty: The Trials of Amanda Knox by Nina Burleigh

I started this book thinking it was be much more of a straight-forward, data-fueled read, but was surprised when it went much more in-depth than that. It looked at the culture and the people involved, more than just a presentation of the evidence.

I was completely engrossed in the book, sometimes rereading parts several times over so I could be sure I had the right image in my head. There was mention of Amanda’s life in Seattle and what her friends thought of her personality and character. The book looked at the differences in behavior between Italy and the US and how those differences affected how people viewed Amanda.

The book does lean towards Amanda’s innocence, but Burleigh does not allow that bias to get in the way of the presentation of the facts, only in how she then applies the facts looks at the difference theories. She did amazing research for this book, and it is a compelling, sometimes disturbing look at the Amanda Knox trial.

Bossypants by Tina Fey

I knew going into this book, if it truly was a reflection of Tine Fey, I would be laughing and loving it the entire way through. She is an amazing writer and comedian, and she got her words of advice and wisdom across like she was just talking to a friend, not someone who had just shelled out money to read her book.

Her sarcastic wit was prevalent throughout the book and made her stories even more relatable and funny. It felt like she was sitting across from me in a coffee shop, just telling stories and thoroughly enjoying herself. You could tell she takes herself just seriously enough to know who she is, but not too seriously. She knows who she is, and takes the struggles in her life and uses them to make her a better person.

I was laughing out loud several times during this book and I’m very happy I bought it. It’s a great book to have around if you ever have a bad day and need a little pick-me-up.

Surviving the Angel of Death: The Story of a Mengele Twin in Auschwitz by Eva Mozes Kor and Lisa Rojany Buccieri

I knew this was going to be a hard book. The subject is an unthinkable one, and it’s even harder to realize this actually happened to the author. It was written well for it’s intended audience, providing just enough information to tell her story, and yet not writing it in such a way that the children for which it’s intended wouldn’t be able to read it.

It’s the story of Eva Mozes Kor and her twin sister and how they survived being experiments for Mengele. They made it through the first “sorting” and would learn later the rest of their family had been killed. They were given, essentially, a “privileged” sort of life in the camp because nothing could happen to the twins that Mengele used, except whatever he would do to them himself.

It was an interesting and well written story, and Kor deserves much praise for being able to write about her experience.