My Squirrel Days Book Review

Goodreads Summary: Meet Ellie, the best-intentioned redhead next door. You’ll laugh right alongside her as she shares tales of her childhood in St. Louis, whether directing and also starring in her family holiday pageant, washing her dad’s car with a Brillo pad, failing to become friends with a plump squirrel in her backyard, eating her feelings while watching PG-13 movies, or becoming a “sports monster” who ends up warming the bench of her Division 1 field hockey team in college.

You’ll learn how she found her comedic calling in the world of improv, became a wife, mother and New Yorker, and landed the role of a bridesmaid (while simultaneously being a bridesmaid) in Bridesmaids. You’ll get to know and love the comic, upbeat, perpetually polite actress playing Erin Hannon on The Office, and the exuberant, pink-pants-wearing star of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.

Thoughts: I like listening to audiobooks that are read by the author, especially when the book is a biography or autobiography. I decided to read this one because of how much I enjoyed the show Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. I loved that the book was read by the author but I think that this made it so that I felt this was Kimmy Schmidt’s story not Ellie Kempers.

I had a hard time with this one because I wanted to enjoy it for what it was but I couldn’t get over how this read more like a biography of a fictional character. I’m not sure if that’s just because Ellie’s personality matches Kimmy or if that was not intentional. I found that there were some stories that were hilarious and moments that were ridiculous but then there were others that were just mundane stories.

Each of these stories are better told as short episodes on a tv show or as a collection of short stories. It’s like reading the daily life of just another person and I’m not so sure how entertaining that is. I kept listening until the end just because I thought her reading it made these stories funny. It felt like I was given more time with Kimmy Schmidt but I had to keep reminding myself this was a real person’s life.

I think those of you who enjoyed Kimmy Schmidt as a character would enjoy this story. You can get this book at Barnes and Noble or look for it at your local library.

The Perfect Predator: A Scientists Race to Save Her Husband from a Deadly Superbug: A Memoir Book Review

Summary: Epidemiologist Steffanie Strathdee and her husband Tom Patterson, were vacationing in Egypt when he came down with a stomach bug. Steffanie dosed Tom with an antibiotic and expected it to pass, but his condition turned critical. After Tom was medevacked back home, ICU doctors found out why: Tom was fighting the most lethal antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the world.

As Tom lay dying, Steffanie combed through decades-old research and resurrected a forgotten cure—but this drug was alive. Injecting it into him could kill or cure him. Allying with the FDA, and researchers around the world to save her husband before it was too late. The Perfect Predator is a true story of love and against-all-odds survival, detailing how Steffanie helped uncover the science behind what is now a powerful new weapon in the global superbug crisis. 

Thoughts: I love a good virus book and even better if its a non-fiction book because those are scarier. There’s nothing like the scare that real viruses cause and especially viruses that are drug resistant. I’ve started to listen to my virus books instead of reading the physical book because then I can dwell on each word as I hear them. I find them a lot more fearful and the emotions are stronger if I’m listening to someone tell their story.

This book captures both the fear that Tom’s wife felt as she watched him battle this drug resistant bacteria and the lack of understanding and fear that Tom feels as things happen to him. I enjoyed hearing each stage that Tom went through and Steph’s battle with this bacteria and her struggle to keep her hope up as she watched her husband at the edge of death. I liked that you were listening to both Tom and Steph’s perspective and how differently they both felt about this situation.

I thought it was fascinating to hear how these bacteria evolve and how they emerged; I liked thinking about how this story could have gone badly if Steph didn’t have the knowledge that she did. It’s scary that this can happen to anyone and if you aren’t educated on super bugs and don’t have the right connections you may not be able to recover. I really love how Steph acknowledges that they had privilege in the roles they had and in their access to the help they got.

I recommend this to those of you who enjoy non-fiction science related books or those of you who enjoy memoirs. It’s a great read for those of you who want some reality to put fear in you or want something to think about.

You can get this book at Barnes and Noble or look for it at your local library.

Midnight in Chernobyl Book Review

Goodreads Summary: April 25, 1986, in Chernobyl, was a turning point in world history. The disaster not only changed the world’s perception of nuclear power and the science that spawned it, but also our understanding of the planet’s delicate ecology. With the images of the abandoned homes and playgrounds beyond the barbed wire of the 30-kilometer Exclusion Zone, the rusting graveyards of contaminated trucks and helicopters, the farmland lashed with black rain, the event fixed for all time the notion of radiation as an invisible killer.

Chernobyl was also a key event in the destruction of the Soviet Union, and, with it, the United States’ victory in the Cold War. For Moscow, it was a political and financial catastrophe as much as an environmental and scientific one. With a total cost of 18 billion rubles—at the time equivalent to $18 billion—Chernobyl bankrupted an already teetering economy and revealed to its population a state built upon a pillar of lies.

The full story of the events that started that night in the control room of Reactor No.4 of the V.I. Lenin Nuclear Power Plant has never been told—until now. Through two decades of reporting, new archival information, and firsthand interviews with witnesses, journalist Adam Higginbotham tells the full dramatic story, including Alexander Akimov and Anatoli Dyatlov, who represented the best and worst of Soviet life; denizens of a vanished world of secret policemen, internal passports, food lines, and heroic self-sacrifice for the Motherland. Midnight in Chernobyl, award-worthy nonfiction that reads like sci-fi, shows not only the final epic struggle of a dying empire but also the story of individual heroism and desperate, ingenious technical improvisation joining forces against a new kind of enemy.

Thoughts: This book is my introduction to the events of Chernobyl, I am not too big on history so I don’t know much that isn’t taught in the history books. I thought that learning about this event was so fascinating and this book made me want to learn more about this and any other radiation events.

I tried to read the physical version of this book and I am so glad that an audio book version exists. Most non-fiction books if they have anything to do with STEM will catch my attention but they are hard for me to follow. The audio book version of this book made things easier for me and made this book enjoyable.

I really enjoyed how the book opened with the building of this plant and talked to you about the science behind everything before the explosion happens. I really enjoyed how descriptive this book was and how you could see what was happening as you listened to this book.

Something else that I found fascinating was hearing everyone’s individual stories and how invested these scientists were in this project. It was sad to see how people attempted to hide the reality of this event and why it happened. These stories and the reality of this event makes it a lot more devastating and I think it makes the results of this event much more frustrating.

While the results of this plant exploding were terrifying, they made me want to learn more about what exposure to radiation can do to people over time.

I recommend this to you who enjoy learning about historical events around the world or those who enjoy STEM non-fiction books. You can get this book at Barnes and Noble or look for it at your local library.

Crisis in the Red Zone by Richard Preston

I can’t do the summary justice so I borrowed this summary from GoodReads because you all need the whole scope of what this book is.

Summary: The 2013-2014 Ebola epidemic was the deadliest ever–but the outbreaks continue. Now comes a gripping account of the doctors and scientists fighting to protect us, an urgent wake-up call about the future of emerging viruses–from the #1 bestselling author of The Hot Zone, soon to be a National Geographic original miniseries.

This time, Ebola started with a two-year-old child who likely had contact with a wild creature and whose entire family quickly fell ill and died. The ensuing global drama activated health professionals in North America, Europe, and Africa in a desperate race against time to contain the viral wildfire. By the end–as the virus mutated into its deadliest form, and spread farther and faster than ever before–30,000 people would be infected, and the dead would be spread across eight countries on three continents.

In this taut and suspenseful medical drama, Richard Preston deeply chronicles the outbreak, in which we saw for the first time the specter of Ebola jumping continents, crossing the Atlantic, and infecting people in America. Rich in characters and conflict–physical, emotional, and ethical–Crisis in the Red Zone is an immersion in one of the great public health calamities of our time.

Preston writes of doctors and nurses in the field putting their own lives on the line, of government bureaucrats and NGO administrators moving, often fitfully, to try to contain the outbreak, and of pharmaceutical companies racing to develop drugs to combat the virus. He also explores the charged ethical dilemma over who should and did receive the rare doses of an experimental treatment when they became available at the peak of the disaster.

Crisis in the Red Zone makes clear that the outbreak of 2013-2014 is a harbinger of further, more severe outbreaks, and of emerging viruses heretofore unimagined–in any country, on any continent. In our ever more interconnected world, with roads and towns cut deep into the jungles of equatorial Africa, viruses both familiar and undiscovered are being unleashed into more densely populated areas than ever before.

The more we discover about the virosphere, the more we realize its deadly potential. Crisis in the Red Zone is an exquisitely timely book, a stark warning of viral outbreaks to come.

Thoughts: How do I begin to explain my love for all things Ebola? Or even try to express my love for all bio-hazard books by Richard Preston? As soon as I knew he wrote a new book and specifically about the 2013-2014 Ebola outbreak I knew I had to read it. This was an outbreak that frustrated me, caused me many sleepless nights, and then terrified me as it made its way into the U.S. I thought I knew of the dangers this virus posed to all of us. This was about an outbreak that I followed, this was a story that I thought I knew so well but was wrong.

This is just as great if not better than The Hot Zone which is my favorite book of all time. When I first read The Hot Zone it felt like a fictional story or another world I was being privy to so when this came out I couldn’t wait to read it. Ebola is the scariest thing in the world to me so reading about it terrifies me.

I love the way that Richard Preston tells the story of the doctors and nurses who risked their lives to treat their own and their patients. He really gives us some insight into their stories and so many of the behind the scenes things we didnt know about. I just love how his writing makes me feel like I’m reading a fiction story and have to remind myself that this is real. These are real people and others lives.

I think one of the most amazing things to learn about was the politics behind the two Americans who got the treatment to save them. That’s a story I remember so well on the news and recall my feelings toward it and this made me rethink that whole situation.

This was one that once I finished I wanted to go back and listen to it over and over again. It’s one that even if I already listened to it I would read it in physical book format or e-book format. It’s one that I want all the reading experiences with.

I highly recommend this to those of you who enjoy non fiction or who enjoy a good thriller/horror book. There is nothing scarier than the things that are actually happening around the world and imagining what happens if they reach us.

You can find this book at Barnes and Noble or look for it at your local library.

The Witches Are Coming Book Review

Thank you to Hachette Books and Shelf Awareness for the advanced copy of the book in exchange for my review.

Summary: (Borrowed from Barnes and Noble) From the moment powerful men started falling to the #MeToo movement, the lamentations began: this is feminism gone too far, this is injustice, this is a witch hunt. In The Witches Are Coming, firebrand author of the New York Times bestselling memoir and now critically acclaimed Hulu TV series Shrill, Lindy West, turns that refrain on its head. You think this is a witch hunt? Fine. You’ve got one.

In a laugh-out-loud, incisive cultural critique, West extolls the world-changing magic of truth, urging readers to reckon with dark lies in the heart of the American mythos, and unpacking the complicated, and sometimes tragic, politics of not being a white man in the 21st century. She tracks the misogyny and propaganda hidden (or not so hidden) in the media she and her peers devoured growing up, a buffet of distortions, delusions, prejudice, and outright bullsh*t that has allowed white male mediocrity to maintain a death grip on American culture and politics–and that delivered us to this precarious, disorienting moment in history.

Thoughts: This book was one I was worried wouldnt keep my attention or that the humor would be something I couldn’t grasp. You see satire and irony are the two types of humor that can be hit or miss for me. I was pleasantly surprised though and really enjoyed this book. I found so many aspects of it relatable and because of that it had it’s funny moments.

I loved how each chapter was a different topic but they all tied together well. I really enjoyed how it wasnt just a humorous book but I learned something in each chapter. I was forced to stop and think about things that I thought I hadn’t formed an opinion about.

I loved that it was dark humor. I liked that some of these were not things people find funny. And how the most humorous things were that it was sarcastic. So much of it was funny because it’s TRUE.

I recommend this book to everyone because I think woman can find some solidarity in these essays and everyone else can learn some compassion.

You can get this book at Barnes and Noble or look for it at your local library.