The Fashion Lovers Guide to Milan by Rachael Martin Book Review

Author Information

Rachael Martin is a British writer who has lived just north of Milan for over twenty years. She writes about travel, culture, the arts, and food in Italy for online and print publications. She has a special interest in the city of Milan and its fashion history, and in the stories of the women involved.

Book Description

Milan is the European fashion capital with one of the world’s most unique luxury fashion districts where the leaders of some of the most exclusive fashion houses are still living and working today. It’s the Italian city whose skyline has changed more than any, and whose fashion industry has extended to encompass the worlds of design, restaurants, bars, exhibition spaces, hotels and more. Whether you’re looking for designer labels within the city’s luxury fashion district, prefer to browse the city’s boutiques or pick up some quality vintage at the city’s vintage shops and markets, this is the guide that will tell you where to go.

Split into geographical sections along with relevant maps, cultural highlights and suggestions for where to eat and drink, it places Milan as the city of fashion within the context of Italian fashion history and a city, and brings the stories of its people to life. Why did Milan become Italy’s fashion capital? And what does it offer the fashion lover as a city today? 

Review

Thank you to Casemate Publisher for the copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Just from reading the introduction of this book, it made me want to read more and also go on my own trip to Milan. I loved how the author eases you into the book and how you get a glimpse of how important writing this book is to her.

Something that I like about this book is that it isn’t just giving you current Milan fashion, it goes through the history of fashion in Milan. I also really like how within each section of this book, it has even pieces included to tie the chapter together. I also really like how this gives different places to shop depending on the style of clothing that you are looking for. This book also includes different places in which you are able to get different meals which was great to read about.

Something else that I like about this book is that you can jump around while reading it. There is no need to go from one section to the next, you can read the portions that you are interested in and save some for later. I skipped around a bit while reading this and glimpsed over the historical pieces but still found the book just as great as when I went back and read the pieces I skipped or skimmed.

While I am not a person who is big into fashion, I did find this book easy to follow along, and found different brands to look into and places in Milan that would be cool to visit. I think this book is great for fashion lovers as well as those of us who might not be too familiar with the fashion world. I highly recommend this book to those of you who might want to explore Milan’s fashion along with their food. I also think this is a great way to explore another country right now during this pandemic where travel might not be possible for all of us.

What Fresh Hell Is This? by Heather Corinna Book Review

Author Information

Heather Corinna is an insufferable queer and nonbinary feminist activist, author, educator, artist, organizer, and innovator. They’re the founder, director, designer and editor of the web clearinghouse and organization Scarleteen, the first comprehensive sex, sexuality and relationships education site and resource of its kind. Heather and the team at Scarleteen have provided millions of young people accurate, inclusive information and support for over two decades. They’re often tired.

Heather’s also the author of the inclusive, comprehensive and progressive sex, sexual health and relationships book for young adults, S.E.X: The All-You-Need-To-Know Sexuality Guide to Get You Through Your Teens and Twenties (Hachette, 2006, 2017), now in its second edition; and, with Isabella Rotman and Luke Howard, Wait, What?: A Comic Book Guide to Relationships, Bodies, and Growing Up (Oni Press/Lion Forge, 2019), for older middle readers and younger teen. They’ve been an early childhood educator, a sexuality, contraception and abortion educator and counselor, a member of the editorial board for the American Journal of Sexuality Education and the Board of Directors for NARAL Pro-Choice Washington; a writer and contributing editor for the 2011 edition of Our Bodies, Ourselves, and a plaintiff for the ACLU where they eventually got to stick it to the Bush administration, which was one of their Best Days Ever. By working themselves to a pulp, Heather has won acclaim and several awards in their field, and a lot of places and people say they’re awesome. Some do not.

They’re navigating middle age and all it entails with as much grace as they can muster (spoiler: not much), and currently, and begrudgingly, live and work in their hometown of Chicago after 20 years away. When not locked in a small room feverishly writing a book in a pandemic or otherwise overindulging in labor, Heather hangs out with their dog, partner and friends, goes outside, makes and geeks out about music, cooks, babies houseplants, and tries to enjoy the purportedly existential theater of life. 

Book Description

An informative, blisteringly funny, somewhat cranky and always spot-on guide to perimenopause and menopause by the award-winning sex ed/health educator and author of S.E.X.
If you don’t know award-winning sex educator and all-around badass Heather Corinna, let them introduce themselves and their new book:
“I’m going to do what I’ve done for millions of people of all ages with sex and relationships: to simplify and share solid, explicit information, to provide support and be sensitive, and to help make everyone feel less alone and get us all through hard, thorny, touchy stuff so we can make it to the other side. I’m going to do this in a similar way I’ve done it for sex and relationships in my work over the last couple decades for young people and adults alike: by talking out loud, shamelessly and frankly, about what others are afraid or ashamed to, much in the way your favorite loudmouth aunt might have if she made this kind of stuff her life’s work and if your family also didn’t always apparently forget to invite her to everything.”
Corinna has been on the cutting edge of health for more than twenty years, always talking about what people are most afraid, ashamed, or embarrassed of. What Fresh Hell Is This? is no different. It’s a companion for everyone who’s reached this “what to expect when you’re not expected to expect anything” time of life. It’s a health-forward, feminist, no b.s. (and damn funny) perimenopause guide for the generation that time forgot (aka GenXers), offering straightforward descriptions of our bodies, minds, lives and what’s going on with them during this time of hormonal chaos. Heather Corinna tells you what to expect and what to do, all while busting some myths and offering real self-care tips so you can get through this. With practical, clear information that also includes affected populations who have long been left out of the discussion, like those with disabilities, queer, transgender, nonbinary and other gender-diverse people, the working class and other marginalized folks, What Fresh Hell Is This? an accessible and inclusive guide for anyone who is experiencing the hot fire of perimenopause.

Review

Since this book is non-fiction, there is no need for me to have this separated into characters and writing style. I was quite surprised with how much I enjoyed this book as I was worried it wouldn’t be relevant to me.

I really liked the way that this book was written and how everything is separated into different chapters based on what is being discussed. I liked how this book talked about a lot of the changes that happen with menopause and not just what happens to the reproductive system. I was quite surprised about the many things that people who may go through menopause don’t know about their bodies. I shared a copy of this book with my mom and kept one for myself so I can reference it in the future.

Something else that I really enjoyed about this book was how the language that is used throughout this book is gender neutral. As someone who is non-binary and one day will experience menopause, it was nice to not have this tied to being a woman. There was no point in this book that I felt like they were not including me in the group of people who experience that phenomenon.

I highly recommend this to those of you who may experience menopause, who are currently experiencing menopause, and those of you who want to better understand those of us who go through menopause. There was so much that I learned through reading this book and a lot of things that I was amazed by. I think its very important to be familiar with the changes that happen to your body so you are prepared when they come.

Better Not Bitter: Living on Purpose in the Pursuit of Racial Justice by Yusef Salaam

Author Information

In 1989, at just fifteen years young, Dr. Yusef Salaam was tried and convicted in the “Central Park Jogger” case along with four other Black and Latinx young men. The Exonerated Five spent between seven to 13 years behind bars for crimes they did not commit, until their sentences were overturned in 2002. Since then, they have received a multi-million dollar settlement from the city of New York for its injustice and have been profiled in award-winning films, including The Central Park Five documentary from Ken Burns, Sarah Burns and David McMahon and most recently the Emmy award-winning Netflix limited series When They See Us, written and directed by Ava DuVernay.

Over the past two decades, Yusef has become a family man, father, poet, activist and inspirational speaker. He continues to utilize his platform to share his story with others and educate the public about the impact of mass incarceration and police brutality rooted in our justice system. He regularly advocates for criminal justice reform, prison reform and the abolition of juvenile solitary confinement and capital punishment, specifically restoring “humanity” of those incarcerated and those trodden down by the spike wheels of justice.

Yusef is the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award from President Barack Obama (2016) and more recently has shared his story and stance on current issues on CNN, MSNBC, REVOLT TV, NPR Atlanta, FOX and more.

Book Description

This inspirational memoir serves as a call to action from prison reform activist Yusef Salaam, of the Exonerated Five, that will inspire us all to turn our stories into tools for change in the pursuit of racial justice.

They didn’t know who they had.

Better Not Bitter is the first time that one of the now Exonerated Five is telling his individual story, in his own words. Yusef writes his narrative: growing up Black in central Harlem in the ’80s, being raised by a strong, fierce mother and grandmother, his years of incarceration, his reentry, and exoneration. Yusef connects these stories to lessons and principles he learned that gave him the power to survive through the worst of life’s experiences. He inspires readers to accept their own path, to understand their own sense of purpose. With his intimate personal insights, Yusef unpacks the systems built and designed for profit and the oppression of Black and Brown people. He inspires readers to channel their fury into action, and through the spiritual, to turn that anger and trauma into a constructive force that lives alongside accountability and mobilizes change.

So begins Yusef Salaam telling his story. No one’s life is the sum of the worst things that happened to them, and during Yusef Salaam’s seven years of wrongful incarceration as one of the Central Park Five, he grew from child to man, and gained a spiritual perspective on life. Yusef learned that we’re all “born on purpose, with a purpose.” Despite having confronted the racist heart of America while being “run over by the spiked wheels of injustice,” Yusef channeled his energy and pain into something positive, not just for himself but for other marginalized people and communities.

This memoir is an inspiring story that grew out of one of the gravest miscarriages of justice, one that not only speaks to a moment in time or the rage-filled present, but reflects a 400-year history of a nation’s inability to be held accountable for its sins. Yusef Salaam’s message is vital for our times, a motivating resource for enacting change. Better, Not Bitter has the power to soothe, inspire and transform. It is a galvanizing call to action.

Review

Thank you to Grand Central Publishing for an advanced copy of this book in exchange for my review. This book is coming to shelves near you on May 18, 2021 or you can go ahead and pre-order it now at:

Amazon ~ Barnes and Noble ~ IndieBound ~ Indigo

Thoughts and Themes: This is another book that I can’t review in the same way I tend to review others. Honestly I find memoirs so hard to review because you can’t really review someone’s life. All I can really discuss with memoirs is the writing style and my feelings as I read through it. This is one that I really hope you all pick up and I will be recommending this to family which I rarely do.

If you enjoyed watching When They See Us on Netflix then I guarantee that you will enjoy reading this story. This not only gives you one of the exonerated five’s stories through the Central Park Five case but it shows you who Yusef was as a boy and who he is now as he is out of prison.

This book includes many of Yusef’s raw emotions and thoughts as the whole thing happens. I like that he mentions needing to get younger Yusef in order to really write this story. I thought it was greatly written because you see how Yusef wants to feel about everything but how he struggles with it all.

There is so much that I want to say about this book and how important it is but I don’t have the words to express myself. I thought it was important that Yusef talked about how naïve he was and how he also played into the notion that racism was in the past. I thought this was such an important part of the story and it resonated with me. I also was someone who thought racism wasn’t a thing anymore and my dad would explain otherwise but I didn’t believe it until I went to a private university and saw what my dad had been talking about.

I did put this book down several times because you can’t read this without pausing to take things in. You need to pause in order to really listen to this story and what Yusef is saying, there is no breezing through a book like this. I thought it was important that Yusef touches on the injustices that he faced and how these are injustices that all Black people have faced. I thought it was important that he discusses the prison industrial system and the inherent racism of that system. This book touches upon so many different subjects and I think it is important to learn about these things through non-fiction as we are given different and often times new perspectives.

Survival of the Thickest: Essays by Michelle Buteau Book Review

Author Information

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – NOVEMBER 10: Michelle Buteau attends the 2019 Glamour Women Of The Year Summit at Alice Tully Hall on November 10, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images for Glamour)

Michelle Buteau was born on July 24, 1977 in Hamilton Township, New Jersey, USA. She is an actress and writer, known for Always Be My Maybe (2019), Happiest Season (2020) and Isn’t It Romantic (2019). She has been married to Gijs van der Most since July 31, 2010. They have two children.

Book Description

If you’ve watched television or movies in the past year, you’ve seen Michelle Buteau. With scene-stealing roles in Always Be My MaybeFirst Wives ClubSomeone GreatRussian Doll, and Tales of the City; a reality TV show and breakthrough stand-up specials, including her headlining show Welcome to Buteaupia on Netflix, and two podcasts (Late Night Whenever and Adulting), Michelle’s star is on the rise. You’d be forgiven for thinking the road to success—or adulthood or financial stability or self-acceptance or marriage or motherhood—has been easy; but you’d be wrong.

Now, in Survival of the Thickest, Michelle reflects on growing up Caribbean, Catholic, and thick in New Jersey, going to college in Miami (where everyone smells like pineapple), her many friendship and dating disasters, working as a newsroom editor during 9/11, getting started in standup opening for male strippers, marrying into her husband’s Dutch family, IVF and surrogacy, motherhood, chosen family, and what it feels like to have a full heart, tight jeans, and stardom finally in her grasp.

Review

Thank you to Libro.fm for the advanced listening copy of this book in exchange for my review.

Thoughts and Themes: This review is a little different from my others because this book is different from what I usually read. For non-fiction books there really is no commenting on characters because there is none especially in a memoir. I love every memoir by a comedian that I have read to this date because they have the humor in each portion of their memoir, even in the moments that are meant to be sad.

I love how this book is separated into different essays that talk about different portions and aspects of Michelle’s life. I really enjoy reading memoirs from comedians when I don’t know them because the memoir tends to make me want to watch their acts. I only got through two of the essays and am already loving it and can’t wait to listen to the whole thing. I’m so interested in hearing more of this book and learning more about her through this book.

There are so many moments that I was just laughing or having to pause because my mom walked past and there was some inappropriate language. I don’t mind that but I don’t want my mom to question my reading choices, lol. I want to comment on each essay that is included in this book but then this review would go on forever.

I love that Michelle talks about the real things and doesn’t sugar coat anything. I really like her essay “Survival of the Thickest ” and its commentary on what we tell Big girls. I liked how she talks about what it is like to have a larger body as a child and how she was treated. She doesn’t go easy on this topic and she lays out her feelings right on those pages. I love how she talks about the shops that make her feel like worthy. I could go on and on on the relatability of this chapter.

There are so many other essays in this book that I really enjoy, I really liked the commentary that she made on the Catholic church. I related so much to this and loved what her stance was and how she kept her friends a part of the whole ceremony even if her family would’ve preferred otherwise.

Something that I think people may have issues with is that she brings her humor to even the hardest moments of her life. I think when reading you need to understand that this is the way she is comfortable with sharing this very intimate parts of herself with you as the reader. I was very appreciative of the fact that she was willing to share these moments with us.

The Genome Odyssey by Euan Angus Ashley Book Review

Author Information

Euan Ashley is a professor of medicine and genetics at Stanford University. He was born in Scotland and graduated from the University of Glasgow. He attended Oxford University, completing a Ph.D. there before moving to Stanford University, where he trained in cardiology and genetics. After joining the faculty, he led the team that carried out the first medical interpretation of a human genome. Ashley has received innovation awards from the National Institutes of Health and the American Heart Association. He was recognized by the Obama White House and received the Medal of Honor from the American Heart Association.

Dr. Ashley’s articles have appeared in many journals, including the Lancet, the New England Journal of Medicine, the Journal of the American Medical Association, Nature, and Cell. He appears regularly on local and national radio and TV. He is the founder of three companies and advisor to several well known Silicon Valley companies. With three young children, he spends his spare time trying to understand American football, play the saxophone, and conduct research on the health benefits of single malt Scotch whisky.

Book Description

Since the Human Genome Project was completed in 2003, the price of genome sequencing has dropped at a staggering rate. It’s as if the price of a Ferrari went from $350,000 to a mere forty cents. Through breakthroughs made by Dr. Ashley’s team at Stanford and other dedicated groups around the world, analyzing the human genome has decreased from a heroic multibillion dollar effort to a single clinical test costing less than $1,000.

For the first time we have within our grasp the ability to predict our genetic future, to diagnose and prevent disease before it begins, and to decode what it really means to be human.

In The Genome Odyssey, Dr. Ashley details the medicine behind genome sequencing with clarity and accessibility. More than that, with passion for his subject and compassion for his patients, he introduces readers to the dynamic group of researchers and doctor detectives who hunt for answers, and to the pioneering patients who open up their lives to the medical community during their search for diagnoses and cures.

He describes how he led the team that was the first to analyze and interpret a complete human genome, how they broke genome speed records to diagnose and treat a newborn baby girl whose heart stopped five times on the first day of her life, and how they found a boy with tumors growing inside his heart and traced the cause to a missing piece of his genome.

These patients inspire Dr. Ashley and his team as they work to expand the boundaries of our medical capabilities and to envision a future where genome sequencing is available for all, where medicine can be tailored to treat specific diseases and to decode pathogens like viruses at the genomic level, and where our medical system as we know it has been completely revolutionized.

Review

Thank you to Celadon Books for the advanced copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

I decided to do this one differently than how I normally write my reviews because it is a non fiction book. I didn’t want to talk about characters even if there are some because that wouldn’t tell you much about the book. I will comment on each part of this book as well a the writing style because I think that’s more important when deciding if you want to read this book.

This is a book that I believe you could decide only to read a part of it and still get something out of it. You might be a little confused when you start on a different part but I think you’ll be intrigued enough that you’ll want to go back and read other parts.

Part One

This part of the book is an introduction to the team and how they became a part of this team. You get to meet different people through each of the chapters and get to know their backstory. I really enjoyed getting to know more about these people and their motivations behind working with genomes. I thought it was important for the book to open with this introduction so that as you continue reading you know who is who. You also know why they are working together and what it is that each of them specifically do.

Part Two

This part gives you a brief overview of some of the patients that the group introduced to you in part one is working on and with. This portion of the book is showing you how genome medicine is basically detective work and how each of the cases they were given were solved. This portion is really interesting because you hear about people who have been searching for an answer to their ailments for so long and finally have their answer. It was so interesting to see what those answers were and how they wouldn’t have a solution without genome medicine. I also thought that this section really showed the importance of having this type of medicine available to everyone and not just the select few who could afford it.

Part Three

This portion focuses on the author’s cardiac patients and the stories that he found most important to tell. This is actually my favorite portion of this book because you can feel the author’s emotions coming through on the page. Each chapter tells the story of a different cardiac patient of the author and you get wrapped up in the story right from the start of each chapter, wanting to know what happens to this patient.

Part Four

This portion of the book focuses on the future of genetic medicine and how looking at “superhumans” can help make other people just as “super.” The author focuses on new efforts on genome sequencing and advancing in curing genetic diseases. I winded up skimming through this part of the book as I didn’t find it as intriguing as the rest of it. This part was a bit hard to follow and it didn’t seem to flow as well as the others parts.

Writing Style: This book is told in four parts and takes stories that the author has along with stories that he borrows from the other people involved in this project. I really liked how this book is separated into four parts and found that the way it separates is done well.

Who’s Your Daddy Book Tour Post

Thank You to Poetic Book Tours for allowing me to be on this book tour to let others know about this book coming out March 2021.

Author Description

ARISA WHITE is a Cave Canem fellow, Sarah Lawrence College alumna, an MFA graduate from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and author of the poetry chapbooks Disposition for Shininess, Post Pardon, Black Pearl, Perfect on Accident, and “Fish Walking” & Other Bedtime Stories for My Wife won the inaugural Per Diem Poetry Prize. Published by Virtual Artists Collective, her debut full-length collection, Hurrah’s Nest, was a finalist for the 2013 Wheatley Book Awards, 82nd California Book Awards, and nominated for a 44th NAACP Image Awards. Her second collection, A Penny Saved, inspired by the true-life story of Polly Mitchell, was published by Willow Books, an imprint of Aquarius Press in 2012. Her latest full-length collection, You’re the Most Beautiful Thing That Happened, was published by Augury Books and nominated for the 29th Lambda Literary Awards. Most recently, Arisa co-authored, with Laura Atkins, Biddy Mason Speaks Up, a middle-grade biography in verse on the midwife and philanthropist Bridget “Biddy” Mason, which is the second book in the Fighting for Justice series. She is currently co-editing, with Miah Jeffra and Monique Mero, the anthology Home is Where You Queer Your Heart, which will be published by Foglifter Press in 2021. And forthcoming in February 2021, from Augury Books, her poetic memoir Who’s Your Daddy.

Book Description

Who’s Your Daddy is a lyrical genre-bending coming-of-age tale featuring a young, queer, black Guyanese American woman who, while seeking to define her own place in the world, negotiates an estranged relationship with her father.

Who’s Your Daddy?, a hybrid memoir combining poetry and creative nonfiction, is a meditation on paternal absences, intergenerational trauma, and toxic masculinity. Who’s Your Daddy? asks us to consider how the relationships we are born into can govern us, even through absence, and shape the dynamics we find and forge as we grow. White lyrically moves across distance and time, from Brooklyn to California to Guyana. Her book enacts rituals that plumb the interior reaches of the heart to assemble disconnected and estranged parts into something whole, tender, and strong. 

Review

Thoughts and Themes: This review was a little difficult to write as this type of story telling is one that I had not read before. I have read memoirs in the past but I had not read one that used the methods that this book has used. I really liked the way that this book makes you think about how relationships dictate so many aspects of our lives as we watch relationships change the narrative in this memoir.

Something that I really like about the way that this story is being told is how it feels like a conversation with someone. This memoir feels like the narrator is sitting down to tell you this story which made it so that this story felt a lot more relatable.

Characters: There is one main character throughout this book even as she talks about others that come along in her journey. The main character is the same person who is narrating this story and it was nice to be able to connect to the story teller in a different method.

Writing Style: I really enjoyed how each poem is kept on a separate page so that the story flows really well. I thought that the choice to have a portion of the first sentence in bold was a great way to give you a glance at what the focus of this poem was going to be. I thought that this was an interesting way to write a memoir and really liked the way that poetry was combined with creative nonfiction.

I recommend this to those of you who enjoy reading memoirs and may want a new way of reading them.

Surpassing Certainty Book Review

Goodreads Summary: The journey begins a few months before her twentieth birthday. Janet Mock is adjusting to her days as a first-generation college student at the University of Hawaii and her nights as a dancer at a strip club. Finally content in her body, she vacillates between flaunting and concealing herself as she navigates dating and disclosure, sex and intimacy, and most important, letting herself be truly seen. Under the neon lights of Club Nu, Janet meets Troy, a yeoman stationed at Pearl Harbor naval base, who becomes her first. The pleasures and perils of their union serve as a backdrop for Janet’s progression through her early twenties with all the universal growing pains—falling in and out of love, living away from home, and figuring out what she wants to do with her life.

Despite her disadvantages, fueled by her dreams and inimitable drive, Janet makes her way through New York City while holding her truth close. She builds a career in the highly competitive world of magazine publishing—within the unique context of being trans, a woman, and a person of color.

Long before she became one of the world’s most respected media figures and lauded leaders for equality and justice, Janet was a girl taking the time she needed to just be—to learn how to advocate for herself before becoming an advocate for others. As you witness Janet’s slow-won success and painful failures, Surpassing Certainty will embolden you, shift the way you see others, and affirm your journey in search of self.

Thoughts: I read Janet Mock’s Redefining Realness a few years ago and knew that I had to read this one immediately. It has taken me a while to get back to this book but I am so glad that I returned to it. I decided to listen to it on audio while following along with the book and that was a great choice.

Autobiographies as memoirs are something that are a little difficult to review as I don’t want to review someone’s life. I did want to speak about this one though as I think it is something that is so important to read. I learned just as much from this book as I learned from Janet Mock’s other book.

As I listened this book I paused it many times to put a sticky note in the physical book. There were so many important parts shared and so many things to think about.

Part One: This section of this book talks about Janet Mock’s time during her undergraduate years and her years as she begins her first serious relationship. She also talks a little about the time that she worked at a strip club and lets you know about her family.

I really enjoy how Janet Mock talks about the idea of found family and includes those people throughout her book. She talks about the woman who work with her at the strip club and the owner of the club who took her in. I like how she also includes pieces about her immediate family and how supportive they were of her even if they didn’t always know how to support her.

Janet Mock discusses what being in a relationship as a Trans woman was like for her and the first serious relationship that she is involved in. I like how she slowly reveals who she is to Troy. I like getting to hear about her time dating Troy and how she feels about this relationship. I like hearing about how she slowly begins to date others and enter the dating scene.

I also really like the way she explains her Trans identity to herself and others. I love how she slowly explains the way that she identifies and how she didn’t want to claim her identity as a Trans woman. I think it was important that she talks about consent and access to her body. I thought it was important to learn about the ways in which she gave consent to others regarding her body and how that consent also transferred into her consent of letting others know she is a trans woman.

Part Two: In this portion of the book Janet Mock talks more about her time in graduate school in New York. She discusses what it was like for her to not only be surrounded by whiteness in the city but also being one of five Black girls in her graduate program.

I love the way she discusses her feelings towards this and particularly how she points out that she felt these 5 Black girls “weren’t there for their education but to provide their peers a diverse learning experience.” I thought this was such an important statement and something to really think about. It reminds me of how often time people of color and even more so Black people in a classroom are expected to educate their peers on diversity, inclusion, and racism.

I liked how she included a piece about her in therapy and how that started her writing journey. I thought that piece was so important to destigmatize therapy and bring attention to mental health. I thought it was important that she points out how valuable therapy can be for people of color.

I found it interesting to learn about how she looked away from activism and advocacy work. I thought it was great to learn why she didn’t want to do that work and wanted to forge a different path for herself. She talks about her first jobs about graduation and also her time in publishing. I loved learning about how she came to advocate for herself and how that advocacy shifted into activism for all.

Narrator and Writing Style: I loved listening to this book as the person who is reading the book is the author of the book. When authors read their stories the experience feels a lot more intimate and reminds me that they are letting me into their lives. It was a privilege to be able to hear about this portion of Janet Mock’s life and how it contributed to the person she has become.

Each chapter flows into each other so well and no transition between different portions of her life are needed. I like how we find out more about Janet Mock through each chapter and we get to learn more about how she feels. I like how we slowly get to see her grow into herself and grow around others.

You can get this book at Eso Won Books or look for it at your local library.

Panorama by Ross Victory Book Review

Goodreads Summary: After enduring a severe panic attack which left the author attached to breathing machines around foreign doctors in South Korea, Panorama–the bonus chapter for the memoir, Views from the Cockpit: The Journey of a Son, expands on the author’s experiences working and living abroad in Seoul, South Korea.

After a friendship ignites and morphs into an awe-struck, curious tale of parallel souls with a Brazilian-American soldier serving in the military at the North Korean border protecting South Korea from Kim Jong-il, Panorama reflects on the author’s contemplations to return to a crumbling family life in Los Angeles or to endure his life in Seoul for an end-of-contract cash payout.

In Panorama, the author broadens his stance on the importance of moments spotlighting loneliness and exposing the perks and ailments of escapism. With precise prose and a thought-provoking connected storyline that covers eating living octopus, philosophical debates about the gender of God, and a surprise pregnancy, Panorama, stands tall as a connected yet separate, compelling story. The author reminds us again, that as daunting as the vicissitudes of life, and no matter the view from the cockpit of life, the human spirit cannot be restrained in loss, or love, and strives to be unbroken–and free

Thoughts: Thank you to the author for a copy of the book in exchange for my review.

I think its always great to read memoirs written by people you know and not just famous people you admire. I love how you get to know the person on a deeper level and learn intimate parts of their lives. This was a book that I couldn’t put down once I started reading it.

You know how writing can be a form of therapy for people, this book feels like thats exactly what it was for the author. That was something that I really liked about this book as you can see as the author processes each scene and different events of his life. I like that you can feel a sense of relief at the close of each chapter and there’s a transition to a new event or moment in his life.

Something else I really enjoy about this book is how each chapter gives me a different scene. Each chapter slowly brings me through Ross’s time in Korea as if you are watching this play out in real time. I love the banter between the people who are in the story and the humor that is included throughout the book.

I love the love story that it opens with where its as if nothing can go wrong. I really enjoyed reading the relationship that Ross has with Alvi and seeing how that develops and changes. I love the vulnerability that you get from both of these men in the text messages that they exchange with each other.

I feel that society has not allowed Black men to show a range of emotions much less fear and sadness. Even more so feelings that they have towards each other that are complex and have so much history to their actions towards each other. Because of this I found that the scenes in which these two Black men are real and vulnerable with each other are powerful.

I think it was interesting to read the perspective of someone who is Black, bisexual male. I thought it was interesting to read what Ross’s thought about his sexuality were when he first realized he was bisexual and how he felt being in the middle.

Something that i found unique about this book was the explanation of the author’s views at the end. This book transitions from being a snipit of the author’s life into a series of essays on gender, sexuality, race and the intersections between them. If you aren’t interested in those portions though you can skip them and still get a good experience from the book.

I thought that was a great and interesting way to close as it leaves you thinking about sexuality and the intersection of sexuality, gender and race. While I did like the way that it closed I do think that it is something that you have to sit with and maybe read more than once to really understand what he is saying.

As I read the end I thought about how when I identified as female and came out as bisexual at 13 it was fine not just for me but also for others who I came out to. Then when I came to the realization that I’m a trans boy and non binary, I felt that the label was no longer okay for me. I shuffled through trying to find other terms or shift my sexuality somehow because I knew a bisexual boy was not something society was okay with. It wasn’t until this year when I really decided that I’m bisexual and was okay with that label again.

You can get this book on Amazon starting June 21st, you can also get his first book Views from the Cockpit: The Journey of a Son from Eso Won Books.

Hollywood Park ARC Book Review

Thoughts: Thank you to Celadon Books for the advanced copy of this book in exchange for my review.

Memoirs are a little difficult to review as I can’t really rate them on their characters or the plot. It isn’t as if those are features that could have been changed in the person’s life. What I can talk about though is the writing style and the way the story is told.

This memoir is split up into four parts each one documenting a different portion of Mike’s life. Each of these different parts are written with a distinguishable tone which is quite enjoyable.

Escape: This portion of the memoir tells you the story of Synanon and what it was like for Mikel and his brother to live there. This portion is told through the eyes of a very young, naive child who is still learning about the world. You start to get an idea about the relationships that Mikel has with others and the role that certain people play in his life.

Oregon: This portion of the book changes tones and it is like Mikel has suddenly matured and grown wiser. He is still a child and there is so much left for him to learn but often times he plays the role of an adult. In this portion of the book Mikel gets to know his father and that side of his family which changes his personality and his relationship with others. I really enjoy this portion of the book as we learn more about Mikel and start to see some changes for him. This is the point in which Mikel feels as if he is responsible for taking care of his mother and you see him grow up much quicker than a child should have to.

California: This portion of the book where there is a major shift for all of the characters as Mike goes to live with his dad and his dad’s partner in California. There is a major shift in Mike’s behavior at this point in the book as he becomes a teenager and wants to be accepted by his brother. The tone in this portion shifts as we are now hearing this story from a teen rather than a child.

This is the portion of the book that I felt told most of the story and where the story really picks up. This was the portion of the book that kept me reading and really wanting to know what happened to Mikel and his family. I liked how the tone gradually shifts throughout this section of the book as Mikel grows up physically and also mentally. The end of this section is where I put down the book to have all my feelings.

Hollywood Park: In this part of the book Mikel grows up and away from his past. The tone of the book drastically shifts and sounds like a mature young adult telling his story. He walks you through his time in college as he learns about his past and makes sense of his life. I enjoy how this portion is told and how you feel Mikel’s emotions along with him. I like how he walks you through his thought process as he figures everything out.

Overall: I really enjoy how the majority of this book is told through the perspective of a child. The story reads as if a child is recalling these events as best as he can. I really enjoy that because it is as if the story is happening real time. While the story is being told as a child, I like that as the child grows older so does the narrator. You can feel the shift in age and also in mindset as things occur throughout the book.

Something else that I liked is how the story is told in chronological order and doesn’t jump around. I like the way each chapter is organized around a specific point in time or a specific event. It was also helpful that each section had a different tone and the narrators language shifted. I liked that you could track the time passing as things happened.

You can get this book at Eso Won Books or look for it at your local library.

Devolution Book Review

Summary: As the ash and chaos from Mount Rainier’s eruption swirled and finally settled, the story of the Greenloop massacre has passed unnoticed, unexamined . . . until now.

But the journals of resident Kate Holland, recovered from the town’s bloody wreckage, capture a tale too harrowing–and too earth-shattering in its implications–to be forgotten.

In these pages, Max Brooks brings Kate’s extraordinary account to light for the first time, faithfully reproducing her words alongside his own extensive investigations into the massacre and the legendary beasts behind it.

Kate’s is a tale of unexpected strength and resilience, of humanity’s defiance in the face of a terrible predator’s gaze, and inevitably, of savagery and death.

Yet it is also far more than that.

Because if what Kate Holland saw in those days is real, then we must accept the impossible. We must accept that the creature known as Bigfoot walks among us–and that it is a beast of terrible strength and ferocity.

Part survival narrative, part bloody horror tale, part scientific journey into the boundaries between truth and fiction, this is a Bigfoot story as only Max Brooks could chronicle it–and like none you’ve ever read before.

Thoughts: Thank You to NetGalley and Random House Publishing for the advanced copy in exchange for my review.

When I saw that Max Brooks had written another book, I knew that I had to read it. Especially since I had just finished re-reading World War Z and analyzing it to help my mom with an English course she took. This one is a completely different book from that one but I loved it just the same.

I really enjoy that this reads like a found journal even if that takes away from some of the suspense. For example: you know the main character is going to be fine at least until the end of the story or else how would she be writing all this. While you know that she’ll be okay you still wonder what is going to happen to the rest of the characters in the story. The way that things are written allow you to get attached to some of the people that she is living with.

Something else that I enjoyed was that there were articles and interviews included along with the journal entries. It makes the whole book read more like a news story and something occurring in real time. I really love how Max Brooks makes it feel like you are reading non fiction, like this is a retelling of a news story that happened. It was a great escape from what is actually happening in the world at this time in the pandemic.

I love how the narrator of this story is an anxious person because you can feel her anxiety and panic every time something big happens. You can see it and feel her emotions in her writing even if she writes after events already took place. It’s as if she never really leaves the scenes where these impactful events occur. I love how you see her go from this anxious person to a person who has more control over her life.

I recommend this to those of you who enjoyed Max Brooks other works or who are interested in Sasquatch.

You can pre order this book at Barnes and Noble, Eso Won Bookstore, or look for it at your local library coming June 16th.