Patient Zero: A Curious History of the World’s Worst Diseases by Lydia Kang and Nate Pedersen Book Review

Book Description

A very timely history of disease outbreaks, from the authors of Quackery: stories of outbreaks (and their patient zeros), plus chapters on the science, culture, and cures for different types of epidemics and pandemics. Popular reading on a timely topic.

Review

I received a free copy from Workman Publishing in exchange for a free and unbiased review.

Thoughts and Themes: As this is a non-fiction book there won’t be a section to discuss the characters because there really isn’t any. The minute I saw this book as an option for the Workman Publishing ambassador program, I knew i had to get my hands on it. I read anything and everything related to viruses and diseases as they are my special interest. I was a little weary though as Covid-19 has made these topics not so fun for me but this book reminded me why I love science and in particular virus and diseases.

This book has so many tabs on it of passages I enjoyed, questions that arose as I read, and passages where I learned something I didn’t know and wanted to share with others. I hugged this book so much every time I was sharing information from it with others. There was so much things that I didn’t already know which is rare especially when I read about Ebola since I thought I had absorbed all there is to know about that virus.

I really enjoyed how there were sections in each of the chapters of the book in which fun facts were included in their own way. I liked those pieces that didn’t fit into the actual section so they were separated by colorful pages because they still added to the information that was being discussed in that section. Most of my tabbing in this book is included in those sections as they include things I hadn’t thought about before. I especially loved learning about the plagues from the bible and how science can explain each of them, as well as learning about the tick that could make someone allergic to meat, I would never want to meet that fellow.

Writing Style: Something that I enjoyed about this book is the way that it is structured. I liked that there were portions where we are introduced to the virus/disease/bacteria through patient zero. I liked that there was also information about vaccines, zoonosis, politicization of viruses/disease, explanation of previous and current outbreaks, and more. I liked learning about patient zeros and also about

I loved that this book is easy for anyone to understand regardless of if you have a science background or not. I think this was what kept me invested in the book as it didn’t feel like I was reading another textbook and there were times that I forgot I was reading non-fiction. There were moments that I thought “this couldn’t be real, it has to be taken straight out of a movie,” and those are the moments in which I had to put the book down because it became a horror book instead of a non-fiction book.

Author Information

I love salt more than chocolate. I’m somewhat small, yet deceptively strong. Sort of like an ant.

I’m a part time doc, full time family member, and if you offer me snacks, I’ll be a friend for life.

My adult fiction centers around historical mysteries in New York City, with splashes of forensics, anatomy, apothecary medicine, and chemistry! A BEAUTIFUL POISON takes place in 1918 at the height of the influenza epidemic; THE IMPOSSIBLE GIRL centers around the illegal grave robbing world; and forthcoming in July 2020 is OPIUM AND ABSINTHE, with–you guessed it–opium and absinthe. And possibly vampires!

I have a nonfiction adult book written with Nate Pederson entitled QUACKERY: A Short History of the Worst Ways to Cure Everything, coming in 2017 (Workman).

My most recent YA novel is TOXIC, a space opera about a created, teen girl who’s abandoned on a biological spaceship, and the mercenary boy doomed to die on it. I’ve also written THE NOVEMBER GIRL, set on a remote island on Lake Superior. A girl with violence running through her veins meets a boy running away from an abusive home life. Both from Entangled Teen/Macmillan.

I’m also part of the new anthology, COLOR OUTSIDE THE LINES, with Soho Teen coming in 2019!

My YA sci-fi novel, CONTROL, debuted December 2013 (Dial/Penguin). The sequel, CATALYST, released March 2015 (Kathy Dawson Books/Penguin). I released a short story in the dark YA anthology, AMONG THE SHADOWS October 2015.

Nate Pedersen is a librarian, journalist, and historian in Oregon. His website is http://natepedersen.com 

March 2022 To Be Read

So far I have been doing good with my plan on reading 1 ebook, 1 physical book, and 1 audiobook but I haven’t been reading the 1 recommended by a friend per month. If I want to complete 12 recommended by a friend by the end of the year I’m going to have to read a lot more each month. This month I have already started 3 out of the 4 of these books and am enjoying each of them so far. I have to get Trevor Noah’s book on audio then I’ll be able to get through that as well.

All That’s Left in the World by Erik J. Brown 

What If It’s Us meets Life as We Knew It in this postapocalyptic, queer YA adventure romance from debut author Erik J. Brown. Perfect for fans of Adam Silvera and Alex London.

When Andrew stumbles upon Jamie’s house, he’s injured, starved, and has nothing left to lose. A deadly pathogen has killed off most of the world’s population, including everyone both boys have ever loved. And if this new world has taught them anything, it’s to be scared of what other desperate people will do . . . so why does it seem so easy for them to trust each other?

After danger breaches their shelter, they flee south in search of civilization. But something isn’t adding up about Andrew’s story, and it could cost them everything. And Jamie has a secret, too. He’s starting to feel something more than friendship for Andrew, adding another layer of fear and confusion to an already tumultuous journey.

The road ahead of them is long, and to survive, they’ll have to shed their secrets, face the consequences of their actions, and find the courage to fight for the future they desire, together. Only one thing feels certain: all that’s left in their world is the undeniable pull they have toward each other.

Kiss & Tell by Adib Khorram 

A smart, sexy YA novel about a boy band star, his first breakup, his first rebound, and what it means to be queer in the public eye, from award-winning author Adib Khorram

Hunter never expected to be a boy band star, but, well, here he is. He and his band Kiss & Tell are on their first major tour of North America, playing arenas all over the United States and Canada (and getting covered by the gossipy press all over North America as well). Hunter is the only gay member of the band, and he just had a very painful breakup with his first boyfriend–leaked sexts, public heartbreak, and all–and now everyone expects him to play the perfect queer role model for teens.

But Hunter isn’t really sure what being the perfect queer kid even means. Does it mean dressing up in whatever The Label tells him to wear for photo shoots and pretending never to have sex? (Unfortunately, yes.) Does it mean finding community among the queer kids at the meet-and-greets after K&T’s shows? (Fortunately, yes.) Does it include a new relationship with Kaivan, the star of the band opening for K&T on tour? (He hopes so.) But when The Label finds out about Hunter and Kaivan, it spells trouble—for their relationship, for the perfect gay boy Hunter plays for the cameras, and, most importantly, for Hunter himself.

The Living Dead by George A. Romero, Daniel Kraus 

It begins with one body. A pair of medical examiners find themselves facing a dead man who won’t stay dead.

It spreads quickly. In a Midwestern trailer park, an African American teenage girl and a Muslim immigrant battle newly-risen friends and family.

On a US aircraft carrier, living sailors hide from dead ones while a fanatic preaches the gospel of a new religion of death.

At a cable news station, a surviving anchor keeps broadcasting, not knowing if anyone is watching, while his undead colleagues try to devour him.

In DC, an autistic federal employee charts the outbreak, preserving data for a future that may never come.

Everywhere, people are targeted by both the living and the dead.

We think we know how this story ends.

We. Are. Wrong.

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

The memoir of one man’s coming-of-age, set during the twilight of apartheid and the tumultuous days of freedom that followed.

Trevor Noah’s unlikely path from apartheid South Africa to the desk of The Daily Show began with a criminal act: his birth. Trevor was born to a white Swiss father and a black Xhosa mother at a time when such a union was punishable by five years in prison. Living proof of his parents’ indiscretion, Trevor was kept mostly indoors for the earliest years of his life, bound by the extreme and often absurd measures his mother took to hide him from a government that could, at any moment, steal him away. Finally liberated by the end of South Africa’s tyrannical white rule, Trevor and his mother set forth on a grand adventure, living openly and freely and embracing the opportunities won by a centuries-long struggle.

Born a Crime is the story of a mischievous young boy who grows into a restless young man as he struggles to find himself in a world where he was never supposed to exist. It is also the story of that young man’s relationship with his fearless, rebellious, and fervently religious mother—his teammate, a woman determined to save her son from the cycle of poverty, violence, and abuse that would ultimately threaten her own life.

Bad Fat Black Girl by Sesali Bowen Book Review

Book Description

Growing up on the south side of Chicago, Sesali Bowen learned early on how to hustle, stay on her toes, and champion other Black women and femmes as she navigated Blackness, queerness, fatness, friendship, poverty, sex work, and self-love. 

Her love of trap music led her to the top of hip-hop journalism, profiling game-changing artists like Megan Thee Stallion, Lizzo, and Janelle Monae. But despite all the beauty, complexity, and general badassery she saw, Bowen found none of that nuance represented in mainstream feminism. Thus, she coined Trap Feminism, a contemporary framework that interrogates where feminism and hip-hop intersect.

Notes from a Trap Feminist offers a new, inclusive feminism for the modern world. Weaving together searing personal essay and cultural commentary, Bowen interrogates sexism, fatphobia, and capitalism all within the context of race and hip-hop. In the process, she continues a Black feminist legacy of unmatched sheer determination and creative resilience.

Bad bitches: this one’s for you.

Review

I had waited to listen to this book, and I don’t know why. I love reading anything on body positivity because it makes me rethink what I’ve been taught about beauty and women’s bodies. Thank you to libro.fm for the advanced listening copy of this book.

I find it hard to rate memoirs and review them because there isn’t a way to rate someone else’s life. Instead I talk about the portions that stood out to me and the structure in which they are written. In the case of this memoir, I really enjoyed many of the subjects that Bower touches upon and I love the way that it is organized since it keeps you wanting to learn more about her life.

This book talks about not just being a fat woman but being a fat, Black women with other marginalized identities as well with the backdrop of Trap music. Sesali Bower focuses on what being in different circles was like for her as a Fat, Black, Queer woman. She doesn’t discover her Queer identity until later on so there are some moments in which she navigates her life thinking that she is straight.

I really enjoyed the way that this book is structured and how each section is separated. This book goes over many different parts of Sesali Bower’s life from her youth up until now. In those different areas the book is further separated into different portions of her life that impacted the person she is now.

Something I enjoyed about this book is how direct the author is about her life and how vulnerable she gets with the audience. I listened to the audiobook that is recorded by the author so you could hear the anger in certain portions as she retells her story to us.

Author Information

SESALI BOWEN is a writer who curates events, writes for film and television, and creates elevated pop culture correspondence. Bowen is the former senior entertainment editor at Nylon magazine and senior entertainment writer at Refinery29. Focusing on Black pop culture, she helped launch Unbothered, R29’s sub brand for Black women. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times and Feministing. Bowen lives in New Jersey.

The Wake Up: Closing the Gap Between Good Intentions and Real Change By Michelle Mijung Kim Book Review

Book Description

Waking Up to Our Capacity to Transform Ourselves and the World 

As we become more aware of various social injustices in the world, many of us want to be part of the movement toward positive change. But sometimes our best intentions cause unintended harm, and we fumble. We might feel afraid to say the wrong thing and feel guilt for not doing or knowing enough. Sometimes we might engage in performative allyship rather than thoughtful solidarity, leaving those already marginalized further burdened and exhausted. The feelings of fear, insecurity, inadequacy are all too common among a wide spectrum of changemakers, and they put many at a crossroads between feeling stuck and giving up, or staying grounded to keep going. So how can we go beyond performative allyship to creating real change in ourselves and in the world, together?

In The Wake Up, Michelle MiJung Kim shares foundational principles often missing in today’s mainstream conversations around “diversity and inclusion,” inviting readers to deep dive into the challenging and nuanced work of pursuing equity and justice, while exploring various complexities, contradictions, and conflicts inherent in our imperfect world. With a mix of in-the-trenches narrative and accessible unpacking of hot button issues—from inclusive language to representation to “cancel culture”—Michelle offers sustainable frameworks that guide us how to think, approach, and be in the journey as thoughtfully and powerfully as possible. 

The Wake Up is divided into four key parts:

Grounding: begin by moving beyond good intentions to interrogating our deeper “why” for committing to social justice and uncovering our “hidden stories.”

Orienting: establish a shared understanding around our historical and current context and issues we are trying to solve, starting with dismantling white supremacy.

Showing Up: learn critical principles to approach any situation with clarity and build our capacity to work through complexity, nuance, conflict, and imperfections.

Moving Together: remember the core of this work is about human lives, and commit to prioritizing humanity, healing, and community.

The Wake Up is an urgent call for us to move together while seeing each other’s full and expansive humanity that is at the core of our movement toward justice, healing, and freedom.

Review

Thank you to Hachette Books for providing me with an advanced copy and finished copy of this book. I winded up listening to this one on audio and really enjoyed it in that format. It is one that I hope to re-visit either on audio or through physical book because one read through isn’t enough to take in everything that was taught in this book.

As someone who went into education because I want to cause change, and I am continuously educating myself on social justice efforts, I found that this is a great book to introduce people to this topic. I thought this was a good introduction text as it was easy to follow and answered a lot of questions that I had.

Something that I found valuable in this book was the author’s identities, it was important that it was an author with multiple marginalized identities being included in diversity, equity, and inclusion work. Often times I see the same voices being uplifted in DEI work and I want to hear a variety of voices and opinions when it comes to this work. I was very pleased to have multiple intersectional identities be addressed throughout this book.

Something else that I loved about this book was the way that it was organized throughout different chapters. I liked that the book was separated into different sections that talked about different topics because it made it so that you can put the book down and return to it at a later time. I liked the four parts that this book separates things into because of what each portion focuses on.

I also really liked that within each chapter there is a way to pause and return later to a chapter so that you have time to reflect on that portion of the book.

Author Information

Michelle MiJung Kim

Michelle MiJung Kim (she/her) is a queer immigrant Korean American woman writer, speaker, activist, and entrepreneur. She is the author of The Wake Up (Hachette, Fall 2021). She is CEO and co-founder of Awaken, a leading provider of interactive equity and inclusion education programs facilitated by majority BIPOC educators, where she has consulted hundreds of organizations and top executives from Fortune 500, tech giants, nonprofits, and government agencies to spark meaningful change. Michelle has been a lifelong social justice activist and has served on a variety of organizations such as the San Francisco LGBTQ Speakers Bureau, San Francisco Human Rights Commission’s Advisory Committee, LYRIC nonprofit’s Board of Directors, and Build Tech We Trust Coalition. Michelle currently serves on the board of Asian Americans for Civil Rights and Equality (AACRE). Her work has appeared on world-renowned platforms such as Harvard Business Review, Forbes, The New York Times, and NPR, and she has been named Medium’s Top Writer in Diversity three years in a row. She lives in Oakland, California.

Her Honor Book Review

Book Description

In Her Honor, Judge LaDoris Hazzard Cordell provides a rare and thought-provoking insider account of our legal system, sharing vivid stories of the cases that came through her courtroom and revealing the strengths, flaws, and much-needed changes within our courts.

Judge Cordell, the first African American woman to sit on the Superior Court of Northern California, knows firsthand how prejudice has permeated our legal system. And yet, she believes in the system. From ending school segregation to legalizing same-sex marriage, its progress relies on legal professionals and jurors who strive to make the imperfect system as fair as possible.

Her Honor is an entertaining and provocative look into the hearts and minds of judges. Cordell takes you into her chambers where she haggles with prosecutors and defense attorneys and into the courtroom during jury selection and sentencing hearings. She uses real cases to highlight how judges make difficult decisions, all the while facing outside pressures from the media, law enforcement, lobbyists, and the friends and families of the people involved.

Cordell’s candid account of her years on the bench shines light on all areas of the legal system, from juvenile delinquency and the shift from rehabilitation to punishment, along with the racial biases therein, to the thousands of plea bargains that allow our overburdened courts to stay afloat―as long as innocent people are willing to plead guilty. There are tales of marriages and divorces, adoptions, and contested wills―some humorous, others heartwarming, still others deeply troubling.

Her Honor is for anyone who’s had the good or bad fortune to stand before a judge or sit on a jury. It is for true-crime junkies and people who vote in judicial elections. Most importantly, this is a book for anyone who wants to know what our legal system, for better or worse, means to the everyday lives of all Americans.

Review

Thank you to Celadon Books for the gifted copy.

Thoughts and Themes: I was a bit worried when I got this book because the law doesn’t really interest me but I grabbed it on audio and am so glad that I did. This book covers so many different topics within the judicial system and also walks you through her journey through different roles.

I really enjoyed learning about the different laws that govern our country and also liked learning about the history of some of these laws. I think that each section in this book taught you something different.

When I think about this book there is so much to talk about because of all that I learned while listening to this book. I had to pause at moments to follow along with a physical copy of the book to make sure I was understanding what was being said. I also paused at moments since there were some funny cases and there were also some cases that warmed my heart. I loved hearing her thoughts on the name change cases that she worked on and how she handled Transgender name changes in a different manner than others for the protection of the individual and to spare them the embarrassment. I loved learning that Judge Cordell saw her cases as people and not just a case that was coming through her court.

Writing Style: This is a non-fiction story and the audiobook is read by the author which is something that I always enjoy. I really enjoyed how this book gives us parts of Judge Cordell’s cases but also informs us of the laws pertaining to those cases that are being discussed.

Author Information

From Judge Cordell’s website:

A 1971 graduate of Antioch College and a 1974 graduate of Stanford Law School, LaDoris Hazzard Cordell was the first lawyer to open a private law practice in East Palo Alto. In 1978, she was appointed Assistant Dean for Student Affairs at Stanford Law School, where she implemented a successful minority admissions program.

In 1982, Governor Jerry Brown appointed Ms. Cordell to the Municipal Court of Santa Clara County, making her the first African American woman judge in northern California. In 1988, Judge Cordell won election to the Superior Court of Santa Clara County. 

After 19 years on the bench, she retired and began employment at Stanford University as Vice Provost & Special Counselor to the President for Campus Relations until 2009.

In November 2003, Judge Cordell, accepting no monetary donations, ran a grassroots campaign and won a 4-year term on the Palo Alto City Council. 

Judge Cordell has been an on-camera legal analyst for CBS-5 television and a guest commentator on Court TV, The Week with Joshua Johnson on MSNBC, and The Mehdi Hasan Show on MSNBC. She has also interviewed several public figures before live audiences at the Commonwealth Club and at Stanford University. Her interviewees have included rapper Talib Kweli, reality TV star Kim Kardashian, New York Times columnist David Brooks, consumer advocate Ralph Nader, tennis star Billie Jean King, Professor Anita Hill, Amy Goodman of Democracy Now!, President Obama’s Senior White House Advisor Valerie Jarrett, Lesley Stahl of 60 Minutes, Caitlyn Jenner, and Jesse Jackson.  

Judge Cordell was the Independent Police Auditor for the City of San Jose for five years (2010-2015), having been appointed to that position after a national search. Under her leadership, that office gained national prominence.

In 2014, Judge Cordell chaired the Task Force on Racial Discrimination at San Jose State University in the aftermath of the racial bullying of an African American student. The Task Force made numerous recommendations to improve the racial atmosphere at the university.

In 2015, Judge Cordell was appointed Chairperson of the Blue Ribbon Commission that reviewed the conditions in the jails in Santa Clara County. Under her leadership, the Commission put forward several recommendations to improve the operation of the jails.

In 2015, Judge Cordell served on a Blue Ribbon Panel that reviewed operations of the San Francisco Police Departments and made recommendations after the racist texting scandal involving several San Francisco Police officers came to light.

In 2020, Judge Cordell conducted an audit of the Public Safety Services Department of Santa Clara University in the aftermath of a racial incident that went viral, involving a Black female professor and campus officers. All of her recommendations to improve the Public Safety Services Department were adopted by the university.  

In 2020, Judge Cordell was appointed to the San Francisco District Attorney’s Innocence Commission to review cases of individuals who claim to have been wrongly convicted.

Judge Cordell and the ACLU of Northern California led the successful fight to lift the residents-only restriction for admission to the City of Palo Alto’s Foothills Park. She is the co-founder of CA Parks for All:https://www.caparksforall.org/advocate

She was inducted into Stanford University’s Multicultural Hall of Fame in 2016 and received the Chief Justice Earl Warren Civil Liberties Award from the ACLU of Northern California. In 2017, Judge Cordell was inducted into the Silicon Valley Black Legends Hall of Fame and received the Crystal Gavel Award from the California Association of Black Lawyers’ Judicial Section.

Judge Cordell was featured in The Resistance issue of SF Magazine, February 2017: https://medium.com/@sanfranmag/the-resistance-2716cbd2fa24#.1t1jifkdc

She is the co-founded the African American Composer Initiative whose mission is to bring the music of Black composers, past and present to the world, and is a vocalist, pianist, and artist: www.aacinitiative.org

On October 5, 2021, Judge Cordell’s memoir titled Her Honor will be released by Celadon Books; a division of Macmillan Publishing: https://celadonbooks.com/book/her-honor

Judge Cordell is the mother of two daughters. She resides in Palo Alto with her partner Florence O. Keller.

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.

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.

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.