Category Archives: Non Fiction

Review: Wild by Cheryl Strayed

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail
by Cheryl Strayed
Publisher: Knopf
Publication date: March 20, 2012
Genre: nonfiction

At twenty-two, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother’s death, her family scattered and her own marriage was soon destroyed. Four years later, with nothing more to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life. With no experience or training, driven only by blind will, she would hike more than a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State — and she would do it alone.
Told with suspense and style, sparkling with warmth and humor, Wild powerfully captures the terrors and pleasures of one young woman forging ahead against all odds on a journey that maddened, strengthened, and ultimately healed her.


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Review: Here We Go Again: My Life in Television by Betty White

Here We Go Again: My Life in Television
by Betty White
Publisher: Scribner
Publication date: Oct. 12, 2010
Genre: Biography

A memoir of Betty White’s first five decades on television—as irreverent and irresistible as the beloved actress herself.

Betty White first appeared on television in 1949 and has gone on to have one of the most amazing careers in TV history, starring in shows such as Life with Elizabeth, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and The Golden Girls, among many others. She is one of the hardest-working actresses of any era, and her sense of humor and perennial optimism have seen her through half a century of industry changes and delighted millions of fans.

Now, during Betty’s sixty-first year on screen, a year in which she has enjoyed a huge resurgence of popularity, her 1995 memoir makes a comeback too. Here We Go Again is a behind-the-scenes look at Betty’s career from her start on radio to her first show, Hollywood on Television, to several iterations of The Betty White Show and much, much more. Packed with wonderful anecdotes about famous personalities and friendships, stories of Betty’s off-screen life, and the comedienne’s trademark humor, this deliciously entertaining book will give readers an entrée into Betty’s fascinating life, confirming yet again why we can’t get enough of this funny lady.


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Review: Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick

Scrappy Little Nobody
by Anna Kendrick
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
Publication date: Nov. 15, 2016
Genre: Memoir Audiobook

A collection of humorous autobiographical essays by the Academy Award-nominated actress and star of Up in the Air and Pitch Perfect.

“I’m excited to publish my first book, and because I get uncomfortable when people have high expectations, I’d like to use this opportunity to showcase my ineptitude, pettiness, and the frequency with which I embarrass myself. And while many of my female inspirations who have become authors are incredibly well-educated and accomplished comedy writers, I’m very, very funny on Twitter, according to Buzzfeed and my mom, so I feel like this is a great idea. Quick question: are run-on sentences still frowned upon? Wait, is ending a sentence with a preposition still frowned upon? I mean, upon frowned? Dammit!” —Anna Kendrick

Anna Kendrick’s autobiographical collection of essays amusingly recounts memorable moments throughout her life, from her middle class upbringing in New England to the blockbuster movies that have made her one of Hollywood’s most popular actresses today. Expanding upon the witty and ironic dispatches for which she is known, Anna Kendrick’s essays offer her one-of-a-kind commentary on the absurdities she’s experienced on her way to and from the heart of pop culture.


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Review: Talking as Fast as I Can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls, and Everything in Between by Lauren Graham

Talking as Fast as I Can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls, and Everything in Between
by Lauren Graham
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Publication date: Nov. 29, 2016
Genre: Nonfiction memoir

In this collection of personal essays, the beloved star of Gilmore Girls and Parenthood reveals stories about life, love, and working as a woman in Hollywood—along with behind-the-scenes dispatches from the set of the new Gilmore Girls, where she plays the fast-talking Lorelai Gilmore once again.

In Talking as Fast as I Can, Lauren Graham hits pause for a moment and looks back on her life, sharing laugh-out-loud stories about growing up, starting out as an actress, and, years later, sitting in her trailer on the Parenthood set and asking herself, “Did you, um, make it?” She opens up about the challenges of being single in Hollywood (“Strangers were worried about me; that’s how long I was single!”), the time she was asked to audition her butt for a role, and her experience being a judge on Project Runway (“It’s like I had a fashion-induced blackout”).

In “What It Was Like, Part One,” Graham sits down for an epic Gilmore Girls marathon and reflects on being cast as the fast-talking Lorelai Gilmore. The essay “What It Was Like, Part Two” reveals how it felt to pick up the role again nine years later, and what doing so has meant to her.

Some more things you will learn about Lauren: She once tried to go vegan just to bond with Ellen DeGeneres, she’s aware that meeting guys at awards shows has its pitfalls (“If you’re meeting someone for the first time after three hours of hair, makeup, and styling, you’ve already set the bar too high”), and she’s a card-carrying REI shopper (“My bungee cords now earn points!”).

Including photos and excerpts from the diary Graham kept during the filming of the recent Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, this book is like a cozy night in, catching up with your best friend, laughing and swapping stories, and—of course—talking as fast as you can.


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Sneak Peek Wednesday: The Dead Inside by Cyndy Etler [Giveaway]

The Dead Inside
by Cyndy Etler
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Publication Date: April 4, 2017
Genre: Young Adult Memoir

I never was a badass. Or a slut, a junkie, a stoner, like they told me I was. I was just a kid looking for something good, something that felt like love. I was a wannabe in a Levi’s jean jacket. Anybody could see that. Except my mother. And the professionals at Straight.

From the outside, Straight Inc. was a drug rehab. But on the inside it was…well, it was something else.

All Cyndy wanted was to be loved and accepted. By age fourteen, she had escaped from her violent home, only to be reported as a runaway and sent to a “drug rehabilitation” facility that changed her world.

To the public, Straight Inc. was a place of recovery. But behind closed doors, the program used bizarre and intimidating methods to “treat” its patients. In her raw and fearless memoir, Cyndy Etler recounts her sixteen months in the living nightmare that Straight Inc. considered “healing.”



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Review: The Tao of Martha by Jen Lancaster

tao_of_martha.inddThe Tao of Martha: My Year of LIVING; Or, Why I’m Never Getting All That Glitter Off of the Dog
By: Jen Lancaster
Publisher: NAL Trade
Published: June 4, 2013
Genre: Non-Fiction


One would think that with Jen Lancaster’s impressive list of bestselling self-improvement memoirs—Bitter Is the New Black; Bright Lights, Big Ass; Such a Pretty Fat; Pretty in Plaid; My Fair Lazy; and Jeneration X—that she would have it all together by now.

One would be wrong.

Jen’s still a little rough around the edges. Suffice it to say, she’s no Martha Stewart. And that is exactly why Jen is going to Martha up and live her life according to the advice of America’s overachieving older sister—the woman who turns lemons into lavender-infused lemonade.

By immersing herself in Martha’s media empire, Jen will embark on a yearlong quest to take herself, her house, her husband (and maybe even her pets) to the next level—from closet organization to craft making, from party planning to kitchen prep.

Maybe Jen can go four days without giving herself food poisoning if she follows Martha’s dictates on proper storage….Maybe she can grow closer to her girlfriends by taking up their boring-ass hobbies like knitting and sewing.…Maybe she can finally rid her workout clothes of meatball stains by using Martha’s laundry tips.… Maybe she can create a more meaningful anniversary celebration than just getting drunk in the pool with her husband….again. And maybe, just maybe, she’ll discover that the key to happiness does, in fact, lie in Martha’s perfectly arranged cupboards and artfully displayed charcuterie platters.

Or maybe not.

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Excerpt: I Don’t Have a Happy Place by Kim Korson

happyplaceI Don’t Have a Happy Place: Cheerful Stories of Despondency and Gloom
By: Kim Korson
Publisher: Gallery Books
Published: April 14, 2015
Genre: Memoir

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When a trip to the therapist ends with the question “Can’t Kim be happy?” Kim Korson responds the way any normal person would—she makes fun of it. Because really, does everyone have to be happy?

Aside from her father wearing makeup and her mother not feeling well (a lot), Kim Korson’s 1970s suburban upbringing was typical. Sometimes she wished her brother were an arsonist just so she’d have a valid excuse to be unhappy. And when life moves along pretty decently–she breaks into show business, gets engaged in the secluded jungles of Mexico, and moves her family from Brooklyn to dreamy rural Vermont—the real despondency sets in. It’s a skill to find something wrong in just about every situation, but Kim has an exquisite talent for negativity. It is only after half a lifetime of finding kernels of unhappiness where others find joy that she begins to wonder if she is even capable of experiencing happiness.

In I Don’t Have a Happy Place, Kim Korson untangles what it means to be a true malcontent. Rife with evocative and nostalgic observations, unapologetic realism, and razor-sharp wit, I Don’t Have a Happy Place is told in humorous, autobiographical stories. This fresh-yet-dark voice is sure to make you laugh, nod your head in recognition, and ultimately understand what it truly means to be unhappy. Always.

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Excerpt: The Story of Fester Cat by Paul Magrs

20893498The Story of Fester Cat
By: Paul Magrs
Publisher: Berkley Trade
Published: Nov. 4, 2014
Genre: Non-Fiction

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From when he first ambled into Paul Magrs’s yard—skinny, covered in flea bites, and missing all but one and a half teeth—Fester knew he’d found his family. Paul and his partner, Jeremy, thought it was the ragged black-and-white stray, tired from a rough life on the streets, who was in desperate need of support. But clever Fester knew better. He understood that it was his newfound owners who needed the help.

Over the course of seven years, the feisty feline turned the quaint Manchester house into a loving home. Through his fierce spirit, strong will, and calming energy, Fester taught Paul and Jeremy how to listen and breathe, how to appreciate the joys of simply sitting and singing (what Fester’s purrs sounded like to his silly humans), and how to find joy and contentment in life, even when dealing with hardship.

This is the true story of an extraordinary little cat whose gentle charm and trusting soul turned two young men into a family.


Now it’s time to sit at Paul’s desk.

His window is level with the top of his desk. The desk is a flat wooden table, with room for his laptop, a mugful of pens, and a small basket of notebooks. And there’s room enough for me to sit on. There are three basic desk positions for Fester Cat. First, there’s right in front of the laptop. I sit between Paul and his keyboard, pushing my face into his. I nudge him for attention. Somehow he snakes his arms around me and carries on typing, even as I’m kissing him. The warmth of the machine is wonderful.

Then there’s the more nonchalant positioning, on the right of the laptop. From here I can keep an eye on Paul, and lean over now and then to scratch my chin on the very corner of his computer screen. Sometimes I do this so well I leave some slobber on the glass, but he doesn’t mind.

Then—in some ways, best of all—I sit right in front of the window, with the whole of Chestnut Avenue spread before me. I have a magnificent view of the road in front of us and how it splits into two dead ends. Lots of traffic comes past here. Lots of kids in hoodies, school kids, mums with pushchairs, dodgy-looking blokes, and neighbours that I can recognise. Also, lots of cats. I watch them tracking about, hopping over walls, under gates, and brazenly down the middle of the road. Lots and lots of cats, not all of whom I recognise. And dogs and sometimes, late at night, foxes. I sit up, alert, riveted by the drama outside. To me it’s like the telly is to the boys, and I think they understand that.

Paul types away furiously for minutes and hours at a time. Then he stops abruptly. Then he does a bit more. Then he picks out a notebook and goes flipping through quickly, looking for something. Then he starts scribbling madly for page after page and then crossing things out. He uses pens that squeak against the page like baby mice. I can’t help myself hopping over and pushing my cold nose against his hand. If I really want his attention I go and sit on the pages of his notebook. If I think he’s been working too long and too hard and his attention is starting to fray, I go to interrupt him and I know it’s the right thing to do.

He talks to me at odd moments through the day. He takes it very seriously, knowing we’re having a proper conversation. Knowing I’m taking it all in. He tries out ideas on me.

“Spoiling you! Huh!” he says.

“Ungow,” I tell him. Surely it’s after twelve by now. Surely it’s almost time for lunch?

“You’re my first ever cat, Fester,” he tells me. “I’ve always wanted one. I always suspected that I might be a cat kind of person. But when I was a kid, Mam wouldn’t have one. She thought they were stinky, nasty things.”


“I know! And then, of course, as a student it was always about moving house each year and you couldn’t really have pets. Then it was about moving from city to city. And then me and Jeremy were living in different cities . . .

I like it when he tells me bits about their lives before I came along. I’m slowly building up a picture of who they both are. Paul uses far more words than Jeremy does, of course. He hardly ever shuts up. Only when he’s working or reading—and even then, it’s words, words, words passing through his mind.

“Really, I don’t even know the right way to carry on with a cat. I don’t know the right way to be.”

“Ungow.” I try telling him it’s fine. He doesn’t have to be any particular way. Just keep on doing his normal stuff. Cats don’t need entertaining or babysitting. If I wasn’t interested I’d be nowhere near you. I’d zip off somewhere and get on with something else. You’re okay. You sit quite still and you do some interesting stuff.

I especially like it when he goes off in one of his daydreams, between bouts of his tap-tapping at the keyboard. He stares into space out of the window just like a cat would. We sit there side by side, staring into the road, into other people’s windows, and into the sky.

Reprinted from The Story of Fester Cat by Paul Magrs by arrangement with Berkley, a member of Penguin Group (USA) LLC, a Penguin Random House Company, Copyright © 2014 by Paul Magrs.


Paul Magrs is the author of many books, written for all ages and in many different genres, but this is his first foray into memoir. He taught novel writing in the MA program in Creative Writing at UEA, and then at Manchester Metropolitan. Paul lives in Manchester, England, with his partner, Jeremy, and is now a full-time writer.



Review: Uganda Be Kidding Me by Chelsea Handler

18127101Uganda Be Kidding Me
By: Chelsea Handler
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Published: March 4, 2014
Genre: Non-Fiction

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Wherever Chelsea Handler travels, one thing is certain: she always ends up in the land of the ridiculous. Now, in this uproarious collection, she sneaks her sharp wit through airport security and delivers her most absurd and hilarious stories ever.

On safari in Africa, it’s anyone’s guess as to what’s more dangerous: the wildlife or Chelsea. But whether she’s fumbling the seduction of a guide by not knowing where tigers live (Asia, duh) or wearing a bathrobe into the bush because her clothes stopped fitting seven margaritas ago, she’s always game for the next misadventure.

The situation gets down and dirty as she defiles a kayak in the Bahamas, and outright sweaty as she escapes from a German hospital on crutches. When things get truly scary, like finding herself stuck next to a passenger with bad breath, she knows she can rely on her family to make matters even worse. Thank goodness she has the devoted Chunk by her side-except for the time she loses him in Telluride.

Complete with answers to the most frequently asked traveler’s questions, hot travel trips, and travel etiquette, none of which should be believed, UGANDA BE KIDDING ME has Chelsea taking on the world, one laugh-out-loud incident at a time.


1thoughtsThis is a quick and easy read about Chelsea’s travels. She takes us through the various places she’s traveled, the friends who accompanied her and the insanity that ensued.

I think the most interesting part of the book was her story about Africa. It was entertaining to read about their safari adventures as well as the difference between the different “camps” they stayed at. Not to mention the interesting characters that they came across while in Africa. For some reason I just gravitated towards this story more than the others. Not saying that the others weren’t entertaining to read but the Africa trip really took the cake with this one which left the other trips falling a bit flat for me.

This is the second book that I’ve read of Handler’s and I have to say that they all have the same feel to them. The writing style is the same and Chelsea always comes off sounding a little out of control. Instead of relaying information, it always sounds like she’s fabricating things to make it more interesting and funny. Or maybe she really is as obnoxiously out of control as the book says. I will be honest that if that’s the case, I feel bad for some of the people that she comes across in this book.

Those who enjoyed her previous books would probably like traveling the world through Chelsea’s eyes. However, if you are looking for a halfway civilized documentary about traveling with some humor mixed in then this is not for you. After all, we are talking about someone who likes talking with a stereotypical Asian accent, drinks heavily, and doesn’t take life seriously at all. In the end, this was a quick light read that was entertaining while it lasted.


1favequote“Why are babies allowed to cry when they wake up, but adults crying when they wake is frowned upon? Babies are permitted to act like assholes whenever they feel like it and no one blinks, but if an adult throws a temper tantrum, all of a sudden it’s on YouTube.”


Review: Normal Gets You Nowhere by Kelly Cutrone

Normal Gets You Nowhere
By: Kelly Cutrone, Meredith Bryan
Publisher: HarperOne
Published: May 3, 2011
Genre: Non Fiction

Barnes & Noble

nor-mal: according with, constituting, or not deviating from a norm, rule or principle / conforming to a type, standard, or regular pattern / of, relating to, or characterized by average intelligence or development

Who wants to be that?

When Kelly Cutrone’s first book, If You Have to Cry, Go Outside, was first published, young people flocked to this new voice—finally, someone was telling it like it is, in language they spoke. It quickly became a New York Times bestseller, and fashion publicist Kelly Cutrone became more than a personality, she became a beloved guru, mentor, and fairy godmother.

Now she’s back with another no-holds-barred book to awaken our souls and kick our asses into gear. With Normal Gets You Nowhere, she invites us to get our freak on. History is full of successful, world-changing people who did not fit in. Think Nelson Mandela, Joan of Arc, Eleanor Roosevelt, Amelia Earhart, John Lennon, and Rosa Parks. Instead of changing themselves to accommodate the status quo or what others thought they should be, these people hung a light on their differences—and changed humanity in the process.

“I know you don’t feel normal, so why are you trying to act it and prove to everyone you are?” Cutrone says. So much of what we say or don’t say, and what we do or don’t do, is dictated by what others have told us, or what people may think of us. This is not how we should be living, by measuring ourselves against the mundane.

An invitation to rethink who you are, what you value, and what you want from life, Normal Gets You Nowhere goes beyond how to reinvent yourself and create your own brand, and investigates what it means to live in this world as a tuned-in, caring individual with a passion for making a difference. There’s already an army of super talented uberfreaks changing the world–isn’t it time you joined it time you joined them?

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