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Book Review: Odd Birds

Odd Birds is by Ian Harding who you may know as Ezra from Pretty Little Liars.  What you may not know is that he is into bird watching.  Since his character on the show wrote a book, Ian decided that he should be able to write a book as well.  The book talks a lot about his adventures in bird watching and relates some of the lessons he has learned while doing it to his life as well.  He also talks about how he auditioned for Pretty Little Liars, call backs and how he feels now that it is ending after seven seasons.

I have no interest in birds at all, but that didn’t take away from the fact that I really enjoyed this book. Although I would have preferred it talked more about his acting career I think he found a really nice balance of funny anecdotal stories, bird stories and other stories about his life.

I received a free e-copy in order to write this review, I was not otherwise compensated.

About the Book

A 7-time Teen Choice Award Winner on Freeform’s most-watched series, Pretty Little Liars … A social media influencer with over 7 million followers … An avid birdwatcher? Yes, you read that correctly. Ian Harding is all of these things, and so much more. In this memoir, explore the unexpected world of a young celebrity through the lens of his favorite pastime — birding.

Odd Birds is more than just a Hollywood memoir or tell-all. At its heart, this book is a coming-of-age story in which Ian wrestles with an ever evolving question— how can he still be himself, while also being a celebrity. Each humorous and heartfelt story features a particular bird—sometimes literal, at other times figurative. Using this framework, Ian explores a variety of topics, including growing up, life as a television actor and nature lover, and whether it is better to shave or wax one’s chest for an on-screen love scene.

A funny and heartwarming window into Ian’s life, Odd Birds is a must-read for fans of nature writing and memoir alike.

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Book Review: Attitude

There are very few college basketball coaches that I can name – but Jay Wright is definitely one of them.  I don’t watch too much college basketball, but whenever Villanova was on the TV I’d stop and check out the game.  This book has a foreward written by Charles Barkley and is all about Jay Wright’s path to becoming a coach and building a winning season.  Throughout the book there are “beyond basketball” notes with lessons that can be used in any part of life.  You really don’t need to be a basketball fan to enjoy this book, it’s a great read and a lot of really great information – even though Jay says he’s not an authority on leadership.

I received a free e-copy of this book in order to write this review,  I was not otherwise compensated.

 

About the Book

In this behind-the-scenes look at the making of a champion, the coach of the Villanova University men’s basketball team shares his competitive and cooperative philosophy, along with lessons from his coaching career and the story of his personal road to success.

When Kris Jenkins sank a three-pointer at the buzzer to win the 2016 NCAA Tournament, it was a victory not just for a team and its coach but for an entire program. In his twentieth season with the Villanova program, including a five-year stint as an assistant to Coach Rollie Massimino, Coach Jay Wright had achieved his lifelong dream—and witnessed the culmination of a decades-long effort to build a culture of winning around a set of core values.

In Attitude, Coach Wright shares some of the leadership secrets that have enabled Villanova, a private university with an undergraduate enrollment of less than 6,500, to thrive in the hypercompetitive world of college athletics. As he recounts the story of the 2015–16 Wildcats, Coach Wright offers anecdotes from his own journey up the ladder of success, with lessons learned on the Little League playing fields of his youth and wisdom passed down from his coaches and mentors.

Each step of Villanova’s journey to a national championship incorporates a signature term torn from Coach Wright’s own motivational playbook. Here are key principles that aspiring leaders can apply, not only on the basketball court but in the boardroom, the classroom, and the living room. From learning to accept your role to remembering to honor those who came before us, Jay Wright’s core values provide a positive blueprint for transformational team building based on the idea that anyone—from the head coach to the last player on the bench—can be a leader when the moment demands it.

The product of a lifetime’s worth of championship-level preparation, Attitude is perfect for anyone looking to build a team, achieve a goal, or nurture their own winning culture.

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Book Review: Blondie Parallel Lives

Blondie was like a reality show before there was reality TV.  In New York, in the punk era – they knew they had made it when they landed the cover of Rolling Stone in 1979.  Debbie’s entire life she had been trained to become a house wife and for marriage – but that’s not what she  wanted.  In a time when NYC was collapsing and life in New York resulted in seeing a lot of dead bums, Debbie and Chris had a spark and made Blondie a household name by 1980-1981.  This book was a really cool look back at a band that I wasn’t all that familar with – and as always – I loved all the pictures! There was lots of pictures.  I also loved reading about New York in the early 80s, even though it was nothing like it is today, it’s cool to see how far it has come.

I received a free e-copy of this book in order to write this review, I was not otherwise compensated.

About the Book

One of the most iconic groups of their generation, Blondie experienced an unparalleled rise to global superstardom during the late 1970s. As they topped charts throughout the world, vocalist Deborah Harry adorned magazine covers and bedroom walls everywhere.

Drawing upon extensive first-hand interview material from Debbie Harry, Chris Stein and many other significant players in the band’s long history, Blondie: Parallel Lives is the definitive eye-witness account of the group’s long and often tumultuous existence.

Beginning with their childhoods, backgrounds and influences, the book charts the development of Blondie to their massive popular success and eventual break up; the 1997 reformation, subsequent renaissance with their No Exit album; the controversies surrounding the 2006 induction to the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame, ending in the present with the release of Panic of Girls.

Co-author Kris Needs established a friendship with Harry, Stein and the rest of the band that endures to this day. As a trusted confidante, he now recounts the full story.

 

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Book Review: Joey’s Journal

Joey’s Journal is subtitled “Staying Strong when Far From Mom” and is the journal of a 12 year old boy whose Mom took a job offer on the other side of the country and decided to not move the family there.  They visited back and forth and Joey and his sister continued to go to their regular school – and watch lots of American Idol.  I guess that I was not the ideal audience for this book because to me it was just a journal of a young boy. “Today we…” every day… I didn’t see him having too much struggle with his Mom being away – he was happy to visit her and happy when she visited him and other than that seemed to go on his merry way to school each day.  This was a quick read and might be better for a family who is going through a similar situation. (I guess I need to stop picking books because I think they have cool covers)

I received a free e-copy of this book in order to write this review, I was not otherwise compensated.

About the book

Eight years in the making, Joey’s Journal tells the tale of a charismatic twelve year old boy growing up in a home that goes through some very sudden changes when his mom has to move across the country for a new job. Follow Joey for a year of his life and get to know him, his family and friends, and all the good that can come out of a very intimidating situation. Joseph (Joey) Kaigler, Jr. was born in Boston, Massachusetts on August 23, 1995. Raised in the quaint Boston suburb of Sharon, Joey graduated from Sharon high school in 2013 and currently attends DePaul University in Chicago. Joey is a trained classical pianist and has performed in various venues, including New York’s Carnegie Hall. He is also a trained martial artist who holds a second degree black belt. Joey’s Journal represents Joey’s debut as a published author.

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Book Review: Whoa, Baby!

Whoa, Baby! is a book by Destiny’s Child’s Kelly Rowland. I wanted to check it out because of the music connection but I really am not the audience that Kelly was looking for.  The book is a guide for new moms and talks about trouble and questions that new moms may have after giving birth and is written with her doctor. Each chapter is a question that Kelly had or that new moms might have that they discuss.  Some of it was a little bit TMI for me – but I think that as a resource for new moms it will be really great because it may be things that you are too embarrassed to ask your doctor or friends about and there is information that you need to know! If you are a new mom, are going to be a new mom or know a new mom, definitely pick up this book.

I received a free e-copy of this book in order to write this review, I was not otherwise compensated.

About the Book

When vocalist and actress Kelly Rowland, whose albums have sold millions of copies worldwide, gave birth to her son, it was love at first sight. But she was also a little freaked out about what had happened to her body and the overwhelming new thoughts and emotions. In Whoa Baby!, Rowland and her ob-gyn Dr. Tristan Emily Bickman team up to cover everything a first-time mom needs to know: the gross physical stuff, the hormonal and emotional stuff, and the just plain weird stuff. Whoa, Baby! is often hilarious and always honest and down-to-earth. Readers will empathize with the candid unglamorous experiences of parenting. From falling asleep with the pump on to swollen legs and lack of sleep, Rowland and Dr. Bickman cover every surprising challenge that new moms face.

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Book Review: Thurston Moore: We Sing A New Language

Thurston Moore: We Sing A New Language is about Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore. I did not realize that he was from Bethel, CT!  The band was signed in 1989 and the book documents 130+ recordings and collaborations with interviews from the collaborators involved on each of the recordings.  I thought it was really cool and a different approach to a biography. You could go to specific recordings that you wanted to know more about, or just check out the whole book and find out pretty much everything you ever needed to know! It includes collaborations, solo recordings and guest appearances.

I received a free e-copy of this book in order to write this review, I was not otherwise compensated.

About the Book

We Sing A New Language is the first definitive account of Thurston Moore’s work across many hundreds of collaborations, solo recordings and guest appearances.

His long tenure in Sonic Youth might speak for itself, but in this book Moore’s friends and colleagues speak revealingly for his other achievements, bringing together a wide variety of creative enterprises whose unifying thread is nothing more or less than Thurston Moore’s passionate devotion to music.

Keen to experiment, willing to relinquish control and unafraid to take chances, he has allowed himself to remain creative and innovative. It’s a unique achievement and one that finds worthy celebration in We Sing A New Language.

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Book Review: The Poetry of Pop

The Poetry of Pop looks into the magic of pop songs in the language of lyrics and breaks down some lyrics as poems.  This is a deeper look into songs than I am used to and there are a lot more to lyrics than I thought!  There is a lot of mentions of Taylor Swift in the book and despite me not liking her at all, I can give props where props are due and I do think she does write some great songs.  I liked the part of the book about different rhymes. I also liked the paragraphs about how Justin Timberlake is white. haha. (ok that’s a very basic break down of what is trying to be explained but if you are a Justin fan I am sure you get the idea of what is being discussed.)  This book definitely made me think more about reading lyrics and reading them as more than just lyrics, but as poetry too.

I received a free e-copy of this book in order to write this review,  I was not otherwise compensated.

About the Book

A trailblazing exploration of the poetic power of popular songs, from Tin Pan Alley to the Beatles to Beyoncé and beyond.

Encompassing a century of recorded music, this pathbreaking book reveals the poetic artistry of popular songs. Pop songs are music first. They also comprise the most widely disseminated poetic expression of our time. Adam Bradley traces the song lyric across musical genres from early twentieth-century Delta blues to mid-century rock ‘n’ roll to today’s hits. George and Ira Gershwin’s “Fascinating Rhythm.” The Rolling Stones’ “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.” Rihanna’s “Diamonds.” These songs are united in their exacting attention to the craft of language and sound. Bradley shows that pop music is a poetry that must be heard more than read, uncovering the rhythms, rhymes, and metaphors expressed in the singing voice. At once a work of musical interpretation, cultural analysis, literary criticism, and personal storytelling, this book illustrates how words and music come together to produce compelling poetry, often where we least expect it.

Adam Bradley is professor of English and founding director of the Laboratory for Race & Pop Culture (RAP Lab) at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and the author of Book of Rhymes: The Poetics of Hip Hop.

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Book Review: Taken By the CEO

Taken By The CEO is about Emmaline who has just gone through a divorce.  She thinks that she needs a big change in her life and she is debating changing her name.  When she locks herself out of her car and meets a new guy when she is trying to get help, she decides to lie and tell her that her name is Sarah.  They go on a date and then she realizes that he is the new CEO at her job!! Emmaline is worried now that her promotion is at stake and the CEO thinks that she is a liar.  The CEO, Parker, ends up forgiving her after he finds out that she didn’t know who he was at all and wasn’t lying to try and get to his money.  Emmaline ends up withdrawing from the promotion as her relationship with Parker heats up. She doesn’t want anyone to think that she slept her way to the top.  Parker reinstates Emmaline’s application behind her back and even though typically the CEO has final say in who gets the promotion and wanted it to go to Emmaline, he lets the rest of the committee decide instead.  It looks like this is going to be the first in the series and I’d definitely consider reading more! This was a fun, quick read even though there was a lot of will they / won’t they back and forth with the main couple I still enjoyed it.

I received a free e-copy of this book in order to write this review, I was not otherwise compensated.

About the Book

It was only supposed to be a little white lie. When Emmaline Greene pretends to be Sarah, the confident, sexy woman she wishes she could be, she figures no harm, no foul. Her one-night stand will never find out. Wrong. The gorgeous guy she slept with isn’t just amazing in bed…he’s also her new boss.

 

Parker Wentworth has a lot to prove. He’s just been appointed CEO of his family’s company and is tasked with repairing its scandalous reputation. He can’t afford any distractions or complications. Too bad the attractive blonde he takes to bed turns out to be both. So why can’t he forget the incredible night they spent together and move on?

And why does he have this need to know the real Emmaline?

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Book Review: The Sweetest Kiss

The Sweetest Kiss is the 4th book in a series. I didn’t realize this until after I had finished it, but it worked just find as a stand alone. I thought this was going to be a sweet romance novel, but it wasn’t very romancy, if you get what I mean.

The book follows Megan Wallace. She wants to travel to Italy to fulfill a promise she made to her Aunt Bea. But when an unexpected medical expense comes up, all the money she has saved needs to be used for that.  Then the local library hosts a contest – and the winner will receive a contract to work for one year in Italy at a gallery.  Megan is an artist first, but a web designer and dress shop worker second – but that’s what she has to do to make ends meet.

Megan is also in love with her friends brother, Brian. The two have been close over the years but she is always hesitant to tell him how she feels.  He is a talented woodworker and she wants him to make the frames for her pieces in the contest, but has has already paired up with another contestant! After Megan finds someone else to work with her, Brian seems very jealous.

The two end up kissing under the blue moon – a legend in town that means good things or bad things depending on who you are.   What will it mean for Megan and Brian? Will Megan win the contest and fulfill her dreams of visiting Boboli Gardens? Find out when you read The Sweetest Kiss.

I liked this book, the only downside is I thought it would be more “romantic”.  It was a very cute story with likeable characters and a quick read.  I will definitely keep an eye out for some of the other books in this series to find out more about some of Megan’s friend’s who were mentioned in this book.

I received a free e-copy of this book from Netgalley in order to write this review. I was not otherwise compensated.

About the Book

Megan Wallace wants three things: to make a living as an artist, to fulfill a promise she made her grandmother to visit the Boboli Gardens in Italy, and—oh yeah— for her best friend Brian Watts to fall in love with her. When the local library hosts an art competition, in which the winner will receive a one-year contract to paint in Florence, Italy, Megan sets out to make all her dreams come true.

Since Brian is a talented woodworker, Megan plans to ask him to make the custom frames for her paintings. She’s crushed to discover he’s already partnered up with Chelsea Chambers, Megan’s rival since art school. Megan is even more devastated when Chelsea sets her sights on Brian romantically.

The stakes are high and there can only be one winner. When the contest judges praise Chelsea’s classic style, Megan wonders if she should forego her own surreal painting style for one that’s more traditional. Brian urges her to be true to her talent. He also gives her reason to believe that maybe he feels more than friendship for her after all.

Will Megan have to give up her vision in order to win the contest? And if she wins, will she have to say goodbye to the love of her life?

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Book Review: Stevie Nicks Visions, Dreams & Rumors

I went to see Stevie Nicks in concert a few years back and really enjoyed myself so when I saw that there was a biography of hers available for reading, I jumped at the chance to check it out.  The book is broken up into 4 parts and has 3 sections of pictures! (Always my favorite part.)  One really cool feature with this book is that it has a digital timeline of Stevie’s life included as a link. I had never seen something like this before, and it was very interactive and interesting to look through to see the various photos and videos that were included- the way of the future now that the ebook pulled the page right up on my computer to browse through.

Sometimes the chapter mentions what it was going to be about before it started and other times it sort of recapped what happened in the chapter – since I sometimes have a tendency to skim longer biographies at times, I liked this touch.  A lot of the information also came from interviews from other publications, which when I was reading some other reviews of the books people said they didn’t like that but I always like when actual quotes are included, in a biography it’s the closest you can really get to be being an autobiography when you have actual quotes from the artist the book is about.

I absolutely loved the pictures included – Stevie with a beehive as a teenager? Some great shots from shows too are included.

I received a free e-copy of this book in order to write this review. I was not otherwise compensated.

About the Book

Fleetwood Mac’s Stevie Nicks is a musical visionary, a poet and an enduring style icon with a truly phenomenal life story. The Omnibus enhanced Stevie Nicks: Dreams, Visions & Rumours is a celebratory examination of this tale, tracing Stevie’s life from her Arizona childhood, the magic moment when she joined Fleetwood Mac and the hedonistic turbulence that followed.

Crowned ‘The Reigning Queen of Rock And Roll’ by Rolling Stone, and with gold and platinum solo albums to her credit, Stevie Nicks outlives her defining Fleetwood Mac image. Hers is a story of hard work, self-belief and a fierce devotion to musical creativity. Researched through exclusive interviews with many of Stevie’s close associates and collaborators, Stevie Nicks: Visions, Dreams & Rumours is a revealing and inspiring portrait of one of rock’s great women.

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