Book Review: West With The Night

West-with-the-NightTitle: West with the Night
Author: Beryl Markham
Genre: Memoir
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
Publication Date: 1942
Pages: 294
Format Read: Audiobook
Standalone or series: Standalone
Where I got the book: Library Libby app
Date finished reading: June 21, 2020

Goodreads Description: West with the Night is the story of Beryl Markham–aviator, racehorse trainer, beauty–and her life in the Kenya of the 1920s and ’30s.

My Review: I heard about this book via Jeff O’Neal on the Book Riot Podcast. Based on his description, I thought it would be an interesting travelogue. The goodreads description, as you can see above, can hardly be considered a comprehensive description. I really did not know what to expect with this book. I just really wanted to read something set in a different part of the world. Plus, Jeff O’Neal mentioned that this book was given high praise from none other than Ernest Hemingway.

I am ashamed to say that I had never heard of Beryl Markham. I have definitely been missing out. Her life was absolutely fascinating! She lived a free life, yet maybe at times a bit lonely. West With The Night has everything you could think of: descriptions of the Maasai culture, a lion attack, horse racing, malaria, World War 1, colonialism, fascism, and aviation by only maps, protractors and compasses (no navigational or radio systems).

Plus, Hemingway was absolutely correct. Beryl Markham was a beautiful writer. Her descriptions put you in another time and place beyond what may be imaginable. This book was a truly a remarkable and memorable reading experience. I highly recommend it!

My Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ½

“Every tomorrow ought not to resemble every yesterday. Still I look at my yesterdays from months passed and find them as good a lot of yesterdays as anybody might want. I sit there in the firelight and see them all.”

Reading Stephen King – September 2019

One of my reading goals for 2019 is to become more familiar with works by different authors by featuring a different author every month (see A Focus on Authors Reading Challenge). I thought the best way to start my Fall reading is with some Stephen King books. I have only ever read his novella, Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption, which was fantastic. I was looking forward to joining the millions of readers that love Stephen King.

0671024256.01.LZZZZZZZTitle: On Writing
Author: Stephen King
Genre: Memoir, Writing
Publisher: Scribner
Publication Date: 2000
Pages: 288
Format Read: Audiobook & Book
Standalone or series: Standalone
Where I got the book: Library Libby app & Library book sale
Date finished reading:  September 6, 2019

Goodreads Description: “Long live the King,” hailed “Entertainment Weekly” upon the publication of Stephen King’s “On Writing.” Part memoir, part master class by one of the bestselling authors of all time, this superb volume is a revealing and practical view of the writer’s craft, comprising the basic tools of the trade every writer must have. King’s advice is grounded in his vivid memories from childhood through his emergence as a writer, from his struggling early career to his widely reported, near-fatal accident in 1999 — and how the inextricable link between writing and living spurred his recovery. Brilliantly structured, friendly and inspiring, “On Writing” will empower and entertain everyone who reads it — fans, writers, and anyone who loves a great story well told.

My Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ½

christineTitle: Christine
Author: Stephen King
Genre: Horror
Publisher: Viking
Publication Date: April 29, 1983
Pages: 503
Format Read: Audiobook
Standalone or series: Standalone
Where I got the book: Library Libby app
Date finished reading: September 14, 2019

Goodreads Description: Just Another Lovers’ Triangle, Right?

It was love at first sight. From the moment seventeen-year-old Arnie Cunningham saw Christine, he knew he would do anything to possess her.

Arnie’s best friend, Dennis, distrusts her—immediately.

Arnie’s teen-queen girlfriend, Leigh, fears her the moment she senses her power.

Arnie’s parents, teachers, and enemies soon learn what happens when you cross her.

Because Christine is no lady. She is Stephen King’s ultimate, blackly evil vehicle of terror…

My Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ½

apt pupilTitle: Apt Pupil 
Author: Stephen King
Genre: Horror
Publisher: Viking Press
Publication Date: 1982
Pages: 179
Format Read: Ebook
Standalone or series: Part of Different Seasons short story collection
Where I got the book: Amazon Kindle
Date finished reading: September 15, 2019

Goodreads Description: Todd Bowden is an apt pupil. Good grades, good family, a paper route. But he is about to meet a different kind of teacher: Mr. Dussander. Todd knows all about Dussander’s dark past. The torture. The death. The decades-old manhunt Dussander has escaped to this day. Yet Todd doesn’t want to turn him in. Todd wants to know more. Much more. He is about to learn the real meaning of power—and the seductive lure of evil.

My Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ 

38926465._SY475_Title: The Body
Author: Stephen King
Genre: Horror
Publisher: Viking Press
Publication Date: 1982
Pages: 80
Format Read: Ebook/Audiobook
Standalone or series: Part of Different Seasons short story collection
Where I got the book: Amazon Kindle
Date finished reading: September 21, 2019

Goodreads Description: It’s 1960 in the fictional town of Castle Rock, Maine. Ray Brower, a boy from a nearby town, has disappeared, and twelve-year-old Gordie Lachance and his three friends set out on a quest to find his body along the railroad tracks. During the course of their journey, Gordie, Chris Chambers, Teddy Duchamp, and Vern Tessio come to terms with death and the harsh truths of growing up in a small factory town that doesn’t offer much in the way of a future.

My Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ ½

shiningTitle: The Shining 
Author: Stephen King
Genre: Horror
Publisher: Doubleday
Publication Date: January 28, 1977
Pages: 659
Format Read: Ebook
Standalone or series: Series Book #1
Where I got the book: Amazon Kindle
Date finished reading: September 30, 2019

Goodreads Description: Jack Torrance’s new job at the Overlook Hotel is the perfect chance for a fresh start. As the off-season caretaker at the atmospheric old hotel, he’ll have plenty of time to spend reconnecting with his family and working on his writing. But as the harsh winter weather sets in, the idyllic location feels ever more remote…and more sinister. And the only one to notice the strange and terrible forces gathering around the Overlook is Danny Torrance, a uniquely gifted five-year-old.

My Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

My Review: As an introduction to Stephen King, I think this month went really well. I do not read many horror novels, so I was nervous on how I would handle reading Stephen King, hence why I started with his nonfiction memoir On Writing. However, much to my surprise I really enjoyed reading Stephen King from his memoir to his short stories to his full length novels.

First, let me say that his memoir is fantastic and should be read even if you are not a Stephen King fan. I am not just saying that because he mentions DePere, Wisconsin, a town I lived in for 3 1/2 years. Half of this book is a memoir about Stephen King’s life and the other half provides his writing tips and conversations he has had about writing. On Writing gives you a glimpse into King’s childhood. He also discusses his addiction to alcohol and his recovery after being struck by a car. That event in his life occurred during the writing of this book and almost killed him. For the most part, I absolutely loved this book. I guess the only thing that started to make me a bit uncomfortable was how many times King mentions the full name of the individual who was driving the car that struck him. Frankly, that individual was not sufficiently punished by the judicial system, and so maybe King mentions him repeatedly in his book out of the bitterness of this situation, which is justified, but still made me feel uncomfortable.

After reading, On Writing, I was ready to dive into his works of fiction. I listened to Christine on audiobook. When I was on my lunch break, I would read his short story from the Different Seasons collection called Apt Pupil. I actually thought this was a good pairing, because it helped me establish why I loved Christine but did not like Apt Pupil very much. Christine was an absolute thrill ride (pun maybe intended). Apt Pupil really dragged for me. While they both had very violent scenes, I found those scenes much more tolerable in Christine than I did in Apt Pupil. The characters in Apt Pupil were just so sick and twisted. I can also say to myself that those were humans doing those acts of violence in Apt Pupil, where as in Christine much of the violence is done by a car (an object). I also really enjoyed the telling of Christine through a narrator (Dennis).

The Body was also told through a narrator, Gordy, and was a good next short story to read, as it was far less disturbing than Apt Pupil. I feel horrible writing this, but this style of literature made a much better movie. If you haven’t seen Stand By Me, you should. It is a great adaptation of this story. I found it a little confusion in the reading of The Body to understand if the narrator was in the past or the present. That could also be because I listened to it on audio instead of reading my physical copy. However, the experiences and conversations between the four friends, Gordy, Chris, Teddy, and Vern, as they go in search of a dead body, were wonderfully told – entertaining and at times funny.

To end my month of reading Stephen King, I finally read The Shining and no it is not like the Jack Nicholson movie (though I admit I love the movie too). This was a great conclusion, as I absolutely loved this book. It was my favorite for sure. It had characters I cared about, fantastical elements (a possessed murder house & people who have a special ability called the shine), and intense, scary moments that made it hard to read but at the same time made it hard to stop reading. Also, Dick Halloran, you rock my world! I can’t help but be tempted to read King’s follow-up novel called Doctor Sleep, but I am nervous that he changes the characters enough (especially Danny) that I won’t enjoy it.

I have heard from other readers, that Stephen King’s writing it too simplistic. It may be simplistic, but I think he creates magic with his words – simple or not. He makes you scared of things you never thought you would be scared of and uses important topics as themes in his stories, like bullying, alcoholism and friendship. “Friends come in and out of your life like busboys in a restaurant, did you ever notice that?” (from The Body) I avoided Stephen King for so long, because I just did not think I would enjoy his type of horror (or the horror genre in general). I was wrong though and am glad I finally read his works. I will definitely be reading more.

My Overall Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Have you ever read Stephen King? If so, what are your favorites?

Book Review: Stay Sexy & Don’t Get Murdered

ssdgmTitle: Stay Sexy & Don’t Get Murdered
Author: Karen Kilgariff & Georgia Hardstark
Genre: Memoir, True Crime
Publisher: Forge Books
Publication Date: May 28, 2019
Pages: 304
Format Read: Audiobook
Standalone or series: Standalone
Where I got the book: Library Libby app
Date finished reading: September 16, 2019

Goodreads Description: The highly anticipated first book by Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark, the voices behind the #1 hit podcast My Favorite Murder!

Sharing never-before-heard stories ranging from their struggles with depression, eating disorders, and addiction, Karen and Georgia irreverently recount their biggest mistakes and deepest fears, reflecting on the formative life events that shaped them into two of the most followed voices in the nation.

In Stay Sexy & Don’t Get Murdered, Karen and Georgia focus on the importance of self-advocating and valuing personal safety over being ‘nice’ or ‘helpful.’ They delve into their own pasts, true crime stories, and beyond to discuss meaningful cultural and societal issues with fierce empathy and unapologetic frankness.

My Review: Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark are rocking the podcast world with their true crime/comedy podcast, My Favorite Murder. If you haven’t listened to it yet, you should! As in the podcast, Karen and Georgia use some of their clever sayings (like “buy your own shit”, “you’re in a cult, call your dad” and “stay out of the forest”) to continue to open up to their fans about topics that they and so many others have struggled with like alcoholism, family grief, eating disorders, and difficult relationships to name a few. It is vulnerable and real. When I wasn’t laughing to the point of tears, I was nodding yes Yes YES!

Of course, they also dive into their love of true crime. As a girl who also grew up in the 80s, I too can relate to the section where Karen and Georgia talk about what it means to be latchkey kids. I wasn’t so much left at home alone, as I was left outside. It wasn’t until boys were disappearing from my neighborhood that my mom stopped allowing us to ride our bikes anywhere we wanted. Within a couple months, Jeffrey Dahmer was arrested within a few miles of our house. When a story like that dominates your childhood, it is no wonder that I became fascinated with true crime. Karen and Georgia, along with the My Favorite Murder family, have made me and thousands of others around the world feel that it is okay to like true crime. This book covers some of the key advice they have given to Stay Sexy and Don’t Get Murdered, including my favorites of ALWAYS trust your instincts and FUCK POLITENESS!

I adored this book. For audiobook listeners, you will get a special treat by hearing the occasional soothing/sexy voice of Paul Giamatti. SSDGM, Murderinos!

My Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ 

Book Review: Book Girl

BOOKGIRLTitle: Book Girl: A Journey Through the Treasures and Transforming Power of a Reading Life
Author: Sarah Clarkson
Genre: Memoir
Publisher: Tyndale Momentum
Publication Date: September 4, 2018
Pages: 288
Format Read: Audiobook
Standalone or series: Standalone
Where I got the book: Library Libby app
Date finished reading: August 31, 2019

Goodreads Description: When you hear a riveting story, does it thrill your heart and stir your soul? Do you hunger for truth and goodness? Do you secretly relate to Belle’s delight in the library in Beauty and the Beast?

If so, you may be on your way to being a book girl.

Books were always Sarah Clarkson’s delight. Raised in the company of the lively Anne of Green Gables, the brave Pevensie children of Narnia, and the wise Austen heroines, she discovered reading early on as a daily gift, a way of encountering the world in all its wonder. But what she came to realize as an adult was just how powerfully books had shaped her as a woman to live a story within that world, to be a lifelong learner, to grasp hope in struggle, and to create and act with courage.

She’s convinced that books can do the same for you.

Join Sarah in exploring the reading life as a gift and an adventure, one meant to enrich, broaden, and delight you in each season of your life as a woman. In Book Girl, you’ll discover:
how reading can strengthen your spiritual life and deepen your faith,
why a journey through classic literature might be just what you need (and where to begin),
how stories form your sense of identity,
how Sarah’s parents raised her to be a reader–and what you can do to cultivate a love of reading in the growing readers around you, and
20+ annotated book lists, including some old favorites and many new discoveries.
Whether you’ve long considered yourself a reader or have dreams of becoming one, Book Girl will draw you into the life-giving journey of becoming a woman who reads and lives well.

My Review: I really wanted to love this book. What book lover doesn’t appreciate hearing about someone else’s love of books?!

The author made some fantastic points about how reading is knowledge, but that reading should also be for enjoyment purposes. I’m a little jealous of the author’s upbringing – that reading was encouraged. I did not come from a family of readers. They often were confused on why I enjoyed reading so much.

The author gives excellent advice on how to make your reading life more enjoyable too, including doing book discussions and participating in book clubs. She also recommends keeping a book journal or even writing down your favorite quotes. These suggestions are all good ones to make you truly appreciate literature and reading in general.

However, I felt that there was quite a lot of repetition throughout the book. While I love lists and especially book lists, the author’s lists seemed a bit narrow. Yes, I understand that the author went to Oxford, especially after she mentioned it the 50th time, so having an appreciation for C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien is understandable, but they are not the only authors out there. There are so many amazing authors that should have been included. At one point she mentions a book that takes place in North Africa, but it was from the perspective of a missionary not from a local. She did briefly mention Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, but there should have been a lot more authors of color included in her lists.

Unfortunately, because of those reasons, this was an overall disappointing read for me.

My Rating: ♦ ♦

Book Review: The Greatest Love Story Ever Told

the-greatest-love-story-ever-told-coverTitle: The Greatest Love Story Ever Told
Author: Megan Mullally & Nick Offerman
Genre: Romantic, Humor-filled Memoir
Publisher: Dutton Books
Publication Date: October 2, 2018
Pages: 269
Format Read: audiobook
Standalone or series: standalone
Where I got the book: library Libby app
Date finished reading: February 12, 2019

Goodreads Description: At last, the full story behind Megan Mullally and Nick Offerman’s epic romance, including stories, portraits, and the occasional puzzle, all telling the smoldering tale that has fascinated Hollywood for over a decade.

The year: 2000. The setting: Los Angeles. A gorgeous virtuoso of an actress had agreed to star in a random play, and a basement-dwelling scenic carpenter had said he would assay a supporting role in the selfsame pageant. At the first rehearsal, she surveyed her fellow cast members, as one does, determining if any of the men might qualify to provide her with a satisfying fling. Her gaze fell upon the carpenter, and like a bolt of lightning, the thought struck her: No dice. Moving on.

Yet, unbeknownst to our protagonists, Cupid had merely set down his bow and picked up a rocket launcher. Then fired a love rocket (not a euphemism). The players were Megan Mullally and Nick Offerman, and the resulting romance, once it ignited, was . . . epic. Beyond epic. It resulted in a coupling that has endured to this day; a sizzling, perpetual tryst that has captivated the world with its kindness, athleticism, astonishingly low-brow humor, and true (fire emoji) passion.

How did they do it? They came from completely different families, endured a significant age difference, and were separated by the gulf of several social strata. Megan loved books and art history; Nick loved hammers. But much more than these seemingly unsurpassable obstacles were the values they held in common: respect, decency, the ability to mention genitalia in almost any context, and an abiding obsession with the songs of Tom Waits.

Eighteen years later, they’re still very much in love, and have finally decided to reveal the philosophical mountains they have conquered, the lessons they’ve learned, and the myriad jigsaw puzzles they’ve completed, in a book. Featuring anecdotes, hijinks, interviews, photos, and a veritable grab bag of tomfoolery, this is not only the intoxicating book that Mullally’s and Offerman’s fans have been waiting for, it might just hold the solution to the greatest threat facing our modern world: the single life.

My Review: For those who love the television shows Will and Grace and Parks and Recreation, two of our favorite characters open up about themselves and their real-life romance. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to this book on audio. It was like listening to Nick Offerman and Megan Mullally having an intimate conversation. It was fun and humorous.

They cover a wide variety of topics from their childhoods, previous relationships and the first time they met to fashion and health and beauty topics. Book lovers like myself and many who will be reading this review will enjoy this section from Megan Mullally, as she discusses clothing women wear to impress men:

“It’ll be freezing, literally 20 degrees outside, and girls are wearing, like, lace hot pants and a CBD patch. I mean, if you simply want to be nude, great. But if you’re doing it because you think other girls are doing it and guys might like that, or you get into bars or get free drinks or whatever – maybe don’t. Maybe don’t even go to bars. And don’t get free drinks. None of those things are super high on the cuteness spectrum. Read some books. (Laughs) It’s a wonder that I ever had a boyfriend in my entire life, because all I really like to do is read. I don’t even know how I ever met another human.”

I was so impressed with how well-spoken Nick Offerman is. On top of that, he constantly compliments Megan Mullally throughout the book. It was super sweet, though I think it was making my husband uncomfortable a few times when I made him listen to this audiobook with me. I think now he thinks I expect him to express his love for me like Nick Offerman does for Megan Mullally. LOL

With the audiobook, you enjoy fun moments where they describe pictures that are featured in the book that you can’t see. You also get a bonus chapter! This was definitely a fun little escape from all the drama and murder I’ve been reading lately.

My Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ 

WWW Wednesdays – August 8, 2018

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What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Time for another WWW Wednesdays, which is brought to you by Sam @ Taking on a World of Words. If you too want to participate, answer the above questions and post that link on Sam’s page.

Currently Reading

The President is Missing by Bill Clinton and James Patterson

Patterson_ClintonTHEPRESIDENTISMISSING_FINAL_New

I put a hold on this at the library as soon as it came out many months ago, and it finally became available. I thought it would be a fun summer read, even if I haven’t heard great reviews.

Finished Reading

The Lucky Dress – I received this ARC from NetGalley and believe it is now available to the public this week. An enjoyable romantic tale, where Emi is forced to face her ex-fiancé, Jack, when her brother marries Jack’s sister. Emi and Jack’s relationship ended poorly, and as the wedding events take place, the author takes you back to explore Emi and Jack’s entire relationship. Can Emi and Jack find their way back to each other or will they move on with the individuals (Liam and Greta) that they bring as dates to the wedding?

The Masterpiece – I received this ARC from NetGalley and have been so excited to read it, since hearing about it on the What Should I Read Next podcast. It did not disappoint. It quickly became one of my favorite reads of the year. It combines, historical fiction, drama, and mystery with fascinating characters and an almost lyrical writing style with beautiful descriptions. The story takes place in New York’s Grand Central station, which in the 20’s was home to an art school. However, in 1974, that school no longer exists, but a young woman who works at Grand Central station discovers the remnants of what was formally the art school, and her curiosity is peaked.

Lord of the Flies – I read this for my Classics book club and was not disappointed. A group of young boys are stranded on a deserted island after a plane crash and have to learn to survive until they are rescued. It is a quick read but also depressing as the premise really is that the beast on the island is actually human nature, and that there is evil in all of us.

Make Trouble – This is Cecile Richards’ memoir. She was the daughter of Ann Richards, who was governor of Texas from 1991-1995. Ann Richards was one of few women and and a democrat to hold that position in Texas. Cecile Richards tells her story of what is was like being Ann Richards daughter, but also of her own life in the world of politics and activism. She supported unions, worked for Nancy Polosi, campaigned for Hilary Clinton and fought for women’s health care, becoming the president of Planned Parenthood. Her husband and kids have also taken on roles of activism. It is an inspiring book that makes you want to go out there and fight for a better country and world.

Reading Next

I am looking forward to my next round of reads. I think the variety will suit me just fine and help me succeed in the 25infive challenge I am participating in this weekend. This challenge is to read for 25 hours total from August 9-13. Let me know if you are participating as well, and we can cheer each other on. I’ll be posting on my Instagram, Twitter and on Litsy @Morr_Books.

Tell me what you are reading or share your link!

HAPPY READING!!!!