Saturday, December 31, 2016

Open House

Book 97 of my 2016 Reading Challenge
read from December 30 - 31

Open House by Elizabeth Berg

Summary (via Goodreads)
Samantha's husband has left her, and after a spree of overcharging at Tiffany's, she settles down to reconstruct a life for herself and her eleven-year-old son. Her eccentric mother tries to help by fixing her up with dates, but a more pressing problem is money. To meet her mortgage payments, Sam decides to take in boarders. The first is an older woman who offers sage advice and sorely needed comfort; the second, a maladjusted student, is not quite so helpful. A new friend, King, an untraditional man, suggests that Samantha get out, get going, get work. But her real work is this: In order to emerge from grief and the past, she has to learn how to make her own happiness. In order to really see people, she has to look within her heart. And in order to know who she is, she has to remember - and reclaim - the person she used to be, long before she became someone else in an effort to save her marriage. 
Open House is a love story about what can blossom between a man and a woman, and within a woman herself.

My Opinion
Oh, my heart.  I love this author's ability to write characters and Sam was uncomfortably vulnerable and real.  I felt every emotion, good and bad, that she had.

But yikes, why the phrase "I sit in the middle of the floor and rock like an autistic"?  Blech, that was unnecessary and turned me off.

A Few Quotes from the Book
"You know before you know, of course. You are bending over the dryer, pulling out the still-warm sheets, and the knowledge walks up your backbone. You stare at the man you love and you are staring at nothing; he is gone before he is gone."

"...I remove my wedding rings and put them in my jewelry box. So many others have done this. I am not the only one. I am not the only one. But here, I am the only one."

The Nix

Book 96 of my 2016 Reading Challenge
read from November 07 - December 31

The Nix by Nathan Hill

Summary (via the book jacket)
A Nix can take many forms. In Norwegian folklore, it is a spirit who sometimes appears as a white horse that steals children away. In Nathan Hill's remarkable first novel, a Nix is anything you love that one day disappears, taking with it a piece of your heart.
It's 2011, and Samuel Andresen-Anderson - college professor, stalled writer - has a Nix of his own: his mother, Faye. He hasn't seen her in decades, not since she abandoned the family when he was a boy. Now she's reappeared, having committed an absurd crime that electrifies the nightly news, beguiles the internet, and inflames a politically divided country. The media paints Faye as a radical hippie with a sordid past, but as far as Samuel knows, his mother was an ordinary girl who married her high-school sweetheart. Which version of his mother is true? Two facts are certain: she's facing some serious charges, and she needs Samuel's help.
To save her, Samuel will have to embark on his own journey, uncovering long-buried secrets about the woman he thought he knew, secrets that stretch across generations and have their origin all the way back in Norway, home of the mysterious Nix. As he does so, Samuel will confront not only Faye's losses but also his own lost love, and will relearn everything he thought he knew about his mother, and himself.
From the suburban Midwest to New York City to the 1968 riots that rocked Chicago and beyond, The Nix explores - with sharp humor and a fierce tenderness - the resilience of love and home, even in times of radical change.

My Opinion
There has been a lot of hype about this book and for me, it didn't live up to my expectations.  I like the author's writing style and would read him again but this particular book was very ambitious and felt like too many plots.

The "Choose Your Own Adventure" part was riveting and I really liked Faye's storyline as well as the characters from her past but I skimmed the parts with Nathan and the student as well as all of Pwnage's sections.

I loved this line, about the protestors making out the night before the riots: "Tonight, it was carnal. Tomorrow, carnage."

"Sometimes we're so wrapped up in our own story that we don't see how we're supporting characters in someone else's" is an absolute truth.

A Few Quotes from the Book
"If Samuel had know his mother was leaving, he might have paid more attention. He might have listened more carefully to her, observed her more closely, written certain crucial things down. Maybe he could have acted differently, been a different person.
 Maybe he could have been a child worth sticking around for."

"Any problem you face in a video game or in life is one of four things: an enemy, obstacle, puzzle, or trap...You have to be careful, Pwnage said, with people who are puzzles and people who are traps. A puzzle can be solved but a trap cannot. Usually what happens is you think someone's a puzzle until you realize they're a trap. But by then it's too late. That's the trap."

"She'd decided that about eighty percent of what you believe about yourself when you're twenty turns out to be wrong. The problem is you don't know what your small true part is until much later."

"Sometimes what we avoid most is not pain but mystery."

"Something does not have to happen for it to feel real."

Sima's Undergarments for Women

Book 95 of my 2016 Reading Challenge
read from December 28 - 30

Sima's Undergarments for Women by Ilana Stanger-Ross

Summary (via Goodreads)
In the basement of her Brooklyn apartment, Sima Goldner welcomes women of all shapes and sizes with warmth, acceptance - and a bra that gives them the support and lift they need. But Sima, regretfully childless at sixty, and harboring a secret that has embittered her marriage, can't seem to do the same for herself. Then Timna, a young Israeli with enviable cleavage, arrives in search of a demi-cup and stays on to become the shop's seamstress. As they laugh, gossip, and sell lingerie, Sima finds herself awakening to hope and the possibility of happiness in this beguiling story of New York's underground sisterhood, and one woman's second chance.

My Opinion
I learned a new word and I love it! "Sabra: the tough cactus hide, the juice of the fruit: prickly on the outside but sweet on the inside".  It was used to describe a person with a tough exterior but nice once you got to know them. 

This was perfect for reading as I was traveling.  There was a part in the middle that made me super uncomfortable because I thought Sima was going to make an irreversible mistake but she didn't call and it turned out okay.

A Few Quotes from the Book
"A secret lingerie shop, hidden underground - Sima, this place is the stuff of legends."

"But to have no one to share it with, no one beside me who I could turn to and point and say, 'Look.'...It's hard, that silence. It made it all less real somehow, because there was no one there to understand."

Girls Like Us

Book 94 of my 2016 Reading Challenge
read on December 27

Girls Like Us by Alex Apostol

Summary (via the book jacket)
Do lifelong friendships really last forever?
Hailey and Tries have been best friends since the second grade.  Twenty-one-years later, they are moving from Virginia to California for a fresh start.  Road trips can be tiring, especially when the person you're traveling with is irritating you.  Hailey tries her best to have fun with Triss like they used to, but it gets harder with each passing day.  Some people just don't know when to grow up.  Can their friendship survive everything it's put through on their four day trip?

My Opinion
This light read kept my interest and was perfect for my plane ride.  The time jumps kept things interesting but weren't confusing.  Each snippet was like a memory of their friendship so the book felt like a collection of short stories that have the same characters.

Typically if there are only a few typos I can overlook them.  However, I ended up knocking the book down a star because there were just too many.  The spelling (like 'steeling' for 'stealing' or 'infront' as one word) or wrong word (like 'in' for 'is') feel nitpicky to point out but when it's the wrong character's name in two different places, that affects the story and overall there were just too many mistakes of different varieties to completely ignore.

Quote from the Book
"Neither of them could forget the day they met. It was the beginning to the rest of their lives as far as either was concerned. They couldn't even conceive what their lives would have been like if they had never met that snowy day in the second grade."

Love Warrior

Book 93 of my 2016 Reading Challenge
read from November 08 - December 26

Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton

Summary (via the book jacket)
Just when Glennon Doyle Melton was beginning to feel she had it all figured out - three happy children, a doting spouse, and a writing career so successful that her first book catapulted to the top of the New York Times bestseller list - her husband revealed his infidelity and she was forced to realize that nothing was as it seemed. A recovering alcoholic and bulimic, Glennon found that rock bottom was a familiar place. In the midst of crisis, she knew to hold on to what she discovered in recovery: that her deepest pain has always held within it an invitation to a richer life.
Love Warrior is the story of one marriage, but it is also the story of the healing that is possible for any of us when we refuse to settle for good enough and begin to face pain and love head-on. This astonishing memoir reveals how our ideals of masculinity and femininity can make it impossible for a man and a woman to truly know one another - and it captures the beauty that unfolds when one couple commits to unlearning everything they've been taught so that they can finally, after thirteen years of marriage, fall in love.
Love Warrior is a gorgeous and inspiring account of how we are born to be warriors: strong, powerful, and brave; able to confront the pain and claim the love that exists for us all. This chronicle of a beautiful, brutal journey speaks to anyone who yearns for deeper, truer relationships and a more abundant, authentic life.

My Opinion
I read this for an online book club group read.  We read a chapter about every 3 days and while I never participated in the discussion (I'm a silent lurker) I enjoyed reading others' views on it.

Here are some of her phrases that made me sit back and think 'wow'.  I wish I didn't relate to some of them as much as I did:

  •  "We had to tell the truth, which was: "Actually, I'm not fine." But no one knew how to handle hearing that truth, so we found other ways to tell it. We used whatever else we could find - drugs, booze, food, money, our arms, other bodies. We acted out our truth instead of speaking it and everything became a godforsaken mess. But we were just trying to be honest."
  • "We begin to understand that to coparent is to one day look up and notice that you are on a roller coaster with another human being.  You are in the same car, strapped down side by side and you can never, ever get off.  There will never be another moment in your lives when your hearts don't rise and fall together, when your minds don't race and panic together, when your stomachs don't churn in tandem, when you stop seeing huge hills emerge in the distance and simultaneously grab the side of the car and hold on tight. No one except for the one strapped down beside you will ever understand the particular thrills and terrors of your ride."
  • "He would not be able to explain that I named that kitten Miracle and that Miracle thought I was his mother.  When I told Craig that story I knew it was important, but he didn't.  He smiled and nodded and then let it slip away.  When I mentioned Miracle months later, Craig said, "Who is Miracle?"  His forgetfulness feels like carelessness, and his carelessness feels like rejection.  What do I do?  Tell Miracle's story again?  Do I say, The story I'm about to tell is important to me.  Please pay attention to me and remember it.  Please keep this piece of me somewhere safe so we can build upon it?  Each day, we're making sandcastles I know will be washed away.  I long for something solid, lasting, strong between us."
  • "But since I am a mother, dramatic gestures are off-limits.  I must be steady.  I must be calm.  I must think about my children, who haven't yet seen the wave that's about to hit.  I must be the steadfast captain of our sinking ship.  I must smile as we go down so everyone can drown peacefully."
  • "We either allow ourselves to feel the burn of our own pain or someone we love gets burned by it.  Craig and I had spent our lives denying our pain, but that did not make is disappear.  Since we refused to hold it, we passed it on to the people we loved."
  • "God created women as a Warrior...While those around them fall away, the women hold the sick and nurse the weak, put food on the table, carry their families' sadness and anger and love and hope.  They keep showing up for their lives and their people with the odds stacked against them and the weight of the world on their shoulders.  They never stop singing songs of truth, love, and redemption in the face of hopelessness.  They are inexhaustible, ferocious, relentless cocreatorrs with God, and they make beautiful worlds out of nothing.  Have women been the Warriors all along?"
This was the first book of hers I've read but it definitely won't be the last.  The reason I gave it 4 stars and not 5 is because I skimmed the last few chapters because it was too hard to read her optimism when I know it ended up not working out for them.

A Few Quotes from the Book
"We know what the world wants from us. We know we must decide whether to stay small, quiet, and uncomplicated or allow ourselves to grow as big, loud, and complex as we were made to be. Every girl must decide whether to be true to herself or true to the world."

"Any woman who doesn't give a fuck is simply abandoning her soul to adhere to the rules. No woman on earth doesn't give a fuck - no woman is that cool - she's just hidden her fire. Likely, it's burning her up."

"If you don't remember half your life, does it even count? Did you really live it? I pass six more months of my life this way; half alive. Half alive is all the alive I can take."

"While I've been home changing diapers, doing dishes, and feeding our children, he's been sleeping with other women. While I've been begging my body to heal, he's been lying down with other bodies. While I've been apologizing for my inability to connect during sex, he's been connecting with strangers. For years, he let me take all the blame. He let me cry on his shoulder and ask: What is wrong with me? Why can't I feel safe during sex? He patted my head and said he didn't know. He knew. He was the reason."

Never Look an American in the Eye

Book 92 of my 2016 Reading Challenge
read from November 30 - December 19

Never Look an American in the Eye: A Memoir of Flying Turtles, Colonial Ghosts, and the Making of a Nigerian American by Okey Ndibe

Summary (via the book jacket)
Okey Ndibe's funny, charming, and penetrating memoir tells of his move from Nigeria to America, where he came to edit the influential - but forever teetering on the verge of insolvency - African Commentary magazine. It recounts stories of Ndibe's relationships with China Achebe, Wole Soyinka, and other literary figures; examines the differences between Nigerian and American etiquette and politics; recalls an incident of racial profiling just 13 days after he arrived in the US, in which he was mistaken for a bank robber; considers American stereotypes at Africa (and vice-versa); and juxtaposes African folk tales with Wall Street trickery. All these stories and more come together in a generous, encompassing book about the making of a writer and a new American.

My Opinion
I wasn't sure how to rate this one because I really liked the book but after hearing him speak at the Iowa City Book Festival, where he read a few of these chapters aloud and signed my book, just reading the rest didn't feel like enough.  This would be great to listen to as an audiobook.

It was interesting because he made a note in the book that as time has passed since he was stopped by the police because they were looking for a bank robber and he fit the description (basically, a black man), the tone in how he has told the story changed from dread to humor.  He told that story in the reading I attended and it's true that he made it light and humorous, as he did other events that must have been very difficult at the time.  

Keeping it light doesn't mean he glosses over the struggles.  It's the talent of a true writer to make you think without beating you over the head with the lessons he/she wants you learn, and Okey is a phenomenal writer.  

A Few Quotes from the Book
"The books and journalism I consumed fueled my desire to write. I needed writing badly, needed it to save me from a career in the corporate world that my studies would sentence me to. Bohemian at heart and by habit, I dreaded the prospect of a regular eight-to-five job."

"I sought to draw attention both to the rampancy of power abuse and to the repercussions of silence. Those who shut their eyes in order to see no evil, to denounce none, those who plug their ears and gag their mouths, should be under no illusion. They may delude themselves, but they cannot enter a plea of innocence in history's great carnages, its galleries of gore and horrors."

Mesa of Sorrows

Book 91 of my 2016 Reading Challenge
read from November 22 - December 07

Mesa of Sorrows: A History of the Awat'ovi Massacre by James F. Brooks

Summary (via Goodreads)
The Hopi community of Awat'ovi existed peacefully on Arizona's Antelope Mesa for generations until one bleak morning in the fall of 1700 - raiders from nearby Hopi villages descended on Awat'ovi, slaughtering their neighboring men, women, and children. While little of the pueblo itself remains, five centuries of history lie beneath the low rises of sandstone masonry, and theories about the events of that night are as persistent as the desert winds. The easternmost town on Antelope Mesa, Awat'ovi was renowned for martial strength, and had been the gateway to the entire Hopi landscape for centuries. Why did kinsmen target it for destruction?
Drawing on oral traditions, archival accounts, and extensive archaeological research, James Brooks unravels the story and its significance. Mesa of Sorrows follows the pattern of an archaeological expedition, uncovering layer after layer of evidence and theories. Brooks questions their reliability and shows how interpretations were shaped by academic, religious and tribal politics. Piecing together three centuries of investigation, he offers insight into why some were spared - women, mostly, and taken captive - and others sacrificed. He weighs theories that the attack was in retribution for Awat'ovi having welcomed Franciscan missionaries or for the residents' practice of sorcery, and argues that a perfect storm of internal and external crises revitalized an ancient cycle of ritual bloodshed and purification.
A haunting account of a shocking massacre, Mesa of Sorrows is a probing exploration of how societies confront painful histories, and why communal violence still plagues us today.

My Opinion
The description of the book, both from reading the summary and listening to the author speak at a reading, didn't match what I actually read.  It's not necessarily a bad thing but it was dryer than I expected after his engaging talk about his research and I didn't get the deeper layers of how this applies to the present day that he alluded to in the summary. 

There were some typos which surprised me since he's a professor, especially with using "there" instead of "their" occasionally.

He mentioned a way people used to determine if a woman was a witch that was new to me.  They would measure her tongue...apparently witches' were shorter than average.

A Few Quotes from the Book
"In the Euro-American mind, history marches from past to present. Each event - birth, death, marriage, divorce, war and peace - accrues in a sequence that shapes the next in knowable ways, although their precise relation may prove elusive. We attend to the past to better comprehend our present. Yet, invert this. What is our present were already active in our past? What if our present is nothing more than a past foretold? This swirl of cause and effect, effect as cause, not linear but cyclical and untethered from western time, more closely captures the way many Hopis understood (and understand) the ruination of Awat'ovi Pueblo."

"The present troubles the ghosts of the past."


Book 90 of my 2016 Reading Challenge
read from November 13 - 21

Carsick by John Waters

Summary (via the book jacket)
John Waters is putting his life on the line. Armed with wit, a pencil-thin mustache, and a cardboard sign that reads I'M NOT PSYCHO, he is hitchhiking across America from Baltimore to San Fransisco, braving lonely roads and treacherous drivers. Before he leaves for this bizarre adventure, Waters fantasizes about the best and worst possible scenarios: a friendly drug dealer hands over piles of cash to finance films with no questions asked; a demolition-derby driver makes a filthy sexual request in the middle of a race; and a Kansas vice squad entraps him and throws him in jail.
So what really happens when this cult legend sticks out his thumb and faces the open road? Hitching across America, Waters rides along with a gentle eighty-one-year-old farmer who is convinced Waters is a hobo; an indie band on tour; and his unexpected hero: a young, sandy-haired Republican in a Corvette.
Laced with subversive humor and warm intelligence, Carsick is an unforgettable vacation with a wickedly funny companion - and a celebration of America's weird, astonishing, and generous citizenry.

My Opinion
The "best case" chapters were great stories but they and the "worst case" chapters took up more of the book I expected and I was ready to move on to what actually happened.  Note: don't eat while reading the "worst" chapters...they were disgusting.

He may be the first hitchhiker ever who had an assistant make his signs.  He didn't sound pretentious when he said it, he just mentioned it as part of getting ready and it made me laugh because it was so unlikely.  I was also surprised he'd never heard of Outback Steakhouses before, I didn't know they were a regional thing.

A Few Quotes from the Book
"Fantasies are like extra cash, they need to be banked for later use."

"He's off and I'm all by myself, the way everybody really is no matter where you are."


Book 89 of my 2016 Reading Challenge
read from November 07 - 13

Bird by Crystal Chan

Summary (via the book jacket)
Nothing matters.
Only Bird matters.
And he flew away.

Jewel never knew her brother, Bird, but all her life she has lived in his shadow.
She lives in a house drenched in silence.
Filled with secrets.
Then one night, a boy in a tree changes everything...

My Opinion
My friends and I went to this author's reading at the Iowa City Book Festival which means we got to hear the SUPER SECRET ZOMBIE ENDING that isn't online anywhere.  That was definitely memorable.

Her descriptions were vivid and unique, such as when she said "The tension in the air suddenly grew so thick we didn't need tree limbs to sit on anymore, we could have sat on one of those words that just crawled out and got huge".

I will definitely pass this YA read on to my kids.

A Few Quotes from the Book
"Grandpa stopped speaking the day he killed my brother, John."

"If you give up too much of yourself, too fast, then someone can just up and take it away. And a person like me, without too much of my own to start with - well, you need to be careful with what you got."

A Star for Mrs. Blake

Book 88 of my 2016 Reading Challenge
read from October 28 - November 7

A Star for Mrs. Blake by April Smith

Summary (via the book jacket)
Cora Blake never dreamed she'd go to Paris. She's hardly ever left the small fishing village where she grew up. Yet in the summer of 1931, courtesy of the U.S. government, she joins hundreds of other Gold Star Mothers traveling to France to say a final goodbye to their fallen sons, American casualties of World War I who were buried overseas.
Chaperoned by a dashing West Point officer, Cora's group includes the wife of an immigrant chicken farmer; a housemaid; a socialite; a former tennis star in precarious mental health; and dozens of other women from all over the country. Along the way, the women will forge lifelong friendships as they face a death, a scandal, and a secret revealed.

My Opinion
The book is fictional but the author explains the real program for Gold Star Mothers it was based on.  I wasn't familiar with it before but I thought it was a very nice thing to do for the mothers/families.

Will this whole "which Mrs. Russell" subplot end up being necessary?  At first it just added confusion.  And once it was settled, I missed the first Mrs. Russell we met; she was a great character and I feel it was a missed opportunity for a different perspective not to follow her journey

A Few Quotes from the Book
"The blue star symbolized hope and pride, one star for every family member in military service...Then one day they accepted the lonely task of replacing the blue star with one of gold. Gold meant sacrifice to the cause of liberty and freedom. It meant they were now Gold Star Mothers. They hadn't asked for this, nor did they have any say in how it happened, but they had been given to bear the most violent and dark cost of the nation's war."

"He believed in his country and his superiors, and that President Wilson had been correct when he said, "The world must be made safe for democracy - the right is more precious than peace," so when [the mothers] settled down, he assumed his military posture in the front of the bus, and bravely met the expectations of the mothers in his care. His duty was to represent the army, not to rewrite history. But he could show it to them in a more gentle light."

Loose Girl

Book 87 of my 2016 Reading Challenge
read from October 26 - November 02

Loose Girl: A Memoir of Promiscuity by Kerry Cohen

Summary (via the book jacket)
For Everyone Who Was That Girl.
For Everyone Who Knew That Girl.
For Everyone Who Wondered Who That Girl Was.

Loose Girl is Kerry Cohen's captivating memoir about her descent into promiscuity and how she gradually found her way toward real intimacy. The story of addiction - not just to sex, but to male attention - Loose Girl is also the story of a young girl who came to believe that boys and men could give her life meaning.
Never less than riveting, Loose Girl re-creates what it feels like to be in that desperate moment when a girl tries to control a boy by handing over her body, when the touch of that boy seems to offer proof of something but ultimately delivers little more than emptiness.
The unforgettable story of one young woman who desperately wanted to matter, Loose Girl  will speak to countless others with its compassion, understanding, and love.

My Opinion
She's very introspective about what she was looking for and why.  I understand her rationale even though my life didn't take this particular path.

But grrr, why did she have to casually use the 'r' word (she wrote a story about "a retarded girl who gets gang-raped")???  Nothing pulls me out of a book faster than that.

A Few Quotes from the Book
"It doesn't matter who he is. There are so many of them. Him. Me. Our movement together. Proof, I think again and again, of being worthwhile. Proof of being loved."

"I held off having sex before because I had the notion I would wait for love. I wasn't sure I'd ever be loved, and I was tired of waiting. If I can't have love, I'll take the next best thing - or at least the thing I figure might get me the love."

"There are times I feel like I live in a different universe, as though I am watching other girls through a glass wall, these strange creatures who seem to know how to be loved."

Out of Darkness

Book 86 of my 2016 Reading Challenge
read from October 23 - 28

Out of Darkness by Ashley Hope Perez

Summary (via the book jacket)
"This is East Texas, and there's lines. Lines you cross, lines you don't cross. That clear?"
New London, Texas, 1937. Naomi Vargas and Wash Fuller know about the lines in East Texas as well as anyone. They know the signs that mark them.
"No Negroes, Mexicans, or dogs."
They know the people that enforce them.
"They all decided they'd ride out in they sheets and pay Blue a visit."
But sometimes the attraction between two people is so powerful it breaks through even the most entrenched color lines. And the consequences can be explosive.
"More than grief, more than anger, there is a need. Someone to blame. Someone to make pay."
Ashley Hope Perez takes the facts of the 1937 New London school explosion - the worst school disaster in American history - as a backdrop for a riveting novel about segregation, love, family, and the forces that destroy people.

My Opinion
Five star read.  This one will stay with me awhile.

I agree with this note from the author: "In researching this novel, I was struck by the many ways in which whole swaths of lived experience have been largely excluded from historical accounts, in part because certain communities were not deemed worthy of note in newspapers and other sources considered authoritative and reliable. These silences need to be amended; I hope my fiction gives readers an appetite for stories lived in the margins of spotlit scenes."
She is right.  I had never heard of this event.

At first I was concerned that I would get confused with the shift in perspective every few pages but I didn't (and especially liked "The Gang" as a narrator).  It was hard to find places to stop because it was so readable and kept pulling me along, but I would have to take breaks because there was so much not being said and I needed time to absorb it.  I also wanted to read it slower because I was so worried something was going to happen; I've seen what the consequences can be when a white girl wants to make trouble for a black boy during that time period.

Masturbation and sex references would make this an older YA read but there really isn't a lot of language.

A Quote from the Book
"A kiss. For a moment, desire and relief were greater than grief.
 But it could not hold."

Naked Pictures of Famous People

Book 85 of my 2016 Reading Challenge
read from October 22 - 26

Naked Pictures of Famous People by Jon Stewart

Summary (via the book jacket)
In these nineteen whip-smart essays, Jon Stewart takes on politics, religion, and celebrity with a soothingly irreverent wit, a brilliant sense of timing, and a palate for the absurd - and these one-of-a-kind forays into his hilarious world will expose you to all its wickedly naked truths.

My Opinion
Published in 1999 before The Daily Show, it was fun to see how his snark continued to develop over time.  But it did make me miss him.

Best Out-of-Context Quote: "Although the vagina is not on public display, it can still be the centerpiece of your personal style. Use it wisely."

My favorite essay was "The Recipe".

A Few Quotes from the Book
"The tapes were recorded on a voice-activated taping system first installed in the White House Oval Office in 1971 by Richard Nixon, to preserve his administration for historical purposes. Nixon would, in later years, refer to the move as "a huge fuckup.""

"Getting people buckle down during World War II or walk a couple of blocks with you on a sunny day in Alabama are impressive indeed, but getting people to castrate or kill themselves for no reason other than you think you saw something about it in a dream is unparalleled control."

"Sheldon threw down the last of his Fresca and laughed the laugh of a man about to be born again. And then he coughed, as some of the delicious nectar went down the wrong pipe."

A Freewheelin' Time

Book 84 of my 2016 Reading Challenge
read from October 03 - 23

A Freewheelin' Time: Greenwich Village in the Sixties, Bob Dylan and Me
by Suze Rotolo

Summary (via the book jacket)
A Freewheelin' Time is Suze Rotolo's firsthand, eyewitness, participant-observer account of the immensely creative and fertile years of the 1960s, just before the circus was in full swing and Bob Dylan became the anointed ringmaster. It chronicles the backstory of Greenwich Village in the early days of the folk-music explosion, when Dylan was honing his skills and she was in the ring with him.
A shy girl from Queens, Suze Rotolo was the daughter of Italian working-class Communists. Growing up at the start of the Cold War and during McCarthyism, she inevitably became an outsider in her neighborhood and at school. Her childhood was turbulent, but Suze found solace in poetry, art, and music. In Washington State Park, in Greenwich Village, she encountered like-minded friends who were also politically active. Then one hot day in July 1961, Suze met Bob Dylan, a rising young musician, at a folk concert at Riverside Church. She was seventeen, he was twenty; they were young, curious, and inseparable. During the years they were together, Dylan was transformed from an obscure folk singer into an uneasy spokesperson for a generation.
Suze Rotolo's story is rich in character and setting, filled with vivid memories of those tumultuous years of dramatic change and poignantly rising expectations when art, culture, and politics all seemed to be conspiring to bring our country a better, freer, richer, and more equitable life. She writes of her involvement with the civil rights movement and describes the sometimes frustrating experience of being a woman in a male-dominated culture, before women's liberation changed the rules for the better. And she tells the wonderfully romantic story of her sweet but sometimes wrenching love affair and its eventual collapse under the pressures of growing fame.
A Freewheelin' Time is a vibrant, moving memoir of a hopeful time and place and of a vital subculture at its most creative. It communicates the excitement of youth, the heartbreak of young love, and the struggles for a brighter future.

My Opinion
There were lots and lots and lots of names and it was hard to keep everyone straight.  It was also very vague for a memoir; assuming nobody forced the author to write this book, why write about something if the only people that will understand/appreciate the story are the people that already lived it?

She made a great point about our unrealistic standards for celebrities.  "Artists we admire aren't necessarily exemplary human beings just because they are exceptional in their chosen fields. Their art is the work offered for public consumption, and nothing else."

A Few Quotes from the Book
"[Bob Dylan] was funny, engaging, intense, and he was persistent. These words completely describe who he was throughout the time we were together; only the order of the words would shift depending on mood or circumstance."

"There were so many talented people who practiced their art form and sharpened their skills during the period of the Greenwich Village renaissance of the sixties. To become a legend or star wasn't always the point. Many did what they loved to do and became known for it far and wide, and others did what they loved to do and managed to make a living at it. Still others burned out and lost their way."

Carpe Demon

Book 83 of my 2016 Reading Challenge
read from October 20 - 23

Carpe Demon by Julie Kenner
Book 1 in the Demon Hunting Soccer Mom series

Summary (via the book jacket)
Lots of women put their careers aside once the kids come along. Kate Connor, for instance, hasn't hunted a demon in ages...
That must be why she missed the one wandering through the pet-food aisle of the San Diablo Wal-Mart. Unfortunately, he managed to catch her attention an hour later - when he crashed into the Connor house, intent on killing her. Now Kate has to clean up the mess in the kitchen, dispose of a dead demon, and pull together a dinner party that will get her husband elected county attorney - all without arousing her family's suspicion. Worse yet, it seems the dead demon didn't come alone...
It's time for Kate Connor to go back to work.

My Opinion
This book got off to a really bad start for me.  Kate is extremely awkward in social situations and seems to make things harder than they have to be in a forced attempt by the author to add humor.  I would've given up by the second chapter if I didn't have the need to finish every single book I start.

BUT...once she got away from the house and a few more characters came along that she could talk to, diluting the endless inner monologues that had been the only way to share the plot points up until that point, it actually settled down and wasn't so bad.

The red herring involving one of her loved ones definitely threw me off track.  I didn't think the explanation given was enough to completely let him off the hook and I'm not a fan of secrets.  Her life is complicated enough without having to hide her job from such an important person -- I hope she tells him what's going on in future books.

I'm willing to give the series one more book.  If it focuses on the mystery like the second half, great.  If not, fool me twice and I won't read any further. 

A Few Quotes from the Book
"I'd staked vampires, defeated demons, and incapacitated incubi. How hard could a last-minute dinner party be?"

The Executioner's Daughter

Book 82 of my 2016 Reading Challenge
read from October 12 - 18

The Executioner's Daughter by Jane Hardstaff
Book 1 in The Executioner's Daughter series

Summary (via the book jacket)
A child that is born to the river shall return to the river.
All her life, Moss has lived in the Tower of London with her father, who serves as the executioner for King Henry VIII. Prisoners condemned to death must face Pa and his axe - and Moss, who holds the basket that will catch their severed heads.
Twelve years you shall have. To love her. To hold her.
With the king sending more enemies to the block each day, Moss knows she can't bear to be the executioner's daughter any longer. She's desperate to see the outside world, especially the River Thames, which flows just beyond the Tower's walls. Even the chilling stories about the Riverwitch, who snatches children from the shore, won't stop her.
After that, the child belongs to me.
When Moss finally finds a way out of the Tower, she discovers the river holds more danger than she imagined - including the Riverwitch's curse. The Riverwitch once helped Moss's family in exchange for a terrible bargain; now she expects Moss to pay the debt.

My Opinion
Although the ending went off the rails a bit, it was fine for a juvenile book and kept my interest enough that I'll read the sequel.

A Few Quotes from the Book
"And though the crowd pressed [Moss] from all sides, she caught a glimpse of the sprawling city beyond. It was smoke and shadows, dark as a cellar. A mystery. A place she would never go. Her world was the Tower. And the only time she set foot outside its walls was the slow walk to the scaffold on Execution Day."

"When your mother died, I promised I would keep you safe. That day, the day you were born, something was done. Something that cannot be undone."

Prom Nights from Hell

Book 81 of my 2016 Reading Challenge
read from October 09 - 12

Prom Nights from Hell

Summary (via Goodreads)
In this exciting collection, bestselling authors Meg Cabot, Kim Harrison, Michele Jaffe, Stephenie Meyer, and Lauren Myracle take bad prom nights to a whole new level - a paranormally bad level. Wardrobe malfunctions and two left feet are nothing compared to discovering you're dancing with the Grim Reaper - and he isn't here to tell you how hot you look.
From vampire exterminations to angels fighting demons, these five stories will entertain better than any DJ in a bad tux. No corsage or limo rental necessary. Just good, scary fun.

My Opinion
I've actually read (and liked) all these authors before which is unusual for me.  Mini reviews for each story.

The Exterminator's Daughter by Meg Cabot
This was more like a chapter from a book than a short story but I would read a full length story of them to find out the rest of what happened.

Quote: "Because I know now that I've found her: my future partner in the inevitable struggle to survive in post-apocalyptic America."

The Corsage by Lauren Myracle
That was predictable but good.

Quote: "As for me, I haunted the halls like the living dead. I would have ditched, but then I'd have been corralled by the counselor and forced to talk about my feelings. Which wasn't going to happen. My grief was my own, a skeleton that would rattle forever within me."

Madison Avery and the Dim Reaper by Kim Harrison 
There was a lot, almost too much, going on in that short story.  Again, it felt more like a chapter of something bigger than a full story on its own.

Quote: "I blinked as the lights spun madly and the music continued, loud and untouched by our kiss. Everything was different, but only I had changed."

Kiss and Tell by Michele Jaffe
This one was painful because the narrator had the most annoying stereotypical "teenish" traits.

Quote: "She'd spent the three days following the convenience store incident in bed, curled in a ball, trembling. She told Kenzi she had the flu, but really what she had was terror. She was terrified of the powers she suddenly couldn't restrain."

Hell on Earth by Stephenie Meyer
This one was fine.  I don't have anything else to say about it.

Quote: "No, she couldn't force the humans to do anything. They had their innate free will, and so she could only tempt, could only suggest. Little things - high heels and seams and minor muscle groups - she could manipulate physically, but she could never force their minds. They had to choose to listen. And tonight, they were listening."

The Christopher Killer

Book 80 of my 2016 Reading Challenge
read from October 05 - 09

The Christopher Killer by Alane Ferguson
Book 1 in the Forensic Mysteries series

Summary (via the book jacket)
The sleepy Rocky Mountain town of Silverton, Colorado, hasn't seen a murder in years, according to Pat Mahoney, the county coroner. So when his teenage daughter, Cameryn, asks if she can be his assistant - as preparation for a career in forensic pathology - he figures it's a safe bet. But neither of them imagines that their first case will involve someone Cameryn's [sic] knows...the fourth victim of a serial killer called the Christopher Killer.
Attending her first autopsy is more difficult than Cameryn had ever expected, but she's determined to find her friend's murderer. Before long, Cameryn is plunged into a disturbing mystery, matching wits with everyone from the cantankerous medical examiner who doubts her abilities to the famous psychic who is predicting yet another death - soon.

My Opinion
The downside of usually checking out library books or buying used books...sometimes the book smells like smoke.  Blech.

This was an adequate mystery.  The author did a good job with red herrings and that little twist at the end both threw the wrap-up into question and generated interest for the next book in the series.

I'm not in a huge hurry to continue the series but probably would if I came across it.

A Few Quotes from the Book
"The dead told a story that the pathologist, if she were good enough, could hear, and Cameryn wanted to be that person. She wanted to be the translator. And maybe, when she learned that language, she could in turn speak for herself."

"Her head roiled with thoughts she couldn't line up: her Catholic faith, which professed the power of medals but not clairvoyants, and her scientific training that reported only fact, the proof she held in her hand."

The Listener

Book 79 of my 2016 Reading Challenge
read from October 02 - 04

The Listener by Rachel Basch

Summary (via the book jacket)
Malcolm Down is almost positive he recognizes the freshman who shows up for a session at his office in Baxter College's Center for Behavioral Health - he just can't place her. When suddenly she stands, takes off her wig, and reveals herself as Noah, the young man Malcolm had been treating months earlier, it marks the start of a relationship that will change them both.
After losing his wife at a young age, Malcolm dedicated himself to giving his two daughters the stable, predictable childhood he never had. But now nothing is predictable - not his young adult daughters, not himself, and certainly not Noah. Whether he's attending class or rehearsing for the campus musical, Noah finds he's often challenging everyone's definition of gender. During the course of one semester, Noah's and Malcolm's lives become entwined in ways neither could have imagined.
Told alternately from Malcolm's and Noah's perspectives, The Listener explores the ways in which we conceal and reveal our identities. As truth after truth is exposed, characters are forced to reconsider themselves and reorder their lives, with few easy answers to be found for anyone. The Listener is, ultimately, about the power of human connection and the many shapes that love can take.

My Opinion
The book sucked me in right away and I was so uncomfortable reading it (in a good way) because I don't like secrets and was waiting for something to blow up.  It was actually cruising along as a 5 star read until it derailed in the final third.  There were added wrinkles that didn't seem necessary, like the author thought there wasn't enough conflict (there was!) and needed to add more.  Malcolm's fight with his daughters felt out of place, Leah had another crisis, and all the stuff with Gordon?  It just fell apart for me.

In the context it was given, the line "Just as people had different thresholds for pain, he suspected they had different thresholds for the truth" hit me hard.  And when Noah tells Malcolm "You don't always get me...But you never make me pick and choose the parts to show you"...isn't that what we all want?

A Few Quotes from the Book
"[Noah] hated that he was so permeable, as if his psyche was a common room where strangers roamed, freely stubbing out cigarettes on the furniture. That's what was wrong with him. Not a gender confusion, but the fact that all of his borders were undefended."

"No one wanted to know everything; they only thought they did, as if the whole truth were a select club from which they couldn't bear to be excluded. But once invited into certain clubs, people often made for the exits."

"But sitting with Cara and Noah today was proof that what you thought and felt mattered not one whit compared to what you said and did. Or what you didn't say and didn't do."

Adventures With the Wife in Space

Book 78 of my 2016 Reading Challenge
read from September 30 - October 03

Adventures With the Wife in Space: Living With Doctor Who
by Neil Perryman

Summary (via Goodreads)
Neil loves Sue. He also loves Doctor Who. But can he bring his two loves together? And does he have the right?
In January 2011, Neil Perryman set out on an insane quest to make his wife Sue  watch every episode of the classic series of Doctor Who from the very beginning. Even the ones that didn't exist any more. And so, over the next two and half years, Sue gamely watched them all: William Hartnell (the Miserable Git); Patrick Troughton (the Scruffy Drunk); Jon Pertwee (the Pompous Tory); Tom Baker (the Mad One); Peter Davison (the Fit One); Colin Baker (the Court Jester); Sylvester McCoy (the Crafty Sod) and Paul McGann (the One-Night Stand). The result was a wildly successful and hilariously revealing blog called Adventures With the Wife in Space.
But the adventure continues. From awkward years at school, terrified of giant insects, Daleks and rugby players, to even more awkward years as an adult, terrified of unexpected parenthood and being called a Whovian, here Neil tells the all too true story of life as a Doctor Who fan. Funny, honest and surprisingly brave, he also captures perfectly the joy - and fears - of sharing the thing you love with the people you love.
Adventures With the Wife in Space is, at its heart, the story of Doctor Who, and its fans, seen through the eyes of two people - one who knows almost nothing about the programme and another who knows way too much.

My Opinion
He's very funny and is definitely a true fan of Doctor Who.

I loved the interaction between him and his wife and once he actually got to the part in the book where they were watching the episodes I read it straight through.  Unfortunately for me, that didn't start until page 161 which felt like false advertising.  And he started off that section by saying the reader should probably visit the blog for the full adventure...ummm, what's the point of this book then?

Overall, disappointed with the book but would've enjoyed his blog (but do not plan to visit it now).  I give the book pre-blog (until p. 161) 2 stars and the blog (the rest of the book) 4 stars so I averaged it on Goodreads for a 3 star rating. 

A Few Quotes from the Book
"So to recap: comedy shoes, Mr Logic hair, chronic acne and a big squashed nose. Where girls were concerned, I could ill afford the additional handicap of a deep enthusiasm for, and encyclopaedic knowledge of, Doctor Who. So Doctor Who had to go."

"The Doctor had been a wonderful role model. He taught me to oppose violence (when he wasn't committing genocide) and to embrace justice, equality, curiosity and compassion."

The Stones of Summer

Book 77 of my 2016 Reading Challenge
read from August 31 - October 02

The Stones of Summer by Dow Mossman

Summary (via the book jacket)
Forgotten for thirty years [the book was originally published in 1972], the book that inspired the award-winning documentary Stone Reader is now available to a new generation of readers.
Dawes Williams is not an ordinary eight-year-old. Even his innocence is unconventional - part mystical, part poetic, intent of questioning both the myths of his curious family and the mysteries of his hometown of Rapid Cedar, Iowa as the 1950s began.
Charting the odyssey of this wise and sometimes wild child through three decades, Dow Mossman renders the shifting prospects of Dawes's experience with a literary invention that is exceptional, captivating, and quite often breathtaking. The lyrical, pent-up exuberance of childhood summers on his tyrannical grandfather's greyhound farm gives way in the middle of the book to the dangerous - and often vividly funny - eccentricities of Dawes's brilliance and delinquency as he weathers the absurdities of Fifties adolescence in the American heartland. Ten years further on again, in the novel's final turn, Dawes, unsettled and spiritually adrift, journeys to Mexico, struggling for sanity and survival as the distress and turbulence of the 1960s swirl around him.
Remarkable in its ambition and imaginative energy, The Stones of Summer is an epic of coming-of-age that is as capacious and particular, as brooding and ebullient, as mystifying and as beautiful as America itself.

My Opinion
One star.  I was really interested before reading (Iowa connection, published in the 1970s, inspired a documentary) but I gave up trying to follow what was going on.  I actually liked the writing at times but I felt overwhelmingly uncomfortable and confused.  After the first chapter I had no idea what was going on.  I couldn't tell what really happened and what was a dream or what was the present time and what was a memory.  It was almost like short stories instead of one cohesive book.

Why use one word when ten will do?  In the first paragraph alone there was "the sun before them dying like the insides of a stone melon, split and watery, halving with blood" and "August was always an endless day, he felt, white as wood, slow as light" and "He watched the desert country porches slide by like lonely pickets guarding the gray, outbreaking storm of sky; like juts of rock".

Summer Days and Summer Nights

Book 76 of my 2016 Reading Challenge
read from Sept. 22 - 29

Summer Days and Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories

Summary (via the book jacket)
Maybe it's the long, lazy, days, or maybe it's the heat making everyone a little bit crazy. Whatever the reason, summer is the perfect time for love to bloom.
Summer Days and Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories, written by twelve bestselling young-adult writers and edited by the international bestselling author Stephanie Perkins, will have you dreaming of sunset strolls by the lake. So set out your beach chair and grab your sunglasses. You have twelve reasons to soak up the sun and fall in love.

My Opinion
As with any collection of stories by different authors, I'm going to like some more than others.  I made a few notes as I went along but don't really have a lot of say.  This would be a great beach read but is easily forgettable when it's over (other than introducing me to some authors I'd like to read more from).  Lots of first love, I will recommend this to my tween daughter because I imagine her reading and sighing through the whole thing.

Head, Scales, Tongue, Tail by Leigh Bardugo
Decent. Predictable ending but all came together nicely.
Quote from the Story: "Eli kissed Gracie like she was a song and he was determined to hear every note." 

The End of Love by Nina LaCour
Nice to have an LGBT story without a big production about it.
Quote from the Story: "She doesn't say much, but she's still telling me things."

Last Stand at the Cinegore by Libba Bray
Very descriptive.  Hokey ending but I was really into it.  Will definitely read this author again.
Quote from the Story: "Personally, I can't imagine why anyone would want to build anything in Deadwood, Texas, which is true to its name. Leaving Deadwood is pretty much the best option out there. If you're somebody who has options."

Sick Pleasure by Francesca Lia Block
I liked it while I was reading it but not where it ended up.
Quote from the Story: "Maybe I wouldn't be a hero like J, a scientist like L, or an artist like M, but I wanted to do something with my life that would make people feel better, somehow. Words were the answer, but I didn't know it yet."

In Ninety Minutes, Turn North by Stephanie Perkins
It was cute and cheesy and young-love-spill-your-heart-out-angst awkward.
Quote from the Story: "Between the evergreens, the first fireflies of the night materialized. They blinked in the dusk of the setting sun, a reminder that light was a recurring state."

Souvenirs by Tim Federle
Great that it's another LGBT one that's a regular story that just happens to be 2 guys.  I love his phrasing and will definitely read this author again.
Quote from the Story: "But the thing about scars is that, as much as they knot you up, they can make you stronger, too. Collect enough scars and you get a whole extra layer of skin, for free."

Inertia by Veronica Roth
That was terrific and I had all the feels.  I didn't want it to end but it was also the perfect length for the story arc.
Quote from the Story: "She gave me a reassuring smile. I wondered if she practiced it in the mirror, her softest eyes and her gentlest grins, so she wouldn't make her patients' grief any worse. Such a careful operation it must have been."

Love is the Last Resort by Jon Skovron
Enjoyable read with a rom-com feel but soooo hokey!
Quote from the Story: "This girl had a sort of beauty that changed depending on the angle you viewed her. Looking at her one way, her features were as elegant and sharp as a blade. Looking at her another, her eyes blazed with an inner fire. As it happened, Arlo liked to play with both knives and matches."

Good Luck and Farewell by Brandy Colbert
Felt the most authentic. I'm not sure what that says about me because it was also the saddest and least "romance" of them all. I will definitely read this author again.
Quote from the Story: "Love. It's such a bullshit word. She loves me, but that's a different kind of love, and it's not enough to make her stay."

Brand New Attraction by Cassandra Clare
Interesting story but there was a lot of stuff thrown in for a short story and that led to a hurried, tidy resolution.
Quote from the Story: "He'd laughed and ruffled my hair, and I'd thought that we were the most important things to him, the carnival and me. But he'd taken off on us without a second thought, and we were both showing the effects."

A Thousand Ways This Could All Go Wrong by Jennifer E. Smith
Although I knew Griffin's "revelation" very early on, this was a really nice story and I would read this author again.
Quote from the Story: "There was something magnetic about him. Whenever I saw him, I had the completely unfamiliar urge to take him by the shoulders, plunk him down in a chair, and make him open up to me."

The Map of Tiny Perfect Things by Lev Grossman
Meh. This was a fine enough story but not for me.
Quote from the Story: "But you know how there's a certain kind of person - and it's different for everyone - but suddenly when you see them your eye just snags on them, you get caught and you can't look away, and you're ten times more awake than you were a moment ago, and it's like you're a harp string and somebody just plucked you?"

Rad American Women A - Z

Book 75 of my 2016 Reading Challenge
read with my 10 year old off and on throughout the summer

Rad American Women A - Z: Rebels, Trailblazer and Visionaries who Shaped our History...and our Future! by Kate Schatz

Summary (via the book jacket)
Like all A - Z books, this one illustrates the alphabet - but instead of "A is for Apple", A is for Angela - as in Angela Davis, the iconic political activist. B is for Billie Jean King, who shattered the glass ceiling of sports; C is for Carol Burnett, who defied assumptions about women in comedy; D if for Dolores Huerta, who organized farmworkers; and E is for Ella Baker, who mentored Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and helped shape the Civil Rights movement.
And the list continues, spanning several centuries, multiple professions, and 26 diverse women. There are artists and abolitionists, scientists and sports heroes, rock stars and rabble-rousers, and agents of change of all kinds.
These women shaped America's history, and their legacy continues to shape our future.
Let's meet them!

My Opinion (and Megan's Opinion)
Even though this was in the Adult Non-Fiction section of my library I had no hesitation reading this with my 10 year old and would say it's very well suited to middle/upper elementary kids.  Each person had a page of illustration and a page of text devoted to them and it was a great starting point for deeper conversations/research on the ones that interested her.  

I didn't take notes on every letter/person but here are our thoughts...

I didn't know 10 out of the 26 women and it was troubling to me that most of the 10 were minorities; I really need to brush up on some areas of the women's rights movement.  I knew the work of another 3 of the 26 but either didn't know their name or didn't know a woman was involved (for example, I've heard a lot about Cesar Chavez but didn't know he actually co-created the United Farm Workers Association union with a woman, Dolores Huerta). 
So while the information was very basic, I learned many things as well.

Megan's comments are in quotes.

  • On Angela Davis ~ "She's like me because she's strong, confident, and stands up for what she believes."
  • On Dolores Huerta ~ "She was very interesting with she did and how she dealt with things."
  • We looked up videos of Florence Griffith Joyner's runs and outfits.
  • On Isadora Duncan ~ "She's cool", after watching videos of her dancing.
  • On Kate Bornstein ~ The concept of transgender was a little out of Meg's realm; it's not that she's against it, it's that she couldn't understand at all why someone would feel that way.  We looked up some "before and after" pictures of Caitlyn Jenner, Jazz Jennings, and Chaz Bono to help illustrate the concept as best we could and then tabled it for further discussion in the future.
  • On Nellie Bly ~ "I liked her because she was cool and a good person and she set a world record."
  • On "Queen Bessie" Coleman ~ "She's cool."
  • On Sonia Sotomayor ~ "I like her. She's brave and I can't get over how she gave herself shots!"  Forget being on the Supreme Court, it really really impressed Megan that she began giving herself insulin shots at a young age, haha!
  • On Yuri Kochiyama ~ This led to a big discussion about internment camps, another concept that was (thankfully) hard to grasp because she couldn't imagine our country treating their own citizens that way.

The letter X, a tribute to the women whose voices weren't heard and stories aren't known, was very interesting and a good way to acknowledge the history lost when women's lives didn't matter and weren't recorded.

The list of websites at the end was a great source and I look forward to perusing them with my daughters and my son.
The alphabet list of 26 things we can do to be rad was great as well.  Megan asked me what my favorite piece of advice from the list was and I said Q for "Questions are awesome. Raise your hand and ask away!" Hers was M for "Make mistakes, learn from them, and keep on trying."

Quote from the Book
"American history is filled with stories of brave and powerful men...but have you ever wondered where the women are? In this book you will find the stories of 26 women who have made a big impact on our nation."