Review: A Work in Progress by Connor Franta

22886113A Work in Progress by Connor Franta

Published April 21st 2015 

In this intimate memoir of life beyond the camera, Connor Franta shares the lessons he has learned on his journey from small-town boy to Internet sensation so far.

Here, Connor offers a look at his Midwestern upbringing as one of four children in the home and one of five in the classroom; his struggles with identity, body image, and sexuality in his teen years; and his decision to finally pursue his creative and artistic passions in his early twenties, setting up his thrilling career as a YouTube personality, philanthropist, entrepreneur, and tastemaker.

Exploring his past with insight and humor, his present with humility, and his future with hope, Connor reveals his private struggles while providing heartfelt words of wisdom for young adults. His words will resonate with anyone coming of age in the digital era, but at the core is a timeless message for people of all ages: don’t be afraid to be yourself and to go after what you truly want.

This full-color collection includes photography and childhood clippings provided by Connor and is a must-have for anyone inspired by his journey. 

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I’ve never seen Connor’s videos before and I’m typically disappointed in books by YouTubers. But I seen so much hype around this book that I picked it up and I actually really liked it.
A Work in Progress is very well written and in a style that feels conversational. I felt like I was friends with Connor and was just hanging out, listening to his stories.
It was really interesting to read about Connor’s life and he seems like a really cool person. All of his stories are well spoken and not overly detailed.
I really enjoyed the photos scattered throughout the book and how unique this book felt compared to other memoirs I’ve read.

Overall, I really enjoyed A Work in Progress and would recommend it if you’re looking for a great non-fiction read.

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Review: Give a Girl a Knife by Amy Thielen

32148009Give a Girl a Knife by Amy Thielen

Published May 16th 2017

A beautifully written food memoir chronicling one cook’s journey from her rural Midwestern hometown to the intoxicating world of New York City fine dining and back again in search of her culinary roots.

Before Amy Thielen frantically plated rings of truffled potatoes in some of New York City s finest kitchens for chefs David Bouley, Daniel Boulud, and Jean-Georges Vongerichten she grew up in a northern Minnesota town home to the nation s largest French fry factory, the headwaters of the fast food nation, with a mother whose generous cooking pulsed with joy, family drama, and an overabundance of butter.

Inspired by her grandmother s tales of cooking on the family farm, Thielen moves with her artist husband to the rustic, off-the-grid cabin he built in the woods. There, standing at the stove three times a day, she finds the seed of a growing food obsession that leads to the sensory madhouse of New York s top haute cuisine brigades. When she goes home, she comes face to face with her past, and a curious truth: that beneath every foie gras sauce lies a rural foundation of potatoes and onions, and that taste memory is the most important ingredient of all.

Amy Thielen’s coming-of-age account brims with energy, a cook s eye for intimate detail, and a dose of dry Midwestern humor. Give a Girl a Knife offers a fresh, vivid view into New York s high-end restaurant before returning Thielen to her roots, where she realizes that the marrow running through her bones is not demi-glace, but gravy honest, thick with nostalgia, and hard to resist.”

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A copy of this book was sent to me by the publisher

Give a Girl a Knife is probably one of the most surprisingly entertaining books I’ve ever read.
I was super curious about this book when I started it and I didn’t expect to enjoy it so much that I would read it in one sitting.
I loved how well written this book was and Amy was able to give a lot of great insight to restaurant kitchens. I actually learned a lot and learning new things is always something I’m looking for in non-fiction book. I also really appreciated how Amy talked about her experiences a women in a male dominated field.
As a fellow Midwesterner, I was able to relate to Amy a lot and I wasn’t expecting that. I really loved how Amy mixed her Midwest roots with her culinary skills.
I thought reading about Amy’s approach to food and how she builds her dishes was really fascinating and again, I learned a lot.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book and it has become an unexpected favorite of mine. It’s very well written and educational in the most entertaining way. If you’re looking for an awesome non-fiction read, I’d recommend grabbing a copy of Give a Girl A Knife.

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Review: Put Your Warrior Boots On by Lisa Whittle

34237126Put Your Warrior Boots On: Walking Jesus Strong, Once and for All by Lisa Whittle

Published April 1st 2017

You Can Be a Spiritual Warrior.

Does it feel like the world has gone crazy and you’re just along for the ride? From bombings to bullying, the world has us on pins and needles–afraid for our children, fearful for ourselves, worried that we won’t have enough strength to stand our ground. But you don’t have to start brave to stay strong. Inspirational author and speaker Lisa Whittle wants you to experience the joy and release of trusting in your Savior to help you live a God-ignited life. Find the tools you need to… confirm Truth and keep anti-biblical messages from misleading you develop passion for defending your beliefs without letting personal pride interfere outfit your days to support your faith so your dedication doesn’t fizzle

There’s no better time than this moment to put on your warrior boots and discover the fearless life you’ve been called to live.

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I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started this book but I actually really liked it.
I found it to be super helpful and I loved how it’s geared towards women with busy lives.
The author talks a lot about how when it comes down to it, praying is what will help more than anything else and I definitely needed that reminder.
I loved the questions at the end of each chapter and I think Put Your Warrior Boots On would make a great book for a women’s Bible study or just discussion with friends.

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Review: Unfiltered by Lily Collins

32737127Unfiltered: No Shame, No Regrets, Just Me. by Lily Collinsiew

Published March 7th 2017

In this groundbreaking debut essay collection, featuring never-before-seen photos, actress Lily Collins—star of Mortal Instruments and the upcoming Rules Don’t Apply—is opening a poignant, honest conversation about the things young women struggle with: body image, self-confidence, relationships, family, dating, and so much more.

For the first time ever, Lily shares her life and her own deepest secrets, underlining that every single one of us experiences pain and heartbreak. We all understand what it’s like to live in the light and in the dark. For Lily, it’s about making it through to the other side, where you love what you see in the mirror and where you embrace yourself just as you are. She’s learned that all it takes is one person standing up and saying something for everyone else to realize they’re not alone.

By turns hilarious and heartbreaking, Lily’s honest voice will inspire you to be who you are and say what you feel. It’s time to claim your voice! It’s time to live your life unfiltered.

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Unfiltered has become such an unexpected favorite of mine. I wasn’t very familiar with Lily Collins prior to reading this book but now I’m such a fan of hers.
Lily is very open and honest in Unfiltered and I really appreciate how sincere she is. I was able to relate to her a lot and she also showed me a few new perspectives on things.
Lily talks very openly about her past with eating disorders and I think her story can be very empowering to others who have/are struggling with that disorder and are looking for representation and a voice.
I really loved how Lily talked about normal, everyday things that happen to many people and put an inspirational spin on it. She talks about a few situations she’s dealt with when it comes to her dating life and I really liked how she gave advice after her stories through out the book.

Overall, I really loved Unfiltered and I highly recommend it if you’re looking for a quick non-fiction read. I think this would be especially great for young girls because Lily is such an inspirational, classy role model.

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Recommendation Friday

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This week I’ll be recommending one of my favorite non-fiction books. A book will rarely make me laugh out loud but this book had me laughing pretty hard at times. It has an amazing narrative that offers an honest, much needed voice in literature.

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One Day We’ll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter by Scaachi Koul

For readers of Mindy Kaling, Jenny Lawson and Roxane Gay, a debut collection of fierce and funny essays about growing up the daughter of Indian immigrants in Canada, “a land of ice and casual racism,” by the irreverent, hilarious cultural observer and incomparable rising star, Scaachi Koul.

In One Day We’ll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter, Scaachi deploys her razor-sharp humour to share her fears, outrages and mortifying experiences as an outsider growing up in Canada. Her subjects range from shaving her knuckles in grade school, to a shopping trip gone horribly awry, to dealing with internet trolls, to feeling out of place at an Indian wedding (as an Indian woman), to parsing the trajectory of fears and anxieties that pressed upon her immigrant parents and bled down a generation. Alongside these personal stories are pointed observations about life as a woman of colour, where every aspect of her appearance is open for critique, derision or outright scorn. Where strict gender rules bind in both Western and Indian cultures, forcing her to confront questions about gender dynamics, racial tensions, ethnic stereotypes and her father’s creeping mortality–all as she tries to find her feet in the world.

With a clear eye and biting wit, Scaachi Koul explores the absurdity of a life steeped in misery. And through these intimate, wise and laugh-out-loud funny dispatches, a portrait of a bright new literary voice emerges.

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I don’t read a lot of non-fiction but this is one of the best non-fiction books I’ve ever read. I loved it from the very first page and I never wanted to put it down. I thought it was incredibly funny and a few of the stories Scaachi told had me laughing out loud.
There was also a good deal of serious stories about Scaachi’s experiences as an Indian women with immigrant parents. I really appreciate the opportunity to read about Scaachi’s perspective and for her voice to be heard.
One Day We’ll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter is very unique and sincere. It’s one of the best books I’ve read and I absolutely loved it. I would highly recommend this book to anyone looking to pick up a non-fiction read.

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Review: One Day We’ll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter by Scaachi Koul

30658435One Day We’ll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter by Scaachi Koul

Published March 7th 2017

For readers of Mindy Kaling, Jenny Lawson and Roxane Gay, a debut collection of fierce and funny essays about growing up the daughter of Indian immigrants in Canada, “a land of ice and casual racism,” by the irreverent, hilarious cultural observer and incomparable rising star, Scaachi Koul.

In One Day We’ll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter, Scaachi deploys her razor-sharp humour to share her fears, outrages and mortifying experiences as an outsider growing up in Canada. Her subjects range from shaving her knuckles in grade school, to a shopping trip gone horribly awry, to dealing with internet trolls, to feeling out of place at an Indian wedding (as an Indian woman), to parsing the trajectory of fears and anxieties that pressed upon her immigrant parents and bled down a generation. Alongside these personal stories are pointed observations about life as a woman of colour, where every aspect of her appearance is open for critique, derision or outright scorn. Where strict gender rules bind in both Western and Indian cultures, forcing her to confront questions about gender dynamics, racial tensions, ethnic stereotypes and her father’s creeping mortality–all as she tries to find her feet in the world.

With a clear eye and biting wit, Scaachi Koul explores the absurdity of a life steeped in misery. And through these intimate, wise and laugh-out-loud funny dispatches, a portrait of a bright new literary voice emerges.

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I’m so glad I picked this book up.
I don’t read a lot of non-fiction but this is one of the best non-fiction books I’ve ever read. I loved it from the very first page and I never wanted to put it down. I thought it was incredibly funny and a few of the stories Scaachi told had me laughing out loud.
There was also a good deal of serious stories about Scaachi’s experiences as an Indian women with immigrant parents. I really appreciate the opportunity to read about Scaachi’s perspective and for her voice to be heard.
One Day We’ll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter is very unique and sincere. It’s one of the best books I’ve read and I absolutely loved it. I would highly recommend this book to anyone looking to pick up a non-fiction read.

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Review: The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer

29405093The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer

Published August 16th 2016

The Emmy Award-winning comedian, actress, writer, and star of Inside Amy Schumer and the acclaimed film Trainwreck has taken the entertainment world by storm with her winning blend of smart, satirical humor. Now, Amy Schumer has written a refreshingly candid and uproariously funny collection of (extremely) personal and observational essays.

In The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo, Amy mines her past for stories about her teenage years, her family, relationships, and sex and shares the experiences that have shaped who she is – a woman with the courage to bare her soul to stand up for what she believes in, all while making us laugh.

Ranging from the raucous to the romantic, the heartfelt to the harrowing, this highly entertaining and universally appealing collection is the literary equivalent of a night out with your best friends – an unforgettable and fun adventure that you wish could last forever. Whether she’s experiencing lust-at-first-sight while in the airport security line, sharing her own views on love and marriage, admitting to being an introvert, or discovering her cross-fit instructor’s secret bad habit, Amy Schumer proves to be a bighearted, brave, and thoughtful storyteller that will leave you nodding your head in recognition, laughing out loud, and sobbing uncontrollably – but only because it’s over.

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I was sent a copy of this book from the publisher and I was pretty excited about it. I’m on a quest to expand my reading horizons and I’ve really wanted to read more nonfiction.
I’ve never seen any of Amy Schumer’s stand up and I’m not that familiar with her movies. I actually don’t really know anything about her. But I thought The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo would probably be funny so I was excited to read it.
However, Amy’s brand of comedy and humor aren’t for me. There was a few things in this book that I thought was funny but most of it wasn’t. I’m not very sensitive to crude humor but there was some stuff that was a little much for me. I felt awkward just reading some of the jokes in this book. There was a few thousand (not even an exaggeration) too many vagina jokes for me. A lot of the jokes felt repetitive.
Amy was really judgmental as well and it really brought this book down for me.
I do appreciate how hard Amy works and how she’s made her mark as a comedian. It’s not easy being a female comedian but Amy Schumer has worked her butt off to get where she is. I really admire her for that.

Overall, this book didn’t have the humor I was expecting and it was just not for me. Comedy is so subjective so my opinion doesn’t have a lot of weight in the quality of the humor. If you’re a fan of Amy and you like her stand up and whatnot, you’ll probably enjoy this book. But if you’re not familiar with her comedy like I was, I’d recommend looking into a few Youtube videos of her stand up or something before buying this book.

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ARC Review: Making My Pitch: A Woman’s Baseball Odyssey by Ila Jane Borders

31380080Making My Pitch: A Woman’s Baseball Odyssey by Ila Jane Borders

Expected publication: April 1st 2017

Making My Pitch tells the story of Ila Jane Borders, who despite formidable obstacles became a Little League prodigy, MVP of her otherwise all-male middle school and high school teams, the first woman awarded a baseball scholarship, and the first to pitch and win a complete men’s collegiate game. After Mike Veeck signed Borders in May 1997 to pitch for his St. Paul Saints of the independent Northern League, she accomplished what no woman had done since the Negro Leagues era: play men’s professional baseball. Borders played four professional seasons and in 1998 became the first woman in the modern era to win a professional ball game.

Borders had to find ways to fit in with her teammates, reassure their wives and girlfriends, work with the media, and fend off groupies. But these weren’t the toughest challenges. She had a troubled family life, a difficult adolescence as she struggled with her sexual orientation, and an emotionally fraught college experience as a closeted gay athlete at a Christian university.

Making My Pitch shows what it’s like to be the only woman on the team bus, in the clubhouse, and on the field. Raw, open, and funny at times, her story encompasses the loneliness of a groundbreaking pioneer who experienced grave personal loss. Borders ultimately relates how she achieved self-acceptance and created a life as a firefighter and paramedic and as a coach and goodwill ambassador for the game of baseball.

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This book was amazing. As an avid sports fan, especially of baseball, I loved reading about Ila’s experiences. Ila described her games so fantastically, I felt like I was listening to the games on the radio. I was so emotionally invested in her journey and I rooted for her every moment I was reading.
As a female sports fan, I’ve experienced the sexism that is in men dominated sports and I can’t imagine everything Ila has gone through. I’ve never met Ila, and I doubt I ever will, but I’m incredibly proud of her and everything she’s accomplished. She didn’t let the sexism stop her and she’s extremely inspiring.
Making My Pitch is an insightful look into baseball and what it takes to be a pitcher. It showcases how unnecessarily difficult it is for women to break into the sport, even when they have the skill and talent to be one of the best.
I definitely recommend this book to any sports fan, especially young women. Ila tells it like it is and will show you a new perspective on baseball. She’s inspiring and brave and I’ll always remember her story.
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Review: Settle for More by Megyn Kelly

30037283Settle for More by Megyn Kelly

Published November 15th 2016

Whether it’s asking tough questions during a presidential debate or pressing for answers to today’s most important issues, Megyn Kelly has demonstrated the intelligence, strength, common sense, and courage that have made her one of today’s best-known journalists, respected by women and men, young and old, Republicans and Democrats.

In Settle for More, the anchor of The Kelly File reflects on the enduring values and experiences that have shaped her—from growing up in a family that rejected the “trophies for everyone” mentality, to her father’s sudden, tragic death while she was in high school. She goes behind-the-scenes of her career, sharing the stories and struggles that landed her in the anchor chair of cable’s #1 news show. Speaking candidly about her decision to “settle for more”—a motto she credits as having dramatically transformed her life at home and at work—Megyn discusses how she abandoned a thriving legal career to follow her journalism dreams.

Admired for her hard work, humor, and authenticity, Megyn sheds light on the news business, her time at Fox News, the challenges of being a professional woman and working mother, and her most talked about television moments. She also speaks openly about Donald Trump’s feud with her, revealing never-before-heard details about the first Republican debate, its difficult aftermath, and how she persevered through it all.

Deeply personal and surprising, Settle for More offers unparalleled insight into this charismatic and intriguing journalist, and inspires us all to embrace the principles—determination, honesty, and fortitude in the face of fear—that have won her fans across the political divide.

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I’m not a really a fan of Megyn Kelly to say the least but I was given a copy of her book and I was curious about it. I do admire how she can hold her own in a very sexist industry and she works really hard, which I appreciate. I have recently started reading more non-fiction books and I really enjoy memoirs so I was ready to be blown away from tales of Megyn’s career.
However, Settle for More is mostly about her childhood and there’s not a lot of behind the scenes stories from her career or dirt on those she’s interviewed or worked with.
There is a good chunk of chapters on Donald Trump and even though I wasn’t surprised by the stories Megyn has of him, I thought it was interesting.
Overall, I thought this book was interesting even though I wasn’t totally into all of her childhood stories (if you’re a fan of Megyn, you’ll probably love that aspect of the book) and the first half was a bit boring. Settle for More hasn’t changed my thoughts on Megyn Kelly but I do respect all her hard work and for being a boss lady in corporate politics. That’s not easy and she’s achieved lots of success. If you’re a fan of Megyn, this is definitely worth a read. If you’re a women looking to make a career in politics, I think this is worth reading as well.
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Review: Operating on Faith by Matt Weber

29352209Operating on Faith: A Painfully True Love Story by Matt Weber

Published January 26th 2016

At age 29, Matt Weber was newly married to Nell, the girl of his dreams. They had bought their first house, adopted a dog, and looked forward to a blissful first year together. But shortly after his honeymoon, Matt’s recurring, severe stomach troubles send him to the emergency room—and after a five-hour, life-saving surgery in which a third of his stomach is removed, Matt and Nell’s plans for their new life are dramatically altered.

Forced to undergo a lengthy and painful recovery, Matt finds that his relationships with God, himself, and his wife are forever changed. Operating on Faith is the gutsy story of a happy-go-lucky Catholic guy whose life was literally burst apart then stitched back together—with faith in the God he’d always known, the sweet and inexhaustible love of his wife, and healthy if sometimes irreverent doses of humor.

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I really liked reading about Matt’s experiences and how him and his wife worked through everything together. Operating on Faith had a very interesting and different perspective and I really enjoyed that.
I wasn’t a big fan of the writing style though. There was a lot of metaphors and smilies and it created an embellished tone to the story.
But I really liked everything else about this book and I would definitely recommend it it you’re looking for a memoir.

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