Thursday, June 23, 2022

Book Review: The Littlest Library


A little red telephone box full of stories, a chance to change her life...

Jess Metcalf is perfectly content with her quiet, predictable life. But when her beloved grandmother passes away and she loses her job at the local library, Jess’ life is turned upside down. Determined to pick up the pieces, Jess decides it’s time for a new beginning. Unable to part with her grandmother’s cherished books, she packs them all up and moves to a tiny cottage in the English countryside. To her surprise, Jess discovers that she’s now the owner of an old red phone box that was left on the property. Missing her job at the local library, Jess decides to give back to her new community—using her grandmother’s collection to turn the ordinary phone box into the littlest library in England.

It’s not long before the books are borrowed and begin to work their literary magic—bringing the villagers together... and managing to draw Jess’ grumpy but handsome neighbor out of his shell. Maybe it’s finally time for Jess to follow her heart, let go of her old life, and make the village her home? But will she be able to take the leap?

Sunday, June 19, 2022

Book Review: Groupies


It’s 1977, and Faun Novak is in love with rock ‘n’ roll. After her mother’s death, Faun, a naïve college dropout, grabs her Polaroid and hops a Greyhound to Los Angeles. There she reconnects with her charismatic childhood friend Josie, now an up-and-coming model and muse. To make their reunion even sweeter, Josie is now dating Cal Holiday, the frontman of the superstar rock band Holiday Sun, and Faun is positively mesmerized.

Except it’s not just the band she can’t get enough of. It’s also the proud groupies who support them in myriad ways. Among the groupies are: a doting high school girl at war with her mother; a drug-dealing wife and new mom who longs to be a star herself; and a cynical mover-and-shaker with a soft spot for Holiday Sun’s bassist.

Faun obsessively photographs every aspect of this dazzling new world, struggling to balance her artistic ambitions with the band’s expectations. As her confidence grows for the first time in her life, her priorities shift. She becomes reckless with friendship, romance, her ethics, and her bank account. But just as everything is going great and her boring, old life is falling away, Faun realizes just how blind she has been to the darkest corners of this glamorous musical dreamland as the summer heats up and everything spirals out of control . . .

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Book Review: The It Girl


April Clarke-Cliveden was the first person Hannah Jones met at Oxford. Vivacious, bright, occasionally vicious, and the ultimate It girl, she quickly pulled Hannah into her dazzling orbit. Together, they developed a group of devoted and inseparable friends—Will, Hugh, Ryan, and Emily—during their first term. By the end of the year, April was dead.

Now, a decade later, Hannah and Will are expecting their first child, and the man convicted of killing April, former Oxford porter John Neville, has died in prison. Relieved to have finally put the past behind her, Hannah’s world is rocked when a young journalist comes knocking and presents new evidence that Neville may have been innocent. As Hannah reconnects with old friends and delves deeper into the mystery of April’s death, she realizes that the friends she thought she knew all have something to hide…including a murder.

Sunday, June 12, 2022

Book Review: Wham! George Michael and Me


In 1975 Andrew took a shy new boy at school under his wing. They instantly hit it off, and their boyhood escapades at Bushy Meads School built a bond that was never broken. The duo found themselves riding an astonishing roller coaster of success, taking them all over the world. They made and broke iconic records, they were treated like gods, but they stayed true to their friendship and ultimately to themselves. It was a party that seemed as if it would never end. And then it did, in front of tens of thousands of tearful fans at Wembley Stadium in 1986.

Andrew Ridgeley—one half of one of the most famous bands in the world—tells the inside story of Wham!, his lifelong friendship with George Michael, and the formation of a band that changed the shape of the music scene in the early eighties. Andrew’s memoir covers in wonderful detail those years, up until that last iconic concert: the scrapes, the laughs, the relationships, the good, and the bad. It’s a unique and one-and-only time to remember that era, that band, and those boys.

Saturday, June 11, 2022

Book Review: The Memory Librarian


Whoever controls our memories controls the future.

Janelle Monáe and an incredible array of talented collaborating creators have written a collection of tales comprising the bold vision and powerful themes that have made Monáe such a compelling and celebrated storyteller. Dirty Computer introduced a world in which thoughts—as a means of self-conception—could be controlled or erased by a select few. And whether human, A.I., or other, your life and sentience was dictated by those who’d convinced themselves they had the right to decide your fate.

That was until Jane 57821 decided to remember and break free.

Thursday, June 9, 2022

Book Review: Babysitter


From one of America’s most renowned storytellers—the best-selling author of Blonde —comes a novel about love and deceit, and lust and redemption, against a backdrop of child murders in the affluent suburbs of Detroit.

In the waning days of the turbulent 1970s, in the wake of unsolved child-killings that have shocked Detroit, the lives of several residents are drawn together with tragic consequences. There is Hannah, wife of a prominent local businessman, who has begun an affair with a darkly charismatic stranger whose identity remains elusive; Mikey, a canny street hustler who finds himself on a chilling mission to rectify injustice; and the serial killer known as Babysitter, an enigmatic and terrifying figure at the periphery of elite Detroit. As Babysitter continues his rampage of abductions and killings, these individuals intersect with one another in startling and unexpected ways.

Monday, June 6, 2022

Book Review: Influenced


Individuals seeking to widen their tribes of friends, fans, and followers have an abundance of resources for building their digital footprints and social media popularity. All of this seems well and good from the perspective of revenue, exposure, and perhaps ego-building, but what is the impact of this on the human brain and our behavior? Is anyone paying attention to the lurking side effects of the social media influencer revolution?

As “Dr. Brian” Boxer Wachler—one of the world’s most esteemed authorities on human perception—reveals in Influenced: The Impact of Social Media on Our Perception, we are oblivious to the mental evolution that is already in process. Science is proving that our addictive reliance upon social media and its influencers is having a demonstrable impact on how we think, feel, and perceive everything around us— and even how we react to stimuli. One might think that a “Like” is nothing more than a split-second tap on a device. However, brain scans tell a different story. Our brains literally light up with every buzz, ding, alert, and ring in anticipation of how our network is responding to us. As we tap away at our devices, we anxiously seek the approval of others—often people we don’t know.

Saturday, June 4, 2022

Book Review: Stan Lee - A Life


The definitive biography of Marvel legend Stan Lee, celebrating the 100th anniversary of his birth. Stan Lee’s extraordinary life was as epic as the superheroes he co-created, from the Amazing Spider-Man to the Mighty Avengers. His ideas and voice are at the heart of global culture, loved by millions of superhero fans around the world.

In Stan Lee: A Life, award-winning cultural historian Bob Batchelor offers an in-depth and complete look at this iconic visionary. Born in the Roaring Twenties, growing up in the Great Depression, living and thriving through the American Century, and dying in the twenty-first century, Stan Lee’s life is a unique representation of recent American history. Batchelor examines Lee’s fascinating American life by drawing out all its complexity, drama, heartache, and humor, revealing how Lee introduced the world to heroes that were just as fallible and complex as their creator—and just like all of us.

An up-close look at a legendary figure, this centennial edition includes completely new material to give the full measure of a man whose genius continues to mesmerize audiences worldwide. Candid, authoritative, and absorbing, this is the biography of a man who dreamed of one day writing the Great American Novel, but ended up doing so much more—revolutionizing culture by creating new worlds and heroes that have entertained generations.

Thursday, June 2, 2022

Book Review: The Book Haters' Book Club


All it takes is the right book to turn a Book Hater into a Book Lover…

That was Elliott’s belief and the reason why he started The Book Haters’ Book Club—a newsletter of reading recommendations for the self-proclaimed “nonreader.” As the beloved co-owner of Over the Rainbow Bookshop, Elliot was passionate about and gifted in recommending books to customers. Now, after his sudden death, his grief-ridden business partner, Irma, has agreed to sell Over the Rainbow to a developer who will turn the cozy bookshop into high-rise condos.

But others won’t give up the bookshop without a fight. When Irma breaks the news to her daughters, Bree and Laney, and Elliott’s romantic partner, Thom, they are aghast. Over the Rainbow has been Bree and Laney’s sanctuary since childhood, and Thom would do anything to preserve Elliott’s legacy. Together, Thom, Bree and Laney conspire to save the bookshop, even if it takes some snooping, gossip and minor sabotage.

Monday, May 30, 2022

Book Review: The Rewind


When college sweethearts Frankie and Ezra broke up before graduation, they vowed to never speak to each other again. Ten years later, on the eve of the new millennium, they find themselves back on their snowy, picturesque New England campus together for the first time for the wedding of mutual friends. Frankie’s on the rise as a music manager for the hottest bands of the late ’90s, and Ezra’s ready to propose to his girlfriend after the wedding. Everything is going to plan—they just have to avoid the chasm of emotions brought up when they inevitably come face to face.

But when they wake up in bed next to each other the following morning with Ezra’s grandmother’s diamond on Frankie’s finger, they have zero memory of how they got there—or about any of the events that transpired the night before. Now Frankie and Ezra have to put aside old grievances in order to figure out what happened, what didn’t happen...and to ask themselves the most troubling question of all: what if they both got it wrong the first time around?

Saturday, May 28, 2022

Book Review: Flying Solo


Smarting from her recently canceled wedding and about to turn forty, Laurie Sassalyn returns to her Maine hometown of Calcasset to handle the estate of her great-aunt Dot, a spirited adventurer who lived to be ninety-three. Alongside boxes of Polaroids and pottery, a mysterious wooden duck shows up at the bottom of a cedar chest. Laurie’s curiosity is piqued, especially after she finds a love letter to the never-married Dot that ends with the line “And anyway, if you’re ever desperate, there are always ducks, darling.”

Laurie is told that the duck has no financial value. But after it disappears under suspicious circumstances, she feels compelled to figure out why anyone would steal a wooden duck—and why Dot kept it hidden away in the first place. Suddenly Laurie finds herself swept up in a righteous caper that has her negotiating with antiques dealers and con artists, going on after-hours dates at the local library, and reconnecting with her oldest friend and her first love. Desperate to uncover her great-aunt’s secrets, Laurie must reckon with her own past and her future—and ultimately embrace her own vision of flying solo.

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Book Review: Slaying The Dragon


Co-created by wargame enthusiasts Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson, the original Dungeons & Dragons role-playing game released by TSR (Tactical Studies Rules) in 1974 created a radical new medium: the role-playing game. For the next two decades, TSR rocketed to success, producing multiple editions of D&D, numerous settings for the game, magazines, video games, New York Times bestselling novels by Margaret Weis, Tracy Hickman, and R. A. Salvatore, and even a TV show! But by 1997, a series of ruinous choices and failed projects brought TSR to the edge of doom—only to be saved by their fiercest competitor, Wizards of the Coast, the company behind the collectible card game Magic: The Gathering.

Unearthed from Ben Riggs’s own adventurous campaign of in-depth research, interviews with major players, and acquisitions of secret documents, Slaying the Dragon reveals the true story of the rise and fall of TSR. Go behind the scenes of their Lake Geneva headquarters where innovative artists and writers redefined the sword and sorcery genre, managers and executives sabotaged their own success by alienating their top talent, ignoring their customer fanbase, accruing a mountain of debt, and agreeing to deals which, by the end, made them into a publishing company unable to publish so much as a postcard.

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Book Review: Miss Memory Lane


Four years ago, Colton Haynes woke up in a hospital. He’d had two seizures, lost the sight in one eye, almost ruptured a kidney, and been put on an involuntary psychiatry hold. Not yet thirty, he knew he had to take stock of his life and make some serious changes if he wanted to see his next birthday.

As he worked towards sobriety, Haynes allowed himself to become vulnerable for the first time in years and with that, discovered profound self-awareness. He had millions of social media followers who constantly told him they loved him. But what would they think if they knew his true story? If they knew where he came from and the things he had done? Now, Colton bravely pulls back the curtain on his life and career, revealing the incredible highs and devastating lows. From his unorthodox childhood in a small Kansas town, to coming to terms with his sexuality, he keeps nothing back.

By sixteen, he had been signed by the world’s top modeling agency and his face appeared on billboards. But he was still a broke, lonely, confused teenager, surrounded by people telling him he could be a star as long as he never let anyone see his true self. As his career in television took off, the stress of wearing so many masks and trying to please so many different people turned his use of drugs and alcohol into full-blown addiction.

Sunday, May 22, 2022

Book Review: Squirrel Girl - Universe


Squirrel Girl is in a pickle and a jam, a metaphor that mixes about as well as it tastes. She and her friends are lost in outer space, where there is a conspicuous absence of oxygen and, even more troubling, a shortage of squirrels. After hitching a ride on a passing space whale, Squirrel Girl and her trusty companions find themselves on a free-merchant space station and on the front line of a looming interstellar war. The stakes have never been so high, and trillions of lives are at risk! Luckily for the universe, Squirrel Girl is here to stand up against the odds and set things right across the galaxy.

Squirrel Girl: Universe, the latest in the Marvel Heroines novel series by Aconyte Books, is written by Tristan Palmgren. In advance of the August 2, 2022, release date, the publisher provided me an early galley for an honest review.

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Book Review: The Book Eaters


Truth is found between the stories we're fed and the stories we hunger for.

Out on the Yorkshire Moors lives a secret line of people for whom books are food, and who retain all of a book's content after eating it. To them, spy novels are a peppery snack; romance novels are sweet and delicious. Eating a map can help them remember destinations, and children, when they misbehave, are forced to eat dry, musty pages from dictionaries.

Devon is part of The Family, an old and reclusive clan of book eaters. Her brothers grow up feasting on stories of valor and adventure, and Devon—like all other book eater women—is raised on a carefully curated diet of fairy tales and cautionary stories. But real life doesn't always come with happy endings, as Devon learns when her son is born with a rare and darker kind of hunger—not for books, but for human minds.

Friday, May 13, 2022

Book Review: We Were Dreamers


Simu Lui's parents left him in the care of his grandparents in China, then brought him to Canada when he was four. Life as a Canuck, however, is not all that it was cracked up to be; Simu's new guardians lack the gentle touch of his grandparents, resulting in harsh words and hurt feelings. His parents, on the other hand, find their new son emotionally distant and difficult to relate to - although they are related by blood, they are separated by culture, language, and values.

As Simu grows up, he plays the part of the pious child flawlessly - he gets straight A's, crushes national math competitions and makes his parents proud. But as time passes, he grows increasingly disillusioned with the path that has been laid out for him. Less than a year out of college, at the tender age of 22, his life hits rock bottom when he is laid off from his first job as an accountant. Left to his own devices, and with nothing left to lose, Simu embarks on a journey that will take him far outside of his comfort zone into the world of show business.

Through a swath of rejection and comical mishaps, Simu's determination to carve out a path for himself leads him to not only succeed as an actor, but also to open the door to reconciling with his parents. We Were Dreamers is more than a celebrity memoir - it's a story about growing up between cultures, finding your family, and becoming the master of your own extraordinary circumstance.

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Book Review: You Are (Not) Deadpool


Things seem weird, even by Deadpool’s standards, when Matt “Daredevil” Murdock offers him a profitable – nay, straightforward! – contract. No chaos, no unpredictability, no funny business… C’mon, Murdock, that’s just not Deadpool’s style. Sensing something is up, Deadpool grabs an innocent bystander off the street to confuse any semblance of predictability the universe is trying to force on him. Good-hearted mischief spirals into a sinister plot full of impenetrable bank vaults, crime lords stroking their (lack of) mustaches in very evil ways, and an assortment of offensively stylish suits that are begging to be blown up, Deadpool discovers his choices are no longer his own – they’re yours!

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Book Review: Anatomy of 55 More Songs


Songs that sell the most copies become hits, but some of those hits become something more—iconic recordings that not only inspire a generation but also change the direction of music. In Anatomy of 55 More Songs, based on his column for the Wall Street Journal, music journalist and historian Marc Myers tells the story behind fifty-five rock, pop, R&B, country, and soul-gospel hits through intimate interviews with the artists who wrote and recorded them.

Part oral history, part musical analysis, Anatomy of 55 More Songs ranges from Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Bad Moon Rising” to Dionne Warwick’s “Walk On By,” the Beach Boys’ “Good Vibrations,” and Black Sabbath’s “Paranoid.” Bernie Taupin recalls how he wrote the lyrics to Elton John’s “Rocket Man”; Joan Jett remembers channeling her rage against how she had been unfairly labeled and treated as a female rocker into “Bad Reputation”; and Ozzy Osbourne, Elvis Costello, Bob Weir, Sheryl Crow, Alice Cooper, Roberta Flack, John Mellencamp, Keith Richards, Carly Simon, and many others reveal the emotions and technique behind their major works.

Through an absorbing, chronological, song-by-song analysis of the most memorable post-war hits, Anatomy of 55 More Songs provides a sweeping look at the evolution of pop music between 1964 and today. This book will change how you listen to music and evaluate the artists who create it.

Saturday, May 7, 2022

Book Review: The Ballad of Perilous Graves


Nola is a city full of wonders. A place of sky trolleys and dead cabs, where haints dance the night away and Wise Women help keep the order. To those from Away, Nola might seem strange. To Perilous Graves, it’s simply home.

In a world of everyday miracles, Perry might not have a talent for magic, but he does know Nola’s rhythm as intimately as his own heartbeat. So when the city’s Great Magician starts appearing in odd places and essential songs are forgotten, Perry realizes trouble is afoot.

Nine songs of power have escaped from the piano that maintains the city’s beat, and without them, Nola will fail. Unwilling to watch his home be destroyed, Perry will sacrifice everything to save it. But a storm is brewing, and the Haint of All Haints is awake. Nola’s time might be coming to an end.

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Book Review: The Woman in the Library


The ornate reading room at the Boston Public Library is quiet, until the tranquility is shattered by a woman's terrified scream. Security guards take charge immediately, instructing everyone inside to stay put until the threat is identified and contained. While they wait for the all-clear, four strangers, who'd happened to sit at the same table, pass the time in conversation and friendships are struck. Each has his or her own reasons for being in the reading room that morning—it just happens that one is a murderer.

Award-winning author Sulari Gentill delivers a sharply thrilling read with The Woman in the Library, an unexpectedly twisty literary adventure that examines the complicated nature of friendship and shows us that words can be the most treacherous weapons of all.

Sunday, May 1, 2022

Book Review: Putting the Fact In Fantasy


A collection of essays from historians, linguists, martial artists, and other experts to help you write more compelling fantasy by getting the facts right

Whether it's correctly naming the parts of a horse, knowing how lords and ladies address one another, or building a realistic fantasy army, getting the details right takes fantasy writing to the next level. Featuring some of the most popular articles from Dan Koboldt’s Fact in Fantasy blog as well as several never-before-seen essays, this book gives aspiring and established fantasy writers alike an essential foundation to the fascinating history and cultures of our own world, which serve as a jumping-off point for more inspired and convincing fantasy.

Monday, April 25, 2022

Book Review: Writers of the Future volume 38


Just imagine…

  • It’s game on, the fate of the universe is on the line—and you’re about to go all in.
  • Saving the mammoths is in your hands—can you conjure the magic to make it happen?
  • You’ve got a monster BFF—whom you’re hiding from your own monster-hunting family.
  • You’re part of a sting, out to catch some bar hoppers who are not only bending their elbows, but bending time as well.
  • And much more!

Think you’ve seen it all? Think again.

Prepare for alien contact. Explore the darkest alleyways of urban fantasy. Rise to the dizzying heights of magical realism. These award-winning writers provide a diverse array of stories that will transport you and reshape your reality.

Sunday, April 24, 2022

Book Reviews: Writers on Writing


Have you ever wondered what sets “the great writers” apart from the average writers? Have you ever wondered how to up your own writing, and move from average into award-winning content? Would you like personalized writing coaching to help you achieve your creative dreams?

Are you looking for inspiration? Direction? Writing coach Chip Scanlan offers that and more in his new book, Writers on Writing: Inside the Lives of 55 Distinguished Writers and Editors. Chip’s challenge when writing this book was to discover the thinking, the process, and the skills of great writers and to share them with others.

Saturday, April 23, 2022

Book Review: Comforts of the Abyss


Throughout his growth as a writer, acclaimed poet Philip Schultz has battled with the dark voice in his head—the “shitbird,” as his late friend the poet Ralph Dickey termed it—that whispers his insecurities and questions his ability to create. Persona writing, a method of borrowing the voice and temperament of accomplished writers, offers him imaginative distance and perspective on his own negative inclinations.

In this candid and generous book, Schultz reflects on his early life in an immigrant neighborhood of upstate New York, his first writing experiments inspired by Ernest Hemingway and John Keats, his struggles with dyslexia, and the failures he witnessed in his father’s life and his own. Through surprising, sometimes humorous, and encouraging encounters with the writers who influence him—including Elizabeth Bishop, Joan Didion, and Norman Mailer—as well as moving experiences of loss, Schultz learns how to fashion personas out of pain.

Thursday, April 21, 2022

Book Review: Long Train Runnin’

Only a very few rock bands have had the longevity, success, and drama of The Doobie Brothers. Born out of late 1960s NorCal, and led by Pat Simmons and Tom Johnston, they stood alongside their contemporaries The Grateful Dead, The Allman Brothers, and many others as an iconic American rock band. The train was rolling along, hits were flowing like wine, and arenas were packed with fans who wanted to see them live...then Tom Johnston, the band’s front man and lead guitarist, became ill and had to leave.

The Doobies' train came to a screeching halt. All of a sudden the band started contemplating the end of the road only seven years into their career, just as things were taking off. But Pat Simmons made sure they were far from the end and began the process of keeping the band together through most of the next decade.

A soul-steeped backup singer for Steely Dan named Michael McDonald took a shot at singing some of the Doobies' songs on tour, and all of a sudden a new chapter in the Doobie Brothers' story began. The band expanded their sound and had even more hits with their new front addition. Tom recovered from his health issues, but the band had moved on. When it came time for a reunion concert in the ’80s, Tom got the call and was back in the mix. Led once again by Pat and Tom, The Doobie Brothers have been touring ever since and maintain a massive fan base the world over.

Monday, April 18, 2022

Book Review: Prince of Song & Sea


Before Prince Eric’s mother, the Queen of Vellona, went missing two years ago, she reminded him about the details of the deadly curse that has plagued his entire life. The curse? If he were to kiss someone other than his true love, he would die. With a neighboring kingdom looking for any excuse to invade their shores, and rumors of ghost pirates lurking the seas, Eric is desperate for any information that may help him break his enchantment and bring stability to Vellona. The answers he has been searching for come to him in the form of a letter left from his mother that reveals Eric must find his true love, the one with a voice pure of heart, or kill the sea witch responsible for cursing him in the first place.

Now Eric is on a quest to find the Isle of Serein, the witch's legendary home. But after he is rescued by a mysterious young woman with a mesmerizing singing voice, Eric’s heart becomes torn. Does he enter a battle he is almost certain he cannot win or chase a love that might not even exist? And when a shipwrecked young woman with flaming red hair and a smile that could calm the seven seas enters his life, Eric may discover that true love isn’t something that can be decided by magic.

Sunday, April 17, 2022

Book Review: The Night Shift


Hidden behind back doors of bars and restaurants and theaters and shops all over New York City are shortcuts—secret passageways that allow you to jump through time and space to emerge in different parts of the city. No one knows where they came from, but there are rules—you can only travel through them one way and only at night.

When Jean’s work friend Iggy introduces her to the shortcuts, it’s to help shorten her commute between her two night shift jobs. She is intrigued but has a hard time shaking the side effects—the shortcuts make her more talkative, more open to discussing her past and recalling memories she’s tried hard to forget. When Iggy goes missing, Jean believes it’s related to the shortcuts and his growing obsession with them. But as she starts digging into their origins, she comes to find a strange connection to them. A shimmering, propulsive novel set in New York City during the early aughts and across time, The Night Shift shows that by confronting the past can we reshape our future.

Sunday, April 10, 2022

Book Review: Directed by James Burrows


Legendary sitcom director James Burrows has spent five decades making America laugh. Here readers will find never revealed stories behind the casting of the dozens of great sitcoms he directed, as well as details as to how these memorable shows were created, how they got on the air, and how the cast and crew continued to develop and grow. Burrows also examines his own challenges, career victories, and defeats, and provides advice for aspiring directors, writers, and actors. All this from the man who helped launch the careers of Ted Danson, Kelsey Grammer, Woody Harrelson, Jennifer Aniston, Debra Messing, and Melissa McCarthy, to name a few.

Burrows talks fondly about the inspiration he found during his childhood and young adult years, including his father, legendary playwright and Broadway director Abe Burrows. From there he goes on to explain his rigorous work ethic, forged in his early years in theater, where he did everything from stage managing to building sets to, finally, directing. Transitioning to television, Burrows locked into a coveted job with The Mary Tyler Moore Show, where he first observed and then started to apply his craft. Directing most of the episodes of Taxi came next, where he worked closely with writers/producers Glen and Les Charles. The three formed a remarkable creative partnership that helped Burrows achieve his much sought-after goal of ownership and agency over a project, which came with the creating and directing of the seminal and beloved hit Cheers. Burrows has directed more than seventy-five pilots that have gone to series and over a thousand episodes, more than any other director in history.

Friday, April 8, 2022

Book Review: The Book Woman's Daughter


In the ruggedness of the beautiful Kentucky mountains, Honey Lovett has always known that the old ways can make a hard life harder. As the daughter of the famed blue-skinned, Troublesome Creek packhorse librarian, Honey and her family have been hiding from the law all her life. But when her mother and father are imprisoned, Honey realizes she must fight to stay free, or risk being sent away for good.

Picking up her mother's old packhorse library route, Honey begins to deliver books to the remote hollers of Appalachia. Honey is looking to prove that she doesn't need anyone telling her how to survive. But the route can be treacherous, and some folks aren't as keen to let a woman pave her own way. If Honey wants to bring the freedom books provide to the families who need it most, she's going to have to fight for her place, and along the way, learn that the extraordinary women who run the hills and hollers can make all the difference in the world.

I had the opportunity to read an early release of the book by its publisher Sourcebooks Landmark in exchange for an honest review. It hits all booksellers on May 3rd of 2022.

Sunday, April 3, 2022

Book Review: How to Date a Superhero (And Not Die Trying)


Falling for a superhero is dangerous. You have to trust that they’ll catch you.

Astrid isn’t a superhero, not like the ones she sees on the news, but she has something she thinks of as a small superpower: She has a perfect sense of time. And she’s not going to waste a single second. Her plan for college is clear—friends, classes, and extra-curriculars all carefully selected to get her into medical school.

Until Max Martin, a nerdy boy from high school, crashes back into her life. Things with Max were never simple, and he doesn’t keep to her schedule. He disappears in the middle of dates and cancels last-minute with stupid excuses. When a supervillain breaks into her bedroom one night, Astrid has to face the facts: Her boyfriend, Max Martin, is a superhero. Double-majoring as a pre-med was hard, but now Astrid will have to balance a double-life. This wasn’t part of her plan.

Friday, April 1, 2022

Book Review: The Middling Affliction


Conrad Brent protects the people of Brooklyn from monsters and magical threats. The snarky, wisecracking guardian also has a dangerous secret: he’s one in a million – literally. Magical ability comes to about one in every 30,000 and can manifest at any age. Conrad is rarer than this, however. He’s a middling, one of the half-gifted and totally despised. Most of the gifted community feels that middlings should be instantly killed. The few who don’t flat out hate them still aren’t excited to be around middlings. Meaning Conrad can’t tell anyone, not even his best friends, what he really is.

Conrad hides in plain sight by being a part of the volunteer Watch, those magically gifted who protect their cities from dangerous, arcane threats. And, to pay the bills, Conrad moonlights as a private detective and monster hunter for the gifted community. Which helps him keep up his personal fiction – that he’s a magical version of Batman. Conrad does both jobs thanks to charms, artifacts, and his wits, along with copious amounts of coffee. But little does he know that events are about to change his life…forever.

When Conrad discovers the Traveling Fair auction house has another middling who’s just manifested her so-called powers on the auction block, he’s determined to save her, regardless of risk. But what he finds out while doing so is even worse – the winning bidder works for a company that’s just created the most dangerous chemical weapon to ever hit the magical community. Before Conrad can convince anyone at the Watch of the danger, he’s exposed for what he really is. Now, stripped of rank, magical objects, friends and allies, Conrad has to try to save the world with only his wits. Thankfully though, no one’s taken away his coffee.

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Book Review: In On the Joke


Today, women are ascendant in stand-up comedy, even preeminent. They make headlines, fill arenas, spawn blockbuster movies. But before Amy Schumer slayed, Tiffany Haddish killed, and Ali Wong drew roars, the very idea of a female comedian seemed, to most of America, like a punch line. And it took a special sort of woman—indeed, a parade of them—to break and remake the mold.

In on the Joke is the story of a group of unforgettable women who knocked down the doors of stand-up comedy so other women could get a shot. It spans decades, from Moms Mabley’s rise in Black vaudeville between the world wars, to the roadhouse ribaldry of Belle Barth and Rusty Warren in the 1950s and '60s, to Elaine May's co-invention of improv comedy, to Joan Rivers's and Phyllis Diller’s ferocious ascent to mainstream stardom. These women refused to be defined by type and tradition, facing down indifference, puzzlement, nay-saying, and unvarnished hostility. They were discouraged by agents, managers, audiences, critics, fellow performers—even their families. And yet they persevered against the tired notion that women couldn’t be funny, making space not only for themselves, but for the women who followed them.

Saturday, March 26, 2022

Book Review: Marrying The Ketchups


Here are the three things the Sullivan family knows to be true: the Chicago Cubs will always be the underdogs; historical progress is inevitable; and their grandfather, Bud, founder of JP Sullivan’s, will always make the best burgers in Oak Park. But when, over the course of three strange months, the Cubs win the World Series, Trump is elected president, and Bud drops dead, suddenly everyone in the family finds themselves doubting all they hold dear.

Take Gretchen for example, lead singer for a ’90s cover band who has been flirting with fame for a decade but is beginning to wonder if she’s too old to be chasing a childish dream. Or Jane, Gretchen’s older sister, who is starting to suspect that her fitness-obsessed husband who hides the screen of his phone isn’t always “working late.” And then there’s Teddy, their steadfast, unfailingly good cousin, nursing heartbreak and confusion because the guy who dumped him keeps showing up for lunch at JP Sullivan’s where Teddy is the manager. How can any of them be expected to make the right decisions when the world feels sideways—and the bartender at JP Sullivan’s makes such strong cocktails?

Thursday, March 24, 2022

Book Review: Hello Molly!


At age four, Molly Shannon’s world was shattered when she lost her mother, baby sister, and cousin in a car accident with her father at the wheel. Held together by her tender and complicated relationship with her grieving father, Molly was raised in a permissive household where her gift for improvising and role-playing blossomed alongside the fearlessness that would lead her to become a celebrated actress.

From there, Molly ventured into the wider world of New York and Los Angeles show business, where she created her own opportunities and developed her daring and empathetic comedy. Filled with behind-the-scenes stories involving everyone from Whitney Houston to Adam Sandler to Monica Lewinsky, many told for the first time here, Hello, Molly! spans Molly’s time on Saturday Night Live—where she starred alongside Will Ferrell, Adam Sandler, Cheri Oteri, Tracy Morgan, and Jimmy Fallon, among many others. At the same time, it explores with humor and candor her struggle to come to terms with the legacy of her father, a man who both fostered her gifts and drive and was left with the impossible task of raising his kids alone after the loss of her mother.

Witty, winning, and told with tremendous energy and heart, Hello, Molly!, written with Sean Wilsey, sheds new and revelatory light on the life and work of one of our most talented and free-spirited performers.

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Book Review: George Michael - A Life


George Michael was an extravagantly gifted, openhearted soul singer whose work was both pained and smolderingly erotic. He was a songwriter of true craft and substance, and his music swept the world, starting in the mid-1980s. His fabricated image—that of a hypermacho sex god—loomed large in the pop culture of his day. It also hid—for a time—the secret he fought against revealing: Michael was gay. Soon his obsession with fame would start to backfire. As one of the industry’s most privileged yet tortured men began to self-destruct, the press showed little sympathy. George Michael: A Life explores the compelling story of a superstar whose struggles, as well as his songs, continue to touch fans all over the world.

Acclaimed music biographer James Gavin traces Michael’s metamorphosis from the shy and awkward Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou into the swaggering, dominant half of the leading British pop duo of the 1980s Wham!; he then details Michael’s sensational solo career and its subsequent unraveling. With deep analysis of the creative process behind Michael’s albums, tours, and music videos, as well as interviews with hundreds of his friends and colleagues, George Michael: A Life is a probing, definitive portrait of a pop legend.

This biography will be available everywhere on June 28, 2022. I was given the opportunity to review an early galley from the publisher Abrams Press in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, March 17, 2022

Book Review: Nightcrawling


Kiara and her brother, Marcus, are barely scraping by in a squalid East Oakland apartment complex optimistically called the Regal-Hi. Both have dropped out of high school, their family fractured by death and prison. But while Marcus clings to his dream of rap stardom, Kiara hunts for work to pay their rent—which has more than doubled—and to keep the nine-year-old boy next door, abandoned by his mother, safe and fed. One night, what begins as a drunken misunderstanding with a stranger turns into the job Kiara never imagined wanting but now desperately needs: nightcrawling. And her world breaks open even further when her name surfaces in an investigation that exposes her as a key witness in a massive scandal within the Oakland Police Department.

Full of edge, raw beauty, electrifying intensity, and piercing vulnerability, Nightcrawling marks the stunning arrival of a voice unlike any we have heard before. This debut novel by Leila Mottley comes out on June 7, 2022. Knopf Doubleday Publishing provided me an early galley in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, March 11, 2022

Book Review: The Siege of X-41


Once, Joshua Foley hated mutants, then he became one. It’s… problematic. When his healing powers manifested, the violent anti-Mutant Reavers rejected him and only the X-Men offered sanctuary. Now he’s surrounded by mutants who still see him as their enemy. A deep-sea training mission isolates him with a select team of new X-Men, which is bad enough, but then the attacks begin. A sect of sea monster-worshiping vampire mermen besiege the base, leaving them stranded and trapped. As the attacks escalate, their chances of survival plummet. Things go from awful to even worse when one of their team begins sabotaging their attempts to call for help, all in the name of a sleeping behemoth soon to awake…

Thanks to the publisher, I had the opportunity to read an advance of this adventure which hits bookstores on May 3rd of 2022.

Sunday, March 6, 2022

Book Review: Songs by Honeybird


Atlanta couple Ben and Nina were supposed to move in together and start their happy ever after, but when Nina tells Ben her dog, Sid, can talk, Ben can’t believe her and their romance unravels. Alternating between Ben and Nina’s POVs, Songs by Honeybird follows the once-happy couple as they cope with the end of their relationship: Ben dives headfirst into research for his dissertation on the history — and mystery — of Honeybird, the South’s first integrated rock band, and Nina tries to reckon with her talking dog, as he puts into question the events surrounding her father’s death. Will the buried secrets of the past bring Ben and Nina back together — or will the secrets they uncover forge for them entirely new paths? Accompanied by a soundtrack of original songs, Songs by Honeybird is a novel about what can begin after a relationship ends.

This new novel by Peter McDade is scheduled for release on March 29th, 2022. His publisher Wampus gave me the opportunity to get an early look for an honest review.

Sunday, February 27, 2022

Book Review: Ancestor Trouble


Maud Newton’s ancestors have vexed and fascinated her since she was a girl. Her mother’s father, who came of age in Texas during the Great Depression, was said to have married thirteen times and been shot by one of his wives. Her mother’s grandfather killed a man with a hay hook and died in an institution. Mental illness and religious fanaticism percolated through Maud’s maternal lines back to an ancestor accused of being a witch in Puritan-era Massachusetts. Maud’s father, an aerospace engineer turned lawyer, was an educated man who extolled the virtues of slavery and obsessed over the “purity” of his family bloodline, which he traced back to the Revolutionary War. He tried in vain to control Maud’s mother, a whirlwind of charisma and passion given to feverish projects: thirty rescue cats, and a church in the family’s living room where she performed exorcisms.

Searching, moving, and inspiring, Ancestor Trouble is one writer’s attempt to use genealogy—a once-niche hobby that has grown into a multi-billion-dollar industry—to expose the secrets and contradictions of her own ancestors, and to argue for the transformational possibilities that reckoning with our ancestors offers all of us.

Friday, February 25, 2022

Book Review: Secret Identity


It’s 1975 and the comic book industry is struggling, but Carmen Valdez doesn’t care. She’s an assistant at Triumph Comics, which doesn’t have the creative zeal of Marvel nor the buttoned-up efficiency of DC, but it doesn’t matter. Carmen is tantalizingly close to fulfilling her dream of writing a superhero book.

That dream is nearly a reality when one of the Triumph writers enlists her help to create a new character, which they call “The Lethal Lynx,” Triumph's first female hero. But her colleague is acting strangely and asking to keep her involvement a secret. And then he’s found dead, with all of their scripts turned into the publisher without her name. Carmen is desperate to piece together what happened to him, to hang on to her piece of the Lynx, which turns out to be a runaway hit. But that’s complicated by a surprise visitor from her home in Miami, a tenacious cop who is piecing everything together too quickly for Carmen, and the tangled web of secrets and resentments among the passionate eccentrics who write comics for a living.

Monday, February 21, 2022

Book Review: In A Garden Burning Gold


Rhea and her twin brother, Lexos, have spent an eternity using cunning and magic to help rule their small, unstable country. Rhea controls the seasons to show favor to their most loyal stewards with bountiful harvests and short winters, while Lexos keeps the tides strong and impassable to maintain the country’s borders. Reigning over them both is their father, who holds dominion over death, using his most powerful weapon—fear—to keep the people, and his children, in line.

For a hundred years, Rhea and Lexos have been each other’s only ally, defending themselves and their younger siblings against their father’s increasingly unpredictable anger while also trying to keep up the appearance of unity and prosperity within their borders.

Now, with an independence movement gaining ground, other nations jockeying for power, and their father’s iron grip weakening, the twins must take matters into their own hands to keep the world from crashing down around them. But as Rhea and Lexos travel beyond the security of their home to try to save their family, they begin to draw very different conclusions about their father’s style of rule. And if the siblings aren’t careful, they’ll end up facing each other on the battlefield.

Sunday, February 20, 2022

Book Review: A Touch Of Light


The dead shall not be mourned or remembered, for death is the enemy and will only drive the Seraph away. The Domain is the bastion of life. The Seraph blesses her faithful with endless years, and they keep death away in hope for Her return, but The Domain nations are not the only ones in Avarin. They have managed only a tenuous peace with the clans to the south, who believe life must be returned to the Earth to keep it whole. But the world of Avarin is changing.

In the clanlands, parts of the Earth seem to be withering away, while in the Domain, a deadly frenzy spreads among the people. It brings darkness to the minds of men and bloodlust to their hearts. This sickness threatens more than just the peace in the realm. It imperils its very heart. Now the people of Avarin must fight to save it. Before death comes for them all.

Tuesday, February 8, 2022

Book Review: Shadow Avengers


Earth is on course for a devastating invasion from the Dark Dimension, forcing the world’s mightiest heroes into unthinkable alliances, in this heart-stopping new novel in the Marvel: Crisis Protocol series.

Doctor Strange created the Shadow Avengers to save the world from Dormammu, but instead they’re on the verge of dissolution. When sudden weather anomalies across the world correspond with Asgardian heroes emerging from portals ripe with Dormammu’s magical signature, the Shadow Avengers realize the “Master” is making his move. Loki, Venom, and Green Goblin are behind a ceremony plotting to open a portal big enough to encompass Dormammu’s presence. From the Sanctum Sanctorum to the streets of NYC to beautiful Wakanda, the Shadow Avengers must stop Dormammu at any cost – but the Master, in all his cunning wisdom, has something greater in store that will doom the world once and for all.

Sunday, January 30, 2022

Book Review: Anvils, Mallets and Dynamite - The Unauthorized Biography of Looney Tunes


"Looney Tunes cartoons", writes celebrated television critic Jaime Weinman, "are the high-water mark of American filmed comedy." Surreal, irreverent, philosophical, and riotously funny, they have maintained their power over audiences for generations and inspired such giants of the cinema as Mel Brooks, Steven Spielberg, and George Lucas.

Here, finally, Weinman gives Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Yosemite Sam, Foghorn Leghorn, Tweety, Sylvester, and the whole cast of animated icons their long-awaited due. With meticulous research, he takes us inside the Warner Bros. studios to unlock the mystery of how an unlikely band of directors and artists working in the shadow of Walt Disney created a wild, visually stunning and oh-so-violent brand of comedy that has never been matched for sheer volume of laughs. The result is an unexpected and fascinating story that matches the Looney Tunes themselves for energy, humor, and ingenuity.

Saturday, January 29, 2022

Book Review: Secrets of a River Swimmer


Coming to book-sellers everywhere on February 8th of 2022 is an interesting debut novel by SS Turner, from the Story Plant publishing.

As Freddy gazes at the majestic river gushing past him in the depths of a Scottish winter, he's ready to jump in and end his life. But what happens next is not what Freddy expects. From the moment he enters the river, Freddy starts a journey which is more beautiful, funny, and mysterious than he could have imagined. And through this journey Freddy's story becomes interweaved with a cast of unforgettable characters who are equally lost and in search of answers. Eventually they all unite in their quest for an answer to the biggest question of them all: will the river take them where they want to go?

Monday, January 17, 2022

Book Review: Black Cat - Discord


Legendary super-thief Black Cat takes on on some of Marvel’s most renowned heroes and mob secrets in this electrifying heist novel from Aconyte Books' Marvel Heroines line (coming March 1, 2022).

Felicia Hardy always puts her own interests first, but the appearance of a mythical golden apple in New York has everybody with a hint of power scrambling for it. And who’s everyone’s number one choice to nab it for them? The Black Cat, of course. Yet that isn’t the only job on Felicia’s radar. When a smart-aleck kid turns up demanding her help, Felicia finds herself caught between the mob, her morals and some very insistent supervillains. It’ll take all nine lives to wriggle out of this one intact, but Felicia has more than one trick up her sleeve.

Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Book Review: The Maid by Nita Prose


Coming in January of 2022 is The Maid, the debut novel by Nita Prose. I had the opportunity to read an advanced copy of the galley in exchange for an honest review.

Molly Gray is not like everyone else. She struggles with social skills and misreads the intentions of others. Since her Gran died a few months ago, twenty-five-year-old Molly has been navigating life's complexities all by herself. No matter—she throws herself with gusto into her work as a hotel maid. Her unique character, along with her obsessive love of cleaning and proper etiquette, make her an ideal fit for the job. But Molly's orderly life is upended the day she enters the suite of the infamous and wealthy Charles Black, only to find it in a state of disarray and Mr. Black himself dead in his bed. Before she knows what's happening, Molly's unusual demeanor has the police targeting her as their lead suspect. She quickly finds herself caught in a web of deception, one she has no idea how to untangle.