Month: May 2018

Review: For Every One

For Every One

Thank you to Kid Lit Exchange for the review copy of this book! All opinions are my own.

The truth is
our dreams could be
as far away as forever
or as close as lunchtime.
Tomorrow you could
wake up and read
this letter on a billboard.
Or you could wake up
and have forgotten
who wrote it.

I have not read a lot of poetry or books in verse in my life. To be honest, I can’t even name one. But now I can, and it’s Jason Reynolds’ For Every One. I read this short book, a poem that started as a speech Reynolds gave at the Kennedy Center to celebrate the Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial, from cover to cover, not looking up once. It is that good, that moving, and that inspiring.

This is the most straightforward and honest poem (I’ll call it a poem, but it’s really a speech in verse) I’ve ever read, and I really think anyone can relate to it. It is about Reynolds’ own struggle with his dreams and how hard it can be to follow those dreams, but how important it is to keep going. He honestly states that he doesn’t hold the key to success, and isn’t quite sure how to make dreams come true. The most important thing is to have a dream and to keep going on the path towards that dream, no matter how beaten down you may become. Just having a dream is important, and sometimes holding on to that dream through life is the most difficult thing to do, and the most critical.

Whether you are about to graduate from high school or college or graduated 15 years ago, For Every One is an important book and a much-needed reminder that we should never stop dreaming. I recently bought a copy of this for a friend who is going through a hard time, and I really hope it helps her to remember that our dreams will never die as long as we keep holding tight to them. It was a good reminder for me, and inspired me to pick up a couple of dreams I thought were no longer possible. If you need some inspiration, know someone who needs a little push, or need an amazing bookish gift for a graduate, please consider this book. Reynolds gets it exactly right. And if, like me, you don’t usually read verse (and don’t usually enjoy it), I really think this will change your mind. It certainly changed mine.


A Bookish Mother’s Day Gift Guide

I received several of these books from the publisher, either as hard copies or digital galleys. I’ve marked my partnerships with a second asterisk. I only recommend I love, and all opinions are always my own!

I love to give books as gifts, but that can be tricky. We all have different genre preferences, favorite authors, and reading mood changes. But if you have a mom who loves to read like I do, chances are you can make a pretty good guess as to what type of book they would enjoy. I’m featuring a few of my favorites that I’ve gifted to my mom, some that I’ve received, and some that I plan to gift to a few of my friends who are new moms. Let me know in the comments any book suggestions you have for Mother’s Day! Mom, if you’re reading here, just stop now!!

New Moms

These might seem odd recommendations for new moms, but I think moms worry enough about reading all the parenting books, and could really use more fun books to relieve some of that worry. With just a hint of motherhood (and friendship) thrown in, of course.

**Mama’s Belly by Kate Hosford, illustrated by Abigail Halpin (This is the sweetest book! It’s about a little girl and her mom, who is pregnant, and how the little girl is excited about meeting her new sibling, but also worried about there being enough love to go around. It’s perfect for brand new moms who are worried themselves about a new life, and for second-time moms–or third or fourth–who want to reassure their other little ones.)
*Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng (Read my review HERE. There are so many family dynamics, especially mother/daughter relationships, and it will give any mom a lot to think about!)
**The High Tide Club by Mary Kay Andrews (This is her newest book, out May 8th, and it’s a fun book about scandal, secrets, and, most importantly, the friendship of a group of women, something that a lot of new moms might need reminding about.)

Historical Fiction

*The Women in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck (Read my review HERE.)
**Carnegie’s Maid by Marie Benedict (Read my review HERE.)
**I Was Anastasia by Ariel Lawhon (This is Lawhon’s take on the Anastasia Romanov mystery and Anna Anderson, the woman who claimed to be her in the 1920s. I’m planning to get this and buddy read it with my mom!)


Do I need to explain why this is its own book category? Probably not! My mom loves to read about the history of wine and stories that take place in beautiful wine country. I gave her Cork Dork last year, and she may be getting another this year!

*Cork Dork: A Wine-Fueled Adventure Among the Obsessive Sommeliers, Big Bottle Hunters, and Rogue Scientists Who Taught Me to Live for Taste by Bianca Bosker (Bosker is a journalist who started researching wine to figure out why it’s such a big deal-I can definitely relate to that. I gave this to my mom last year and she and my dad both liked it!)
*The Wandering Vine: Wine, the Romans and Me by Nina Caplan (This one comes out May 8, so if you pre-order now it’ll definitely arrive in time for Mother’s Day. I just pre-ordered this and I know it’s one my mom is going to love. This also fits in the next category, as it’s Caplan’s story of traveling through various wine countries and learning about wine, drinking, and herself in the process.)
*Also, you know, a bottle of wine!!


*The Paris Effect by K.S.R. Burns (This sounds SO GOOD, and I’m planning to buy copies for my mom and myself! It’s about a woman who goes on a trip to Paris after the death of her best friend and how she learns to move past her problems and start living life.)
*Dispatches from Pluto: Lost and Found in the Mississippi Delta by Richard Grant (Read my review HERE.)
*The Sex Lives of Cannibals: Adrift in the Equatorial Pacific by J. Maarten Troost (Ok. Hear me out on this one. This is a book that my mom actually gave to me, and it is straight up hilarious. Troost moved to the tiny island of Tarawa for two years. Enter what it feels like for a Westerner to move to a place where dengue fever runs rampant and there’s no electricity, running water, buildings, or airplanes. If your mom likes travel memoirs, this one is sure to be a hit.)
*Four Seasons in Rome: On Twins, Insomnia, and the Biggest Funeral in the History of the World by Anthony Doerr (This is the author’s account of the year he spent in Rome writing All the Light We Cannot See, which would also make a great gift if your mom hasn’t read it yet! I think the title says it all!)


*Castle of Water by Dane Huckelbridge (Read my review HERE. This is my favorite book this year so far . . .)
*The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid (Read my review HERE. This was one of my favorite books of 2017!)
*The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah (My mom just got this book, and I’m waiting for her to start for me to start reading it! Kristin Hannah is one of my favorite authors, and this book has family drama, adventure, and the type of mystery that only Alaska can bring.)

Books to Buddy Read with Mom!

*A Quiet Life in the Country (A Lady Hardcastle Mystery) by T E Kinsey (This is the first book in the Lady Hardcastle series, and it’s just amazing. I bought this for my mom (Mom, hurry up and finish reading this!), and I’ve been listening to the audio, which I bought on Audible. The audio is so good, and I’m going to get the rest in the series this way. It’s one of the best cozy mysteries I’ve ever read.)
*Still Life, the Inspector Gamache series, by Louise Penny (Read my review HERE. This is the other cozy mystery series that I love. And it is amazing. If you and/or your mom haven’t started them, what are you waiting for??)
*Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan (This is the first in a trilogy, and if you’re looking family drama and a more diverse shelf for your mom, this is the book to get! The movie opens in August, so it might be fun to read it together and then have a movie date!)


*Carrot Top Paper Shop-Carrot Top Paper Shop makes my favorite bookmarks and prints, and if you’re getting your mom multiple books, you might want to add in a few bookmarks.
*Book Light-This was suggested by Colleen at The Sagging Bookshelf, and it’s such a great idea!!
*Bookshelf Tees-So these are my new favorite shirts. Seriously, they’re so cute and soft!
*Just One More Chapter Mug-To fill with coffee! Or wine!
*My Pretty Peggy-Erin makes the cutest peg dolls, both literary and custom. Whenever she’s taking custom orders, it might be fun to have some made to look like you and your mom!
*Book of the Month Club-Might seem obvious, but I have to include it because they’ve had some really good selections the past couple of months.


What My Kids Are Reading: New Orleans Edition!

Bayou Magic Who Was Louis Armstrong? Bedtime at the Swamp The Pirate Lafitte and the Battle of New Orleans

When I visited New Orleans last month, I knew I couldn’t leave without bringing home at least one book for my kids. So of course I ended up bringing back 4! While I did visit the wonderful Faulkner House Books, I actually found these at a toy store in the French Quarter! The Little Toy Shop (This is not sponsored in any way, I just want to let you know where I found them!) had a surprising amount of children’s books, from beautiful editions of fairy tales to, of course, a good selection of New Orleans and Louisiana-based stories. It was hard to choose just these four, but I think the variety is pretty good, and the books seem perfect for a variety of ages.

Bayou Magic by Jewell Parker Rhodes

I picked up this book for the cover alone, but the story sounds amazing. Rhodes wrote the acclaimed Towers Falling and Ninth Ward, and I’m really excited to read this with my 9-year-old. Bayou Magic is the third in a trilogy of books about 3 separate girls visiting Louisiana during different times of crises. In in this one, Maddy goes to spend the summer with her grandmother in the bayou, and immediately loves the feeling she gets there. In between hearing her grandmother’s fairy tales, a possible sighting of a mermaid, and Maddy’s realization that she might have REAL magic, a tragic oil spill occurs. Maddy may be the only who can help. This sounds like an amazing book set in the South, and I have a feeling I’ll be picking up the first two in the series as well.

Who Was Louis Armstrong?

This one was a no brainer! My kids love the Who Was series, and I had to get this edition about Louis Armstrong. This book details Armstrong’s childhood in one of the roughest neighborhoods in New Orleans through his adulthood and famously successful career. I love learning about important people in history just as much as my kids, and he’s definitely an important person to learn about. He didn’t let adversity and severe racism stop him, and that’s a message that we can all learn from.

Bedtime at the Swamp

This is a really cute picture book about a little boy tromping through the swamp at bedtime. The little boy keeps hearing funny noises and isn’t quite sure what any of them are. It’s told in rhyme, and is perfect for kids of any age who like funny books with wonderful illustrations.

The Pirate Lafitte and the Battle of New Orleans

A pirate? Swashbuckling through New Orleans? There was no chance I wasn’t bringing this one home for my 9-year-old. This is a real chapter book great for more advanced young readers or older readers, or to read with your child. It’s all about the pirate Jean Lafitte, his background, and what brought him to New Orleans in the 1800s. Some people loved him, some people hated him, and this looks like a really interesting book for any kid who loves pirates and their history!


Review: The Last Black Unicorn

The Last Black Unicorn

That’s why I think my life has turned out as good as it has. Because all the time, I’m just trying to have fun.

You guys. I really liked Tiffany Haddish before this book. Now? I absolutely love her. The Last Black Unicorn is her memoir of how she grew up and into the person she is today, and while she is a funny lady, it is not a funny story. Well, it is Tiffany Haddish, so it’s still pretty funny, while at the same time being gut-wrenching. She has been through the ringer and worked incredibly hard to get to where she is today. If you haven’t seen any of her comedy, Google her IMMEDIATELY.

The thing about very funny people is that a lot of them use difficult situations to joke about. Haddish is no different, and I was shocked by just how difficult her life has been. She doesn’t use it as an excuse, though, and it seems that she’s worked twice as hard to make sure she’s successful. Growing up in South Central Los Angeles, Haddish had to work hard just to survive, much less work her way out of a situation that would seem impossible for most people. Absent parents, being a foster kid, and problems at school are just a few of the situations that she had to deal with, and comedy, namely making other people laugh, was her way of coping with it all. This book details her childhood and early adulthood, as well as her rise to fame, and it will cause you to have a whole new respect for her and others like her who struggle on the stand up comedy circuit.

The Last Black Unicorn is a shocking, hilarious, at times disturbing memoir written by a brutally honest women who really does feel like someone we could all be friends with. Tiffany Haddish deserves all of the acclaim she’s been getting lately, and then some. She’s not just a funny lady. She is a humble and honest human being who isn’t afraid to talk about the hard parts of life. I found myself laughing and tearing up at the same time during certain chapters, and that is just a testament to how Haddish can turn any terrible situation into a comedic one. She’s the definition of finding the silver lining. If you like memoirs, funny books, or just want to learn about one woman’s rise from one of the poorest neighborhoods in Los Angeles to the top of the Hollywood food chain, please, please pick up this book!



I listened to The Last Black Unicorn on audio, and I highly recommend it. Haddish reads it herself, and it truly adds so much to the story!