Tag Archives: nonfiction

Rescued

Rescued Book Cover Rescued
Peter Zheutlin
Pets
Penguin
2017
256

"In the follow-up to his New York Times bestseller Rescue Road, acclaimed journalist Peter Zheutlin offers a heartwarming and often humorous new look into the world of rescue dogs. Sharing lessons from his own experiences adopting dogs with large personalities as well as stories and advice from dozens of families and rescue advocates, Zheutlin reveals the often surprising and inspiring life lessons rescue dogs teach us." -- Back cover.

 

Review:

I’m an animal lover and strong advocate for rescue animals.  “Rescued” is written for anyone like me.  Instead of focusing solely on the dogs it focuses on rescuers and how the dogs have impacted their lives.  Recommended for all lovers of second-hand dogs.

This unbiased review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher.

The Comic Book Story of Video Games

The Comic Book Story of Video Games Book Cover The Comic Book Story of Video Games
Jonathan Hennessey
Comics & Graphic Novels
Ten Speed Press
2017
192

A complete, illustrated history of video games--highlighting the machines, games, and people who have made gaming a worldwide, billion dollar industry/artform--told in a graphic novel format. Author Jonathan Hennessey and illustrator Jack McGowan present the first full-color, chronological origin story for this hugely successful, omnipresent artform and business. Hennessey provides readers with everything they need to know about video games--from their early beginnings during World War II to the emergence of arcade games in the 1970s to the rise of Nintendo to today's app-based games like Angry Birds and Pokemon Go. Hennessey and McGowan also analyze the evolution of gaming as an artform and its impact on society. Each chapter features spotlights on major players in the development of games and gaming that contains everything that gamers and non-gamers alike need to understand and appreciate this incredible phenomenon.

 

Review:

“The Comic Book Story of Video Games” is definitely not light reading, but it is entertaining and full of information.  I believe I learned something new on almost every page.  This is perfect for kids interested in engineering and technology, as well as adults.  It could also fit easily into a STEM curriculum.  Highly recommended for all of us video game nerds out there!

This unbiased review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher.

 

Strange History

Strange History Book Cover Strange History
Bathroom Readers' Institute
Portable Press
June 14, 2016
Paperback
416

This exciting title from the folks at the Bathroom Readers' Institute contains the strangest short history articles from over 30 Bathroom Readers—along with 50 all-new pages. From the 20th century to the Old West, from the Age of Enlightenment to the Dark Ages, from ancient cultures all the way back to the dawn of time, Strange History is overflowing with mysterious artifacts, macabre legends, kooky inventions, reality-challenged rulers, boneheaded blunders, and mind-blowing facts. Read about…

*The curse of Macbeth
*Stupid history: Hollywood style
*The secret LSD experiments of the 1960s
*In search of the lost “Cloud People” of Peru
*The Swedish queen who declared war on fleas
*Unearthing the past with the Outhouse Detectives
*The Apollo astronaut who swears he saw a UFO
*How to brew a batch of 5,000-year-old beer
*The brutal bloodbaths at Rome’s Coliseum
*Ghostly soup from ancient China
*The bathroom of the 1970s

And much, much more!

 

Review:

“Strange History” is a fun history book filled with facts and stories that will have you either laughing, horrified, or thankful you don’t know what crazy stuff is going on right now behind-the-scenes.  All of the stories are short and can be read quickly.  It definitely makes history fun and accessible.  In fact, I recommend it for teachers or parents to get interesting anecdotes they can throw into relevant lessons to keep students engaged.

This review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

You Had One Job!

You Had One Job! Book Cover You Had One Job!
Beverly Jenkins
Humor
Andrews McMeel Publishing
July 12, 2016
Paperback
144

You Had One Job! is a collection of hilarious pictures features job-related disasters and general ineptitudes. If someone hangs a stop sign upside down or paints crooked lines on a highway, count on someone else to snap a photo and post it online. You Had One Job! is a collection of hilarious pictures features job-related disasters and general ineptitudes. All of these new, never-before-seen images will be accompanied by witty captions.

 

Review:

“You Had One Job” has many pictures in it that had me literally laughing out loud and scaring the animals.  It also seemed a bit on the short side and had too many photos that have been over-exposed online.  A bit longer and with more original content and it would have been a five-star book.

This review is based on a complimentary copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Presidential Pets

Presidential Pets Book Cover Presidential Pets
Julia Moberg
Juvenile Nonfiction
Imagine Publishing
January 1, 2012
95

The Wierd, wacky, little, big, scary, strange animals that have lived in the White House.

 

Review:

“Presidential Pets” is an excellent introduction to the history of the American presidents for children.  The hook is obviously the pet facts, but each president also has brief and easy-to-digest facts about their presidency on their pages.  The illustrations are wonderful, as well.  Highly recommended to animal and history lovers of all ages.

This review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Shelter Dogs In A Photo Booth

Shelter Dogs in a Photo Booth Book Cover Shelter Dogs in a Photo Booth
Guinnevere Shuster
Pets
April 19, 2016
128

Man's best friend! What better way to showcase adoptable dogs than by letting their true personalities shine in a photo booth! Often seen as sad, rejected, and behind cold metal bars, it's no wonder people would avoid images of shelter dogs awaiting forever homes. From talented photographer (and now public figure and adoption champion) Guinnivere Shuster comes Shelter Dogs in a Photo Booth, a guaranteed-to-make-you-smile photo book featuring shelter dogs in a brand-new light. Get ready to see the cutest canine portraits you've ever seen! Guinnevere's fantastic photos went viral and have been featured on websites, in magazines, and on television programs all over the world: Good Morning America, NBC, ABC, MSNBC, The Huffington Post, Time, The Daily Mail . . . even celebrities have gotten in on the action: Amy Poehler, Cesar Milan, and Zooey Deschanel have made statements and posts declaring their love of Guinnevere's work. After the adorable and up-for-adoption photos of these furry friends were seen and enjoyed by millions, adoption rates at Utah's Humane Society skyrocketed. The book features 100 dog photo booth style photographs, each accompanied by a short story about the dog's personality, how the dog ended up in the shelter, and the adoption date. A follow-up will conclude the book, with photos of some of them with their new families. A portion of the proceeds of this book will benefit the Humane Society of Utah and Best Friends Animal Society.

 

Review:

By now, most animal lovers have seen or heard of the photos of shelter dogs taken in photo booths.  “Shelter Dogs In A Photo Booth” is a collection of these photos, along with the stories of how they came to be in the shelter and their adoptions.

It’s wonderful to get to see the dogs’ personalities show through.  All too often they cannot show their true nature in shelters, and it causes many wonderful animals to be passed by.  The photos are a true delight and the book will make a great addition to any animal lover’s collection.  It is also a wonderful gift idea for those in your life who have dogs.

An added bonus is that a portion of the proceeds go to the Humane Society of Utah and Best Friends Animal Society.  If you’ve never heard of the latter, it is the home of the Vicktory Dogs who were unable to be adopted for various reasons.  The ones who were adopted went through rehab there and much was learned about how to rehabilitate fighting dogs, which will save many lives in the future.  The work they do is extraordinary.

This review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

 

Content Warning:

Excessive Cuteness and Feels

When It Was Just A Game: Remembering the First Super Bowl

When It Was Just a Game Book Cover When It Was Just a Game
Harvey Frommer
HISTORY
Taylor Trade Pub
September 9, 2015
252

The first Super Bowl in 1967 was actually called The World Championship Game, and pitted the upstart American Football League, represented by the Kansas City Chiefs, against the National Football League, represented by the Green Bay Packers. This book consists of oral interviews with many of the surviving players and/or their children, as well as the recently discovered unpublished memoirs of Chiefs coach Hank Stram.

 

Review:

As a diehard Packers fan (I bleed green and gold), I’m not entirely sure I can be completely unbiased in reviewing “When It Was Just A Game”.  What can ever be better than a comprehensive history of the first Super Bowl?

The book is an excellent resource that covers almost every facet of what went into the epic 1967 game between the Packers and the Chiefs.  It’s packed with facts and direct quotes from people ranging from the players to the fans and everyone in between.  Not the least of it is from the recently deceased legend Frank Gifford.  Reading how it was at the beginning of what has become such a large event is a good reminder of what the game is meant to be at the start of this new NFL season.

“When It Was Just A Game” is the perfect gift for any football fan you may have on your holiday list.  It’s a must-have for any Packers fans out there. GO PACK GO!

This review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

The Oregon Trail: A New American Journey

The Oregon Trail Book Cover The Oregon Trail
Rinker Buck
History
Simon and Schuster
2015-06-30
464

In the bestselling tradition of Bill Bryson and Tony Horwitz, Rinker Buck's The Oregon Trail is a major work of participatory history: an epic account of traveling the 2,000-mile length of the Oregon Trail the old-fashioned way, in a covered wagon with a team of mules—which hasn't been done in a century—that also tells the rich history of the trail, the people who made the migration, and its significance to the country. Spanning 2,000 miles and traversing six states from Missouri to the Pacific Ocean, the Oregon Trail is the route that made America. In the fifteen years before the Civil War, when 400,000 pioneers used it to emigrate West—historians still regard this as the largest land migration of all time—the trail united the coasts, doubled the size of the country, and laid the groundwork for the railroads. The trail years also solidified the American character: our plucky determination in the face of adversity, our impetuous cycle of financial bubbles and busts, the fractious clash of ethnic populations competing for the same jobs and space. Today, amazingly, the trail is all but forgotten. Rinker Buck is no stranger to grand adventures. The New Yorker described his first travel narrative,Flight of Passage, as “a funny, cocky gem of a book,” and with The Oregon Trailhe seeks to bring the most important road in American history back to life. At once a majestic American journey, a significant work of history, and a personal saga reminiscent of bestsellers by Bill Bryson and Cheryl Strayed, the book tells the story of Buck's 2,000-mile expedition across the plains with tremendous humor and heart. He was accompanied by three cantankerous mules, his boisterous brother, Nick, and an “incurably filthy” Jack Russell terrier named Olive Oyl. Along the way, Buck dodges thunderstorms in Nebraska, chases his runaway mules across miles of Wyoming plains, scouts more than five hundred miles of nearly vanished trail on foot, crosses the Rockies, makes desperate fifty-mile forced marches for water, and repairs so many broken wheels and axels that he nearly reinvents the art of wagon travel itself. Apart from charting his own geographical and emotional adventure, Buck introduces readers to the evangelists, shysters, natives, trailblazers, and everyday dreamers who were among the first of the pioneers to make the journey west. With a rare narrative power, a refreshing candor about his own weakness and mistakes, and an extremely attractive obsession for history and travel,The Oregon Trail draws readers into the journey of a lifetime.

 

Review:

I should be upfront and say that this review of “The Oregon Trail: A New American Journey” may be skewed because the author, Rinker Buck, did something in writing it that I have always wanted to do.  He took a piece of history, researched it, and then set out to live it.  This is basically a historian’s dream.

There are actually two parts to the book:  the journey itself and the history of the Oregon Trail.  I’ll begin with the journey.  The time and effort Mr. Buck took in researching and developing his plans for the trip are astounding.  Quite a bit of time went into planning the journey to avoid modern civilization as much as possible, and even the wagon was purchased in Missouri and authentic.  The author has a true way with words.  The descriptions of the scenery along the way are breathtaking, and the stories of what happens along the way make you feel as if you are riding along shotgun.  Conversations with his brother add a very real familial element to it all.  The only downside is it can drag a bit at times, but then again, I’m sure the journey did as well.

The second part of the book is the history of the original Oregon Trail, and as I said above, it is thoroughly researched.  This part could have stood on its own and still been a fascinating read.  None of it is dry, as some history books tend to be, so it is actually perfectly suited for someone who wants to sneak in a little actual American History with a good story.  Sort of the way you can trick kids into eating peas by pureeing them and dumping them into something better.  (Not that I myself have an aversion to peas or history.)

“The Oregon Trail: A New American Journey” is an excellent book from both a historical and an autobiographical standpoint, but it’s more than that.  It’s a good and entertaining story for high schoolers and up.  Even those who don’t like nonfiction or history will like this one.

This review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

 

Content Warning:

As this is an adult book, there are no content warnings.

I’m Special: And Other Lies We Tell Ourselves

I'm Special: And Other Lies We Tell Ourselves Book Cover I'm Special: And Other Lies We Tell Ourselves
Ryan O'Connell
Simon and Schuster
June 2, 2015
Paperback
208

This hilarious part-memoir, part-manifesto reveals what sets apart the latest generation of young people coming of age in an all-wired, overeducated, and underemployed world.

People are obsessed with Ryan O’Connell’s blogs. With tens of thousands reading his pieces on Thought Catalog and Vice, watching his videos on YouTube, and hanging on to each and every #dark tweet, Ryan has established himself as a unique young voice who’s not afraid to dole out some real talk. He’s that candid, snarky friend you consult when you fear you’re spending too much time falling down virtual k-holes stalking your ex on Facebook or when you’ve made the all-too-common mistake of befriending a psycho while wasted at last night’s party and need to find a way to get rid of them the next morning. But Ryan didn’t always have the answers to these modern day dilemmas. Growing up gay and disabled with cerebral palsy, he constantly felt like he was one step behind everybody else. Then the rude curveball known as your twenties happened and things got even more confusing.

Ryan spent years as a Millennial cliché: he had dead-end internships; dabbled in unemployment; worked in his pajamas as a blogger; communicated mostly via text; looked for love online; spent hundreds on “necessary” items, like candles, while claiming to have no money; and even descended into aimless pill-popping. But through extensive trial and error, Ryan eventually figured out how to take his life from bleak to chic and began limping towards adulthood.

Sharp and entertaining, I’m Special will educate twentysomethings (or other adolescents-at-heart) on what NOT to do if they ever want to become happy fully functioning grown ups with a 401k and a dog.

 

Review:

I am not sure how the work of Ryan O’Connell has not come across my screen before, but if any articles he has written are half as good as “I’m Special”, then I need to read them all.  The book is not only hilarious, but also true, and explains so much about the millennial generation.

Mr. O’Connell is a very self-aware individual, which makes him the perfect writer to put a voice to the millennial generation, because self-awareness is not always a trait widely attributed to them/us.  I’m a generation straddler, so half of it seemed to apply to myself or my parents, and the other half seemed to apply to every friend and relative I have who is younger.  During some of the stories I was actually saying out loud, “That’s me! I do that all the time!” It should probably be embarrassing that I had that reaction, because every time it was because of something weird, quirky, and/or off-putting, but it is what it is.  He makes it feel ok to be the way we are.

“I’m Special” has quite a bit of rather adult content, so if that bothers you it is probably not a good fit.  Otherwise, as long as you aren’t afraid to laugh at yourself (because you will identify with someone in the book), I recommend it to anyone looking to be entertained while also being made to think about their life choices.

This review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

 

Content Warning:

As this is an adult book, there is no content warning.

Ask the Past: Pertinent and Impertinent Advice From Yesteryear

Ask the Past Book Cover Ask the Past
Elizabeth P. Archibald
Humor
Hachette Books
2015-05-05
304

Want to know how to garden with lobsters? How to sober up? Grow a beard? Or simply how to make a perfect omelet? Look no further. Rather, look backward. Based on the popular blog, Ask the Past is full of the wisdom of the ages--as well as the fad diets, zany pickup lines, and bacon Band-Aids of the ages. Drawn from centuries of antique texts by historian and bibliophile Elizabeth P. Archibald, Ask the Past offers a delightful array of advice both wise and weird. Whether it's eighteenth-century bedbug advice (sprinkle bed with gunpowder and let smolder), budget fashion tips of the Middle Ages (save on the clothes, splurge on the purse) or a sixteenth-century primer on seduction (hint: do no pass gas), Ask the Past is a wildly entertaining guide to life from the people who lived it first.

 

Review:

Historian Elizabeth P. Archibald does a wonderful job in “Ask the Past” of showing that history can be fun and entertaining.  Her collection of some of the best/worst excerpts from antique etiquette and advice books and pamphlets, along with accompanying illustrations, had me laughing so hard that I could not breathe.  Her snarky “translations” at the end of each excerpt doubled the entertainment value.

Aside from being entertaining, her introduction breaks down her research methods in a way that will help novice historians learn how to take tiny bits of information and use it to get an overall picture of the society of the time.

Also, I would like to note that I am forever grateful to the person who established that it is not appropriate to attack someone who is defecating.  Where would we be as a society if that was still an acceptable practice?

“Ask the Past” is the perfect gift for anyone old enough for fart and sex jokes made classier through Old English.

This review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

 

Content Warning:

As this is an adult book, there is no content warning.