Name Drop: The Really Good Celebrity Stories I Usually Only Tell at Happy Hour

By Ross Mathews

Name Drop: The Really Good Celebrity Stories I Usually Only Tell at Happy Hour by [Mathews, Ross]

5 out of 5 stars

Who among us doesn’t like a book that dishes up some celebrity stories and one that has recipes to boot?! Who among us doesn’t love the national treasure that is the adorable Ross Mathews?

Ross has to be hands down one of the people that I would love to meet up with at happy hour and listen to his stories. He is hilarious. His pop culture references are on point. He seems like one of the nicest people ever. He is a Seahawks fan. Go Hawks! He is everything I want in a friend and I feel we would be best friends forever.

His stories are really a lot of fun. You will find yourself just laughing at his misadventures and thinking that you would probably do the same thing. He writes kindly of all the people, even the ones that might not have been so kind to him. Looking at you, Matthew Perry.

It is just one big delightful book. I bet it would be great in audio. Thanks for making me laugh during this crazy time, Ross. Oh and yes, I cried when he wrote about his mom at the end. You have to love a mama’s boy.

Thanks to Netgalley and Atria Books for an advance copy of this wonderful book.

The Sound of Gravel

By Ruth Wariner


The Sound of Gravel: A Memoir by [Wariner, Ruth]

4 out of 5 stars

I am fascinated by polygamy. I have read many books about it and by people who have escaped it. This is really a terrific book on the subject.

Ruth was raised in Mexico in a group that was founded by her prophet father. He died when she was a baby. Her mother remarried another man from the family named Lane. He was not a good guy, to put it simply. Her family lived pretty much in poverty. They would cross the border to collect food stamps for her family. Her mother having to pretend she did not know who the father was of her children. Their education was pretty lax. They spent a few years in some other cities , even living with her grandparents when her mother left Lane for a while. I was so happy for them during that period and then Lane shows up again.  But there was also some sexual abuse by Lane on Ruth and other kids in the compound. Her mother espoused forgiveness. This I had a hard time with. I am not sure if her mother’s tears were for what happened to Ruth or her fear of not having her husband anymore.  Or were they because she believed so deeply in her faith? That left me very emotional.

The writing is wonderful. I honestly felt like I could taste the dust of the desert and smell the mice droppings that littered their home in Mexico. You could feel the cold in your bones as the wind blew through the thin walls.

For so much sadness, Ms. Wariner seems to have come out stronger and a lot more forgiving than I might be. If you are as absorbed in polygamy as I am, you definitely must pick up this book. If you are looking for a good memoir, you definitely must pick up this book.


By Tara Westover

Educated: A Memoir by [Westover, Tara]

5 out of 5 stars

I won this book from Goodreads and boy, am I glad I did.

Tara Westover took herself from being “home schooled” (and by that, I mean really not at all) to Cambridge and Harvard! How amazing is that?! And through all of this, she struggled with her family and how she was raised. Her father thought the end was coming soon and prepared accordingly. He was Mormon but his take on religion was his very own. He was bipolar and the way he raised his family was extremely hard to read at times. The torture he let one son put upon his daughters was so sad. I was in tears through so much of this book.  For Tara to take herself away and get as far as she has in life is one of the most inspiring, amazing stories I have read in a long time.

There were times you just want to wake her up to what’s going on but when you are raised a certain way, it is hard to believe anything different. She pays a price for trying to find herself and it is heartbreaking at times. But to find the courage and the boldness to finally pick herself up and live her life for her, left me in tears. The end left me with a happy heart.

This is such a great book. We tend to take our education for granted and this book will make you think twice about that. It is truly a blessing for our minds and our souls.

Tell Me More: Stories About the 12 Hardest Things I’m Learning to Say

By Kelly Corrigan

Tell Me More: Stories About the 12 Hardest Things I'm Learning to Say by [Corrigan, Kelly]

5 out of 5 stars

My friend Trish says that Kelly Corrigan is her best friend, she just does not know it yet. That is not stalkery at all because when you read a book by Kelly Corrigan, you feel as if she is that one real friend that you can sit with and talk about anything. She gets it. You get her.

In this wonderful book, Kelly talks about 12 phrases that she is learning to say in different ways.  I guarantee you will relate to one, if not all, of them. Especially touching to me was I Love You. It really is so true how that changes as time goes by. It changes in the way you say it to your husband or your children, your parents. This chapter had me in tears because I too have lost my father, actually both parents, and what she says about her dad, is so much of how I feel about mine. See? Best friends.

Thank you Kelly for putting into words a lot of what I feel. When you wrote about going back to when your kids were younger, I felt that. When you wrote about how great it was that they were where they are now, I felt that. When you wrote about your father and mother, felt that too.

This is the perfect book to read and reflect on life, especially since we are starting a new year. It will put a lot of things into perspective for you.

Thank you to Netgalley and Random House for this lovely, lovely book.

Spoiler Alert: The Hero Dies

By Michael Ausiello

Spoiler Alert: The Hero Dies: A Memoir of Love, Loss, and Other Four-Letter Words by [Ausiello, Michael]

4 out of 5 stars

A Memoir of Love, Loss, and Other Four-Letter Words

I knew of Michael from TVLine and before that Entertainment Weekly but I didn’t know his story. From the title, you know that we are talking about someone dying. Christopher “Kit” Cowan was Michael’s husband. Throughout the book, Michael details their meeting, their relationship, and Kit’s disease. When Kit is diagnosed with a rare cancer, Michael jumps in full throttle as his caretaker. His story touched home for me because I took care of my mom as she died and so many of the things he talks about, I felt. But this isn’t just a sad story, (Oh but you will cry, let me tell you) it is a story about love and friendship and family and finding joy in the simple things in life. Whether it was watching Drag Race together or decorating a Christmas tree, this book is filled with so much love and joy. Things are not always peachy between the two and he doesn’t shy away from writing about it but to me, it made them even more human. This is a story for anyone who has loved someone and lost them, be it your husband, wife, partner , mother, friend. It is written with intimacy, joy and pain. I applaud you for telling your story so openly, Mr. Ausiello.

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley and Atria Books in exchange for an honest review.

Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool

By Peter Turner

Film Stars Don't Die in Liverpool: A True Love Story by [Turner, Peter]

3.5 out of 5 stars

I won this book from GoodReads and then quite by coincidence, I watched The Bad and the Beautiful last weekend. That movie is the movie that Gloria Grahame won her Oscar for. She was quite the actress and a name that probably a lot of people don’t know about. I think you might remember her from Oklahoma! as Ado Annie. (a role that she wasn’t thrilled with because she really couldn’t sing) This book tells the story of her very last days. She calls Peter, her ex-lover, out of the blue. She is in England, where he lives, and she wants to see him. He doesn’t expect to see someone that is deathly ill. She has cancer and will not go to the doctor or the hospital. He brings her home to his mother’s house and that’s where the story takes off. His family is a lot of fun. His mother is leaving for a vacation in Australia soon and she won’t if Gloria is dying in her house. The family really pitches in to work it all out. We also get a glimpse at the relationship that Peter and Gloria had. Peter was almost thirty years younger than Gloria, which now wouldn’t be so much of a scandal.

This is a very short read, only 170 pages. The story really takes place in such a short time but it feels much longer, like a lot of life is lived in just a couple of days. If you are an old movie fan as I am, I think you will enjoy it. (As much as you can enjoy a story about someone dying) I am going to look up some of her other movies and binge.

I received this book from GoodReads and the review is my own humble opinion.

A Life in Parts

By Bryan Cranston

A Life in Parts by [Cranston, Bryan]

4 out of 5 stars

This is probably going to sound like a love letter to Bryan Cranston. It pretty much is. I loved him before I started reading this book and I love him even more after finishing it. I felt like he was sitting on my couch with me, just shooting the breeze and talking about life. He talked about his childhood. His father always had big dreams and how his mother drank. Somehow he pulled himself out of it.He has such a strong work ethic (you can see that in his performances) but he has worked a lot of other jobs along the way, from paper routes to egg gathering to waiting tables. (The story of killing the chef is hysterical!) All this has brought him to who he is today.

It was very interesting to read about his process, how he never stops learning. I loved his appreciation for being a soap actor. You don’t get a lot of people who think that it’s a good thing and look down on their past as one. And who didn’t love Hal on Malcolm in the Middle. He never failed to make me laugh. Then of course, there is Walter White. Wow. I look forward to whatever he does next.

But the heart of this book is his love for his wife Robyn, so apparent in everything he writes, and his daughter Taylor. He says you need to have a solid foundation at home and he is so right. You can see that is where his heart is.

Pick this one up, my friends. You won’t be disappointed. And like I say whenever I read a memoir, I wish I had the audio book. Even though in my mind, I heard his voice loud and clear while I was reading, hearing him read it would be wonderful.

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

In Such Good Company: Eleven Years of Laughter, Mayhem, and Fun in the Sandbox

By Carol Burnett

In Such Good Company: Eleven Years of Laughter, Mayhem, and Fun in the Sandbox by [Burnett, Carol]

4 out of 5 stars

This is such a delightful and thorough look at the years of the Carol Burnett Show. Her memories are such fond ones and you can’t help but be swept up in the revelry. Who of us doesn’t love Carol Burnett and who of us hasn’t laughed until we cried to some of those wonderful sketches? Tim Conway as the dentist, anyone? The book takes a really in depth look at the making of the shows. The chapters with her famous question and answer bits are so funny. It is so nice to read good things about the people that we always idolized and realize that Carol idolized them just as much. I hope she realizes she is that person to so many. Reading this made me long for the days of sitting in the living room with my mom and dad and having that special family time where we could all laugh together. There were things that were probably over my head at the time but that was okay. I think we need more Carol and a lot less of what we have on tv today. If you love Carol Burnett, and if you don’t I don’t think I want to know you, you should pick up this book and enjoy your time together.

They Left Us Everything

By Plum Johnson

They Left Us Everything: A Memoir by [Johnson, Plum]

4 out of 5 stars

After years of taking care of their parents, Plum and her three younger brothers are now selling their home and going through their possessions. If you have ever had to do this, it brings back so many memories and makes it hard to let things go. Plum lives in the house until it can be sold and she reflects about her relationship with her mother and her mother’s life. She reads her mom’s old letters and learns more about her past as someone in the military and as a military wife. All the while, she comes to terms with her mother’s passing.

This book resonated so much with me. I lost my mother a year ago. I felt a lot of the very same things that Plum writes about. It had me in tears at a few passages that hit home exactly. And there were a few passages that made me see things in an entirely different way. I too was the oldest and as such, especially being the daughter, was expected to be the caretaker. Plum’s brother writes her the most beautiful letter and my heart broke a little for never having heard those words from my brothers. There is a very funny moment for me in the book where Plum sees a cat and thinks of course it’s her mother. My mom, who was not an animal lover, told me that if a cat comes to my door, let them in because it’s probably her! Moms and cats, who knew. I also really associated with Plum wondering when she was going to get to be the mother with her daughter and not have to have her life revolve around her mother. That mother/daughter bond is deep.

This is really a great read for anyone going through this same process or even if you haven’t yet, maybe her words can prepare you for what you will one day face. I am glad Plum took us on this very personal journey.

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Where The Light Gets In

By Kimberly Williams-Paisley

4 out of 5 stars

I am always a bit leery about reviewing a memoir or autobiography because really, who am I to tell you that your life story isn’t good enough. I wasn’t leery at all going into reading this book. We all become one big group, we caretakers of parents with dementia. My mom did not have the same kind of dementia as Linda Williams but Kimberly wrote so much of what I felt, the sadness, the loss, the anger, the helplessness.

Kimberly Williams-Paisley grew up in a loving family. She seemed to have the usual problems with her mother that many teens have. I definitely did. My mom and I were not close during those years. I honestly think becoming a parent changes the way you look at your mother. When she decides to marry Brad, her mom is not very supportive and that hurts her but her mom, at that time, had slowly started her decline. They just didn’t know it yet. Hindsight is 20/20, I have those moments now where I go “it must have been starting back then”. Things start to move a bit faster and she is diagnosed with primary progressive aphasia. She will lose the ability to speak, form sentences. And then of course, there are all the lovely things that go along with dementia like the forgetting, the anger. They finally have to decide to find her an assisted living home, a decision you can’t take lightly.

It’s the hardest thing to become a parent to your parent. My mom suffered from Lewy Body Dementia for over 4 years. She could always speak and usually recognized everyone but the fear and the anger were so hard at times. Nothing I could do would soothe her and I would get angry. Reading this, it was so good to not feel alone. I hated myself for losing patience but I was her caregiver. It was me and her against the world and the world of dementia isn’t pretty. Kimberly’s therapist Karen said something so profound and that has stayed with me after closing the book, “Don’t look at what you’re not getting from your mother. Look at what you are getting.” I received so much from those years of taking care of her. There were those lovely moments when the light did shine in.

There is a section with questions and answers that are very helpful for people just starting this journey. There are very good questions to ask your doctor and to find out if taking care of your loved one at home or if you need help is the answer.

Thank you so much for writing this book. I think with your voice, you will make people feel as if they are not alone. As if their feelings matter too.