Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Three Reasons You Should Read The Hilarious World of Depression by John Moe

About the Book

Published on May 5, 2020 by St. Martins Press

GoodReads Description

For years John Moe, critically-acclaimed public radio personality and host of The Hilarious World of Depression podcast, struggled with depression; it plagued his family and claimed the life of his brother in 2007. As Moe came to terms with his own illness, he began to see similar patterns of behavior and coping mechanisms surfacing in conversations with others, including high-profile comedians who'd struggled with the disease. Moe saw that there was tremendous comfort and community in open dialogue about these shared experiences and that humor had a unique power. Thus was born the podcast The Hilarious World of Depression.

Inspired by the immediate success of the podcast, Moe has written a remarkable investigation of the disease, part memoir of his own journey, part treasure trove of laugh-out-loud stories and insights drawn from years of interviews with some of the most brilliant minds facing similar challenges. Throughout the course of this powerful narrative, depression's universal themes come to light, among them, struggles with identity, lack of understanding of the symptoms, the challenges of work-life, self-medicating, the fallout of the disease in the lives of our loved ones, the tragedy of suicide, and the hereditary aspects of the disease.

The Hilarious World of Depression illuminates depression in an entirely fresh and inspiring way.

Three Reasons Why...

  1. When I first saw this book, I knew that I needed to read it.  It is far too easy for people to think that those who struggle with depression or other mental health issues can just "get over it" because it is "all in their heads."  This is most definitely not the case!  Moe does a terrific job not only explaining that, but giving a "typical" individual insight into the mind of a depressed individual.  This book is eye opening and enlightening.
  2. More importantly, this book is here for people who DO struggle with depression.  It finally provides the necessary understanding that these people are not alone.  For many, this can mean showing a loved one what it is really like in their brain during the darkest and deepest depths of depression.
  3. In addition to helping people and bridging the gaps between those who struggle with depression and those who don't, this book is a memoir.  It provides you with an inspiring story about a man who goes through some very difficult things to become a person he is proud of.  This book outlines his time in crappy jobs, awful moments, success, and happiness.  

My Rating

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Three Reasons I Love A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin

About the Book

A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin
Published in August 1996 by Bantam

GoodReads Description

Here is the first volume in George R. R. Martin’s magnificent cycle of novels that includes A Clash of Kings and A Storm of Swords. As a whole, this series comprises a genuine masterpiece of modern fantasy, bringing together the best the genre has to offer. Magic, mystery, intrigue, romance, and adventure fill these pages and transport us to a world unlike any we have ever experienced. Already hailed as a classic, George R. R. Martin’s stunning series is destined to stand as one of the great achievements of imaginative fiction.


Long ago, in a time forgotten, a preternatural event threw the seasons out of balance. In a land where summers can last decades and winters a lifetime, trouble is brewing. The cold is returning, and in the frozen wastes to the north of Winterfell, sinister and supernatural forces are massing beyond the kingdom’s protective Wall. At the center of the conflict lie the Starks of Winterfell, a family as harsh and unyielding as the land they were born to. Sweeping from a land of brutal cold to a distant summertime kingdom of epicurean plenty, here is a tale of lords and ladies, soldiers and sorcerers, assassins and bastards, who come together in a time of grim omens.

Here an enigmatic band of warriors bear swords of no human metal; a tribe of fierce wildlings carry men off into madness; a cruel young dragon prince barters his sister to win back his throne; and a determined woman undertakes the most treacherous of journeys. Amid plots and counterplots, tragedy and betrayal, victory and terror, the fate of the Starks, their allies, and their enemies hangs perilously in the balance, as each endeavors to win that deadliest of conflicts: the game of thrones.

My Three Reasons

  1. The complexity of this novel absolutely blew me away!  I caught myself waiting impatiently for the next installment of each story arc.  There was never a dull moment.  I even caught myself reading faster and faster to find out more about each character as quickly as I possibly could.  I will definitely need to go back and read this one again to make sure that I have devoured every detail, but I loved that I could not put this book down.
  2. Daenerys is my absolute favorite character in the series so far.  I loved that she started as a weak and terrified thing who truly grew into herself as a leader.  After her growth period, when times got tough, she gave them hell!
  3. It would be far too simple for Martin to focus only on the serious wartime aspects in this novel.  He chooses not to.  We are rewarded with humor and family and all of the other things that make us human.

My Rating

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Review: The Order of the Key by Justine Manzano

About the Book

The Order of the Key by Justine Manzano
Published on July 9, 2020 by Black Rose Writing

GoodReads Description

Jacklyn Madison never expected to be attacked by a beast on an evening snack run. Add a rescue mission enacted by a trained regiment of teenaged warriors, and her night officially becomes just like a scene from one of her beloved comic books. Turns out, her parents were once members of the Order of the Key, gifted humans that protect humanity from creatures spilling through inter-dimensional rifts. Unable to control her newfound abilities, Jacklyn and her family rejoin the Order.

After an attack on their headquarters leaves Jacklyn questioning their leadership, Kyp--the boy who led her initial rescue--reveals a darker secret. The Order's leader may be corrupt, and Jacklyn's questions could put her family in danger. Drawn into the search for proof, Jacklyn must use her guts and magical brawn to protect her family, her friends, and herself from the monsters spilling from rifts, and those hiding within the Order.

My Thoughts

When I received the review request for this book, I noticed the comparison to Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Immediately intrigued, I accepted the request for this novel and am so happy that I did!  I was definitely entertained from cover to cover!

Let's start with a few of the positives.  

Manzano absolutely kills it with characterization in this novel.  She makes it so very easy for her audience to picture each of the characters right down to the sounds of their voices.  I was blown away.  I had a lot of fun with this because I created a voice for Lavinia and was able to hear it in my mind throughout the novel.  Manzano put true effort into her characters and it shows!

In addition to fabulous characterization, she does a great job with world building as well.  This book is set during modern times, so the audience starts with a wonderful understanding of the world presented to them.  Where Manzano truly drives it home, however, is when she introduces the world of The Order.  Now, even though she is discussing modern times, she is forced to introduce bureaucracy, monsters, training, and even intrigue and jealousy.  Although so much of the novel takes place within The Order's home base, I truly felt like I had been plucked from one world and placed in another.

When combined, the world building and characterization make a fun, easy to read piece.  By choosing to make her story fast-paced and exciting, Manzano left me no option but to hang on to the edges for dear life and turn pages as quickly as I could.

Unfortunately, there were a few things that I took issue with as well.

Too much of the novel was predictable.  I could not have predicted the entire novel, but I would have appreciated a few more twists and turns as well.  I think a larger number of surprises would have fit this fast-paced novel much better than the ones the audience is given.

Throughout the novel, a certain level of confusion accompanied my reading.  This is due, in part, to Manzano choosing to put so much information into such a short novel.  She would have lost quite a lot of substance had she chosen to cut information out.  It would have been very helpful to have had a dramatis personae or other way to keep track of characters and important monsters.

I had truly hoped for a more spectacular end to this novel.  Instead, the ending feels rather rushed.  I believe Manzano chose to end it this way in order to set up for a sequel. I wish she would have found a different way to do it.  This novel needed an ending that tied up at least one loose end.

Overall, I freaking loved this book!  I can't wait to see what Manzano brings us next!

My Rating

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Review: Little Tales by Raymond Pyke

About the Book

Little Tales by Raymond Pyke
Independently Published on January 8, 2019

Amazon Description

A collection of short stories which will whisk you away to a world of pure imagination. There are tales of magic and fantasy; stories involving animals and nature; cracking adventure yarns; and unusual fables about fairies and giants. Although written from the viewpoint of a young girl, the stories will appeal to readers of any age group or gender. Actual names are avoided within the stories so that the reader can better identify with the main characters.

My Thoughts

This middle grade book felt like a treasury of short stories to teach morals to small children.  The tales were easy to follow and quite whimsical.  As a teacher, I see the importance of repetition and story on the development of the individual.  This collection expertly provides both of these things!  I have already made plans to tell some of these stories to my future children.

I am excited that Pyke included stories from a variety of cultures.  There are stories for each child to relate to.  This is made especially wonderful by his choice not to use any specific names.  I love that this allows each child to insert himself/herself into the story.  I would have loved to see more stories with male protagonists, however.

 My largest complaint about it is that several words were used that the targeted age group would not understand.  Unfortunately, many of these words are important to understand what is happening in the tale.  This encourages children to expand their vocabulary, but takes away from the flow and comprehension of the story.  I think that this is one case where Pyke should have considered what is more important-vocabulary expansion or moral growth.

Overall, I am incredibly excited about this piece! I was fortunate enough to be able to listen to the audiobook and the reader definitely brought the stories to life.  I look forward to reading much more from Pyke in the future!

My Rating