Hamilton The Revolution by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarter

Title: Hamilton The Revolution

Author: Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarter

Publisher: Grand Central 2016

Genre: Nonfiction – Theater

Pages: 288

Rating: 5/5 stars

Reading Challenges: Popsguar –  Bestseller from 2016; I Love Libraries

HAMILTON: THE REVOLUTION gives readers an unprecedented view of both revolutions, from the only two writers able to provide it. Miranda, along with Jeremy McCarter, a cultural critic and theater artist who was involved in the project from its earliest stages–“since before this was even a show,” according to Miranda–traces its development from an improbable perfor­mance at the White House to its landmark opening night on Broadway six years later. In addition, Miranda has written more than 200 funny, revealing footnotes for his award-winning libretto, the full text of which is published here.

Finally got this from the library! And it was so worth the wait! For three days, I was completely engrossed in this book. Reading and rereading the libretto and essays. I loved catching the little nuances in the lines of the songs. Things I never noticed just listening to the cast recording. And it was great to hear the story of how the show came together over many years and many different iterations. My favorite essay was the one discussing the staging and progression of the four songs in Act II dealing with Hamilton’s affair with Maria Reynolds. Fascinating! My stagecraft background definitely came into play while reading that essay. Such a great book for fans of the show.


The Daily Show: An Oral History by Chris Smith

Title: The Daily Show (The Book): An Oral History as Told by Jon Stewart, the Correspondents, Staff, and Guests

Author: Chris Smith

Publisher: Grand Central 2016

Genre: Nonfiction – Media

Pages: 459

Rating: 4/5 stars

Reading Challenges: Perpetual (Nonfiction Adventure); I Love Libraries

For almost seventeen years, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart brilliantly redefined the borders between television comedy, political satire, and opinionated news coverage. It launched the careers of some of today’s most significant comedians, highlighted the hypocrisies of the powerful, and garnered 23 Emmys. Now the show’s behind-the-scenes gags, controversies, and camaraderie will be chronicled by the players themselves, from legendary host Jon Stewart to the star cast members and writers-including Samantha Bee, Stephen Colbert, John Oliver, Steve Carell, Lewis Black, Jessica Williams, John Hodgman, and Larry Wilmore-plus some of The Daily Show‘s most prominent guests and adversaries: John and Cindy McCain, Glenn Beck, Tucker Carlson, and many more.

I loved The Daily Show under Jon Stewart and was looking forward to learning more about the inner workings of the show. I liked that the book included interviews with all peoples involved and some show transcripts. Unfortunately, I was a bit disappointed that the book skipped over some big events and issues in the show’s history. The book seemed to skim over a lot. And the book would definitely not be interesting to those who did not watch at least some of the episodes.

The Lady and Her Monsters by Roseanne Montillo

Title: The Lady and Her Monsters

Author: Roseanne Montillo

Publisher: William Morrow 2013

Genre: History; Literature

Pages: 336

Rating: 4/5 stars

Reading Challenges: 52 Books – W51

The Lady and Her Monsters by Roseanne Motillo brings to life the fascinating times, startling science, and real-life horrors behind Mary Shelley’s gothic masterpiece, Frankenstein.

Montillo recounts how—at the intersection of the Romantic Age and the Industrial Revolution—Shelley’s Victor Frankenstein was inspired by actual scientists of the period: curious and daring iconoclasts who were obsessed with the inner workings of the human body and how it might be reanimated after death.

With true-life tales of grave robbers, ghoulish experiments, and the ultimate in macabre research—human reanimation—The Lady and Her Monsters is a brilliant exploration of the creation of Frankenstein, Mary Shelley’s horror classic.

A fascinating look at the creation of the classic Frankenstein. Montillo goes beyond the basic story of Mary Shelley crafting the tale during a dark and stormy night house party. Instead, we get an in depth look at the influences from history and contemporaries. We get a peek inside Shelley’s life with Percy Shelley, her sister Jane, and a variety of interesting characters. I was taken with the depth of research from Montillo in bringing the time period and circumstances to light. My only complaint is that at times the book read slowly. I would have liked a bit more brevity in a few parts, but overall I was sucked into Mary Shelley’s world!

13 by Nathan Lachenmeyer

Title: 13: The Story of the World’s Most Notorious Superstition

Author: Nathan Lachenmeyer

Publisher: Plume 2004

Genre: Nonfiction

Pages: 212

Rating: 2/5 stars

Reading Challenges: 52 Books – W50

While I usually love books that dive into folklore and culture, this one fell so flat for me. I think ultimately my issue was that the topic didn’t really seem that well-researched. The book read more like a high schooler’s paper about the superstition than something I would spend money on in a store. Thankfully I picked this up at a used sale for $1. So I guess no big loss.

Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls by David Sedaris

51qclyBhMyLTitle: Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls

Author: David Sedaris

Publisher: Little, Brown and Company 2013

Genre: Nonfiction

Pages: 275

Rating: 3/5 stars

Reading Challenges: Popsugar – Recommended by a family member; 52 Books – W48

A guy walks into a bar car and…

From here the story could take many turns. When this guy is David Sedaris, the possibilities are endless, but the result is always the same: he will both delight you with twists of humor and intelligence and leave you deeply moved.

Sedaris remembers his father’s dinnertime attire (shirtsleeves and underpants), his first colonoscopy (remarkably pleasant), and the time he considered buying the skeleton of a murdered Pygmy.

Hmmm… So I really enjoyed Sedaris’s other books, but this one fell a bit flat for me. The essays felt a bit tired of overdone. I couldn’t really connect with his stories. I was very distracted while reading this one. I couldn’t seem to focus.

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Five Days at Memorial by Sheri Fink

51yNFMVak9L._SX303_BO1,204,203,200_Title: Five Days at Memorial

Author: Sheri Fink

Publisher: Crown Publishers 2013

Genre: Nonfiction

Pages: 558

Rating:  5/5 stars

Reading Challenges: 52 Books – W47

In the tradition of the best investigative journalism, physician and reporter Sheri Fink reconstructs 5 days at Memorial Medical Center and draws the reader into the lives of those who struggled mightily to survive and maintain life amid chaos.

After Katrina struck and the floodwaters rose, the power failed, and the heat climbed, exhausted caregivers chose to designate certain patients last for rescue. Months later, several of those caregivers faced criminal allegations that they deliberately injected numerous patients with drugs to hasten their deaths.

Five Days at Memorial, the culmination of six years of reporting, unspools the mystery of what happened in those days, bringing the reader into a hospital fighting for its life and into a conversation about the most terrifying form of health care rationing.

Been meaning to pick this one up for months and I finally got around to it. What an amazingly thought-provoking book. Definitely a 5 star read. Fink’s research into reconstructing what actually happened at Memorial during and after Hurricane Katrina is detailed and thorough. We journey with the employees and patients through the harrowing experience of a breakdown in communication and survival. It took me two weeks to get through, not because he’s a bad book, but because there is so much information to process. Very fascinating. I warn potential readers that the topic is very heavy. This is not a good beach read.

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How to Talk About Video Games by Ian Bogost

how-to-talk-about-videogamesTitle: How to Talk About Video Games

Author: Ian Bogost

Publisher: University of Minnesota 2015

Genre: Pop Culture – Media

Pages: 197

Rating: 2/5 stars

Reading Challenges: 52 Books – W38; Perpetual (NonAd)

Videogames! Aren’t they the medium of the twenty-first century? The new cinema? The apotheosis of art and entertainment, the realization of Wagnerian gesamtkunstwerk? The final victory of interaction over passivity? No, probably not. Games are part art and part appliance, part tableau and part toaster. In How to Talk about Videogames, leading critic Ian Bogost explores this paradox more thoroughly than any other author to date.

Our book club selection for October. I got a jump on the book due to the baby coming in less than a week. And I’m thoroughly disappointed in this book. Bogost personality is so very insufferable. I couldn’t stand his “gamergate” type approach to video games. I read most of this book, but I admit to skimming some chapters. I just grew so bored with his writing, assumptions, and tone. Pass.

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Founding Myths by Ray Raphael

FOUNDimg726_largeTitle: Founding Myths: Stories That Hide Our Patriotic Past

Author: Ray Raphael

Publisher: The New Press 2004

Genre: Nonfiction – U.S. History

Pages: 432

Rating: 3/5 stars

Reading Challenges: 52 Books – W37

First published ten years ago, award-winning historian Ray Raphael’s Founding Myths has since established itself as a landmark of historical myth-busting. With Raphael’s trademark wit and flair,Founding Myths exposed the errors and inventions in America’s most cherished tales, from Paul Revere’s famous ride to Patrick Henry’s “Liberty or Death” speech. For the thousands who have been captivated by Raphael’s eye-opening accounts, history has never been the same.

I’m giving this book 3 stars, but that rating really only applies to me. I think this is a well written look at many of the myths we learn about U.S. History. Unfortunately for me, I already knew the truth of the matter. Curse of being a history major in college. This book was just too broad for me. I need to pick books that go much deeper in a particular subject or time period instead of a general overview.

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Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates by Brian Kilmeade

51XUTVEAFpL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_Title: Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates: The Forgotten War that Changed American History

Author: Brian Kilmeade

Publisher: Sentinel 2015

Genre: Nonfiction – U.S. History

Pages: 238

Rating: 4/5 stars

Reading Challenges: Nonfiction; 52 Books – W34

This is the little-known story of how a newly indepen­dent nation was challenged by four Muslim powers and what happened when America’s third president decided to stand up to intimidation.

When Thomas Jefferson became president in 1801, America faced a crisis. The new nation was deeply in debt and needed its economy to grow quickly, but its merchant ships were under attack. Pirates from North Africa’s Barbary coast routinely captured American sailors and held them as slaves, demanding ransom and tribute payments far beyond what the new coun­try could afford.

Definitely a good follow-up to George Washington’s Secret Six. I have a passing knowledge of the Barbary War, but even I can classify it as the forgotten war. I learned so much about the intricacies, people involved, and battles of the war. Stories like that of the USS Philadelphia sparked a memory for me, but it was nice to get the full story in these pages. A good random pick-up from the library shelves.

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Bunker Hill by Nathaniel Philbrick

BunkerHill-PaperbackTitle: Bunker Hill: A City, A Siege, A Revolution

Author: Nathaniel Philbrick

Publisher: Viking 2013

Genre: Nonfiction – U.S. History

Pages: 398

Rating: 5/5 stars

Reading Challenges: Nonfiction; 52 Books – W33; Perpetual (NonAd)

Boston in 1775 is an island city occupied by British troops after a series of incendiary incidents by patriots who range from sober citizens to thuggish vigilantes. After the Boston Tea Party, British and American soldiers and Massachusetts residents  have warily maneuvered around each other until April 19, when violence finally erupts at Lexington and Concord.  In June, however, with the city cut off from supplies by a British blockade and Patriot militia poised in siege, skirmishes give way to outright war in the Battle of Bunker Hill. It would be the bloodiest battle of the Revolution to come, and the point of no return for the rebellious colonists.

Been meaning to pick this one up for awhile now. And I enjoyed every page of this volume. Such a great exploration of the events leading up to the Declaration of Independence focusing on the Boston area. I loved following each of the players through the few years detailed. Philbrick scores again with a great narrative history. Even with my background knowledge of the Revolution, I still learned a lot about the details of the time period. Fascinating!

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