Review Shot: Bill O’Reilly’s Legends and Lies: The Patriots – David Fisher

*Again, sorry for the lack of posts. I took another mini vacation last week. However, three review shots are coming up!*

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REVIEW SHOT: BILL O’REILLY’S LEGENDS & LIES: THE PATRIOTS 

4/5 Patriots

An audiobook I listened to on the way to vacation. This book was both informative and engrossing. It reviewed some familiar stories that most pupils in the American school systems learn, but it delved deeper in many cases. This book also had many stories of lesser-known heroes of the Revolutionary War. Overall, a good historical account of the Revolution.

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The Last Lecture – Randy Pausch

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5/5 Last Lectures

On The Back:

“We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand.”
— Randy Pausch

A lot of professors give talks titled “The Last Lecture.” Professors are asked to consider their demise and to ruminate on what matters most to them. And while they speak, audiences can’t help but mull the same question: What wisdom would we impart to the world if we knew it was our last chance? If we had to vanish tomorrow, what would we want as our legacy?

When Randy Pausch, a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon, was asked to give such a lecture, he didn’t have to imagine it as his last, since he had recently been diagnosed with terminal cancer. But the lecture he gave–“Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams”–wasn’t about dying. It was about the importance of overcoming obstacles, of enabling the dreams of others, of seizing every moment (because “time is all you have…and you may find one day that you have less than you think”). It was a summation of everything Randy had come to believe. It was about living.

In this book, Randy Pausch has combined the humor, inspiration and intelligence that made his lecture such a phenomenon and given it an indelible form. It is a book that will be shared for generations to come!

My Thoughts:

Knowing you will die soon must be hard, and writing a book and giving a lecture when you know you’re going to die soon is unfathomable to me. But Randy Pausch did it, and I’m glad he did.

This book is absolutely filled with advice, thoughts, and teachings from a former professor at Carnegie Mellon who was diagnosed with an extreme cancer. He took that diagnosis and ran with it, determined for his last days to be his best days. He chronicles stories from the past, present (at the time the book was written), and anecdotes to form this masterpiece.

I absolutely loved this book so much that I am getting my own copy as soon as I possible can. It’s absolutely chock-full of valuable advice, tips, tricks, and life hacks if you will that will help you thrive in your family, work, and personal life. It touches on everything from tips at the workplace, to how to fulfill your dreams. Even though Randy eventually died and knew he was dying while writing this, this book is honestly not a sad book. It is an extremely happy book that grabs life and sprints with it, making the most of every second.

I cannot possible tell you how much I recommend this book. Highly, highly, highly recommend for every age group!

Let’s Get Lost – Adi Alsaid

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4/5 Roadtrips

On The Back:

Five strangers. Countless adventures. One epic way to get lost.

Four teens across the country have only one thing in common: a girl named Leila. She crashes into their lives in her absurdly red car at the moment they need someone the most.

Hudson, Bree, Elliot and Sonia find a friend in Leila. And when Leila leaves them, their lives are forever changed. But it is during Leila’s own 4,268-mile journey that she discovers the most important truth—sometimes, what you need most is right where you started. And maybe the only way to find what you’re looking for is to get lost along the way.

My Thoughts:

A very good YA debut, Adi Alsaid penned a winner! Leila takes a roadtrip across the U.S. and along the way she meets a group of interesting and hilarious characters. Told in 5 different sections from 5 different points of view this book was unique and fun!

Leila was equal parts humorous and heartbreaking. For most of the story she is a main character yet we know very little about her, causing her to have an air of mystery surrounding everything she does, but as the different stories go on and we see different parts of her she became more real and heartbreaking. The rest of the characters were simply hilarious; for most of the first parts of the book it’s in the other characters point of view, making the other characters more developed.

The plots were mostly unique, with some cliches and a few better plotted parts, but in a book that’s essentially telling 5 different stories about one road trip, that’s to be expected. Hudson and Leila’s story was predictable and Elliot and Leila’s story wasn’t as gripping as Bree’s and Sonia’s stories, but overall they were all great.

Overall this was a very good story. With great characters, however a lot of predictable scenes and cliches Let’s Get Lost gets 4/5 stars! I would read a sequel if there was one.

Everything, Everything – Nicola Yoon

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5/5 Everything Stars

On The Back:

This innovative, heartfelt debut novel tells the story of a girl who’s literally allergic to the outside world. When a new family moves in next door, she begins a complicated romance that challenges everything she’s ever known. The narrative unfolds via vignettes, diary entries, texts, charts, lists, illustrations, and more.

My disease is as rare as it is famous. Basically, I’m allergic to the world. I don’t leave my house, have not left my house in seventeen years. The only people I ever see are my mom and my nurse, Carla.

But then one day, a moving truck arrives next door. I look out my window, and I see him. He’s tall, lean and wearing all black—black T-shirt, black jeans, black sneakers, and a black knit cap that covers his hair completely. He catches me looking and stares at me. I stare right back. His name is Olly.

Maybe we can’t predict the future, but we can predict some things. For example, I am certainly going to fall in love with Olly. It’s almost certainly going to be a disaster.

My Thoughts:

Madeline has Severe Combined Immunodeficiency (SCID) which means that she is literally allergic to anything and everything but she meets a boy named Olly, a guy who changes everything.

Olly is a guy who only wears black. He comes from a very different background than Madeline and perhaps it’s that fact that brings them together. Olly makes Madeline feel alive, around him she’s not only a sick girl, she’s a normal human being. She is alive.

With Olly Madeline is a person, and with Olly Madeline can do almost anything. Madeline is alive.

Everything, Everything was simply an astounding book, it is equal parts hilarious and serious, and it will stick with me for awhile.

The characters were extremely vivid and I could clearly see the setting. I loved the depth of the characters; it seemed like each character had 100 layers that were beautifully put together, and each character surprised you as each layer was peeled away.

I loved the pains the author went to to accurately describe the setting of a house for a person living with SCID, from the fake jungle to the air-lock it added a sort of science fiction, detached feel to Madeline’s house that made the book all the more astounding.

The plot twist in the end was amazing. I didn’t see it coming and when it did come I was shocked; I’m still shocked.

Overall this was a wonderful book that I will probably buy and add to my bookshelf to reread over and over again. If this book is any hint as to Nicola Yoon’s talent, then we’ll see this book and every other book she writes rocket to the top of the YA world.

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

Nashville Eats – Jennifer Justus

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4/5 Music City Stars

On The Back:

If it seems like Nashville is everywhere these days—that’s because it is. GQ recently declared it “Nowville,” and it has become the music hotspot for both country and rock. But as hot as the music scene is, the food scene is even hotter.

In Nashville Eats, more than 100 mouthwatering recipes reveal why food lovers are headed South for Nashville’s hot chicken, buttermilk biscuits, pulled pork sandwiches, cornmeal-crusted catfish, chowchow, fried green tomatoes, and chess pie. Author Jennifer Justus whips up the classics—such as pimento cheese and fried chicken—but also includes dishes with a twist on traditional Southern fare—such as Curried Black Chickpeas or Catfish Tacos. And alongside the recipes, Jennifer shares her stories of Nashville—the people, music, history, and food that make it so special.

My Thoughts:

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

Nashville Eats was a unique look into a legendary city’s eating habits and recipes. Having extremely diversified recipes ranging from Holiday Eggnog to Make-Do Biscuits to Double H Roast Beef, this book will appeal to anyone who loves to cook and anyone who loves to eat.

I really liked the colors and pictures in this book they were bright, cheerful, and vivid. The writing style the author used was also great and easy-to-understand without being overly simplified. I loved the stories the stories Ms. Justus included about landmark restaurants and farms in the Nashville area and the people that run them. Many of the recipes were quite simple, and I’m looking forward to trying them (especially Phila’s Make-Do Biscuits and Hello Dolly Cookie Bars). However, there were some recipes that looked quite complex for a beginning cook.

Overall a really fun book to read, I enjoyed the great-looking recipes, the Nashville Trivia, and the kitchen playlists included in each section. Nashville Eats gets 4/5 stars!

The Distance Between Lost and Found – Kathryn Holmes

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4/5 Lost Stars

On The Back:

Ever since the night of the incident with Luke Willis, the preacher’s son, sophomore Hallelujah Calhoun has been silent. When the rumors swirled around school, she was silent. When her parents grounded her, she was silent. When her friends abandoned her … silent.

Now, six months later, on a youth group retreat in the Smoky Mountains, Hallie still can’t find a voice to answer the taunting. Shame and embarrassment haunt her, while Luke keeps coming up with new ways to humiliate her. Not even meeting Rachel, an outgoing newcomer who isn’t aware of her past, can pull Hallie out of her shell. Being on the defensive for so long has left her raw, and she doesn’t know who to trust.

On a group hike, the incessant bullying pushes Hallie to her limit. When Hallie, Rachel, and Hallie’s former friend Jonah get separated from the rest of the group, the situation quickly turns dire. Stranded in the wilderness, the three have no choice but to band together.

With past betrayals and harrowing obstacles in their way, Hallie fears they’ll never reach safety. Could speaking up about the night that changed everything close the distance between being lost and found? Or has she traveled too far to come back?

My Thoughts:

You know you’re hooked when you find yourself feeling angry and sad in the first few chapters of a book, and I was hooked by The Distance Between Lost and Found. Hallie is a bullied girl who has withdrawn inside of herself. She has no friends to speak of and is forced to go on a church youth trip with her tormentors, the biggest of which is Luke. But a new girl, Rachel, a former friend, Jonah, and Hallie all get separated from the group and are forced to forge their own way through the woods and fight to survive in the wilderness of the Smoky Mountains. This was an excellent debut YA novel and I really hope to hear more from this author.

I really liked Hallie, she was a relatable and heartbreaking character that anyone could find themselves pitying, at first, but then willing her to survive. Rachel was the quirky, sort of annoying, but irreplaceable friend that most people have, she pressed Hallie for the story of what really happened, and was the first person to really try and talk to Hallie. Jonah was the funny, mysterious person in the trio and throughout the story as you learn why he abandoned Hallie as a friend, it was heartbreaking, sad, and wonderful all at the same time.

This plot was really unique for this type of YA novel, slightly like Gary Paulsen’s Brian novels, but at the same time very different. I found myself cheering the teens on throughout the book, at the high points I smiled and felt like cheering out, but at the low points I willed them to survive.

However there was a few down points to this book, the major one, and really the only one worth mentioning, is Hallie’s attitude toward Jonah. There are only a few very small remarks about what she thinks of Jonah before Jonah tells her how he feels about her and why he stopped being her friend, and all of a sudden she loves him? I wish the author would’ve added a few more hints about how Hallie felt about Jonah before, instead of having no feelings, no feelings, boom, feelings.

Overall however a very good, very fast read. With amazing characters, a very good and interesting plotline, yet a few small down points, The Distance Between Lost and Found gets 4/5 stars. Recommend!

Go Set a Watchman – Harper Lee

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3.5/5 Watchmen

On The Back:

Maycomb, Alabama. Twenty-six-year-old Jean Louise Finch – ‘Scout’ – returns home from New York City to visit her aging father, Atticus. Set against the backdrop of the civil rights tensions and political turmoil that were transforming the South, Jean Louise’s homecoming turns bittersweet when she learns disturbing truths about her close-knit family, the town and the people dearest to her. Memories from her childhood flood back, and her values and assumptions are thrown into doubt. Featuring many of the iconic characters from To Kill a Mockingbird, Go Set a Watchman perfectly captures a young woman, and a world, in a painful yet necessary transition out of the illusions of the past – a journey that can be guided only by one’s conscience.

My Thoughts:

On a whim I was out shopping last Tuesday and I decided to got to Barnes & Noble, as soon as I walked in I saw this book and I had to snatch it up. It was 30% off and it seemed like half of the store had a copy in their hand, with a 20% off coupon and a membership 10% discount I had I got this book for only $14 dollars with tax. I was ecstatic. To Kill a Mockingbird  was a flawless book, but I am sad to say that this book wasn’t.

Scout is back, but now she’s a twenty-six year old independent woman who goes by Jean Louise. Atticus, Uncle Jack, Aunt Alexandra, and Calpurnia are all back but in drastically different places than they were. Many of the characters in this book did a complete turnaround from To Kill a Mockingbird, and I’m sad to say that for many of them it wasn’t a good thing. New characters that were supposed to be old friends were also introduced.

The plot itself was interesting enough, but it really didn’t fit the characters it portrayed.

Overall a decent book, but not as good as To Kill a Mockingbird. With old characters that it was nice to revisit, but yet complete turnarounds for the worse in many characters Go Set a Watchman gets 3.5/5 stars.

What You Left Behind – Jessica Verdi

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5/5 Heartbreaking Stars

On The Back:

It’s all Ryden’s fault. If he hadn’t gotten Meg pregnant, she would have never stopped her chemo treatments and would still be alive. Instead, he’s failing fatherhood one dirty diaper at a time. And it’s not like he’s had time to grieve while struggling to care for their infant daughter, start his senior year, and earn the soccer scholarship he needs to go to college.

The one person who makes Ryden feel like his old self is Joni. She’s fun and energetic—and doesn’t know he has a baby. But the more time they spend together, the harder it becomes to keep his two worlds separate. Finding one of Meg’s journals only stirs up old emotions, and Ryden’s convinced Meg left other notebooks for him to find, some message to help his new life make sense. But how is he going to have a future if he can’t let go of the past?

My Thoughts:

Ryden is a junior. He had it all, he was popular and the star of his soccer team. But then he starts seeing Meg, a cancer patient who he gets pregnant. Now fast forward to the summer before Ry’s senior year he’s working at Whole Foods, trying to be a single parent, and blaming himself for Meg’s death. It is at the end of this summer when What You Left Behind takes place.

This book was simply astounding. It was one of the best books I have read this year, filled with a realistic cast of characters and a story that defies the norms in a good way.

Most YA stories involve a tragic romance and a female protagonist. I’m happy to say that this book only has to tragic romance, but it also defies the norms. For instance, this book is from a male’s perspective which is a huge difference, but a really nice difference. Also, this book has another major subject that is rarely focused on in YA books; teen pregnancy. In this book Ry has a daughter, a daughter named Hope.

The author, Ms. Verdi, did an amazing job of accurately describing how Ry would feel in the situation he was in. At times, yes, he came off as self-centered and selfish, but that’s to be expected in his situation. I don’t think anyone would act any different in his situation. The rest of the cast of characters, Mabel, Joni, Hope, Ry’s mother, and the rest of them were also superbly written,

Overall an amazing, simply amazing, book. I will gladly read a sequel if one ever comes out and will look for more work from this author. This was the type of book that leaves you feeling good inside; I simply devoured it. Highly recommend!

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

Heart in the Right Place – Carolyn Jourdan

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4/5 X-rayed Goats

On The Back:

Carolyn Jourdan, an attorney on Capitol Hill, thought she had it made. But when her mother has a heart attack, she returns home—to the Tennessee mountains, where her father is a country doctor and her mother works as his receptionist. Jourdan offers to fill in for her mother until she gets better. But days turn into weeks as she trades her suits for scrubs and finds herself following hazmat regulations for cleaning up bodily fluids; maintaining composure when confronted with a splinter the size of a steak knife; and tending to the loquacious Miss Hiawatha, whose daily doctor visits are never billed. Most important, though, she comes to understand what her caring and patient father means to her close-knit community.

My Thoughts:

I haven’t read a memoir or any nonfiction other than a cookbook that I picked up for review since March. That’s a long time. So when I was browsing Overdrive last night I picked out this book and I can safely say that I’m glad I did. This book was laugh-out-loud funny in some parts and heartbreaking in other parts.

The author did a wonderful job of balancing out her humor and spacing it out in between the deaths that would inevitably come with a memoir about a part of the medical field. One such reoccurring hilarious characters was Langston, a narcotics addict, that would call at least once a week trying to get a prescription. His interactions with Carolyn were simply hilarious and I found myself laughing out loud at them. There were many other hilarious characters that appeared throughout the book.

Overall an extremely enjoyable book that only had a few minor drawbacks, none of which are really worth mentioning, they’re mostly my preferences. Highly recommend!