Binge by Tyler Oakley

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Before reading his book, Binge, I wasn't very familiar with Tyler Oakley. I've seen him hosting some awards show red carpet coverage and a few of his YouTube videos, but I'd never pretend to be one of his fans. That being said,  I couldn't help but be curious about Oakley. He took a YouTube channel and turned it into a brand that has earned him a comfortable career and celebrity status.

The book compiles Oakley's musings about life, love, and the random things that have made him such a fascinating character. He mixes serious sections such as one about being in a physically and emotionally abusive relationship with funny recollections about the hotness of Disney princes and the culinary wonders of Cheesecake Factory. Reading his candid recollections reveal the reason for his success. He has an undeniable charisma that makes him seem like a close friend.

Tyler has capitalized on his affable personality by turning himself into a recognizable brand. But broadcasting his life to the world has not come without a personal cost. In one of the more terrifying sections, he writes about being bombarded by fans at a YouTube convention. The event happened to fall on his birthday, and the large group of fans only wanted to send Tyler their well wishes. Despite the positive intentions, a large throng of people rushing the vehicle and yelling his name startled the young star and left him contemplating a retreat from the public eye.

Thankfully, Tyler decided the pros of fame far outweigh the cons. After reading his book, I am impressed at the way he uses his platform to inspire his fans. By broadcasting his life, Tyler encourages us to embrace ourselves no matter who we may be. His book is an authentic look behind the scenes that shows that deep down he is an ordinary person who faces many of the same obstacles that we do. “I was taught that being myself was not only okay, but encouraged - and by being unapologetically yourself, you thrive and inspire others to thrive.” 

For more information, visit the author's website, Amazon, and Goodreads.

(2016, 25)


The Gifts of Memoir by Christine Hale

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In A Piece of Sky, A Grain of Rice: A Memoir in Four Meditations, I've written about myself but not for myself.

I talk about a childhood in southern Appalachia that included abuse and neglect as well plenty of freedom to read and explore the natural world. I tell the stranger-than-fiction true story of together-tattoos with my teen children. And I relive the odd pleasures and striking solitudes of a series of spiritual retreats. I piece all of this together like a crazy quilt of vivid colors to suggest some truths about the human condition.

It's true that in the book's earliest draft, I wrote to try to explain myself to myself. I wrote down what shocked and hurt and amazed me about my life to that point. I wrote the questions I couldn't answer--except by speculation--about people I'd lost, found, given up on or given another chance. The process was cathartic--it made me feel better able to accept what I couldn't change. But the writing was also instructive. Putting it all down on paper helped me connect the dots, in ways I'd never imagined possible, between things I'd done at widely different points in my life, or between things I'd done and my mother had done, for instance. And, another gift of memoir: the process of trying to remember made me remember more and more. I reclaimed and relived some very sweet memories.

So, I was enjoying writing the book and learning about myself, but I had to stop and ask why I was writing a book about my life. I mean, who wants to read about me?

That question comes up nearly every time I mentor a creative writer who wants to write a memoir. Self-doubt, even a touch of shame, about presuming to share one's own "ordinary" live story. But if you can learn from writing about your life, I tell them, why wouldn't readers learn from what you've learned?

It took me years to feel comfortable saying that. But I am confident of it now. Readers of my memoir tell me that they idetnify with the struggles and the triumphs in the book, that they are reminded of their own sweetest memories, that they reel reconnected with people they've lost, or that they have new insight into someone who was a powerful and painful mystery in their life. Some have said, simply, "It helped me."

During the years I worked on my book, I came to realize that I wanted it to become a gift, humbly offered. I want readers to take away a feeling that they are not alone in their doubts, fears, confusion, strivings, and hopes. That these feeling are the essence of being human. I want readers to get from the book their own personal version of what I got from writing it--clarity and release.

For more information, visit the author's website and Amazon.
Be sure to check out all of the other posts that are a part of this tour!

Bossypants by Tina Fey

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"To say I'm an overrated troll, when you've never even seen me guard a bridge, is pretty unfair."

I wouldn't consider myself a huge Tina Fey fan. She was on Saturday Night Live before I was really old enough to watch it, and I've only seen 30 Rock a few times. Her spot on impression of vice presidential hopeful Sarah Palin is probably the only significant part of her work that I'm familiar with. Still, one dollar for a copy of her memoir Bossypants at my local used bookstore was too good of a deal to pass up.

The book chronicles Fey's unlikely rise from awkward drama student to running her own critically acclaimed television show. The early portions of the book focus on her formative years and offer glimpses of the career that would follow. During high school she spent her summers acting and directing in a drama camp. The camps were usually made up of outsiders, all of whom Fey embraced and built lasting relationships with. Her stint with the Second City improv group after college introduced her to Amy Poehler and paved the way for her start with SNL.

Interspersed with the mostly straightforward biography are one liners and tangents that illustrate Fey's gift as a comedic writer. She hilariously describes her struggle to balance life and work and the ridiculous added pressure of being a woman in a male dominated industry. No section illustrates this more than the part where Fey is at the height of her stint as Sarah Palin while equally stressing the smallest details of her daughter's birthday party. I think that is what I find most interesting about Tina Fey. She somehow manages to stay true to herself despite all of the absurdities of being a celebrity.

For more information, visit Amazon and Goodreads.

(2016, 24)

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

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"If you go in with fear, fear is what you'll find"

I have a confession to make. In my haste to share my enthusiasm of books that I've read, I sometimes reveal more about the plot than I intend to. While I always refrain from spoiling any huge plot twits, sometimes the less you know about the book going into it, the more enjoyable it will be. That is definitely the case with Dark Matter by Blake Crouch. When I received an advanced copy of the novel from the publisher, I knew nothing about the story. Crouch is well known from his successful Wayward Pines series, but his latest story seemed to be shrouded in mystery. That mystery benefits the novel in every way. As the story unfolded, I was completely invested and thrilled to the core.

Jason Dessen has a pretty ordinary life. He's a professor at a local college who eschewed a promising career in science when he learned that his now wife, Daniella, was pregnant. He wouldn't trade that decision for anything. Even as he leaves a bar where his friend from college is being celebrated for the kind of scientific breakthroughs that Jason was poised to achieve himself, he can't wait to get back home for a quiet dinner with his wife and son. But someone has darker plans for Jason's evening. As he walks down the quiet streets, Jason is abducted by a man in a mask. Instead of the intimate family time he planned, Jason is thrust into a series of events that threatens the safety of his family and forces him to question every detail of the life he thought he was living.

That's about all I can say without denying you the privilege of experiencing this novel for yourself. Every time I thought I had the ending mapped out, Crouch would add another ripple to the story that would send it in a completely different direction. As with most good books, it is the characters that truly make the story worth engaging with. Even as the plot delved into deep sci-fi elements that required some suspension of disbelief, it was Jason's deep commitment to the safety of his family that kept me invested. In Dark Matter Blake Crouch provides thoughtful characters, suspenseful plot, and deep thematic undertones that combine for a relentlessly satisfying novel that is one of the best books I've read this summer.

For more information, visit the author's website, Amazon, and Goodreads.

(2016, 23)

Giveaway: Blue Moon by Wendy Corsi Staub

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on Tour July 25th - August 26, 2016


Blue Moon by Wendy Corsi StaubNew York Times bestselling author Wendy Corsi Staub returns to Mundy’s Landing—a small town where bygone bloodshed has become big business. Hair neatly braided, hands serenely clasped, eyes closed, the young woman appeared to be sound asleep. But the peaceful tableau was a madman’s handiwork. Beneath the covers, her white nightgown was spattered with blood. At daybreak, a horrified family would discover her corpse tucked into their guest room. The cunning killer would strike again . . . and again . . . before vanishing into the mists of time. A century ago, the Sleeping Beauty Murders terrified picturesque Mundy’s Landing. The victims, like the killer, were never identified. Now, on the hundredth anniversary, the Historical Society’s annual “Mundypalooza” offers a hefty reward for solving the notorious case. Annabelle Bingham, living in one of the three Murder Houses, can’t escape the feeling that her family is being watched—and not just by news crews and amateur sleuths. She’s right. Having unearthed the startling truth behind the horrific crimes, a copycat killer is about to reenact them—beneath the mansard roof of Annabelle’s dream home...
Book Details:
Genre: Thrillers, Suspense Published by: William Morrow, Mass Market Publication Date: July 26th 2016 Number of Pages: 448 ISBN: 0062349759 (ISBN13: 9780062349750) Series: Mundy's Landing #2  Amazon Barnes & Noble Goodreads

Wendy Corsi Staub

About the Author

USA Today and New York Times bestseller Wendy Corsi Staub is the award-winning author of more than seventy novels and has twice been nominated for the Mary Higgins Clark Award. She lives in the New York City suburbs with her husband and their two children.

author's website author's twitter author's facebook



Don't Miss the Blue Moon Giveaway:

If this sounds like something you would like to read, please enter with the rafflecopter giveaway below. This giveaway is sponsored by Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours for Wendy Corsi Staub and HarperCollins. This contest is open to US residents only. No PO boxes please. Winner will have 48 hours from contact to respond. Contest ends 8/12.
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Be sure to check out the other participants in this tour!

 

Purity by Jonathan Franzen

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"So many Jonathans. A plague of literary Jonathans."

Jonathan Franzen has reluctantly accepted his role as one of America's most prominent literary authors. He writes massive novels about broad ideas that garner critical and popular success. Despite the persistent buzz around his previous novels The Corrections and Freedom, I've never been inclined to read any of his works for myself. When a book club that I follow through Goodreads announced his latest Purity as their monthly selection, I decided to see what all the fuss was about.

The main protagonist is Purity "Pip" Tyler, a twenty something year old who is saddled with overwhelming debt, an underwhelming job with a corporation that she's pretty sure is nothing more than a scam, and a reclusive and emotionally unstable mother who refuses to reveal the identity of her absentee father. Pip uses her sarcasm and unyielding devotion to her mother to cope with the less than ideal place she finds herself in. She comes up with a plan to address the first of her problems. If she can discover the true identity of her father, she might be able to convince him to help alleviate some of her debt. Unfortunately, Pip's mother refuses to give even the slightest hint to the man's identity.

The story begins to turn from a focus on family drama to more current affairs when Pip is afforded the opportunity to intern with The Sunlight Project. The initiative is comparable to WikiLeaks. The project is led by Andreas Wolf, the German equivalent to Julian Assange, who claims his work comes from pure intentions. As Pip travels across the globe to further bring to light the truths of the world, she secretly hopes to unearth a truth of her own. Even though she is excited to do what she considers to be meaningful work, she is equally eager to use The Sunlight Project's vast resources to finally uncover the name of her father.

At nearly 600 pages, Purity is an ambitious work that blends complex characters and situations around its central theme. Beyond the present day story of Pip's search for her father, Franzen writes numerous backstories that end up forming the majority of the work. Through these detours, we gain a greater understanding of each of the characters that Pip is encountering in her life. With the dexterity of a masterful wordsmith, Franzen strings together these plots in a way that allows each to have a unique identity without ever detracting from the book as a whole. It is the idea of purity that brings these pieces together. Each character is motivated by their own idea of what they believe to be pure actions. Even with an ending that did not seem worthy of the story that preceded it, Purity is a thought provoking and surprisingly enjoyable read that makes me eager to read Franzen's other novels.

For more information, visit the author's website, Amazon, and Goodreads.

(2016, 22)



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