4.5 Star Books · Book Reviews · Humorous Fiction · Realistic Fiction

Book Review: Adequate Yearly Progress by Roxanna Elden

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Adequate Yearly Progress by Roxanna Elden

Published by River Street Books on August 1, 2018

Pages: 319

Genres: realistic fiction, humorous fiction 

Rating: 4.5 stars

Recommend to fans of: workplace settings, socially relevant novels, realistic fiction 

Read with food: cheetos~ the real thing not that baked stuff 

 

Synopsis: 

From the mundane to the insane, Adequate Yearly Progress captures the teaching experience with insight, humor, and heart.

Each year brings familiar educational challenges to Brae Hill Valley, a struggling urban high school in Texas. But the school’s teachers face plenty of challenges of their own. English teacher Lena Wright, a spoken-word poet with a deep love for her roots, can never seem to satisfy her students that she’s for real. Hernan D. Hernandez is confident in front of his biology classes, yet tongue-tied around the woman he most wants to impress: namely, Lena. Down the hall, math teacher Maybelline Galang focuses on the numbers as she blocks out problems whose solutions aren’t so clear, while Coach Ray hustles his football team toward another winning season, at least on the field. Recording it all is idealistic history teacher Kaytee Mahoney, whose blog gains new readers by the day but drifts ever further from her in-class reality.
And this year, a new celebrity superintendent is determined to leave his own mark on the school—even if that means shutting the whole place down. The fallout will shake up the teachers’ lives both inside and outside the classroom.

Review: 

Thank you to NetGalley, the author and publisher for a copy of the book. As always, an honest review. 

Adequate Yearly Progress accurately captures what I would imagine it’s like to work in an inner city high school. The story starts out a few days before the beginning of the school year. There’s a new superintendent who is ready to make some changes. Maybe with the students’ best interests at heart, but definitely with an enormous lack of experience in the school setting. It sets up what’s bound to be an eventful school year. 

The chapters are told from different teachers points of view. This choice keeps the book fresh, interesting, and moving along quickly. The reader also gets a well rounded perspective of all the happenings within the high school. We mainly follow Lena, Hernan, Maybelline and the football coach. I like that the characters are diverse regarding gender, age, race, and life experiences. The story is a discussion about life in and out of the classroom. I really appreciated when the story would show the rich complex inner lives of the teachers. A great combination of serious and funny. I also liked the inclusion of one teacher’s blog posts. I found it fun, modern, and added an additional perspective. 

Most of the book was amazing; there were a few aspects that I didn’t enjoy as much. A few of the teachers bothered me, personality wise. It’s in keeping with a realistic perspective of a school, but they could still really annoy me at times. Also, the ending of the school year seemed a little rushed. However the teachers’ personal lives were well paced. 

Overall I really enjoyed getting to know the teachers in Adequate Yearly Progress. A humorous, realistic perspective of teaching with all of its challenges and wonderful moments.

Definitely give this a read when it’s released! 

 

What are you favorite books about school?

 

What do they get right? What could they do better?

3.5 Star Books · Audiobooks · Book Reviews · humor · memoir

Book Review: Talking As Fast As I Can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls and Everything in Between by Lauren Graham

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Talking As Fast As I Can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls and Everything in Between by Lauren Graham

Published by Ballantine Books on November 29, 2016

Pages: 209

Genres: memoir, humor

Rating: 3.5 stars

Recommend to fans of: Gilmore Girls, memoirs with life lessons

Read with food: coffee, duh! Because . . . Lorelai in Gilmore Girls

 

Synopsis:

In this collection of personal essays, the beloved star of Gilmore Girls and Parenthood reveals stories about life, love, and working as a woman in Hollywood—along with behind-the-scenes dispatches from the set of the new Gilmore Girls, where she plays the fast-talking Lorelai Gilmore once again.

In Talking as Fast as I Can, Lauren Graham hits pause for a moment and looks back on her life, sharing laugh-out-loud stories about growing up, starting out as an actress, and, years later, sitting in her trailer on the Parenthood set and asking herself, “Did you, um, make it?” She opens up about the challenges of being single in Hollywood (“Strangers were worried about me; that’s how long I was single!”), the time she was asked to audition her butt for a role, and her experience being a judge on Project Runway (“It’s like I had a fashion-induced blackout”).

In “What It Was Like, Part One,” Graham sits down for an epic Gilmore Girls marathon and reflects on being cast as the fast-talking Lorelai Gilmore. The essay “What It Was Like, Part Two” reveals how it felt to pick up the role again nine years later, and what doing so has meant to her.

Some more things you will learn about Lauren: She once tried to go vegan just to bond with Ellen DeGeneres, she’s aware that meeting guys at awards shows has its pitfalls (“If you’re meeting someone for the first time after three hours of hair, makeup, and styling, you’ve already set the bar too high”), and she’s a card-carrying REI shopper (“My bungee cords now earn points!”).

Including photos and excerpts from the diary Graham kept during the filming of the recent Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, this book is like a cozy night in, catching up with your best friend, laughing and swapping stories, and—of course—talking as fast as you can.

Review:

Everyone has been saying how amazing and hilarious Talking As Fast As I Can, is. I found it good, but not as great as all the hype.

Maybe it’s because while I enjoyed the TV show Gilmore Girls, I was not a super fan. So the behind the scenes look at the show wasn’t that interesting to me. The writing is also amusing, but not over the top hilarious.

The memoir does contain a lot of life advice that makes me think. I appreciated that. Lauren Graham talks about enjoying life as it’s currently happening, instead of spending all your time online. I found this especially poignant as I was outside enjoying the spring flowers and listening to this audiobook.

A bit underwhelming, but overall an enjoyable read.

 

I’ve been listening to a lot of audiobooks … especially memoirs read by the authors. #love 

 

Any recommendations for me?

 

What are your favorite memoirs?

4 Star Books · Book Reviews · humor · memoir

Book Review: So Close to Being the Sh*t, Y’all Don’t Even Know by Retta

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So Close to Being the Sh*t, Y’all Don’t Even Know by Retta

Published by St. Martin’s Press on June 26, 2016

Pages: 272

Genres: memoir, humor

Rating: 4 stars

Recommend to fans of: Parks and Rec, treat yo self, funny down to earth books

Read with food: KFC chicken, biscuits, and an alcoholic beverage of your choice (as always, be safe and not if you’re under 21) 

 

Synopsis: 

In So Close to Being the Sh*t, Y’all Don’t Even Know, Parks and Recreation star Retta takes us on her not-so-meteoric rise from roaches to riches (well, rich enough that she can buy $15,000 designer handbags yet scared enough to know she’s always a heartbeat away from ramen with American cheese).

Throwing her hard-working Liberian parents for a loop, Retta abandons her plan to attend med school after graduating Duke University to move to Hollywood to star in her own sitcom―like her comedy heroes Lucille Ball and Roseanne.

Say what? Word. Turns out Retta might actually be on to something. After winning Comedy Central’s stand-up competition, she should be ready for prime time―but a fear of success derails her biggest dream.

Whether reminiscing about her days as a contract chemist at GlaxoSmithKline, telling “dirty” jokes to Mormons, feeling like the odd man out on Parks, fending off racist trolls on Twitter, flirting with Michael Fassbender, or expertly stalking the cast of “Hamilton,” Retta’s unique voice and refreshing honesty will make you laugh, cry, and laugh so hard you’ll cry.

Her eponymous sitcom might not have happened yet, but by the end of So Close to Being the Sh*t, you’ll be rooting for Retta to be the next one-named wonder to take over your television. And she just might inspire you to reach for the stars, too.

Review:

I received this book for free through Goodreads Giveaways. As always, an honest review.

Retta is hilarious! Her book was entertaining, a quick read, and something that I didn’t want to put down. It’s honest and relatable, and put me in a good mood while reading. I definitely recommend picking it up if you’re in a grumpy mood. Definitely a pick me up!

I also enjoyed Retta’s explanations about the process of working as a comedian and actor. Very interesting!

The only downside is that she was rooting for the LA Kings and not the Chicago Blackhawks. As a Blackhawks fan, this made my heart hurt a little.

But overall, I definitely recommend this funny, lighthearted book.

Treat yo self and give it a read soon!

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com
4 Star Books · Book Reviews

Book Review: The Last Black Unicorn by Tiffany Haddish

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The Last Black Unicorn by Tiffany Haddish

Published by: Gallery Books on December 5, 2017

Pages: 288

Genres: memoir, humor

Rating: 4 stars

Recommend to fans of: comedy, real talk, memoirs, books with good life advice

Read with food: corn on the cob … if you’ve read the book you will definitely get this 

 

Synopsis:

From stand-up comedian, actress, and breakout star of Girls Trip, Tiffany Haddish, comes The Last Black Unicorn, a sidesplitting, hysterical, edgy, and unflinching collection of (extremely) personal essays, as fearless as the author herself.

Growing up in one of the poorest neighborhoods of South Central Los Angeles, Tiffany learned to survive by making people laugh. If she could do that, then her classmates would let her copy their homework, the other foster kids she lived with wouldn’t beat her up, and she might even get a boyfriend. Or at least she could make enough money—as the paid school mascot and in-demand Bar Mitzvah hype woman—to get her hair and nails done, so then she might get a boyfriend.

None of that worked (and she’s still single), but it allowed Tiffany to imagine a place for herself where she could do something she loved for a living: comedy.

Tiffany can’t avoid being funny—it’s just who she is, whether she’s plotting shocking, jaw-dropping revenge on an ex-boyfriend or learning how to handle her newfound fame despite still having a broke person’s mind-set. Finally poised to become a household name, she recounts with heart and humor how she came from nothing and nowhere to achieve her dreams by owning, sharing, and using her pain to heal others.

By turns hilarious, filthy, and brutally honest, The Last Black Unicorn shows the world who Tiffany Haddish really is—humble, grateful, down-to-earth, and funny as hell. And now, she’s ready to inspire others through the power of laughter.

Review:

The Last Black Unicorn is hilarious, real and vulnerable. Tiffany shares the story of her life, from childhood to present day, in the laugh out loud funny way that only she can. First of all, I highly recommend listening to this as an audiobook. It’s read the author herself and makes the memoir that much better! Beware, some parts are NSWF, not safe for work, so wear those headphones people! 

I appreciated her genuine life story and advice along the way. As hilarious as the entire book is, there are also a lot of life lessons to be learned from her story.

Follow your dreams, keep working hard, don’t take sh*t from anyone, mange your money well, and believe that you are worth it.

I went into this book not knowing much about it. I kept hearing people recommend it online for it’s hilarity, so I decided to give it a try. So glad I did!

Just a warning for you all: they talk about sex a lot. She says the word penis, and all the other euphemisms for it, a lot. If that bothers you or if you have little kids listening, maybe not the book for you. But otherwise, do like I did and give the hilarious The Last Black Unicorn a listen … or a read.