Wednesday, September 2, 2015

On My Radar:

How to Draw Everything
by Gillian Johnson
St. Martins Griffin
Trade Paperback

From the publisher's website:

A playful book by renowned illustrator and artist Gillian Johnson, How to Draw Everything encourages readers to overcome their fear of the blank page and inspire their inner artist. The book is not about drawing realistically; it's about taking your line for a walk and seeing where you end up!


Inside are exercises and easy projects prompting you to draw literally everything around you--from mugs and bugs to cars and stars. A wide variety of drawing projects will teach you how to drop your artistic inhibitions and sketch what you see using step-by-step techniques. Delightful full-color illustrations accompany each lesson to ensure your drawing journey is both educational and filled with plenty of whimsical fun.


Tuesday, September 1, 2015

On My Radar:

Mr. Smith Goes to Prison: What My Year Behind Bars Taught Me About America's Prison Crisis
by Jeff Smith
St. Martin's Press
Hardcover

From the publisher's website:

The fall from politico to prisoner isn't necessarily long, but the landing, as Missouri State Senator Jeff Smith learned, is a hard one.

In 2009, Smith lied to the Feds about seemingly minor campaign malfeasance and earned himself a year and a day in Kentucky's FCI Manchester. Mr. Smith Goes to Prison is the fish-out-of-water story of his time in the big house; of the people he met there and the things he learned: how to escape the attentions of fellow inmates, like a tattooed Klansman and his friends in the Aryan Brotherhood; what constitutes a prison car and who's allowed to ride in yours; how to bend and break the rules, whether you're a prisoner or an officer. And throughout his sentence, the senator tracked the greatest crime of all: the deliberate waste of untapped human potential.


Smith saw the power of millions of inmates harnessed as a source of renewable energy for America's prison-industrial complex, a system that aims to build better criminals instead of better citizens. In Mr. Smith Goes to Prison, he traces the cracks in America's prison walls, exposing the shortcomings of a racially based cycle of poverty and crime. Smith blends a wry sense of humor with academic training, political acumen, and insights from his year on the inside. He offers practical solutions to jailbreak the nation from the financially crushing grip of its own prisons and to jump-start the rehabilitation of the millions living behind bars.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

On My Radar:

No House to Call My Home: Love, Family, and Other Transgressions
by Ryan Berg
Nation Books
Hardcover

From the publisher's website:

In this lyrical debut, Ryan Berg immerses readers in the gritty, dangerous, and shockingly underreported world of homeless LGBTQ teens in New York. As a caseworker in a group home for disowned LGBTQ teenagers, Berg witnessed the struggles, fears, and ambitions of these disconnected youth as they resisted the pull of the street, tottering between destruction and survival.

Focusing on the lives and loves of eight unforgettable youth, No House to Call My Home traces their efforts to break away from dangerous sex work and cycles of drug and alcohol abuse, and, in the process, to heal from years of trauma. From Bella’s fervent desire for stability to Christina’s irrepressible dreams of stardom to Benny’s continuing efforts to find someone to love him, Berg uncovers the real lives behind the harrowing statistics: over 4,000 youth are homeless in New York City—43 percent of them identify as LGBTQ.


Through these stories, Berg compels us to rethink the way we define privilege, identity, love, and family. Beyond the tears, bluster, and bravado, he reveals the force that allows them to carry on—the irrepressible hope of youth.


Wednesday, August 26, 2015

On My Radar:

High Holiday Porn: A Memoir
by Eytan Bayme
St. Martin's Press
Hardcover

From the publisher's website:

Eytan Bayme went to Jewish day school and Jewish camp. He lived across the street from a synagogue in the Bronx, which he attended weekly, and ate strictly kosher food for most of his childhood. Yet even at the age of six, he wanted to know what the deal was with those Pizza Huts and Burger Kings that he wasn't allowed into "God wouldn't put them on earth if He didn't mean for us to try them," he thought. Wasn't that obvious? Also, why can't he stop thinking about his female classmates in bed, late at night, with his little brother not five feet away; and how come the starting line-up for the 1986 Mets keep creeping into those fantasies? Religious life is difficult enough without the urges of a typical adolescent boy, yet Eytan's urges develop well before his teens, and they just keep on developing and developing.


High Holiday Porn is a heartwarming and hilarious story about learning to become an adult. It chronicles how an anxious boy finally stops masturbating in public, gets the girl, grows up, and begrudgingly makes peace with the unfairness of life and love. It's a funny, fantasy-laden, usually embarrassing, sometimes raunchy and always outrageous look at coming of age that will resonate with anyone who ever felt awkward growing up.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Fiction Spotlight:

The Lost Key: A Brit in the FBI Novel
by Catherine Coulter and J.T. Ellison
Jove Books
Mass Market Paperback

From the publisher's website:



After working with Special Agents Lacey Sherlock and Dillon Savich, Nicholas Drummond has joined the FBI. Now, he and partner Mike Caine are in an eleventh-hour race to stop a madman from finding a cache of lost World War I gold—and a weapon unlike anything the world has ever seen…


Friday, August 14, 2015

In My TBR Stack:

Plenty Ladylike: A Memoir
by Claire McCaskill with Terry Ganey
Simon & Schuster
Hardcover

From the publisher's website:

The female senator from Missouri shares her inspiring story of embracing her ambition, surviving sexist slings, making a family, losing a husband, outsmarting her enemies—and finding joy along the way.

Claire McCaskill grew up in a political family, but not at a time that welcomed women with big plans. She earned a law degree and paid her way through school by working as a waitress. By 1982 Claire had set her sights on the Missouri House of Representatives. Typically, one voter whose door she knocked on said: “You’re too young; your hair is too long; you’re a girl….Go find yourself a husband.” That door was slammed in her face, but Claire always kept pushing—first as a prosecutor of arsonists and rapists and then all the way to the door of a cabal of Missouri politicians who had secret meetings to block her legislation.

In this candid, lively, and forthright memoir, Senator McCaskill describes her uphill battle to become who she is today, from her failed first marriage to a Kansas City car dealer—the father of her three children—to her current marriage to a Missouri businessman whom she describes as “a life partner.” She depicts her ups and downs with the Clintons, her long-shot reelection as senator after secretly helping to nominate a right-wing extremist as her opponent, and the fun of joining the growing bipartisan sisterhood in the Senate.


From the day she was elected homecoming queen in high school, Claire has loved politics and winning. Her memoir is unconventional: unsparing in its honesty, full of sharp humor and practical wisdom, and rousing in its defense of female ambition.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

In My TBR Stack:

Slice Harvester: A Memoir in Pizza
by Colin Atrophy Hagendorf
Simon & Schuster
Hardcover

From the publisher's website:

Over the course of two years, a twenty-something punk rocker eats a cheese slice from every pizzeria in New York City, gets sober, falls in love, and starts a blog that captures headlines around the world—he is the Slice Harvester, and this is his story.

Since its arrival on US shores in 1905, pizza has risen from an obscure ethnic food to an iconic symbol of American culture. It has visited us in our dorm rooms and apartments, sometimes before we’d even unpacked or painted. It has nourished us during our jobs, consoled us during break-ups, and celebrated our triumphs right alongside us.

In August 2009, Colin Hagendorf set out to review every regular slice of pizza in Manhattan, and his blog, Slice Harvester, was born. Two years and nearly 400 slices later, he’d been featured in TheWall Street Journal, the Daily News (New York), and on radio shows all over the country. Suddenly, this self-proclaimed punk who was barely making a living doing burrito delivery and selling handmade zines had a following. But at the same time Colin was stepping up his game for the masses (grabbing slices with Phoebe Cates and her teenage daughter, reviewing kosher pizza so you don’t have to), his personal life was falling apart.


A problem drinker and chronic bad boyfriend, he started out using the blog as a way to escape—the hangovers, the midnight arguments, the hangovers again—until finally realizing that by taking steps to reach a goal day by day, he’d actually put himself in a place to finally take control of his life for good.