When Women Invented Television: The Untold Story of the Female Powerhouses Who Pioneered the Way We Watch Today (2021)

When Women Invented Television: The Untold Story of the Female Powerhouses Who Pioneered the Way We Watch Today

Book: When Women Invented Television: The Untold Story of the Female Powerhouses Who Pioneered the Way We Watch Today
 Jennifer Keishin Armstrong
Publication Info: 2021, Harper
Genres: Nonfiction, Pop Culture, Women’s History, Media/Culture Studies, Biography
My Rating: 4 stars. 4 star average on Goodreads


The New York Times bestselling author of Seinfeldia tells the little-known story of four trailblazing women in the early days of television who laid the foundation of the industry we know today.

It was the Golden Age of Radio and powerful men were making millions in advertising dollars reaching thousands of listeners every day. When television arrived, few radio moguls were interested in the upstart industry and its tiny production budgets, and expensive television sets were out of reach for most families. But four women—each an independent visionary— saw an opportunity and carved their own paths, and in so doing invented the way we watch tv today.

Irna Phillips turned real-life tragedy into daytime serials featuring female dominated casts. Gertrude Berg turned her radio show into a Jewish family comedy that spawned a play, a musical, an advice column, a line of house dresses, and other products. Hazel Scott, already a renowned musician, was the first African American to host a national evening variety program. Betty White became a daytime talk show fan favorite and one of the first women to produce, write, and star in her own show.

Together, their stories chronicle a forgotten chapter in the history of television and popular culture.

But as the medium became more popular—and lucrative—in the wake of World War II, the House Un-American Activities Committee arose to threaten entertainers, blacklisting many as communist sympathizers. As politics, sexism, racism, anti-Semitism, and money collided, the women who invented television found themselves fighting from the margins, as men took control. But these women were true survivors who never gave up—and thus their legacies remain with us in our television-dominated era. It’s time we reclaimed their forgotten histories and the work they did to pioneer the medium that now rules our lives.


It was the Golden Age of Radio and powerful men were making millions in advertising dollars reaching thousands of listeners every day. When television arrived, few radio moguls were interested in the upstart industry and its tiny production budgets, and expensive television sets were out of reach for most families. But four women—each an independent visionary— saw an opportunity and carved their own paths, and in so doing invented the way we watch tv today.

The author focused on four pioneering women during this time period in media/television: Irna Phillips, Gertrude Berg, Hazel Scott, and Betty White.

The book recognizes these women as four different parts of tv’s history of the time — these themes included womanhood/gender, motherhood, being unmarried/single, being political or opinionated. Having certain identities. Race, religion, gender. Mix this against the backdrop of the Cold War, McCarthyism, shifting dynamics socially and culturally, and one can see how media has played an indispensable role in US history. It’s only fair to tell the unique stories and perspectives of the women who played their part in the rise of television.

The format of the book is split into chapters that focus on the unique attributes of the four women analyzed. In my view, they can be deemed almost symbolic of certain obstacles faced as well as personalities, successes and victories. The author noted for example that daytime stars paved the way for Winfrey or DeGeneres. They created the appeal of the soap opera or the family drama. Building off the back of the massive success of radio, television eventually became more accessible to the general public — the impact is obvious. More entertainment, more commercialization, more news, more access. Nowadays we probably take it for granted, having the whole world in our hands every day as long as our phone’s charged. Imagine just a short while ago, it was all brand new.

I learned quite a bit about these women. Most importantly to me, it was a well researched topic that was interesting and relevant. A lot of books are coming out about the role of women in certain industries, like coding or intelligence during WWI-II or science generally. There will definitely be room to dig deeper into the experiences of women in the entertainment industry, but I think this book did a great job of taking the initiative to bring together four experiences and show overlap, thematic similarities AND the specific obstacles & positive influences by each of these women. 

Who’s it good for?

Fans of the above listed women who are covered in this book, those who like to read about women’s history, those interested in media/cultural studies (especially 1920s-30s USA), those interested in television/celebrities.

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/54236116-when-women-invented-television

Teatime at Grosvenor Square: An Unofficial Cookbook for Fans of Bridgerton—75 Sinfully Delectable Recipes (2021)

Teatime at Grosvenor Square: An Unofficial Cookbook for Fans of Bridgerton—75 Sinfully Delectable Recipes

Book: Teatime at Grosvenor Square: An Unofficial Cookbook for Fans of Bridgerton—75 Sinfully Delectable Recipes
 Dahlia Clearwater
Publication Info: 2021, Sky Horse Publishing, Simon & Schuster
Genres: Cookbook, Pop Culture, British Food, Tea Time, Cultural Studies, Baking
My Rating: 4 stars


Delightful food and drink recipes inspired by Netflix’s hit show Bridgerton and Julia Quinn’s bestselling novels. Finger sandwiches, pastries, roasts, desserts, cocktails, and more!

You are cordially invited to dine with society’s finest! From the magnificent macaron towers to the heavenly fruit-topped trifles, the food of Bridgerton steals the show. Teatime at Grosvenor Square brings you 75 tempting recipes inspired by those candy-colored treats and opulent feasts.

Now you can create a spread of delicate finger sandwiches, captivating canapés, and bite-sized sweets scrumptious enough to impress Queen Charlotte herself! Plus, you’ll find a few recipes worthy of a Bridgerton family supper.

Whether you choose to enjoy a delicious confection with Daphne or a strong cocktail with the Duke, Teatime at Grosvenor Square will make binge-watching Bridgerton even better!


This cookbook has a collection of English teatime favorites. My all-time favorite is the cucumber sandwich, and my favorite dessert is Victoria sponge cake. I decided to try out the recipe for cucumber sandwiches. The recipe was easy to follow and the visuals helped give an idea of what to model the display after. I have made these sandwiches plenty of times before, but this recipe was a bit different (it worked just fine!).

I found that most of the recipes are clear, straightforward and appropriate for all ranges of skill levels in the kitchen. Some require basic ingredients, while others are a bit more specialized. The types of foods include: scones and pastries, jams/spreads, cakes and pies, cookies, ice creams/pudding type desserts, soups, meat based dishes, and cocktails. There are 75 recipes jammed into this cookbook!

Teatime at Grosvenor Square: An Unofficial Cookbook for Fans of Bridgerton―75  Sinfully Delectable Recipes: Clearwater, Dahlia: 9781510767294: Amazon.com:  Books

The pictures are so beautiful. They make me wish I could set up some nice spreads! Therefore, they have some great presentation ideas. Almost every recipe gets a corresponding photo so you can see what it would look like.

Teatime at Grosvenor Square: An Unofficial Cookbook for Fans of Bridgerton―75  Sinfully Delectable Recipes: Clearwater, Dahlia: 9781510767294: Amazon.com:  Books

As for the Bridgerton tie in, it is mostly due to 1) the “English tea time” theme and 2) names or little blurbs added to the dishes. Of course, these are inspired by the time period and the cultural themes. So that’s really where it ties in the most.

As a result, you don’t need to be a Bridgerton fan to get any value out of this cookbook. It can be a standalone, as long as you want to make the typical “tea time” foods.

Good for a fan of the show or not! If you want to put on a tea party or quaint dinner, or even just an assortment of nice looking treats for a gathering, this is a good choice.

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/56802057-teatime-at-grosvenor-square

New Autobiography/Memoir: Will by Will Smith (2021)

Today’s post is just an informative one about a new book/audiobook published this week by Will Smith. This book is autobiographical and memoir style. I’m listening to it via Penguin Audio, which in my opinion is one of the best ways to “read” memoirs (listening to the author tell you their stories!).

The book is entitled simply Will and published on 9 November 2021 by Penguin Press. Here is the official Goodreads summary for what it entails:


One of the most dynamic and globally recognized entertainment forces of our time opens up fully about his life, in a brave and inspiring book that traces his learning curve to a place where outer success, inner happiness, and human connection are aligned. Along the way, Will tells the story in full of one of the most amazing rides through the worlds of music and film that anyone has ever had.

Will Smith’s transformation from a fearful child in a tense West Philadelphia home to one of the biggest rap stars of his era and then one of the biggest movie stars in Hollywood history, with a string of box office successes that will likely never be broken, is an epic tale of inner transformation and outer triumph, and Will tells it astonishingly well. But it’s only half the story.

Will Smith thought, with good reason, that he had won at life: not only was his own success unparalleled, his whole family was at the pinnacle of the entertainment world. Only they didn’t see it that way: they felt more like star performers in his circus, a seven-days-a-week job they hadn’t signed up for. It turned out Will Smith’s education wasn’t nearly over.

This memoir is the product of a profound journey of self-knowledge, a reckoning with all that your will can get you and all that it can leave behind. Written with the help of Mark Manson, author of the multi-million-copy bestseller The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, Will is the story of how one person mastered his own emotions, written in a way that can help everyone else do the same. Few of us will know the pressure of performing on the world’s biggest stages for the highest of stakes, but we can all understand that the fuel that works for one stage of our journey might have to be changed if we want to make it all the way home. The combination of genuine wisdom of universal value and a life story that is preposterously entertaining, even astonishing, puts Will the book, like its author, in a category by itself.

The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air Cast: Where Are They Now | PEOPLE.com

I’m personally really excited to complete this book. I love The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and some of Will Smith’s other works, including his time in music. I am interested really in just learning what I can about his experience, hopefully quite a bit about the show and maybe his relationships with other cast members. Of course, there will be plenty about his childhood, family, wife/children, etc.

Quick Thoughts

My quick thoughts so far is that I absolutely love the cover. I am kinda amazed really that I hadn’t seen any media attention for this release prior to this week. I subscribe to tons of emails, work with books all day long, read constantly, and use bookish social media constantly, and I never saw much of anything about this release. I saw a mention in a newsletter this week and was surprised! I thought maybe it was a book ABOUT Smith, not by Smith. Either way, I love the cover, it’s really cool and I would like to see the edition IRL especially if there are photographs (I’m sure there are).

The audio is crisp and of course a high quality production. I honestly believe that memoirs/autobios are great on audio most of the time. I’ve yet to listen to one that wasn’t. There’s just that added level of intimacy in the storytelling process when you can hear the author recount their words.

Put this one on your radar if you’re into memoirs, autobiographies, nonfiction, celebrities/media history, etc. I suppose it’s really best if you’re a fan of Will Smith, but I’ve hardly ever heard of anyone who wasn’t. Review to come, no where near finished with this one yet!

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/en/book/show/58375739

New York Times article: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/11/09/books/review-will-smith-memoir.html

Website: https://willthebook.com/

Nonfiction November 2021

#NonfictionNovember is actually going well for me this year; I have preferred nonfiction this year anyway for some reason. Not sure why, but I’ve found it a lot easier to stick with consistently.

I recently posted a stack on IG which represents some of my top rated nonfiction that I own and highly suggest for various reasons. See the link at the end of this article.

The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper:  Rubenhold, Hallie: 9781328663818: Amazon.com: Books

1. The Five: The Untold Lives of Jack the Ripper by Hallie Rubenhold (2019). Also in podcast form now on Spotify. Really, really interesting and highly important research. Well written and easy to follow.

Summary: Polly, Annie, Elizabeth, Catherine and Mary-Jane are famous for the same thing, though they never met. They came from Fleet Street, Knightsbridge, Wolverhampton, Sweden and Wales. They wrote ballads, ran coffee houses, lived on country estates, they breathed ink-dust from printing presses and escaped people-traffickers. What they had in common was the year of their murders: 1888. The person responsible was never identified, but the character created by the press to fill that gap has become far more famous than any of these five women.

For more than a century, newspapers have been keen to tell us that ‘the Ripper’ preyed on prostitutes. Not only is this untrue, as historian Hallie Rubenhold has discovered, it has prevented the real stories of these fascinating women from being told. Now, in this devastating narrative of five lives, Rubenhold finally sets the record straight, revealing a world not just of Dickens and Queen Victoria, but of poverty, homelessness and rampant misogyny. They died because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time – but their greatest misfortune was to be born a woman.

Arthur Conan Doyle: A Life in Letters

2. Arthur Conan Doyle: A Life in Letters (2007). Really great biographical work on a famous author, great amount of research and extrapolation of information.

Summary: More than seventy-five years after his death, the famed creator of Sherlock Holmes, Arthur Conan Doyle, remains one of the world’s best-loved authors. This candid, never-before-published volume of letters sheds light on Conan Doyle’s fascinating career, not only as an author but as a physician, sportsman, war correspondent and crusader for social justice. From his troubled marriage to his controversial Spiritualist beliefs and from his early whale-hunting days to later celebrity, each chapter of Conan Doyle’s life was as gripping as any of his own adventure tales. Gracefully written and warmly revealing, these letters illuminate Conan Doyle’s life, character and career as never before.

Thames: Sacred River

3. Thames: Sacred River by Peter Ackroyd (2007). His writing style isn’t for everyone, but I am very interested in the River Thames, which has been a centerpiece of historical development for Britain and London proper. Additionally, this book approaches the subject uniquely — the River is often found in art, history, war, innovations, etc.

Summary: ‘Thames: Sacred River’, by the bestselling author of ‘London: The Biography’, is about the river from source to sea. It covers history from prehistoric times to the present; the flora of the river; paintings and photographs inspired by the Thames; its geology, smells and colour; its literature, laws and landscapes; its magic and myths; its architecture, trade and weather.

This book meanders gloriously, rather as the river does itself: here are Toad of Toad Hall and Julius Caesar, Henry VIII and Shelley, Turner and Three Men in a Boat. The reader learns about the fishes that swam in the river and the boats that plied on its surface; about floods and tides; hauntings and suicides; sewers, miasmas and malaria; locks, weirs and embankments; bridges, docks and palaces. All the towns and villages along the river’s 215-mile length are described.

Elizabeth the Queen: The Life of a Modern Monarch

4. Elizabeth The Queen: The Life of a Modern Monarch by Sallie B Smith. A bit of a slog in some parts, but really great work compiling biographical info about the Queen and her life. Really one of the top Queen bios I’ve read.

Summary: Perfect for fans of The Crown, this magisterial biography of Queen Elizabeth II is a close-up view of the woman we’ve known only from a distance—and a captivating window into the last great monarchy.

From the moment of her ascension to the throne in 1952 at the age of twenty-five, Queen Elizabeth II has been the object of unparalleled scrutiny. But through the fog of glamour and gossip, how well do we really know the world’s most famous monarch? Drawing on numerous interviews and never-before-revealed documents, acclaimed biographer Sally Bedell Smith pulls back the curtain to show in intimate detail the public and private lives of Queen Elizabeth II, who has led her country and Commonwealth through the wars and upheavals of the last sixty years with unparalleled composure, intelligence, and grace.

In Elizabeth the Queen, we meet the young girl who suddenly becomes “heiress presumptive” when her uncle abdicates the throne. We meet the thirteen-year-old Lilibet as she falls in love with a young navy cadet named Philip and becomes determined to marry him, even though her parents prefer wealthier English aristocrats. We see the teenage Lilibet repairing army trucks during World War II and standing with Winston Churchill on the balcony of Buckingham Palace on V-E Day. We see the young Queen struggling to balance the demands of her job with her role as the mother of two young children. Sally Bedell Smith brings us inside the palace doors and into the Queen’s daily routines—the “red boxes” of documents she reviews each day, the weekly meetings she has had with twelve prime ministers, her physically demanding tours abroad, and the constant scrutiny of the press—as well as her personal relationships: with Prince Philip, her husband of sixty-four years and the love of her life; her children and their often-disastrous marriages; her grandchildren and friends

Queen Victoria: Twenty-Four Days That Changed Her Life

5. Queen Victoria: 24 Days That Changed Her Life (2018) by Lucy Worsley. I really love this book and currently having it on audiobook as a reread. Great modern take, really enjoy Worsley’s writing and presenting style.

Summary: The story of the queen who defied convention and defined an era. Perhaps one of the best known of the English monarchs, Queen Victoria forever shaped a chapter of English history, bequeathing her name to the Victorian age. In Queen Victoria, Lucy Worsley introduces this iconic woman in a new light. Going beyond an exploration of the Queen merely as a monarch, Worsley considers Victoria as a woman leading a truly extraordinary life in a unique time period. The book is structured around the various roles that Victoria inhabited— a daughter raised to wield power, a loving but tempestuous wife, a controlling mother, and a cunning widow—all while wearing the royal crown.

Far from a proto-feminist, Queen Victoria was socially conservative and never supported women’s rights. And yet, Victoria thwarted the strict rules of womanhood that defined the era to which she gave her name. She was passionate, selfish, and moody, boldly defying the will of politicians who sought to control her and emotionally controlling her family for decades. How did the woman who defined Victorian womanhood also manage to defy its conventions?

Drawing from the vast collection of Victoria’s correspondence and the rich documentation of her life, Worsley recreates twenty-four of the most important days in Victoria’s life including her parents’ wedding day, the day she met Albert, her own wedding day, the birth of her first child, a Windsor Christmas, the death of Prince Albert, and many more. Each day gives a glimpse into the identity of this powerful, difficult queen as a wife and widow, mother and matriarch, and above all, a woman of her time. 

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/p/CWHChaArRbO/

Bookish Broads: Women Who Wrote Themselves into History (2021)

Bookish Broads: Women Who Wrote Themselves into History

Book: Bookish Broads: Women Who Wrote Themselves into History (2021)
 Lauren Marino (Goodreads Author), Alexandra Kilburn (Illustrations)
Publication Info: 2021, Harry N. Abrams
Genres: Literary, Nonfiction, Women’s History, Biography, Graphic Nonfiction
My Rating: 3.5 stars

Summary: A boldly illustrated celebration of literary history’s most revolutionary, talented women writers
Women have written some of our most extraordinary literary works while living in societies and cultures that tried to silence them. These women dared to put pen to paper to express the multifaceted female experience. In Bookish Broads, Lauren Marino celebrates fierce, trailblazing female writers, reworking the literary canon that has long failed to recognize the immense contributions of women. Featuring more than 50 brilliant bookish broads, Marino cleverly illuminates the lives of the greats as well as the literary talents history has wrongfully overlooked. Each intimate portrait delves into one woman’s works and is accompanied by vibrant illustrations depicting each literary legend in her element and time.

My Summary: This book is a short (less than 200 pages) graphic nonfiction about a little over 50 women authors who have made significant contributions to literature. The profiles are essentially condensed overviews of the authors’ lives and contexts of the work’s success and significance. Profiles include visually appealing illustrations of the author and additional relevant details, such as locations or symbols. The variety of authors include those across genres, eras, countries of origin, race, and style of contribution. Good potential gift or just a foundation for learning about a variety of women authors.

Review: There are a lot of books & lists already in publication which list influential authors in all sorts of categories and modes. When I see books like these, I always check them out because I like the subject matter. This book is a short overview for a variety of authors, most of whom you’d probably be able to name quickly (as well as a few basic facts). However, I learned about new authors and also learned details I hadn’t known before. I loved the illustrations, particularly those of Jane Austen, Virginia Woolf, and Mary Wollstonecraft. The profiles are a few pages long each, so you are not bogged down with too much detail. Additionally, the layout and design are easy on the eyes. There is a good variety of authors represented, including from different themes/genres, race/countries of origin, and levels of literary significance.

Ultimately, I would suggest this book for 1) potential gift to a literature lover, 2) a primer/foundational text for learning about a variety of authors, and/or 3) an entertaining graphic nonfiction.

Currently, this book has 3.93 average on Goodreads. I give it a 3.5 stars.

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/51075387-bookish-broads

Amazon First Reads – November 2021

If you’re an Amazon Prime member, you can get one free Kindle e-book from the selection provided every month by Amazon book editors choices. There are usually nine genres represented. From my experience, the books tend to be from small/indie publishers or new authors, as well as Amazon’s publishing entities. The books are early release copies.

For November, the choices are as followed:

At First Light (Dr. Evan Wilding Book 1) by [Barbara Nickless]

Choice 1 – Mystery
Title: At First Light (Dr. Evan Wilding Book 1) by Barbara Nickless
Summary: On the muddy banks of the Calumet River, a body has been found posed next to a series of mysterious glyphs and bearing wounds from a ritualistic slaying. Chicago detective Addie Bisset knows only one man who can decipher the message left by the killer: her friend Dr. Evan Wilding. A brilliant forensic semiotician, Evan decodes the etchings as Viking Age runes. They suggest either human sacrifice or righteous punishment. But to what god? And for what sins? Only one thing is clear from the disturbing runic riddles: there are more victims to come. As Evan races to determine the identity of the Viking Poet, he and Addie uncover the killer’s most terrifying secret yet: the motive. This startling discovery puts Evan’s life in mortal danger, and verse by ancient verse, time is running out.

Choice 2 – Book Club Fiction
Title: Three More Months by Sarah Echavarre
Summary: What if you woke up one day and the loved one you’d lost was suddenly, inexplicably alive again? Chloe Howard’s devotion to her job has come at a cost: spending time with the most important person in her life—her mother. Vowing to change, she plans a trip home. Sadly, hours before she arrives, her mother passes away, leaving Chloe without a goodbye and riddled with grief and regret. But maybe…maybe it’s not too late. Just days before the funeral, Chloe finds her mother unaccountably alive and well. And it’s no longer May; she’s been transported back in time to March. No one—not Chloe’s brother, friends, or colleagues—understands why Chloe is so confused. How can she make sense of this? It’s impossible. But Chloe is going to make the most of it. She’s going to do everything differently: repair family rifts, forge new bonds, tell her mother every day how much she loves her, and possibly prevent the inevitable. This is a second chance Chloe never saw coming. She’s not wasting a minute of it.

Choice 3 – Domestic Suspense
Title: Into the Sound by Cara Reinard
Summary: A terrified voice on the phone. The line goes dead. The mystery begins. During a superstorm, Holly Boswell receives a panicked call from her sister, Vivian: Come get me…There’s somebody coming. But when Holly arrives at a Long Island marina, there’s only her sister’s abandoned car. Vivian is gone. It’s all eerily familiar. Holly and Vivian used to play hide-and-seek as children. It was a reprieve from the mental abuses of their parents, psychology professors who raised the siblings as if it were research. Decades later, Holly is reminded of their childhood games. In her relentless search for the answers, Holly is reading between the lines in Vivian’s journals. She’s untangling clues in their mother’s diary and discovering secrets from her sister’s private world that are casting a dangerous shadow. Maybe Vivian has reasons for wanting to disappear from her well-to-do life. Or is it something more sinister? As Holly follows Vivian’s trail, she can’t shake the feeling that someone might be following her.

Choice 4 – Historical Fiction
Title: The Last Rose of Shanghai by Weina Dai Randel
Summary: In Japanese-occupied Shanghai, two people from different cultures are drawn together by fate and the freedom of music… Aiyi Shao is a young heiress and the owner of a formerly popular and glamorous Shanghai nightclub. Ernest Reismann is a penniless Jewish refugee driven out of Germany, an outsider searching for shelter in a city wary of strangers. He loses nearly all hope until he crosses paths with Aiyi. When she hires Ernest to play piano at her club, her defiance of custom causes a sensation. His instant fame makes Aiyi’s club once again the hottest spot in Shanghai. Soon they realize they share more than a passion for jazz—but their differences seem insurmountable, and Aiyi is engaged to another man. As the war escalates, Aiyi and Ernest find themselves torn apart, and their choices between love and survival grow more desperate. In the face of overwhelming odds, a chain of events is set in motion that will change both their lives forever. From the electrifying jazz clubs to the impoverished streets of a city under siege, The Last Rose of Shanghai is a timeless, sweeping story of love and redemption.

Choice 5 – Memoir
Title: Flying on the Inside: A Memoir of Trauma and Recovery by Rachel Gotto
Summary: When her six-year-old daughter found her collapsed on the kitchen floor, Rachel had no idea how much her life was about to change. A brain scan revealed a dark shadowy mass, a huge abnormal growth of tissue that, whilst benign, was still growing and would surely kill her. It was too big to operate on. It needed to be ‘managed’, and Rachel had, at best, two years to live. Refusing to accept the bleak prognosis, Rachel was determined to stay alive. She had already lost far too much. She had already watched her brother succumb, at only twenty-eight, to cancer. She had already lost her beloved husband in a terrible scuba diving accident when she was six months pregnant. So she did the only thing she knew how to do. She fought for her life. This gripping and inspiring memoir about overcoming tragedy and trauma charts one tenacious woman’s incredible fight to find light in the darkest of journeys. It is a life-affirming tale of positivity and hope in the face of the most difficult of human experiences.

Choice 6 – Literary Fiction
Title: Bed Stuy: A Love Story by Jerry McGill
Summary: Rashid is a young Black man from Bed Stuy, Brooklyn, with a complicated life. Looking for an escape from a neighborhood few ever leave, he finds it in Rachel—married, twenty years his senior, and the daughter of a Holocaust survivor. It begins with a flirtation and a tryst. It becomes an intense romance, exhilarating and enriching, that defies the expectations of Rashid’s friends and family. What draws Rachel to Rashid is his curiosity, his need for intimacy, and his adoration—everything lacking in her crumbling marriage. But as the fault lines of their relationship become more prevalent, so do the inevitable choices one makes when falling in love.

Choice 7 – Contemporary Romance
Title: Read Between the Lines by Rachel Lacey
Summary: Books are Rosie Taft’s life. And ever since she took over her mother’s beloved Manhattan bookstore, they’ve become her home too. The only thing missing is her own real-life romance like the ones she loves to read about, and Rosie has an idea of who she might like to sweep her off her feet. She’s struck up a flirty online friendship with lesbian romance author Brie, and what could be more romantic than falling in love with her favorite author? Jane Breslin works hard to keep her professional and personal lives neatly separated. By day, she works for the family property development business. By night, she puts her steamier side on paper under her pen name: Brie. Jane hasn’t had much luck with her own love life, but her online connection with a loyal reader makes Jane wonder if she could be the one. When Rosie learns that her bookstore’s lease has been terminated by Jane’s family’s business, romance moves to the back burner. Even though they’re at odds, there’s no denying the sparks that fly every time they’re together. When their online identities are revealed, will Jane be able to write her way to a happy ending, or is Rosie’s heart a closed book?

Choice 8 – Historical Fantasy
Title: Innate Magic by Shannon Fay (#1 of series)
Summary: Delightfully cheeky, unquestionably charming, and sometimes maddeningly naive, cloth mage Paul Gallagher is desperately trying to make a name for himself in a reimagined postwar London. But in a world where magic is commonplace, sewing enchanted clothes is seen as little more than a frivolous distraction. Paul is hiding a secret, however: he possesses a powerful—and illegal—innate magic that could help him achieve his wildest dreams. Unfortunately, Paul confides in the wrong person—his latest crush, Captain Hector Hollister—and is drawn into a sinister plot that risks reigniting the machinery of war. To make matters worse, the pretty American gossip reporter Paul just met reveals her personal quest to expose a government cover-up may be related to Hollister’s magical goals. When Hollister threatens the life of Paul’s dearest friend, he realizes that his poor judgement has put not only his family and friends in danger, but also the whole world. The only way to set things right may be for Paul to undergo the dangerous ritual to become Court Magician—the most powerful magician in the country. But is becoming part of the institution the best way to enact change in a terribly unjust society?

Choice 9 – Children’s Picture Book
Title: Dancing with Daddy by Anitra Schulte
Summary: Elsie can’t wait to go to her first father-daughter dance. She picked out the perfect dress and has been practicing swirling and swaying in her wheelchair. Elsie’s heart pirouettes as she prepares for her special night. With gestures, smiles, and words from a book filled with pictures, she shares her excitement with her family. But when a winter storm comes, she wonders if she’ll get the chance to spin and dance her way to a dream come true.

My choice was the historical fiction! Have fun 🙂

The Motherlode: 100+ Women Who Made Hip-Hop

Amazon.com: The Motherlode: 100+ Women Who Made Hip-Hop: 9781419742965:  Hope, Clover: Books

Book: The Motherlode: 100+ Women Who Made Hip-Hop
 Clover Hope, Rachelle Baker
Publication Info: 2021, Harry N. Abrams
Genres: Music, Nonfiction, Pop Culture, Women’s History, Biography
My Rating: 4 stars


An illustrated highlight reel of more than 100 women in rap who have helped shape the genre and eschewed gender norms in the process.

The format of this book follows a layout of modern graphics, charts, infographics, and thematic chapters dedicated to a specific female artist or rap group. A few pages are dedicated to each and respective contributions, obstacles faced, or unique characteristics. There are a lot of artists covered — over 100 in fact — which range from mainstream obvious choices of famous pioneering rappers to artists you may have not heard of but would be interested in knowing more about. With a range of artists coveted, this book also is a nod to the future of women in the hip hop music industry, with additions toward the end of the book talking about artists such as Lizzo. Cardi B, and Nicki Minaj.

The Motherlode: 100+ Women Who Made Hip-Hop | Papercut
An example of the layout/illustrative nature of the book. Example was taken from Google Images, credited to Papercut. More examples can be seen there or on Amazon. 🙂


I got this book from my library because I’m a huge fan of hip-hop and reading about the rap music industry. Last year, I read a book about southern US rap and was really disappointed in that it didn’t include much mention of the women who performed within these sub genres quite well, especially coming out of the 80s and 90s.

This book does a great job of filling a gap in compiling info about a variety of artists within the hip hop genre. Due to the nature of this book, it is not necessarily an in-depth analysis, but rather an excellent encyclopedia-esque resource for gaining info/insight and then moving forward with reading more if you want to.

The author added their own insight into the presentation of the artists’ experiences which helps guide a reader into understanding themes that may emerge, such as gender (obviously), language, censorship, morality, testing boundaries, etc.

I would be amiss not to mention that race is another layer to add to this conversation. The contributions of these women can be analyzed from all sorts of POVs — music theory, race, gender, socially/politically, economically.

TLDR ➡️ Ultimately, I would highly suggest for fans of hip-hop, r&b, or rap, music geeks/nerds. Great pics too!


Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/51075465-the-motherlode

Star Wars: The Princess, the Scoundrel, and the Farm Boy (2015)

A New Hope: The Princess, the Scoundrel, and the Farm Boy (Star Wars)

Audiobook: Star Wars: The Princess, the Scoundrel, and the Farm Boy
 Alexandra Bracken
Publication Info: 2015, Disney Lucas Film Press
Genres: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Young Readers, Novelization, Audiobook
My Rating: 3.5-4 stars

This review is for the book and audiobook versions of Star Wars: The Princess, the Scoundrel, and the Farm Boy published in 2015 by Disney Lucas Film Press. It is considered a Disney canon junior novel. It is written by Alexandra Bracken. Currently, it has 4.06 stars on Goodreads. I gave it 3.5 stars and 4 stars for the audiobook version.


The galaxy is at war.

Although the Rebel Alliance has won a few battles against the Empire, hope is fading. The Empire is about to unveil the greatest weapon the galaxy has ever seen–the Death Star. The Rebels’ only chance to defeat it now lies in the unlikely hands of a princess, a scoundrel, and a farm boy….


Published by Disney-Lucasfilm, this is a canon novelization of A New Hope. It is split into three sections: The Princess (Leia Organa), The Scoundrel (Han Solo and Chewbacca), and The Farm Boy (Luke Skywalker). Also features Obi-Wan Kenobi, C3PO and R2D2, as well as a hilarious version of Jabba the Hutt….

I listened to the audiobook. I have to say, it is one of my fav audiobooks ever so far and got me back into listening to books! The voices are spot-on, and the sound effects and music set the atmosphere perfectly. Poor reviews I’ve noticed for this book complain that it is just a copy of the movie — well, yeah… but I think it’s ideal for anyone wanting to read, especially kids, and practice that skill (it is a junior novelization).

If you’ve seen the movie, you know the plot. Here and there, there are bits of added analysis that I thought were actually kind of insightful. The guided perspectives are interesting, but my fav is Han’s. I don’t think I need to do a summary, but I’ll add that the book’s rather short and you can finish the audiobook in a few hours. It covers the nitty gritty of things.

Who’s It Good For? — All readers, but especially middle grade – young readers. I suggest the audiobook more than the book alone. Both together would be adequate for a young reader, but for an adult might be a bit slow. I listened to the audiobook while doing things around the house, so that’s where I got my entertainment value.

Bottom Line: Highly recommended for kids/middle grade readers especially with the audio. I imagine this would be very good to help with encouraging reading.


Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/21947304-a-new-hope

The Poison Garden (2020)

The Poison Garden

Book: The Poison Garden
 Alex Marwood
Publication Info: 2020, Penguin Books
Genres: Suspense/Thriller, Cult, Psychological Thriller/Suspense, Fiction
My Rating: 3 stars


Shocking, tense and sharply written, The Poison Garden is the gripping new novel from the international bestseller and Edgar award-winning Alex Marwood.

Where Romy grew up, if someone died you never spoke of them again.

Now 22, she has recently escaped the toxic confines of the cult she was raised in. But Romy is young, pregnant and completely alone – and if she is to keep herself safe in this new world, she has some important lessons to learn.

Like how there are some people you can trust, and some you must fear. And about who her family really is, and why her mother ran away from them all those years ago.

And that you can’t walk away from a dark past without expecting it to catch up with you…


This is a psychological thriller about a secretive and mysterious cult, The Ark, set in Northern Wales and southern England. The story begins with a police officer finding a large amount of deceased people on an estate; there are only a few survivors. The book switches between an adult survivor, Romy (who is pregnant), Somer (her mother), and Sarah (an aunt who will be tasked with attending to her after she is released from care after surviving the mass deaths). Two others, minors, survive and are shipped off to live with the Aunt, who is grappling with the death of a sister she never really knew and the newfound responsibility of taking care of mysterious and odd cult-surviving children.

Essentially, the original mother was kicked out as a young pregnant single mother by her domineering hyper-religious parents (who were implied to be cult-like in religion) and found a new home via a predatory cult in northern wales. The leader is a charismatic and manipulative man + his American wife who grooms members. They all are assigned work, roles, etc and every now and then women are impregnated by the leader.

Much weirder than even this….

This is nothing like a heartwarming Kimmy Schmidt type story. It is really, really weird, and there is a lot of building up to….


The survivors are manipulated BACK INTO THE CULT after they spent 300-something pages describing how crappy and abusive it was. Romy and Somer have brief moments of awareness but that seems to matter little — at the same time, even though I wish it didn’t end this way, I actually appreciate the ending. I KNOW, contradictory. Why? Because it is realistic in the psychological aspect: they were born and bred quite literally into the cult, and leaving simply wasn’t an option. I appreciate that, but don’t understand why Sarah, the “regular adult,” was manipulated into it so easily?

Content Warnings

Okay for fans of psychological weirdness. Warning: contains rape, abuse, murder, emotional/physical harm, drugs, “bad words” and abandonment / being kicked out due to pregnancy, and lots of death.


Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/44777424-the-poison-garden

Masterpiece: America’s 50 Year Old Love Affair with British Television Drama (2020)

Masterpiece: America's 50-Year-Old Love Affair with British Television Drama

Book: Masterpiece: America’s 50 Year Old Love Affair with British Television Drama
Author: Nancy West
Publication Info: 2020, Rowan and Littlefield
Genres: Nonfiction, Pop Culture/Essays, Historical, Cultural/Literary, Media Studies
My Rating: 3.5-4 stars

Quick Summary

This book explores the world of “Masterpiece” that you see on PBS — the author uses a lot of info drawn from scripts, interviews, books, television, travel documents, etc. There is a lot of ground covered by this book, with the essential theme elements being: “aspiration, nostalgia, Anglophilia, conventionality, and sentimentality.”

Full Summary

On a wintry night in 1971, Masterpiece Theatre debuted on PBS. Fifty years later, America’s appetite for British drama has never been bigger. The classic television program has brought its fans protagonists such as The Dowager Countess and Ross Poldark and series that include Downton Abbey and Prime Suspect. In Masterpiece: America’s 50-Year-Old Love Affair with British Television Drama, Nancy West provides a fascinating history of the acclaimed program. West combines excerpts from original interviews, thoughtful commentary, and lush photography to deliver a deep exploration of the television drama. Vibrant stories and anecdotes about Masterpiece’s most colorful shows are peppered throughout, such as why Benedict Cumberbatch hates Downton Abbey and how screenwriter Daisy Goodwin created a teenage portrait of Queen Victoria after fighting with her daughter about homework. Featuring an array of color photos from Masterpiece’s best-loved dramas, this book offers a penetrating look into the program’s influence on television, publishing, fashion, and its millions of fans.


Content: The book is rather short for its aims, at around 150 pages plus end notes. It reads like a dissertation in my view. It is written by an academic, but does not contain overly academic language. It is informative and entertaining.

What you can expect to find: the history of the program (Masterpiece Theatre), Downton Abbey/Upstairs, Downstairs, politics and culture, literature adaptations / period dramas, Sherlock Holmes, Jane Austen, history, Queen Victoria, adapting history to screen, mystery shows/detectives, Agatha Christie, Miss Marple, Poirot, modern shows and popular characters, areas popularized by shows or scenes, an appendix of Masterpiece shows by year.

Who needs to read this? — Anglophiles, lovers of British tv / culture, and definitely most of Bookstagram who loves anything I’ve listed above. It’s short, concise and rather interesting. It reads like a dissertation, but avoids academic jargon or boring walls of text. It’s not something I’d really think would be a “instant buy” but if your library has it, I’d give it a go. 3.75/4 stars for achieving its aims and providing an interesting collection of insights about the program.


Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/53484702-masterpiece