Non-Fiction Friday: The Girls of Murder City & Giveaway

Non-Fiction Friday: Thin by Lauren Greenfield

Critically acclaimed for Girl Culture and Fast Forward, Lauren Greenfield continues her exploration of contemporary female culture with Thin, a groundbreaking book about eating disorders. Greenfield’s photographs are paired with extensive interviews and journal entries from twenty girls and women who are suffering from various afflictions. We meet 15-year-old Brittany, who is convinced that being thin is the only way to gain acceptance among her peers; Alisa, a divorced mother of two whose hatred of her body is manifested in her relentless compulsion to purge; Shelly, who has been battling anorexia for six years and has had a feeding tube surgically implanted in her stomach; as well as many others. Alongside these personal stories are essays on the sociology and science of eating disorders by renowned researchers Joan Jacobs Brumberg, Dr. David Herzog, and Dr. Michael Strober. These intimate photographs, frank voices, and thoughtful discussions combine to make Thin not only the first book of its kind but also a portrait of profound understanding.

With the percentage of teens suffering from eating disorders on the rise, and after having personal experience with an eating disorder, I thought that reading this book after watching the documentary was extremely important.

For those of you that don’t know, Thin was a documentary made by Lauren Greenfield that follows the recovery program at the residential recovery unit at the Renfrew Center in Florida.  If you have access to Amazon Prime or Amazon Instant Video, then you can watch Thin on there for free.

This companion book really gives a lot more depth into the story.  While the documentary is limited to the treatment of four specific patients, the book explores the stories of many other patients, including more teenagers as young as 14 and women as old as 74, bulimia patients, anorexic patients, and binge eating patients.  The stories are heartbreaking, eye-opening, shocking, and bravely honest.

I recommend this book to anyone who may be or previously suffered from an eating disorder.  It helps remind me of how bad it can get and how hard the fight really is.  It makes me feel less alone in my struggle.  I hope this book can do that for others.

There are also a number of Young Adult Fiction novels that focus on Eating Disorders and Recovery if you or someone you know is looking to read fictional accounts:

by Laurie Halse Anderson

Purge by Sarah Darer Littman

Unwell by Leslie Lipton

The Stone Girl by Alyssa B. Scheinmel


These are only a few of the titles, but they are ones I recommend.

If you know someone who may be suffering please encourage them to get help or to contact

5 Bards


Book Review: Breaking Free by Abby Sher

18381760Breaking Free: True Stories of Girls Who Escaped Slavery, by award-winning author Abby Sher, recounts these women’s incredible journeys from sex slave to survivor to savior— but it doesn’t stop there. The book delves even deeper into the horrors of human trafficking, an issue at the forefront of global outreach and activism.

With help from Somaly, Maria, Minh, and many other survivors and counselors, Sher tells the riveting story of what it means to be liberated from sexual trafficking and find the trust and conviction to help educate new survivors.




Its not often I get the opportunity to read a non-fiction book, so when I got the ARC of this book I was excited.  Abby Sher does a phenomenal job telling the stories of Somaly, Maria, and Minh.  All three women overcame horrific circumstances and yet had somehow found the courage to  tell their stories.  I think that its important for their stories to tell.  You always think, that can’t happen to me, or it only happens in third world countries.  But the reality is, human trafficking happens everywhere.

What set this book apart for me was that it wasn’t scary or depressing.  It told what happened to these ladies, but it focused more on the present.  And how they have broken out of the viscous enslavement and used their experiences to help others.  They all say they don’t want to be known as a hero, but they are.  They speak for the voiceless, the scared and the still enslaved.  They speak for people everywhere with a dream to better the world.  They are modern day heroes.

The book was an easy read, very fluid.  It was short and to the point.  I really enjoyed the glossary in the back of the book to help define and explain terms and situations.  I ran into some formatting issues but most likely it was due to the fact I was reading it on an e-reader.  This is a must read for everyone.

5 Bards


Book Review: Brunette Ambition by Lea Michele

Lea Michele is one of the hardest working performers in show business. Whether she’s starring as Rachel Berry on Glee, rocking a glamorous look on the red carpet, recording her solo album, or acting as the spokesperson for L’Oreal, Lea is the ultimate multi-tasker. She knows better than anyone that it is difficult to be your best self and keep things in perspective when your to-do list is overflowing and you are faced with challenges, so she’s developed a foolproof system for remaining healthy and centered. In Brunette Ambition, she reveals the lessons and advice that have worked for her–from beauty and fashion secrets to fitness tips, and career insights. Supplemented with never-before-seen photos and revealing anecdotes, it’s the book Lea wishes she’d had in her teens and early twenties: A practical and inspirational guide to harnessing tenacity and passion and living the fullest life, no matter what obstacles life puts in your way.

To anyone who knows me personally, I have a massive girl crush on Lea Michele.  I started following her career back when I first heard some of the music from Spring Awakening, which was the same year that it was nominated for all of the Tony awards in 2007.  (I can’t help it, I’m a Broadway musical nerd and I spend a lot of time in my car singing along to soundtracks)

Anyway, by the time Glee premiered in 2009 I had already been listening to the Spring Awakening soundtrack for two years and was already familiar with Lea’s amazing voice, but had never actually seen her perform other than in grainy bootleg versions of Spring Awakening on YouTube.  Needless to say, I was basically hooked at the beginning.

Lea’s book follows her rise to stardom through the ups and downs of her Broadway career as a child in Les Miserables, Ragtime, and Fiddler on the Roof.  She details her decision to have a normal high school experience before returning to workshop Spring Awakening and meeting her best friend J Groff.  (Who, by the way, I had a giant crush on as well.)

The novel is interspersed with advice concerning personal health and beauty care, (I do plan on trying her bath routine to get smoother skin), healthy recipes that range from Vegan to Pescatarian, and beauty advice straight from her beauty team.  Which, let’s face it, always make her look fabulous, so how can we ignore their advice?

I think the best part of Brunette Ambition is Lea’s ability to make the reader feel like she is talking directly to them, and the reader gets a chance to find out what all they might have in common with the singer/actress.  For instance, Heathers is one of my favorite movies of all time, and evidently it is in Lea’s top ten movies to watch with her girlfriends!

I was a bit disappointed that there wasn’t a specific chapter on Cory (only because the Edelweiss page showed that he was supposed to originally have his own chapter), but I understand why there isn’t and respect her desire to only share her gratitude for his love and influence on her life.

I recommend everyone go out and buy a copy of this great book, I know I’ll be re-reading and using some of the recipes soon!

5 Bards


Non-Fiction Friday!

Wherever Chelsea Handler travels, one thing is certain: she always ends up in the land of the ridiculous. Now, in this uproarious collection, she sneaks her sharp wit through airport security and delivers her most absurd and hilarious stories ever.

On safari in Africa, it’s anyone’s guess as to what’s more dangerous: the wildlife or Chelsea. But whether she’s fumbling the seduction of a guide by not knowing where tigers live (Asia, duh) or wearing a bathrobe into the bush because her clothes stopped fitting seven margaritas ago, she’s always game for the next misadventure.

The situation gets down and dirty as she defiles a kayak in the Bahamas, and outright sweaty as she escapes from a German hospital on crutches. When things get truly scary, like finding herself stuck next to a passenger with bad breath, she knows she can rely on her family to make matters even worse. Thank goodness she has the devoted Chunk by her side-except for the time she loses him in Telluride.

It is no secret that I absolutely adore Chelsea Handler and all of her ridiculous shenanigans.  Not only have I included her and her books in nine different Top Ten Tuesday posts, I’m on my second copy of both My Horizontal Life and Are You There, Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea, and I will, finally, get the chance to see her live on April 5 in Durham, North Carolina! (And I have officially forgiven her for the travesty that was Are You There, Chelsea)

I missed out on the opportunity to see her at Book Expo America last year, and I’ve regretted it ever since!  I’ve heard that sometimes she signs books and meets and greets after her shows, so fingers crossed!

This book is, naturally, filled with a ton of Chelsea’s crazy stories.  It starts in Africa on her Safari with her 5 good friends, and ends with a story about being stuck in California without a way to get to margaritas and brunch.  One reason that this book makes everything even more realistic is that Chelsea included some photographs from her trip and some were even proof of her crazy behavior.

While this book isn’t my favorite of her five published books, Uganda Be Kidding Me made me laugh out loud many times and it is most definitely one I will revisit for laughs.

4.5 Bards



Non-Fiction Friday

Alida Nugent graduated college with a degree in one hand and a drink in the other, eager to trade in parties and all-nighters for “the real world.” But post-grad wasn’t the glam life she imagined. Soon buried under a pile of bills, laundry, and three-dollar bottles of wine, it quickly became clear that she had no idea what she was doing. But hey, what twentysomething does? 

In Don’t Worry, It Gets Worse, Nugent shares what it takes to make the awkward leap from undergrad to “mature and responsible adult that definitely never eats peanut butter straight from the jar and considers it a meal.” From trying to find an apartment on the black hole otherwise known as Craigslist to the creative maneuvering needed to pay off student loans and still enjoy happy hour, Nugent documents the formative moments of being a twentysomething with a little bit of snark and a lot of heart. Based on her popular Tumblr blog The Frenemy, Don’t Worry, It Gets Worse is a love note to boozin’, bitchin’ ladies everywhere.

I remember hearing about “The Frenemy” blog pretty frequently when I first joined tumblr a few years back, and I just never got around to actually reading all of the posts because I managed to get overwhelmed with the amount of fellow Whovians were on there! 

Anyway, Amazon (that wily minx) suggested Alida’s book to me when I was scrolling for new kindle books to read when I’m on the treadmill and it sounded good.  So now this review is my love letter to Alida Nugent. 

I could start this review with the typical “Things that worked,” but it would be very short because I would just say EVERYTHING. So I’m going to go the “highlights” route. 

*The Shawn Hunter Complex* 
Because just like Alida says, we all have a bit of a bad boy obsession that most likely stems from the beautiful haired Rider Strong. 

*Friends Getting Married*
Ah, Alida, the situations we could discuss in reference to this. I’m rapidly becoming the only one of my friends that is unattached/unmarried.  But you know what? Solidarity.

*Online Dating*
Not going to lie, I completely agree with the idea that this is just a great way to meet a serial killer.

*Going Out or Staying In*
Getting dressed up and standing in an overcrowded club and yelling your conversations back and forth, or sitting at home with a glass of wine and netflix? No contest.

I had a crazy awful time with the world’s vision of what a woman should look like and what they should eat, etc

*Tequila is the Devil*
I refuse to do straight shots of this anymore, and Alida agrees. 

What really spoke to me, however, was Alida’s uncanny ability to turn the cynical twenty-something attitude about unemployment, dating, and living on your own into something wonderfully satiric and entertaining.  I really feel like her and Max from 2 Broke Girls would make excellent friends. 

Things that didn’t work: the fact that this book was not longer!  I know what you are doing here, Alida, keeping me interested…setting me up for buying your next book.  And you know what?  I’m okay with it. So hurry up and write it, or invite me to hang out in NYC so we can best friends. 

I definitely recommend picking up a copy of this book as soon as possible.  It will make you laugh and will help you realize that there are plenty of other people out there like you, like me, struggling to make it in the world with our Liberal Arts degrees. 

5 Bards. 

Non Fiction Friday!

In lieu of watching season 1 of Once Upon A Time and Grimm to prepare for their second seasons, I’ve been going back through and reading some of my classic fairy tales and criticism to make sure I am familiar enough with the storylines so I can fully appreciate the deviations that are made for modern storytelling.

So I’m reading my copy of Maria Tatar’s The Classic Fairy Tales. Now, this might not be considered non-fiction for the tales themselves, but the real treat in this collection is the critical essays about the various tales at the end.

Fairy tales shape our cultures and enrich our imaginations; their narrative stability and cultural durability are incontestable.

This Norton Critical Edition collects forty-four fairy tales, from the fifth century to the present. The Classic Fairy Tales focuses on six tale types: “Little Red Riding Hood,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “Snow White,” “Cinderella,” “Bluebeard,” and “Hansel and Gretel,” and presents multicultural variants and sophisticated literary rescriptings. Also reprinted are tales by Hans Christian Andersen and Oscar Wilde.

“Criticism” gathers twelve essays that interpret aspects of fairy tales, including their social origins, historical evolution, psychological drama, gender issues, and national identities.”If you have never read any of the original fairy tales that inspired the Disney movies and various re-tellings, then this book is a must-read!  Nothing is creepier than reading about the Evil Queen dancing to her death, or of the bodies in Bluebeard’s room.

Speaking of Bluebeard, wouldn’t that be a fascinating episode of Once Upon A Time?

What are some of your favorite fairy tales?

Non-Fiction Friday

This week, instead of reading something wholly non-fiction, I’m actually working my way through a book of criticism on Children’s Literature:

If you don’t know, I have a weak spot for criticism on Children’s Literature and reading it since I spent a year delved in it working on my Master’s thesis.  Dr. Kidd is actually a friend of one of my thesis committee members, and if you are looking at something to challenge your perceptions of classic children’s literature like Peter Pan and my personal favorite, Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland, then you definitely should pick up a copy of this.  Plus, look at that awesome picture of the cowardly lion with Freud’s face!

Not only will this educate you, but it raises a ton of excellent questions and provides new outlooks on these stories.

Sample stories used in this collection:
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
Winnie the Pooh
Peter Pan
The Wizard of Oz
Where The Wild Things Are
The Catcher in the Rye

Other brilliant criticial works by Dr. Kenneth B. Kidd include: Over the Rainbow: Queer Children’s and Young Adult Literature, Wild Things: Children’s Literature and Ecocriticism, Making American Boys: Boyology and the Feral Tale

What Non-Fiction are you reading?  Do you have any suggestions for me?

Non-Fiction Friday

As much as I love fiction, sometimes you just need to delve into something heartbreakingly realistic. 

For me, this week, I am reading my copy of the newly released biography of Freddie Mercury!

Revealing and intimate, based on more than 100 interviews with key figures in his life, this is the definitive biography of Queen front man Freddie Mercury, one of pop music’s best-loved and most complex figures. As lead vocalist for the iconic rock band Queen, Freddie Mercury’s unmatched skills as a songwriter and flamboyant showmanship made him a superstar, and Queen a household name. But few people ever really glimpsed the man behind the glittering faÇade. Mercury was the first major rock star to die from AIDS. 

Now, twenty years after his death, those closest to him are finally opening up about this pivotal figure in rock n’ roll. With unprecedented access to Mercury’s tribe, rock journalist Lesley-Ann Jones has crafted the definitive account of Mercury’s legendary life. Jones details Queen’s slow but steady rise to fame, and Mercury’s descent into dangerous, pleasure-seeking excesses. Jones doesn’t shy away from Mercury’s often colorful lifestyle—this was, after all, a man who once declared, “Darling, I’m doing everything with everyone.” 

In her journey to understand Mercury, Jones traveled to London, Zanzibar, and India—talking with everyone from Freddie’s closest friends, to the sound engineer at Band Aid (who was responsible for making Queen louder than the other bands), to second cousins halfway around the world, an intimate and complicated portrait emerges. Meticulously researched, sympathetic yet not sensational, Mercury offers an unvarnished, revealing look at the extreme highs and lows of life in the fast lane. 

Freddie Mercury will be the subject of a major motion picture titled Mercury, slated for 2012 production, produced by Graham King, starring Sacha Baron Cohen. This book is a key source for the film. Mercury is the most compelling, up-to-date portrait of an enigmatic entertainer who thrilled audiences around the world with a magnetism matched by few performers.

If you don’t know who Freddie Mercury is, then you need to go back and listen to some of your Queen CDs, MP3s, Tapes, or Vinyls….

Some of my favorite Queen songs to get you in the Freddie Mercury mood: 

1. Killer Queen
2. Somebody to Love
3. Bohemian Rhapsody
4. These Are The Days Of Our Lives
5. I Want To Break Free

What non-fiction books are you reading? 

Non-Fiction Friday

Sometimes in a world of fiction, it is necessary to delve into reality for a bit to learn more about some of the true stories that influenced some of our favorite fiction stories. 

This week, I really just felt like sharing a book that explains the truth behind the stories of the Murderesses in the musical, Chicago.

Turns out, not only was the musical inspired by true events, but the stories of two specific women–represented in the musical as Velma Kelly and Roxie Hart.

The stories of these two women, including the story of other murderesses, are chronicled in their glory in The Girls of Murder City by Douglas Perry.

With a thrilling, fast-paced narrative, award-winning journalist Douglas Perry vividly captures the sensationalized circus atmosphere that gave rise to the concept of the celebrity criminal- and gave Chicago its most famous story. The Girls of Murder City recounts two scandalous, sex-fueled murder cases and how an intrepid “girl reporter” named Maurine Watkins turned the beautiful, media-savvy suspects-“Stylish Belva” and “Beautiful Beulah”-into the talk of the town. Fueled by rich period detail and a cast of characters who seemed destined for the stage, The Girls of Murder City is a crackling tale that simultaneously presents the freewheeling spirit of the Jazz Age and its sober repercussions.
So if you are a fan of Chicago or just like learning about history, then I recommend The Girls of Murder City.

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