Jell-O Girls: A Family History by Allie Rowbottom


Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥

Jell-o Girls was and interesting story about the evolution of the most iconic branding campaigns in America.  I liked the story, some parts I thought could have been left aside, but I suppose they did have their place in the history of this family.

In 1899, Allie Rowbottom’s great-great-great-uncle bought the patent to Jell-O from its inventor for $450. The sale would turn out to be one of the most profitable business deals in American history, and the generations that followed enjoyed immense privilege – but they were also haunted by suicides, cancer, alcoholism, and mysterious ailments.

Several years later Allie’s mother is diagnosed with the same cancer, a disease that had also claimed her own mother’s life. Determined to combat what she had come to consider the “Jell-O curse” and her looming mortality, Mary began obsessively researching her family’s past, determined to understand the origins of her illness and the impact on her life of Jell-O and the traditional American values the company championed. Before she died in 2015, Mary began to send Allie boxes of her research and notes, in the hope that her daughter might write what she could not. JELL-O GIRLS is the liberation of that story.

You can probably find a box of Jell-o in every single house in America.  The story adds in the history of the product and how we’ve come to enjoy it now.  It is safe to eat – no worries – but after you read this story, you won’t be able to blame them for thinking that Jell-o was their down fall.

Available on Amazon – Jell-O Girls: A Family History by Allie Rowbottom


A Girl’s Guide to Missiles: Growing Up in America’s Secret Desert by Karen Piper


Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥

This is the story about the author’s life – having grew up at China Lake – a missile range that was located in Mojave Desert.  I liked the story at first, but then I feel like she went off the path to unrelated stories that had nothing to do with her life when she lived on the base.  I think the title and how the story starts out was great, but then she lost me.  The story of when she did live at China Like, that was a very interesting story, so I would still recommend it to other readers!

Both of Karen’s parents worked at different jobs while living at China Lake and eventually her and her sister worked there as well.  Her dad designed the Sidewinder, which was ultimately used catastrophically in Vietnam. When her mom got tired of being a stay-at-home mom, she went to work on the Tomahawk. Once, when a missile nose needed to be taken offsite for final testing, her mother loaded it into the trunk of the family car, and set off down a Los Angeles freeway. Traffic was heavy, and so she stopped off at the mall, leaving the missile in the parking lot.

The author lived through several major events in history including JFK’s assignation, whom he actually visited the base shortly before the tragic event that took his life. Along with fears of a Lemurian takeover and Charles Manson.  The little story of JFK’s visit to the base was interesting in itself – they took him to the area where they test missiles and one particular one they were working on which included a camera on the end of the missile.  The base sent the missile toward the president and he saw his own face on the camera – the missile would, as they hoped turn at a particular moment – which it did, but it was also a ‘test’ of this new equipment and could of easily failed.

Available on Amazon – A Girl’s Guide to Missiles: Growing Up in America’s Secret Desert by Karen Piper



Running with Scissors by Augusten Burroughs


Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥

This was one of those books where you ask yourself at the end….”WHAT IN THE WORLD DID I JUST READ?”

That’s all I’m going to say about this book.  I will warn you that it is a true story of bizarre circumstances that will also make you ask your self….”this really happened?”.

The following is from –>

The true story of an outlaw childhood where rules were unheard of, the Christmas tree stayed up all year round, Valium was consumed like candy, and if things got dull an electroshock-therapy machine could provide entertainment.

Running with Scissors is the true story of a boy whose mother (a poet with delusions of Anne Sexton) gave him away to be raised by her unorthodox psychiatrist who bore a striking resemblance to Santa Claus. So at the age of twelve, Burroughs found himself amidst Victorian squalor living with the doctor’s bizarre family, and befriending a pedophile who resided in the backyard shed. The story of an outlaw childhood where rules were unheard of, and the Christmas tree stayed up all year round, where Valium was consumed like candy, and if things got dull an electroshock- therapy machine could provide entertainment. The funny, harrowing and bestselling account of an ordinary boy’s survival under the most extraordinary circumstances.

Mennonite in a Little Black Dress: A Memoir of Going Home (Mennonite #1) by Rhoda Janzen



Rating: ♥ ♥

This is the first book in my new post series “Book Club Selections”, as they are books that we have read for our book club ~ A Novel Idea!

Not long after Rhoda Janzen turned forty, her world turned upside down. It was bad enough that her brilliant husband of fifteen years left her for Bob, a guy he met on, but that same week a car accident left her with serious injuries. What was a gal to do? Rhoda packed her bags and went home. This wasn’t just any home, though. This was a Mennonite home. While Rhoda had long ventured out on her own spiritual path, the conservative community welcomed her back with open arms and offbeat advice. (Rhoda’s good-natured mother suggested she date her first cousin—he owned a tractor, see.) It is in this safe place that Rhoda can come to terms with her failed marriage; her desire, as a young woman, to leave her sheltered world behind; and the choices that both freed and entrapped her.

Written with wry humor and huge personality—and tackling faith, love, family, and aging—Mennonite in a Little Black Dress is an immensely moving memoir of healing, certain to touch anyone who has ever had to look homeward in order to move ahead.

I will be completely honest with you, this book was difficult for me to get through.  I stepped out of my box, which is why I wanted to join a book club, and this one to me was just not a winner. All things considered I did find humor in a few places!  Sad to say, she pretty much used up her good material within the first few chapters, after that I felt as though she was rambling on, going no where.  Here’s another thing, the author makes a point of mentioning that she is an English professor and a grammarian who is often asked to edit her colleagues’ research papers and has in fact taken on a paying editing gig in the wake of her divorce. Apparently, these editorial skills don’t extend to fact-checking (in which her copy editor also failed her), since the text is sprinkled with such things as “Bonnie Bell Lip Smackers” (the actual name is spelled Bonne Bell).

Although I think the part that kept me reading the book was that it was interesting to me all the skills that Mennonites have.  Now a days you won’t find kids in the kitchen learning how to make bread or learning to sew.  Still, this was a bizarre read. I had no idea what to expect of this book but I’m glad that I stepped out of my ‘norm’ to take a shot at it!

Available on Amazon – Mennonite in a Little Black Dress: A Memoir of Going Home (Mennonite #1) by Rhoda Janzen







This Side of Wild: Mutts, Mares, and Laughing Dinosaurs by Gary Paulsen


Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

If you do not know who Gary Paulsen is….then we can’t be friends….I supposed we COULD, but you must read his books!  Gary Paulsen is the Newbery Honor–winning author of Hatchet and Dogsong . In this book he shares surprising true stories about his relationship with animals, highlighting their compassion, intellect, intuition, and sense of adventure.

Gary Paulsen is an adventurer who competed in two Iditarods, survived the Minnesota wilderness, and climbed the Bighorns. None of this would have been possible without his truest companion: his animals. Sled dogs rescued him in Alaska, a sickened poodle guarded his well-being, and a horse led him across a desert. Through his interactions with dogs, horses, birds, and more, Gary has been struck with the belief that animals know more than we may fathom.

His understanding and admiration of animals is well known, and in This Side of Wild, which has taken a lifetime to write, he proves the ways in which they have taught him to be a better person.

I found this book in Juvenile non-fiction section at the library and due to that fact, the book to me was too short!  I want to hear more of his stories other than those I have already read!  I highly suggest you read about the very interesting life of Gary Paulsen!  You will wonder where and when did he have time to write over 200 books?  A fantastic author and person to read about!

The Girls of Atomic City: The Untold Story of the Women Who Helped Win World War II by Denise Kiernan


Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

“The Girls of Atomic City,” tells the story of Oak Ridge, TN, during the Manhattan Project in a way that is unique and gives insight until now hidden.  The author takes an intimate and personal approach to telling this amazing story in Oak Ridge (where 60% of the approximately $2 billion “Project” was spent) using the eyes (and memories) of some of the working ladies who actually did the real work of separating uranium (without knowing it), checking the leaks in pipes (not knowing where the pipes went), keeping the statistical data, doing the hard work of a janitor, a chemist (who got closest to the “product”) and secretaries who saw documents they could never discuss. This approach results in a more realistic telling of the day to day activities in Oak Ridge and the government sites of X-10, Y-12, K-25 and S-50.

The stories of these nine ladies Helen, Colleen, Celia, Toni, Jane, Kattie, Virginia, Dot and Rosemary, each unique, yet each holding much in common, is bound together by the authors wonderfully talented skill as a writer. She paints a composite picture of Oak Ridge and the Manhattan Project that will become a classic in the literature of this extraordinary historical accomplishment that has led to so many technological advances of the Nuclear Age.

This amazing world changing experiment was begun using many women from various backgrounds as workers. The interviews and detailed memories of the lives the author touched while researching this book have produced more than a mere book, she has created lasting relationships with the last of the living who actually experienced something many cannot imagine. They were personally involved in what has been labeled the most significant military industrial scientific breakthrough in the history of the world.

Remember, these nine represent literally thousands of other women who worked just as diligently, just as courageously, to help win that war.  Reading “The Girls of Atomic City” is a delightful and spellbinding tale that were it not true would be fiction of the highest order, but it is real…these women lived it.

The book is a must read…seriously!

Willows Weeping, a True Story by Ella Reigns


Sometimes taking a stand leaves a person standing alone. The life we’re born into and our surroundings can consume us. It’s challenging and sometimes even painful to fight for what we want when we’re up against losing battles. However, not taking a stand can eat you alive from the inside out. Believing in yourself, holding true to who you are, and never giving up adds character and makes you strong.

Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Willows Weeping is Ella Reigns’ enthralling memoir about surviving foster care, a mentally ill mother, an abusive father, adultery, rape, abortion and a controlling marriage which lead to divorce.  It was quite a powerful story all together.  To me, I think authors who write a true story about their life are strong and extremely brave to let the world know about their personal struggles in life.  You would think as you read, how horrible these things are but the author comes out stronger and nothing is stopping her from bettering her own life!  This is a very emotionally raw story, but one that is well worth reading.  The author’s writing skills are amazing and the story she tells is unlike any other!

FB link with Direct Follow option to author’s website:

Epub on Kobo



BAM print

B&N print

Ebook links:





Level Zero Heroes by Michael Golembesky

Level Zero Heroes_cover approved


Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥


I would first like to thank the author, Michael Golembesky for sharing his story with me.   Honestly, you cannot put a rating on this book.  No rating could ever be enough for what these men in this story and all around the world do for our freedom every single day.  Because of them, we can go out at midnight and do cartwheels in the yard if we want.   A useless example, but once you read “Level Zero Heroes”, you will want to spend your time doing much, much greater things with your life!

“Level Zero Heroes” is the first book written about the U.S. Marines Special Operations since it was created in 2006.  This book is written from the context of first account views from Team 8222 (MSOT), a 22-member squad of Marines serving in a village called Bala Murghab, Afganistan, an isolated Taliban stronghold.

I have always been passionate about freedom, in the fact that freedom is never free.  What you will find in this book will open you up raw as Michael takes an extremely complex situation and compresses it so any reader can easily understand the circumstances that the author and his team endured while in Bala Murghab, Afghanistan.   I have never read a book quite like this one.  The interest came after watching Michael’s film “Infil Exfil”, which brings to light the mental struggle that goes on within all combat veterans.  I knew I had to read this book.

“Level Zero Heroes” brings to light the seven months that Golemesky and his men fought, side by side, going from one extremity to the next.  I’m not sure I didn’t feel a day went by that there wasn’t at least one fire fight while they were stationed there.  These men survived through a couple freak accidents, sniper ambush missions in sub-zero temperatures and trials where you couldn’t see the line between who was a friend or who was a foe.   I kept saying to myself while reading, “this is about to get sketchy!”, not just from the way Michael writes, but I literally felt it in my gut like I was there with them!

So much is bundled into this book that I feel like I will be reading it more than once.  There were some parts I read so fast because I was terrified for the men being written about, I might have missed something!  I was reading this book in the evenings before I would go to bed, which was a mistake because I would be awaking thinking about everything I had just ‘witnessed’.

This is so much more than just a deployment to Afghanistan, so much more a person needs to realize about our country.  Follow the accounts of valor and brotherhood, let this book open your eyes a little wider and understand the passion driven men and women who fight for your country in the past, present and those who will serve in the future!   I feel as though this book will be winning some awards,  a highly recommended read.   Once again, thank you to all the men and women who serve to grant us freedom in the United States of America!


To learn more about the author, keep an eye out for my interview with him.  Find out more about “Level Zero Heroes” on the website below!

Wild by Cheryl Strayed



Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

This book had been on my ‘To Be Read’ list for quite some time now.  World Book Night America is just around the corner and this is the book I was chosen to hand out that night, so I thought I better read it before I hand them out so I can give readers and idea of what to expect.  This book was nothing like I expected to say the least!

“Wild” isn’t a concept-generated book, that is, one of those projects that began as a good, salable idea. Rather, it started out as an experience that was lived, digested and deeply understood. Only then was it fashioned into a book — one that is both a literary and human triumph.

Through her trip into the wilderness, Strayed has the distance to reflect on who her mother was as an individual as opposed to who her mother was only in relation to herself.  This allows her to appreciate her mother but also to accept her as a flawed human being, which consequently allows her to move on in a healthy way.  Alone and facing grueling hikes on a daily basis, Strayed succumbs to her most basic, human needs.  Physically drained at the end of each day, she forgets her personal problems, instead focusing on ones necessary for survival.  Reflecting on this, she says, “I’d thought I’d weep tears of cathartic sorrow and restorative joy each day of my journey.  Instead, I only moaned, and not because my heart ached.  It was because my feet did and my back did and so did the still-open wounds all around my hips”.  While we might not all go on thousand-mile hiking trips to sort out our emotional pain, this insight applies on more levels than one.  When trying to solve those big life questions, our seemingly small needs tend to fall to the wayside.  Are we giving our bodies all of the nutrients it needs?  Are we remembering to drink water?  Are we getting enough exercise?  Enough rest?  From this highly personalized memoir, I think we can all learn something about what it means to grieve and how to take care of ourselves in the process.  An absolute great read, I will be happy to give this book to readers on World Book Night America!

100 years ago on this day…

100 years ago on this day, February 19, 1914, rather than purchasing a more costly train ticket, the parents of four-year-old May Pierstorff opt to send their daughter to visit her grandparents via the U.S. Postal Service. Little May wore fifty-three cents worth of U.S. postage stamps on her coat as she rode more than seventy miles in the train’s mail compartment from Grangeville to Lewiston, Idaho.

Here is a children’s book written about it!