Famous Father Girl by Jamie Bernstein

Review eGalley provided by Harper and Edelweiss

Description:  The oldest daughter of revered composer/conductor Leonard Bernstein offers a rare look at her father on the centennial of his birth in a deeply intimate and broadly evocative memoir.

An intoxicating tale, Famous Father Girl is an intimate meditation on a complex and sometimes troubled man, the family he raised, and the music he composed that became the soundtrack to their entwined lives. Deeply moving and often hilarious, Bernstein’s beautifully written memoir is a great American story about one of the greatest Americans of the modern age. (from the publisher’s description)

My take: One of my first memories of listening to music was when my mother played her beloved West Side Story soundtrack. I was mesmerized by it years before I saw the film version. Many decades later it remains one of my favorite musicals. For that reason I couldn’t wait to read Famous Father Girl. I wanted to learn what it was like to grow up the daughter of Leonard Bernstein. I wasn’t disappointed by this memoir. In college I earned a music degree and, along the way, I learned why I loved Bernstein’s music – the rhythm, orchestration, the emotions it evoked. Jamie Bernstein tells the story of her larger than life father and his effect on his family. I enjoyed the photos scattered throughout and was unsurprised by mentions of notable names of the era. Readers who grew up during the mid 20th century will recognize most if not all. As in any life well lived there are triumphs and disappointments. The Bernstein family experienced all. I think there could be a surprise or two for readers but I also think fans of the maestro and the memoir genre will be happy with Jamie’s efforts.


 

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Lessons From The Prairie by Melissa Francis

Description:  Melissa Francis was eight years old when she won the role of a lifetime: playing Cassandra Cooper Ingalls on the world’s most famous prime-time soap opera, Little House on the Prairie. 

Now, in the trade paperback of her wildly popular LESSONS FROM THE PRAIRIE: The Surprising Secrets to Happiness, Success and (Sometimes Just) Survival I Learned on America’s Favorite Show (Hachette Books; paperback on-sale April 3rd, 2018), Melissa shares behind-the-scenes stories from the set, along with inspirational and practical life lessons learned throughout her career. With a refreshing take on being a busy mom, Melissa offers her own mantra on how to balance everything: “Don’t ‘Lean In.’ In fact, sit down and take a load off!”

“I’ve taken more than a few pies to the face,” says Melissa,now a Fox News anchor. “Along the way, I’ve come to realize that many of the tools I needed to clean myself up, I learned in those few precious years on the Prairie. Read along and you’ll get the benefit of the laughs and lessons, without the whipped cream.”

A hilariously candid and brilliantly effective self-help book, Melissa shares her five-step recipe for turning disaster into golden opportunity, the critical upside of staying positive (nice guys/gals finish first!), how she wrangles the demands of motherhood with a full-time career (figure out what you really want), the role of faith (miracles do happen!), and how she’s learned not to care what anyone else thinks (show them your cellulite!)—all while peeling back the curtains on the legendary Little House series.

Melissa keeps readers laughing as she details her less-than-glamorous road into television journalism, revealing her tricks to break into the industry and how she finally got her big break—only to blow it and get fired! That’s when she learned her most powerful lesson: how to turn disaster into a golden opportunity. She shares those brilliant but easy steps in these pages. Building on her own experiences and the life lessons she’s learned over the years, Francis offers readers advice on resiliency, reinvention, and most of all the ability to laugh heartily at your own flaws.

Whether you’re a fan of her television work past or present, you’ll roar at Melissa’s unique brand of self- deprecating humor and walk away from Lessons from the Prairie with the tools to lead a happier and more successful life.  (publisher)

My take: Melissa Francis shares her road to becoming a television journalist in her memoir Lessons From The Prairie – now out in paperback. I missed the Little House on the Prairie series because I was in college and then a young mom during those years. I’ve watched grown-up Melissa Francis on the business channel she currently works for and find her way of explaining economic information to clear and concise. I don’t read many celebrity memoirs but I found hers to be entertaining and informative and appreciated her candor. I thought her easy writing style made her relatable – especially early on when she sought her first post-graduation job. Lessons From The Prairie is a ‘how I did it’ memoir that I can recommend.


About the author:

Broadcast journalist Melissa Francis is the author of the acclaimed memoir, Diary of a Stage Mother’s Daughter. She is an anchor on Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network, and a regular contributor on financial, economic, and political issues on shows such as The Five, Outnumbered, Happening Now, and America’s Newsroom, among others. As an actress, she appeared in numerous motion pictures, television series, and more than a hundred television commercials; she is best known for her role as Michael Landon’s daughter, Cassandra Cooper Ingalls, on Little House on the Prairie. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics degree from Harvard University and lives in Manhattan with her husband and their three children.

LESSONS FROM THE PRAIRIE by Melissa Francis

Hachette Books | Paperback | April 3, 2018 | 272 pages ISBN-13: 978-1602863170


Praise for Lessons from the Prairie

“Melissa Francis’s Lessons from the Prairie is a busy mom’s manifesto—candid and commonsense, insightful, laugh-out-loud funny. A refreshing reality check for working moms who love their jobs as well as their families, and won’t compromise their happiness.” — Mika Brzezinski, bestselling author of Knowing Your Value and co-host of “Morning Joe”

“Touching and brave, heart breaking and inspirational…I simply loved it.” “Melissa Francis’ Lessons from the Prairie delivers one belly laugh after another as she tees up an easy to follow, step-by-step guide to tackling the toughest challenges that dog each of us. She charmingly turns personal disasters into hilarious anecdotes that will seem all too familiar to every reader, then follows with a clever take away to make your life happier. What a fun way to share the wisdom she gained growing up before our eyes on the Prairie.” — Megyn Kelly, NBC News anchor


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Spotlight/US Giveaway: I Hear She’s a Real Bitch by Jen Agg

All materials in this Spotlight post were provided by the publisher

From Jen Agg, one of Canada’s most influential restauranteurs and a trailblazer in the culinary industry for her takedown of chef “bro” culture, comes the sharp and candid memoir, I HEAR SHE’S A REAL BITCH(Penguin Books Original; September 12, 2017; $17; 9780143132646). Studded with Agg’s frank and often hilarious observations on an industry in which sexism has been normalized, her memoir is more than a story about starting a restaurant: it is a rallying cry for a feminist revolution in the culinary world.

As the title suggests, I HEAR SHE’S A REAL BITCH is a bold, uninhibited memoir of Agg’s growth as a restaurateur, battle to establish herself and her businesses, and the particular difficulties she’s faced as a woman in the industry, including vivid stories about:

  • Agg’s twenty-plus years in the restaurant industry from server to bartender to Toronto restauranteur.
  • The creation of The Black Hoof, which started Canada’s culinary revival and is beloved by star chefs Anthony Bourdain, Gordon Ramsey, and Daniel Boulud.
  • Agg’s commitment to creating an equitable work environment, leading to her creation of the Kitchen Bitches conference, which featured chef Hugh Acheson, Suzanne Barr of Saturday Dinette, Jessica Koslow of L.A.’s SQIRL, Amanda Cohen of New York’s Dirt Candy, and many more.

Years of hard work—and plenty of opportunities to learn from her mistakes—taught Agg how to run a great restaurant that also functions as a business. That hard work pays off here with a memoir equally as distinctive as Agg’s restaurants. Already famous in Canada, this book puts the rest of the world on notice: if you haven’t heard about Jen Agg yet, you soon will.

*  *  *

“A terrific, beautifully written, frank, and funny memoir, and a compelling argument for pulling down the long outdated system of ‘bro’ culture that has dominated the industry since what feels like the beginning of time.” —Anthony Bourdain


About the author:

Jen Agg is the owner of The Black Hoof, which sparked Toronto’s culinary renaissance, Rhum Corner, and the Hoof Cocktail Bar. She is the co-owner of Agrikol (along with Arcade Fire’s Win Butler and Régine Chassagne) and the newly opened Grey Gardens (with Mitch Bates of Momofuku Ko).


I HEAR SHE’S A REAL BITCH

by Jen Agg

Penguin Original ▪ $17.00 ▪ On-sale: September 12, 2017 ▪ 9780143132646

ALSO AVAILABLE AS AN EBOOK

You can follow Jen Agg on Twitter at @TheBlackHoof

US Giveaway

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GIVEAWAY HAS ENDED

Giveaway ends on September 20, 2017


 

Cork Dork by Bianca Bosker

  • Title:  CORK DORK: A Wine-Fueled Adventure Among the Obsessive Sommeliers, Big Bottle Hunters, and Rogue Scientists Who Taught Me to Live for Taste
  • Author:  Bianca Bosker
  • Genre:  Memoir; Food & Drink
  • Pages:  346
  • Published:  March 2017 – Penguin Books
  • Source:  Publisher

Description:  Like many of us, amateur drinker and professional tech reporter Bianca Bosker saw wine as a way to unwind at the end of a long day, or a nice thing to have with dinner—and that was about it. Until she stumbled on an alternate universe where taste reigned supreme, a world in which people could, after a single sip, identify the grape a bottle was made from, in what year, and where it was produced—within acres. Where she tasted “wine,” these master sommeliers detected not only complex flavor profiles, but entire histories and geographies. Astounded by their fanatical dedication and seemingly superhuman sensory powers, Bosker abandoned her screen-centric life and set out to discover what drove their obsession, and whether she, too, could become a “cork dork.” 

Thus begins a year and a half long adventure that takes the reader inside elite tasting groups, exclusive New York City restaurants, a California mass market wine “factory,” and even a neuroscientist’s fMRI machine as Bosker attempts to answer the most nagging question of all: what’s the big deal about wine? Counterintuitive, compulsively readable, and hilarious, Cork Dork illuminates how tasting better can help us live better—and will change the way you drink wine forever.  (publisher)

My take  I occasionally enjoy a glass or two of wine and have a couple of favorites. I prefer it over other alcoholic beverages. That’s the extent of my relationship with wine – I know when something tastes good to me and that’s it. Reading Cork Dork was a revelation. Sure I’d always heard of sommeliers who know everything one should know about wines but until I read this book I didn’t fully appreciate everything that informs a sommelier. It’s astounding and impressive and I wouldn’t want to be one for all the wine in France. I would liken it a bit to a religious calling.

Bianca Bosker’s extensive research is apparent. She places the reader among the wine makers and the drinkers, the buyers, the purists and the high rollers. Once or twice she got a little too far into the weeds for me but I learned – so that’s a plus. I think most wine-lovers would find this memoir fascinating. It certainly has given me things to think about the next time I buy a bottle of wine. I also have a new respect for sommeliers and the invaluable service they contribute to a diner’s experience. Recommended to fans of foodie/beverage memoirs and, of course, wine.


About the author:  Bianca Bosker is an award-winning journalist who has written about food, wine, architecture, and technology for The New Yorker online, The Atlantic, T: The New York Times Style Magazine, Food & Wine, The Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, and The New Republic. The former executive tech editor of The Huffington Post, she is the author of the critically acclaimed book Original Copies: Architectural Mimicry in Contemporary China (University of Hawaii Press, 2013). She lives in New York City.

CORK DORK:
A Wine-Fueled Adventure Among the Obsessive Sommeliers,
Big Bottle Hunters, and Rogue Scientists Who Taught Me to Live for Taste
Bianca Bosker ▪ Penguin Original ▪ $17.00

On-sale: March 28, 2017 ▪ ISBN: 9780143128090

ALSO AVAILABLE AS AN EBOOK


Spotlight/US Giveaway: Cork Dork by Bianca Bosker

More Americans are drinking wine than ever before, yet the rituals, customs, and language around it are as rarefied and opaque as ever, leaving many of us wondering what all the fuss is about. What makes the bottle I bought for last week’s dinner party “bad”? Are sommeliers just pretentious, glorified salespeople, or can they actually taste things like pyrazine and honeysuckle in wine? And why do so many people devote their lives (or life savings) to experiencing minute differences in flavor that most of us can’t even perceive, let alone appreciate? These were some of the questions obsessing Bianca Bosker when she decided to give up her job as executive tech editor at the Huffington Post in favor of tasting wines at 8 a.m., lifting and sorting heavy bottles as a “cellar rat” in one of Manhattan’s top restaurants, and foregoing coffee, spicy foods, and sometimes even toothpaste in order to taste better.

The account of her year-and-a-half journey, CORK DORK: A Wine-Fueled Adventure Among the Obsessive Sommeliers, Big Bottle Hunters, and Rogue Scientists Who Taught Me to Live for Taste(Penguin Books Original; ISBN: 9780143128090; On-sale: March 28, 2017; $17.00) takes the reader inside an elite tasting group, a Burgundy bacchanal, a Michelin-starred restaurant, an fMRI machine, and more as Bosker strives to make sense, once and for all, of our complicated relationship with fermented grape juice.

Compulsively readable, fascinating, and a hilarious exploration of the wine world, CORK DORK includes:

  • Bosker’s training for and entry into the country’s oldest sommelier competition, with hilariously disastrous results (though she does eventually become certified)
  • Behind-the-scenes looks at two elite Manhattan restaurants, where she trailed sommeliers and watched the complicated dance of service and hospitality unfold
  • The science behind how we can improve our senses of taste and smell, and thereby live more richly

Full of amazing stories, incredible facts, and scientific research, CORK DORK is a charming, informative memoir that digs deep into how improving our senses can help create a more colorful life.

About the Author:
Bianca Bosker is an award-winning journalist who has written about food, wine, architecture, and technology for The New Yorker online, The Atlantic, T: The New York Times Style Magazine, Food & Wine, The Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, and The New Republic. The former executive tech editor of The Huffington Post, she is the author of the critically acclaimed book Original Copies: Architectural Mimicry in Contemporary China (University of Hawaii Press, 2013). She lives in New York City.


US Giveaway

Please click here and fill out the form

GIVEAWAY HAS ENDED

 

Giveaway ends on April 5th, 2017


CORK DORK:
A Wine-Fueled Adventure Among the Obsessive Sommeliers,
Big Bottle Hunters, and Rogue Scientists Who Taught Me to Live for Taste
Bianca Bosker ▪ Penguin Original ▪ $17.00

On-sale: March 28, 2017 ▪ ISBN: 9780143128090

ALSO AVAILABLE AS AN EBOOK


Advance Praise for CORK DORK:

 “A page-turning and fascinating memoir…. Bosker’s mix of science, food writing, and memoir will be enjoyed by many.”  Publishers Weekly

 

“Always perceptive, curious, and entertaining, [Bianca] describes her experiences with precision and a wry sense of humor, locating the exact words to evoke even the most insubstantial sensations. Readers will certainly come away from the book knowing more about wine and likely eager to explore it further, but even those less inclined to imbibe will be intrigued by Bosker’s insights into the nature of smell and taste and the ways training and attention can increase one’s pleasure in them.”  Kirkus, Starred Review

 

“I loved this book. It’s not just about wine. It’s about learning how to listen to your senses, to more deeply experience and appreciate the world around you, and everyone could use another glass of that.” —Mary Roach, author of Gulp


Pound For Pound by Shannon Kopp

  • pound for pound by Shannon KoppTitle:  Pound for Pound – A Story of One Woman’s Recovery and the Shelter Dogs who Loved Her Back to Life
  • Author:  Shannon Kopp
  • Genre:  Memoir
  • Pages:  288
  • Published:  October 2015 – William Morrow
  • Source:  Publisher via FSB Associates

Description:  “The dogs don’t judge me or give me a motivational speech. They don’t rush me to heal or grow. They sit in my lap and lick my face and make me feel chosen. And sometimes, it hits me hard that I’m doing the exact thing I say I cannot do. Changing.”

Pound for Pound is an inspirational tale about one woman’s journey back to herself, and a heartfelt homage to the four-legged heroes who unexpectedly saved her life.

For seven years, Shannon Kopp battled the silent, horrific, and all-too-common disease of bulimia. Then, at twenty-four, she got a job working at the San Diego Humane Society and SPCA, where in caring for shelter dogs, she found the inspiration to heal and the courage to forgive herself. With the help of some extraordinary homeless animals, Shannon realized that her suffering was the birthplace of something beautiful. Compassion.

Shannon’s poignant memoir is a story of hope, resilience, and the spiritual healing animals bring to our lives. Pound for Pound vividly reminds us that animals are more than just friends and companions—they can teach us how to savor the present moment and reclaim our joy. Rich with emotion and inspiration it is essential reading for animal lovers and everyone who has struggled to change.  (publisher)

My take:  Pound for Pound is a deeply personal look at bulimia, the disease that dominated author Shannon Kopp’s life for several years. As hard as it was to read the details I found it difficult to put the book down as she explained how she went into the downward spiral of the disease and ultimately began to climb out of it.

If you’re an animal lover you’ll understand why it was her connection to volunteering at dog shelters that started her on the road to self-discovery and wellness. She also had people in her life who stood by her during the toughest days. Also important was learning when to ask for help. I’m impressed by the inner-strength she found to keep going.

I applaud Kopp’s willingness to share such private details in order to possibly help someone else on the same journey. If you have someone in your life who struggles with an eating disorder or you just want to learn more about it I highly recommend this memoir.


Author Bio
Shannon Kopp, author of Pound for Pound, is a writer, eating disorder survivor, and animal welfare advocate. She has worked and volunteered at various animal shelters throughout San Diego and Los Angeles, where shelter dogs helped her to discover a healthier, more joyful way of living. Her mission is to help every shelter dog find a loving home, and to raise awareness about eating disorders and animal welfare issues.

For more information visit her website www.shannonkopp.com and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.


Reviews
“Anyone who has ever loved an animal, battled depression, or struggled with an addiction of any kind will not be able to put down Pound for Pound . . . brave account of the healing power of shelter dogs is not only a page-turner, but a true inspiration.” — Laura Maloney, former Chief Operating Officer of the Humane Society of the United States, current COO of Panthera

“Every now and again a book comes along that can help millions of people deal with all sorts of difficult and challenging times and guide them to change their ways for a better and healthier life. Pound for Pound is one of those inspirational gems. Shannon Kopp’s personal story — the incredibly hard work she had to do and her opening her heart to the dogs with whom she worked — is a must read. She shows how compassion, trust, and love can open the door for people and dogs in need to heal and to grow together” — Marc Bekoff, author of Rewilding our Hearts: Building Pathways of Compassion and Coexistence

“Don’t miss Pound for Pound — a uniquely touching memoir about a woman bravely struggling with bulimia and self-judgment, ultimately healed by the miraculous power of the rescue dogs she devotes herself to.  It’s a story you’ll always remember, a testament to the healing energy of our canine companions, who ask only for love and then give it back in spades.” — Glenn Plaskin, Author of Katie Up and Down the Hall, The True Story of How One Dog Turned Five Neighbors Into a Family

Pound for Pound is an emotional reminder of the strength of the human spirit and how dogs are more than our best friend; they can also be guides, inspiring us to be compassionate, share joy, and live life in the moment.” — Booklist

A Thousand Miles to Freedom by Eunsun Kim with Sébastien Falletti

  • a thousand miles to freedomTitle:  A Thousand Miles to Freedom: My Escape From North Korea
  • Author:  Eunsun Kim with Sébastien Falletti
  • Translated by:  David Tian
  • Pages:  228
  • Genre:  Memoir
  • Published:  July 2015 – St. Martin’s Press
  • Source:  Publisher

Description:  Eunsun Kim was born in North Korea, one of the most secretive and oppressive countries in the modern world. As a child Eunsun loved her country…despite her school field trips to public executions, daily self-criticism sessions, and the increasing gnaw of hunger as the country-wide famine escalated.

By the time she was eleven years old, Eunsun’s father and grandparents had died of starvation, and Eunsun too was in danger of starving. Finally, her mother decided to escape North Korea with Eunsun and her sister, not knowing that they were embarking on a journey that would take them nine long years to complete. Before finally reaching South Korea and freedom, Eunsun and her family would live homeless, fall into the hands of Chinese human traffickers, survive a North Korean labor camp, and cross the deserts of Mongolia on foot.

Now, in A Thousand Miles to Freedom, Eunsun is sharing her remarkable story to give voice to the tens of millions of North Koreans still suffering in silence. Told with grace and courage, her memoir is a riveting exposé of North Korea’s totalitarian regime and, ultimately, a testament to the strength and resilience of the human spirit. (publisher)

My take:  A Thousand Miles to Freedom is the memoir by Eunsun Kim. She is now 29 years old but was a young girl when she and her mother and sister first fled North Korea to find a better life. Their escape took much longer than expected.

The description from the publisher reveals quite a bit about the journey to South Korea. What impressed me most was Eunsun’s optimism in the face of frightening circumstances – for anyone, much less a young girl. The challenges she and her family faced were daunting but they were determined to get to South Korea. And once there they faced different challenges. I found her observations of life in South Korea interesting. It had to be very difficult to fit in with contemporaries who had no idea of the life you’d left behind.

Eunsun’s determination to get a good education was impressive. I have no doubt she will make her mark on the world. She’s started to make a difference with this memoir. It’s simply written and took just a few hours to read. Recommended to anyone who wants to read a first-hand account of a young person who escaped life in North Korea. I’m glad I had the chance to read it.