Midnight at the Blackbird Cafe by Heather Webber

🔥 out of 5 steam level

Did you miss me and my posts? I know, but absence makes the heart grow fonder. It’s not because I haven’t been reading books. But I don’t like the new wordpress block format to make my posts and last time it made me really mad. But alas, I decided I’m in charge of my own blog so if the formatting isn’t the same for a while, then so be it! (But really, that legit drives me crazy).

Anyways, shall we talk about the actual book I read? Midnight at the Blackbird Cafe. I think it’s potentially my first book in the magical realism genre! I really liked it and it was close to five stars for me.

I listened to it on audio and did have to speed up the narrator quite a bit. I would suggest reading this one if you’re able, rather than audio- but I’m kind of a narrator snob.

I really liked Natalie, I felt like she was a grown up version of a lot of teenagers I read about in Sarah Dessen novels.
I loved Gideon and Cam. I was sooooo into the chapters that featured these two guys.
I liked the town so much, I could picture it and I wanted to visit.
The town characters added to the story and didn’t distract from it. I was rooting for little plot points in the side characters storylines the whole time.
I loved all of the tea and food references!
This would be a great book club book (in fact, it was selected for our book club to read!) Perhaps I’ll eventually make it into a books & baking post!

I had an issue with Anna Kate being attached to the idea of never breaking a promise at the demise of her own happiness.
I had a very difficult time believing that Mrs Lyndon evolved as a character so quickly the way that she did.
I don’t like in a plot when people aren’t upfront about their past. I know people like it to drive you to keep reading but I find it to be unrealistic. I wouldn’t hang out with someone who is cagey when I ask them a question.
Lastly, I felt like the romance section of this book built so beautifully and then I didn’t get to experience the actual pay off of that but more of an epilogue.
I know my list seems long of dislikes, but that’s because I was really into the book and I thought it was so close to being perfect if it would’ve made a few tweaks!

Overall I would suggest this book to a fellow foodie, a bird nerd, someone who likes plotlines involving complicated family dynamics, and someone who likes reading books from multiple POVs!

Drink: loose leaf tea for the health benefits
Do: ask a relative a question you’ve always wondered about
Eat: blackberry pie
Watch: The Big Year

The Bookshop on The Corner by Jenny Colgan


🔥 or 🔥🔥 out of 5 steam level

Nina Redmond is a literary matchmaker. Pairing a reader with that perfect book is her passion… and also her job. Or at least it was. Until yesterday, she was a librarian in the hectic city. But now the job she loved is no more. Determined to make a new life for herself, Nina moves to a sleepy village many miles away. There she buys a van and transforms it into a bookmobile—a mobile bookshop that she drives from neighborhood to neighborhood, changing one life after another with the power of storytelling. From helping her grumpy landlord deliver a lamb, to sharing picnics with a charming train conductor who serenades her with poetry, Nina discovers there’s plenty of adventure, magic, and soul in a place that’s beginning to feel like home… a place where she just might be able to write her own happy ending.

OMG, can you believe it? I listened to my first straight up fiction audiobook! I have listened to fantasy audiobooks (i.e. Harry Potter and The Books of Beginning) and loads of non-fiction books (I tend to like presidential memoirs, and celebrity memoirs), but never just straight up fiction. I posted to my instagram stories asking for suggestions of audiobooks that will make me want to drink tea. You read that correctly, I wanted tea drinking audiobooks. What can I say, when I go into a new hobby, I really commit. Anyways, this was the audiobook suggested to me.

Considering how slowly I get through an audiobook these days (constantly surrounded my kids and rarely alone), I felt like I flew through this one! It was somewhere around 9 ish hours long. And I only had to check it out twice from hoopla. I know, someone get me an award for the fastest anyone has ever listened to an audiobook! What…? That’s not actually fast? Hmm.. okay. I guess I shouldn’t mention that it took me a year and a half to finally finish Becoming by Michelle Obama on audio then….

The narrator was amazing. She does voices, and accents. I had her sped up to 1.25 and I got everything she was saying. Overall I greatly enjoyed the vibe of this book. The note from that author in the beginning was pure joy. The way the main character, Nina, loved books felt very authentic to my deep love of books and inspiring others to read. I was very sure this was going to be a high ranking book for me. And in a way, it will be, I think I’ll recommend it a lot. But in other ways I’m not sure I would’ve liked the book if I read it vs. listening to it. Nina and I definitely would not get along in real life. I found myself yelling at her a lot in my car. “Nina, for the love of God- stop making bad decisions!” I didn’t like the communication issues at the heart of both of her beau’s in the book. I hate a love triangle…and in this there were two. I felt like the climax wasn’t totally necessary, and the book could’ve ended earlier without further drama from ex-wives. Saying all of that might give you the impression that I didn’t like this book, though. And that’s totally untrue. I liked how deeply Nina felt things, she would say things like “utter loss of joy” or something that made you realize how deep in her bones she was feeling her feelings. She was so passionate about books and the journey’s they can take you on. She helped others even when it was awkward for her. She was a good friend to her BFF. So I don’t want you to give up on Nina. You may like her more than I did- I require a lot from my fictional heroines but most of all I require gumption.

Overall it was really relaxing to listen to, and I’ll see if hoopla has the next one!

Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

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Okay, I know you’ve seen this book everywhere because I have too.  And guess what? I finally actually read it!  I will tell you that this makes my list for REQUIRED READING FOR EVERY AMERICAN.  

Shall we get into the review? Okay let’s do it!  This book is a tough read.  There are a few reasons why it’s so tough.  I’ll start with the obvious- the subject matter is heavy.  There are a LOT of trigger warnings in this book. Abuse, neglect, rape, mental illness, child endangerment, bomb threats.  A lot.  Another reason why this book is tough to read is… well quite frankly, it’s poorly written.  I know, you weren’t expecting that. And how did it make the list for required reading if it’s poorly written?!  Well, that’s because the content is so incredibly important to read!  It just simply must be read.  BUT honestly- some parts were repetitive, the sentences were long and confusing. I would often have to reread a long sentence that had multiple commas and a parenthetical statement included.  I think it’s quite clear that this book was written for the common reader- so I personally think the author and editor did a disservice to the audience by publishing it the way it was written.  Overall though- what everyone says about this book is true.  It’s subject matter is eye opening and shocking.  The stats in it were mind blowing.  I have exactly 97 highlights I made while reading this book! So I’ll end this review with some quotes from the book.  But pick up a copy yourself it will open up your mind to how comfortable we’ve all become to living a life with bias!  It’s REQUIRED!

“For years, we’ve been the only country in the world that condemns children to life imprisonment without parole; nearly three thousand juveniles have been sentenced to die in prison.”


“The State of Idaho banned interracial marriage and sex between white and black people in 1921 even though the state’s population was 99.8 percent nonblack.”


“Even though the restriction couldn’t be enforced under federal law, the state ban on interracial marriage in Alabama continued into the twenty-first century. In 2000, reformers finally had enough votes to get the issue on the statewide ballot, where a majority of voters chose to eliminate the ban, although 41 percent voted to keep it. A 2011 poll of Mississippi Republicans found that 46 percent support a legal ban on interracial marriage, 40 percent oppose such a ban, and 14 percent are undecided.”

“Only a handful of countries permitted the death penalty for children—and the United States was one of them.”

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Born A Crime by Trevor Noah

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5 out of 5

what i liked

I listened to this on audiobook after I was gifted it by a friend. Man am I glad that I listened to it! I think reading this book would also be great, but Trevor Noah does read this audiobook and it is so good.
This book is titled Born A Crime because Trevor is born of mixed races in South Africa during the apartheid. So his birth was literally a crime. His insight into living during this time period was incredibly interesting! I didn’t know very much about the apartheid other than referencing Nelson Mandela and his prison time. I feel like I know quite a bit more now, but I’m still interested in learning more.
Trevor grew up in South Africa and has since moved to the states. He references just how different his life was from the typical life here in the States. It was all just really eye opening. (Let me preface that I have been to Africa- a few countries in southern Africa, so I did have a good frame of reference from how different their lives are from my own.) There is just a huge power in hearing someone’s personal story and how much that can show you about the world.
I loved hearing stories about Trevor’s mom, and his extended family. His intense and alcoholic step dad. All of the scenes that he describes are written so well, and they feel so real while you’re listening.
He’s a strong writer, in fact, part way through the book I actually forgot he was a comedian/celebrity. It just seemed like a regular memoir.
Fun fact, this book as been optioned to become a movie starring Lupita Nyong’o as Trevor’s mom! I can’t wait to watch it!
Pick this book up, (and on audio!) you won’t regret it!
This book is REQUIRED READING for memoir lovers!

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This Will Only Hurt A Little by Busy Philipps

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official blurb
Busy Philipps’s autobiographical book offers the same unfiltered and candid storytelling that her Instagram followers have come to know and love, from growing up in Scottsdale, Arizona and her painful and painfully funny teen years, to her life as a working actress, mother, and famous best friend. Busy is the rare entertainer whose impressive arsenal of talents as an actress is equally matched by her storytelling ability, sense of humor, and sharp observations about life, love, and motherhood. Her conversational writing reminds us what we love about her on screens large and small. From film to television to Instagram, Busy delightfully showcases her wry humor and her willingness to bare it all. I’ve been waiting my whole life to write this book. I’m just so grateful someone asked. Otherwise, what was the point of any of it?

my blurb!
A memoir from a used-to-be actor turned late night host.
Trigger warning: Rape, physical altercations, abortion.

1.75 out of 5

This book started out really strong for me. I actually listened to it on audiobook and was very much enjoying it, but the audio expired from my library. I went back on hold and then listened to the rest of the book.  I say this because I have a long list of things I didn’t like about the book.  But for the first 1/3 of the book or so, I would have recommended this!  Also, for a confession- I have NEVER seen Freaks and Geeks- which I know was her initial claim to fame.

what i liked
Busy talks about her sister Lianne, and I was very intrigued by her sister.  I really liked all of the sections that mentioned her.
Busy says at one point that what drives her is a hole that needs to be filled, always trying to get to the next thing.  I found this so incredibly sad, and vulnerable.  It was this aspect of her writing that I really enjoyed.  She tried to identify her behaviors and was putting it all out there for you to read/listen to.
I loved the real world look into the acting world!  She mentions that at one point she auditioned NINETY times before getting a role.  This wasn’t auditioning for the same role 90 times, this was going on 90 different auditions before finally getting a part.
There were a lot of throwback memories for me.  She had a long term relationship with Tom Hanks’ son, Colin. And Colin starred in Roswell.  Remember Roswell?! I had totally forgotten about it!
She gives you some solid celebrity gossip.  Here’s some tidbits that I wrote down:  Busy and Colin Hanks both cheated on their back-home significant others in college and then got together.  Kristin Chenoweth potentially turned down a role in Rent for religious reasons.  James Franco was annoying, intimidating, selfish, a bully and a prick.  I mean, honestly the stories about James were AWFUL.  If he hadn’t already fallen from grace during the #metoo movement, he would have simply because of this book.

what i didn't like
She reads her own audiobook so you get a really good idea of exactly the way she would like to come across in the book.
Wow her voice is annoying.  That may be harsh, but I am a California girl- and some would say a valley girl (you should hear my husbands impressions of me!) – and to ME her voice is annoying.  Which is saying something.
She cheats on multiple boyfriends throughout this book. Like every single boyfriend.  When she is finally dating her husband, he is written of poorly. So poorly that when you finish the book you actually google if they’re still married.  (FYI- they’re still married).  She uses the excuse that she is really bad at quitting things, to explain why she keeps cheating on her boyfriends.  I hated this so much.  I can’t tell you how much I got tired of hearing her cheat on her boyfriends!
You know when you watch a teen drama and the kids are having sex, drinking, and doing drugs and you say to yourself, “Who does this?! Hollywood is so out of touch with reality…”  This was Busy’s actual life.
She is cocky.  Now I know that a lot of you will read that, and say that it’s confidence and it’s needed in the industry.  I will counter and say I know people in the industry and they’re not cocky. Busy is cocky.  And real talk- cockiness is one of my least favorite things in the world.
She has quite the potty mouth- this book is NSFW (not safe for work). At all.  Headphones ARE required while listening to this.
Oh my gosh, I almost forgot to mention this next part!  Busy is best friends with Michelle Williams (who sounds like a total sweetheart btw), and she was around Michelle during her whole Heath Ledger relationship.  She talks about his death (a little) and how she comforted Michelle.  She talks about a friend from high school who had a boyfriend die and how she comforted him.  She talks about comforting her husband, Mark, as he dealt with a death.  She then mentions how she’s always been there for people in these times and how she is good at it!  I’m sorry, what?!   Ya… she is as annoying and out of touch as that breakdown made her sound.
At the end of the book she goes into why she decided that she would make an awesome late night host.  She specifically mentions that she will host the tonight show.  I was walking around Costco while I was listening to this part and I literally said out loud, “Over my dead body!”  I know, what an insanely strong reaction!  I should mention that I love Jimmy Fallon. And in fact, my 30th birthday party was a Tonight Show themed party.  I had such an awful taste of Busy in my mouth by this point in the book that the idea of her taking over for Jimmy Fallon made me mad!
So here is the crux of the issue with the whole book.  I don’t know if I’ve ever read a memoir or autobiography from someone (who I basically had no opinion of prior to reading the book), and finished it really disliking the person in the end!  In fact, I have read plenty of political memoirs, where I’ve actually disliked the author prior to reading the book, and then finished it loving them!  Busy became so incredibly unlikable to me that I immediately removed her late night talk show from my DVR.  In fact, I thought about ranking this book one star, but I really did enjoy the first 25%- 33% of this book, so 1.75 stars it is! haha.

while reading you should
Stop.  That’s it. You need to stop reading this book and burn it.

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