When you see the name Duke Ellington, you think JAZZ, but Mr. Ellington was so much more than a pianist, band leader, composer...he was an ORIGINATOR of big-band jazz music in the early 1920's. Jazz musician turned author, Terry Teachout is known for his fab bios and doesn't disappoint in Duke: A Life of Duke Ellington. This author is nothing if not honest, and he's not afraid to tell you what you don't want to hear. That being said, don't let the personal stuff get in the way of your opinion of Ellington as a musician/composer. No, he wasn't the best husband, but he was the best damn jazz composer pretty much ever...with the help of his bandmates. Hey, the man was smart and knew how to make hits like no one else. Credit where credit is due. Ellington was a musical genius who struggled to gain respect, not only for himself, but for his race. Teachout was a little judgy if you ask me, but if your best friend wrote your biography it would be pretty boring.
Dirty Rowdy Thing by Christina Lauren is the second installment of her super popular Wild Seasons series, the first being Sweet Filthy Boy. The titles alone let you know good times are ahead, and you won't be disappointed in book two or the relationship between the 'all the women who independent' Harlow and the super sexy, yet guarded fisherman Finn. They may have only been married for 12 hours in Vegas, but they had enough orgasms to feed a third world country. Having only seen each other once since then, you can imagine Harlow's surprise when Finn turns up in San Diego. Finn is in town for a couple of weeks, and because they have some friends in common, the two keep bumping into each other. Not only does the physical attraction between them sizzle right off the page, it's fun watching them get to know each other. I dare you not to make a baby after reading this, I mean, if you want to.
You know those Christmas letters that people send along with their Christmas cards? Filling you in on how their family is doing, what's going on, milestones from the past year? Everyone makes their lives sound much more wonderful than they actually are, we know this. Like when people ask me how married life is and I say good, what I really mean is this is not a fricken fairytale. In Hello from the Gillespies by Monica McInerney, Angela Gillespie has decided to make the first draft of her Christmas email (this is the 21st century) ring of truth this year. While writing about her dysfunctional family was super therapeutic, (we're talking affairs, personal fantasies, delusional children), she didn't mean to actually send it to anyone. So when it accidentally gets emailed to over 200 of her closest family and friends because her husband is a big fat dummy, shit hits the fan pretty quickly. Some characters you'll love, some you'll want to slap. Either way you will no longer feel guilty about lying in your annual Christmas letters.
The Savages by Matt Whyman is sure to keep your ninth grader reading and you happy, as long as you're not a prude. The Savage family have a secret that dates back one generation, from a time when Grandpa had little to nothing to survive on. It's a secret that has now become a family tradition, only for very special occasions. Not only are The Savage family, Titus, Angelica, 15-year-old Sasha, 12-year-old Ivan, toddler Kat, and grandpa Oleg, CANNIBALS - they have plenty other things wrong with them as well. Titus is never up to any good with his shady business deals. Mom, Angelica is a shopping addict and has racked up an insane amount of debt she's trying to hide from Titus. But Ivan and his string of dangerous practical jokes is definitely the cherry on top as he has a tendency to kill people on accident, sort of. And poor Sasha's biggest problem is she's dating a vegetarian who she absolutely cannot bring home to her family who enjoys a man-flesh sandwich on special occasions. This super dark young adult novel manages to be funny when it needs to be, it's a little awkward at times, but since high school is pretty awkward, it fits.
I love a good cocktail book. I have two bars in my home. Yes, two. So I can always use one or seven as décor. Because I'm classy like that. Dave Arnold takes cocktail books to a whole new level with his Liquid Intelligence: The Art and Science of the Perfect Cocktail. This is pretty much an encyclopedia on perfecting the perfect cocktail. If there was a degree in cocktail making, Arnold would have a PhD. The section on making your own ice at home was a little over my dainty head, as I like to drink more than I like to make ice from scratch, but many of you will get much out of these tips. The photographs are beautiful, the 120 recipes are easy to follow, since it's the time of year to freeze where I'm from, the hot drink section was extra enticing, but there's definitely something for everyone.
Did you know that teachers stop teaching grammar to students when they reach high school? I mean, it could be middle school, but when I taught ninth grade no one wanted me to touch on grammar. It was pretty much, if they don't know it by now, they are a lost cause. I mean, WHAT? The Regents exam for English doesn't even grade for grammar. If your essay portion reeks of misspelled words and run on sentences and your instead of you're, no one cares! I still can't handle it, so I am taking a stand and review my new favorite grammar resource, Grammar Smart, 3rd Edition by the very prestigious Princeton Review.
In an interview, if you don't speak properly you will not get the job. In college, if you don't write properly you will not get a 4.0. That's where Grammar Smart comes into play. In this book you will master the art of writing and speaking. If you're feeling lazy, at least take a look at the punctuation section, even I got something out of that. There are lessons,and quizzes for you to practice. If you or your child has a noticeable grammar deficiency, because saying you sound dumb would be rude, this is absolutely the resource for you.