The One and Only Ivan

Author: Katherine Applegate
Published: January 17, 2012

Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: June 15-20, 2018
Jessica’s Rating: 4 stars

Book Description:

Ivan is an easygoing gorilla. Living at the Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade, he has grown accustomed to humans watching him through the glass walls of his domain. He rarely misses his life in the jungle. In fact, he hardly ever thinks about it at all.

Instead, Ivan thinks about TV shows he’s seen and about his friends Stella, an elderly elephant, and Bob, a stray dog. But mostly Ivan thinks about art and how to capture the taste of a mango or the sound of leaves with color and a well-placed line.

Then he meets Ruby, a baby elephant taken from her family, and she makes Ivan see their home—and his own art—through new eyes. When Ruby arrives, change comes with her, and it’s up to Ivan to make it a change for the better.

Katherine Applegate blends humor and poignancy to create Ivan’s unforgettable first-person narration in a story of friendship, art, and hope.

Jessica’s Review:

I listened to the audiobook version of The One and Only Ivan: It gives the fictional story of a real gorilla, Ivan, who lived for 27 years in a shopping mall until he was moved to Zoo Atlanta in 1994 where he lived the rest of his life. Ivan passed away  on August 20, 2012.

The One and Only Ivan is written for children, but adults could enjoy it as well. Ivan and the other animals did not have a happy life and Applegate made Ivan’s story feel all the more personal through this novel.  There are tough issues addressed in the novel (the death of an animal) and the protestors.  The tough issues are handled well for children to understand and adults to feel something as well. 

I encourage you to learn about the real Ivan and his story before reading this fictional version.  The book ends with a timeline of Ivan’s history. 

The narrator did a very good job keeping my interest.  He did great with Ivan’s voice with Ivan having been a silverback.

The One and Only Ivan is recommended.

Zoo Atlanta’s site about Ivan is here.
Ivan’s obituary is here.
Here is a video of Ivan:

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

Mary Kay Andrews: The High Tide Club Review and Book Launch/Signing!

Mary Kay Andrews, better known as MKA to her fans, is a favorite author of Jessica’s Reading Room! Her novels are fun, easy to read beach reads.  Her newest novel, The High Tide Club, was released in May and I (Jessica) attended the book launch in Decatur!!! It was my first MKA signing!  Kim was also able to attend a signing. There will be pictures below!

Author: Mary Kay Andrews
Published: May 8, 2018

Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 4 stars

Book Description:

When ninety-nine-year-old heiress Josephine Bettendorf Warrick summons Brooke Trappnell to Talisa Island, her 20,000 acre remote barrier island home, Brooke is puzzled. Everybody in the South has heard about the eccentric millionaire mistress of Talisa, but Brooke has never met her. Josephine’s cryptic note says she wants to discuss an important legal matter with Brooke, who is an attorney, but Brooke knows that Mrs. Warrick has long been a client of a prestigious Atlanta law firm.

Over a few meetings, the ailing Josephine spins a tale of old friendships, secrets, betrayal and a long-unsolved murder. She tells Brooke she is hiring her for two reasons: to protect her island and legacy from those who would despoil her land, and secondly, to help her make amends with the heirs of the long dead women who were her closest friends, the girls of The High Tide Club—so named because of their youthful skinny dipping escapades—Millie, Ruth and Varina. When Josephine dies with her secrets intact, Brooke is charged with contacting Josephine’s friends’ descendants and bringing them together on Talisa for a reunion of women who’ve actually never met.

The High Tide Club is Mary Kay Andrews at her Queen of the Beach Reads best, a compelling and witty tale of romance thwarted, friendships renewed, justice delivered, and true love found.

Kim’s Review:

Mary Kay Andrews is easily one of my favorite authors ever! She is the queen of funny, Southern fiction and her books are perfect for summer! The High Tide Club is no different. Andrews manages to pull fabulous, fascinating places out of her imagination and then makes them sound like real places that if you tried hard enough, could visit for yourself. Talisa Island is a barrier island off the coast of Georgia, where the Bettendorf family vacation seat of Shellhaven is located. My first inclination was to go straight to Orbitz to book a hotel in St. Ann’s so I can charter a boat to take me to Talisa.

The story of how the High Tide Club came into being and the mysteries surrounding the women, both in the past and present, kept me turning page after page and before I knew it, I was done! It was easy and engaging and I found myself empathizing and rooting for Brooke. I will admit that as much as I loved Brooke and her mother, Marie, and old Josephine, and the residents of Talisa Island, I found myself brisling against Felicia. Yeah, yeah, I know, I’m a racist, but I really disliked her bitterness and the way she kept falling into the victim mentality. I’ve said this many times before, I hate politics in fiction and the last thing I want while reading a story, is to be lectured.

But, to hopefully balance out that opinion, I think the true hero of this book is old Varina! I fell in love with Auntie Vee from the very first time she stepped into the story and her grace and poise throughout the entire book is downright enviable! She refuses bitterness, to think badly of her friend, to accept her niece’s bad attitude. She offers forgiveness quickly and accepts what and who God sends to her life willingly and easily. She is the perfect example of the classy, Southern lady that I aspire to be! I like to pride myself on being able to figure things out relatively quickly when reading mysteries and thrillers, but I gotta hand it to MKA, she got me with this one! By the time the mystery was unraveled and the villains revealed, I was shocked and surprised with my mouth hanging open! High five, MKA, high five! Honestly, if it weren’t for the PC undertones that kept cropping up, I’d have given this book 5 stars! This is the almost perfect summer and beach read!! 

Purchase Links:
Amazon US

Amazon UK

The High Tide Club Book Launch:

I was so excited to attend my first book launch by MKA. There were A LOT of people there! We even got to meet “Mr. MKA” and others from her family.  It was a great launch.  Some of the ladies that attended go to every MKA signing that they can!  They are all friends and know each other well.  I got my book signed, got a swag bag of goodies, some audio arcs and audio books, and had some good food! Everyone had a good time! Here are some pictures from the launch:

Jessica with MKA! I was the second one to meet her and get my book signed!

The decor on the tables was so nice!! I wanted to take it with me!!

You know it’s time to party when there is a disco ball! 😉

MKA with “Mr. MKA”!

MKA’s daughter and grand daughter- it was a whole family affair!









Here is a picture that was taken of the crown from MKA’s perspective! There really were a lot of people! And do you see Jessica? It’s like “Find Waldo”!

Courtesy of MKA Facebook page

Kim went to Nag’s Head, NC for her book signing. She is a repeat MKA offender:

Her past signings:


Blog Tour: Doctor Perry

Today I am one of the stops on the blog tour for Doctor Perry by Kirsten McKenzie I will be sharing an extract from the novel. There is also a giveaway for one e-book copy!

Book Description:

Under the Hippocratic Oath, a doctor swears to remember that warmth, sympathy, and understanding may outweigh the surgeon’s knife or the chemist’s drug.

Doctor Perry assures his elderly patients at the Rose Haven Retirement Home that he can offer warmth, sympathy, and understanding. Doctor Perry is a liar.

Hiding from a traumatic past, Elijah Cone wants nothing to do with the other residents at the Rose Haven, content to sit at his window waiting to die. He’s about to learn that under Doctor Perry death is the easy option…

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

Extract from Doctor Perry:

Clarita Swann has arrived at Doctor Perry’s office for a followup consultation. Newly arrived in Florida, with no friends or family, she is the sort of patient Doctor Perry prefers. The sort of person no one misses if they suddenly disappear without any word. Doctor Perry immobilises Clarita using his modified blood pressure cuff which has a needle inside to administer a strong sedative. What happens next is not for the faint hearted…

Please stay still, Miss Swann,” Doctor Perry advised. She’d be immobile shortly, a shame but a necessity. He couldn’t ignore the messages from his clients requesting fresh stock, and those requests hadn’t come with any pleasantries. There’d been another message today, which he’d replied to by promising to deliver Clarita Swann tonight. After supplying them Clarita, the twins, and then Myra, the Cavalletto’s would have more than enough to be getting on with, giving him ample time to disappear before they’d ask for more. And Mary Louise, he had forgotten about her, he still had her up his sleeve. And Molly, she’d go too. Over the years, his receptionists had been excellent stock, a ready supply. The money he’d earned so good, it was a shame to walk away, but the Cavalletto’s were getting too pushy, and now with the police asking questions about two of his elderly clients… He knew where the two men were, and their files. He’d have to destroy those, but he worried that that might make it look more suspicious? He’d think on it later.

The blood pressure monitor beeped, and the cuff deflated automatically with a quiet hissing sound, leaving no other sounds in the room other than Clarita’s shallow breathing. A tiny prick of blood appeared as he removed the cuff from her arm, and Doctor Perry wiped the blood away with a fragment of gauze.

With his patient unconscious on the table, Doctor Perry unbuckled the straps from beneath the bed, and strapped his patient down. Elevating the bed, he opened Clarita’s mouth, a mouth full of straight white teeth – an orthodontist had done excellent work here.

Bringing over the glass of tonic, he tipped it into Clarita’s open mouth, massaging it down her throat, like you do with a cat and a worm tablet. The tonic’s effect was instantaneous. Doctor Perry had barely poured the last drop in when the convulsions started and Clarita’s body strained against the leather straps.

Doctor Perry rinsed the cup, his back to the machinations on the bed. Not listening to any screaming was a huge improvement. Why he hadn’t thought of this earlier was beyond him, and he made a mental note to take the modified blood pressure cuff to Mary Louise’s house, then he wouldn’t have to bring her here which would save time.

A choking sound made him spin around – Clarita’s eyes were open wide, her mouth frothing. Her bones undulated beneath her rippling skin. How was she awake? This was not the reaction he’d been expecting. He looked back at the cup he’d just washed out. Eight fluid ounces wasn’t too much; five might have taken too long. The splash of liquid on the floor made him look back towards Clarita. The contents of her bladder, her bowel, gastric acid, vomit, her cerebrospinal fluid, dripped from the bed creating a virtually impassable lake around her.

Doctor Perry stood transfixed. He’d never had this reaction to any variation of his tonic, although he had lost several patients in the early years of experimentation, but none like this. Picking up the bottle of tonic, he sniffed it. The odour was no different. He daren’t taste it, not with the potential outcome disintegrating on the bed in front of him; a disaster. Backing away, he stuffed the tonic bottles into his bag and snapped it shut. He’d have to clean up the mess, but it was still rippling and heaving, the limbs alternately shrinking and growing back.


A sound like a gunshot made the doctor jump. Clarita’s lovely white teeth weren’t even her own. A full set of dentures exploded from her mouth as her jaw shrank and expanded, landing several feet across the room, scattering the individual teeth in every direction upon impact.

Clarita now reminded Doctor Perry of the Old Croghan Man, an Iron Age body he’d read about years ago. With her skin split like a leather lounge suite left too long in the sun, and her tendons and arteries guitar string taut, her body pulled in on itself, distorting her into an unrecognisable tangle of muscles.

Fleeing crossed Doctor Perry’s mind as he surveyed his consulting room, his bag in his hands. There was too much of Clarita left to stuff into the hazardous waste container and cleaning up would take the whole night. He could just run, now, and forget the others, and the Cavalletto’s. He had enough money to hide from them, and enough tonic. He was looking forward to regaining his youth, but not with this batch. He needed to go to his lab to make another batch and then he’d run, which meant he had to clean up now.

The shuddering on the bed stopped and silence reigned until Doctor Perry pulled out the trash sacks, shook them open, and stuffed Clarita Swann’s desiccated remains into the thick black plastic bags.

About the Author:

For many years Kirsten McKenzie worked in her family’s antique store, where she went from being allowed to sell the 50c postcards as a child, to selling $5,000 Worcester vases and seventeenth century silverware, providing a unique insight into the world of antiques which touches every aspect of her writing.

Her historical fiction novels ‘Fifteen Postcards‘ and its sequel ‘The Last Letter’ have been described as ‘Time Travellers Wife meets Far Pavilions’, and ‘Antiques Roadshow gone viral’. The third book in the series ‘Telegram Home’ will be released in November 2018 by Accent Press.

Her bestselling gothic horror novel ‘Painted‘ was released in 2017, with her medical thriller ‘Doctor Perry‘ following closely in April 2018.

She lives in New Zealand with her husband, her daughters, an SPCA rescue cat and a kitten found in the neighbour’s shed, and can usually be found procrastinating on Twitter under the handle @kiwimrsmac.

Contact Kirsten:
Twitter @kiwimrsmac
Instagram @kiwimrsmac


Win a e-book copy of Doctor Perry!

This giveaway will run from today (July 15th) through midnight Eastern US time on July 20th. Winner will be announced/contacted on the 21st. This is the length of the tour.  Good luck! Copy will be supplied by Kirsten.  Contact info will only be kept for this giveaway.
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