Tag: Nonfiction

Audible Original: I Choose Darkness: A Holiday Essay by Jenny Lawson

I Choose Darkness: A Holiday Essay
Author: Jenny Lawson

Narrator: Jenny Lawson
Published: September 29, 2022
Audiobook: 38 minutes

Reviewed By: Jessica
Date Listened To: October 22, 2022
Jessica’s Rating: 5 stars     

Book Description:

From cheap costumes to creepy dolls to questionable candy, number one New York Times bestselling author Jenny Lawson weaves a hauntingly hilarious account of her ongoing—sometimes outrageous—Halloween life.

The holly-jolly holidays aren’t for everyone, least of all when you look back on that one Christmas when there were two definitely haunted dolls waiting for you and your sister under the tree. You have to assume that’s where it all started.

And so it was for Jenny Lawson. Now, she lives in the land of eternal Halloween, as evidenced by her interior decor and general state of darkness. (Although, if you ask her, her taxidermy zoo is less dark, more delightful. But not everyone has taste, so what are you going to do?)

This essay takes Jenny back to where it all started, from her humble beginnings as a trick-or-treater in the 1980s, on high alert for (logistically improbable) candy laced with razor blades and the (allegedly) ever-present threat of satanists on the loose. From there, she has risen from the candy-wrapper ashes of her childhood to claim her rightful lifestyle as the queen of Halloween.

Jessica’s Review:

This very short self-described essay popped up for free on my Audible, so I got it. I had no idea who Jenny Lawson is, so I didn’t know what I was in for but was very pleasantly surprised! Halloween is Jenny’s favorite holiday of the year and she reminisces and her childhood Halloween’s.  And we must be close to the same age, babies of the 1980’s, because I have so many similar memories as her! From the hideous costumes offered to the fear of razor blades being put in candy: and yes, I remember my parents taking my sister and I to the hospital and our candy being x-rayed!  I had a plastic orange pumpkin container that my candy was in.  It was most likely done at the hospital that my mom worked at.

I really enjoyed this essay of Jenny’s Halloween memories and she even narrated! She tells it like it is, foul language and all! I am going to have to look up some of her other books she has written and even listen to the audio if she narrates those! She definitely seems to have a new fan to look at her blog!

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

Audiobook Review: When Animals Rescue by Belinda Recio

When Animals Rescue: Amazing True Stories about Heroic and Helpful Creatures
Author: Belinda Recio
Narrator: Hayden Panettiere
Published: December 15, 2021
Audiobook

Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: March 17-18, 2022
Jessica’s Rating: 4 stars     

Book Description:

 A Collection of True Tales of Animal Empathy and Altruism that will Inspire Us to Reflect on Our Own Human Nature
 
What do stories about humpback whales protecting a biologist from a shark, a pride of lions rescuing a girl from kidnappers, gorillas working together to dismantle poacher snares, a parrot warding off an attacker in a park, a chimpanzee consoling a human, and an elephant trying to rescue a baby rhino tell us about animal nature? And what might they suggest about our very own human nature? 
 
Until just a few decades ago, there were only a few animals reported to behave empathetically and altruistically. More recently, the list of species who have been observed behaving in compassionate, helpful, and caring ways has grown exponentially, ranging from rats to elephants.
 
When Animals Rescue presents dozens of astonishing and heart-warming stories about animals, such as chickens, horses, dolphins, and wolves, who engage in acts of helpful kindness. During a time in history when studies show that human empathy is decreasing, our knowledge about animal empathy is increasing. These true tales of heroism, kindness, and compassion suggest that we have far more in common with other animals than we once believed and provocatively suggest that what’s best about our human natures just might be our animal natures.

Jessica’s Review:

This book is for every animal lover! And it will work for kids too!

A collection of real-life stories that show how animals can show compassion, kindness, and dare I say love???  And this is not just to their own species, but other species that they may not normally ‘cooperate’ with/ live with.  And yes, this includes their actions to us humans, who may or may not show compassion back to the animals. 

This book shows how smart animals truly are.  Those of us with house pets already know this, but you might think differently about the opossum or even hippopotamus! That is until you read this book! 

The stories range from the expected with dealing with dolphins, whales, cats and dogs to the unexpected as I just mentioned and more including bears, parrots, and crows.  The chapters are short and work for quick trips in the car or for an extended drive.  The chapters are easy to understand for all readers and this book is age appropriate for young children who I imagine would love the stories even more so than the adult animal lover.  The narrator is Hayden Panettiere and she does a good job in her narration. 

When Animals Rescue does leave you thinking about the extent to the intelligence and more of animals and where we humans as animals would fit on the scales of all emotions and feelings. 

Many thanks to the publisher who sent me an e-audiobook version to listen to via NetGalley. 

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

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Audiobook Review: The Rural Diaries by Hilarie Burton Morgan

The Rural Diaries: Love, Livestock, and Big Life Lessons Down on Mischief Farm
Author:
Hilarie Burton Morgan

Narrator: Hilarie Burton Morgan
Published: May 5, 2020
Audiobook

Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: January 19-24, 2022
Jessica’s Rating: 5 stars

Book Description:

While Hilarie Burton Morgan’s hectic lifestyle as an actress in New York and Los Angeles gave her a comfortable life, it did not fulfill her spiritually or emotionally. After the birth of their first son, she and her husband Jeffrey Dean Morgan, the star of The Walking Dead, decided to make a major change: they bought a working farm in Rhinebeck, New York, and began a new chapter in their lives.

The Rural Diaries chronicles her inspiring story of farm life: chopping wood, making dandelion wine, building chicken coops. Burton looks back at her transition from urban to country living—discovering how to manage a farm while raising her son and making friends with her new neighbors. She mixes charming stories of learning to raise alpacas and buying and revitalizing the town’s beloved candy store, Samuel’s Sweet Shop, with raw observations on the ups and downs of marriage and her struggles with secondary infertility. Burton also includes delicious recipes that can be made with fresh ingredients at home, as well as home renovation and gardening tips.

Burton’s charisma, wide eyed attitude, and fortitude—both internal and physical—propels this moving story of transformation and self-discovery. The Rural Diaries honors the values and lifestyle of small-town America and offers inspiration for anyone longing to embark on their own unconventional journey.

Jessica’s Review:

Please note that I am not a Hilarie Burton Morgan fan and have only seen her act in Negan’s ‘backstory’ episode with his wife Lucille. Negan is played by her own husband Jeffrey Dean Morgan.  When the lockdowns occurred in 2020, Hilarie and Jeffrey had a talk show from their own home on Mischief Farm. It was watching that where I felt like I got to know them both.  And I finally was able to listen to her memoir The Rural Diaries which she also narrates.

This is not her memoir of her entire acting career, but we do get to hear about where she met the man that would eventually become her husband and the start of their life together.  They are very different yet also perfect for each other.  They love small town life and Burton herself can do some DIY home improvements!  We go on their journey to purchasing Mischief Farm and their life with many animals there. It was a learning experience for sure.

She is candid and tells it like it is in this memoir, which includes the good and happy times to the rough times of making marriage work, farm life in general, and dealing with the struggles and determination to have a second child. You could hear the struggle she went through with the miscarriages; it was hard to listen to for someone who really wanted another child and everything that she went through.  She genuinely loves her life and they are meant to be living on Mischief Farm and live in a community that takes care of its own.  I did wonder about the name of the farm which she goes into. 

And she and Jeffrey are really good friends with Paul Rudd!  They were also close friends with Bill Paxton and we experience his death through Burton.  Their son Gus would watch Titanic so many times (other than the naughty parts) because Uncle Bill was in it!

Listening to her narrate the memoir you can feel the struggles in her voice. I felt like I really know who she is now knowing her story.  And don’t knock all those Hallmark Christmas movies she has been in, they were what she needed.

If you are a Burton Morgan fan, then you must read/listen to this one! If you are a fan of her husband, you may also enjoy it, as I did!

The Rural Diaries is recommended.

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

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