4 Mini Reviews: The End We Start From; The Doll's Alphabet; The Floating World; and Heather, The Totality

The End We Start From by Megan Hunter released May 18, 2017 from Picador 
I hunted this book down at Book Expo this summer and may have squealed when I finally figured out where the publisher's booth was and the wonderful representative pulled a copy from a bottom drawer like a rabbit out of a hat. Imagine giving birth to your first child while everything you know is wiped out--navigating motherhood while you navigate an entirely new landscape. This slim novel poetically glides through the life of a small family following a massive flood. Categorically a dystopian novel, but an achingly beautiful read.

The Doll's Alphabet by Camilla Grudova released October 10, 2017 from Coffee House Press
I reached out to the publisher to obtain a copy of this release and read it shortly after I received it, but have been delayed in reviewing it. This collection of short stories gave me nightmares when I first read it. Not gory, bloody stuff or the "someone's chasing you" types, but dark, unsettling visions. I had to stop reading this book before bed but I absolutely didn't stop reading it. A combination of Kafka, Atwood, and Tim Burton; the stories in The Doll's Alphabet are woven to present a singular edgy collection that lies just on the "weird" side of horror. *Disclaimer: I received this copy in exchange for an honest review*

The Floating World by C. Morgan Babst released October 17, 2017 from Algonquin 
Travel to the heart and aftermath of Hurricane Katrina with one of New Orleans oldest families, the Boisdorés. One daughter refuses to leave the city and her parents evacuate without her, setting off a cataclysmic chain of events. Another daughter returns to a post-Katrina New Orleans from New York City to find devastation everywhere: her parents' marriage crumbling, her sister's sanity slipping, and the citizens of the city displaced and scattered. I couldn't believe this was a debut novel. The slow personal burn of this fictional family gave me another look at an event I was previously only able to process from graphic news footage. *Disclaimer: I received this copy in exchange for an honest review* 

Heather, The Totality by Matthew Weiner released November 1, 2017 from Little, Brown, and Company
I tried hunting this down at Book Expo but had no luck. I later received a copy from a Bookstagram buddy (@lovethybook) during a book swap. I wanted to read it because I was interested to see what sort of short story Weiner would write. It was uncomfortable and creepy. Imagine a SVU episode titled "Testosterone, Misogyny, and the Male Gaze". If that sounds like something you'd like--read this. Otherwise, take a pass.

Q & A with Amy Lyle, Author of The Amy Binegar-Kimmes-Lyle Book of Failures

Amy Lyle is an actor, screenwriter and author. Her first book, released in May, The Amy Binegar - Kimmes - Lyle Book of Failures is a top 10 ebook. (Click *here* to check out my full review and *here* for my blog post). I caught up with Amy in between missing her flight to Boston and trying to find Rolaids in an airport shop.

Me: You are currently stranded. 
Amy: Temporarily, I read my flight number incorrectly and waited at the wrong gate. Another flight goes out in an hour. 
Me: A story for your next book.
Amy: Of course!

Me: What compelled you to write a book that has often, cringe-worthy moments about failures including an issue with IBS? 
Amy: 1. I was marketing a screenplay and an entertainment attorney told me I had to “Get on the map.” he suggested I write a blog or book. The first thought that popped into my head was “I have had a lot of failures...” 2. IBS is real and everybody poops, let’s just admit that.

Me: In the book you seem like you struggle raising four teenagers. 
Amy: Yes.
Me: Are people relating to that part of the book? 
Amy: Yes. Most of the feedback I get from readers is that they struggle with raising kids too. I love that people are open and honest with what’s really going on in their homes.

Me: You are forty-six, mid-life. You write about fighting the aging process, why not grow old gracefully? 
Amy: Really?
Me: Yes.
Amy: I like the idea of growing old gracefully, I just do not care for the look of myself growing old gracefully. I’m not going down without a fight.
Me: You are fighting it? 
Amy: I’m not winning, but I am fighting. I asked Andrea Ferenchik, the photographer to photoshop my butt on the back cover. No one wants to look at my real butt cheek, trust me.

Me: What has been the biggest failure of launching the book?
Amy: I invested a huge amount of time and money into a book launch party. I wanted everyone to buy the book on Amazon at the event to kick off sales. The venue had poor internet connectivity and I did not sell any books.
Me: Not even one? 
Amy: Maybe three. However, the next day I sold 500, so it worked out.
Me: Your book launch was interesting, you gave away 200 prizes including vaginal rejuvenation surgery and a Cool Sculpting fat reduction treatment- how did that come about? 
Amy: A friend, Dr. Myla Bennett, was the emcee at the event and I asked her if she could provide a prize, such as hydrator cream sets or free Botox. She’s a genius at branding and thought we should go big or go home. The prizes generated a lot of buzz, giving us both exposure.

Me: You’ve been on Atlanta and Co (an Atlanta morning television show) as a regular guest. How did you get that gig or any of your other gigs? 
Amy: For Atlanta and Company, GPB and Points North Magazine, I called the producer or the editor and pitched that they could do a lot with an author that has a book about failures. Other press has been gained by my friend and P/R guru Becky Robinson of Chatterhouse Communications. Both Becky and I always include pictures that Andrea Ferenchik took to promote the book, they are ridiculous and funny, people notice them and what to know what’s going on. The fan series for example:

Me: What’s your advice for surviving failure? 
Amy: Share it. Even the most horrific failures (I have been fortunate so far to avoid anything really catastrophic) will teach you something or give comfort to another person. I was raised in a “Do not air your dirty laundry” house but telling someone you have failed often lifts the burden. Plus, I’m very suspicious and you should be too of anyone that never disclosing any of their shortcomings. They can not be trusted.

Me: What’s your next project? 
Amy: Getting my screenplay, #fakemom sold to Judd Apatow.

Order a copy of The Amy Binegar-Kimmes-Lyle Book of Failures *here* and be sure to grab some for anyone on your holiday shopping list who loves a laugh! 

DNF:: Code Girls: The Untold Story of the American Women Code Breakers Who Helped Win World War II by Liza Mundy

Released October 10, 2017 from Hachette

In the tradition of Hidden Figures and The Girls of Atomic City, Code Girls is the astonishing, untold story of the young American women who cracked key Axis codes, helping to secure Allied victory and revolutionizing the field of cryptanalysis.

Recruited by the U.S. Army and Navy from small towns and elite colleges, more than ten thousand women served as codebreakers during World War II. While their brothers and boyfriends took up arms, these women moved to Washington and learned the meticulous work of code-breaking. Their efforts shortened the war, saved countless lives, and gave them access to careers previously denied to them. A strict vow of secrecy nearly erased their efforts from history; now, through dazzling research and interviews with surviving code girls, bestselling author Liza Mundy brings to life this riveting and vital story of American courage, service, and scientific accomplishment.

My Review: This book is heavily historic. While I thought I would enjoy reading about these women, I kept zoning out and skimming due to all the military details.