An excerpt from Liesl Testwuide's book review for The Huffington Post: "Brakeman’s writing is at once smart, sharp and poignant. While describing her husband’s frightening battle with Prostate Cancer, we follow Kristen from the Millie and Mike Hersch Family Surgical Center, to get a drink from the Samuel G. Weiss water fountain, out to the Wilt Family Garden where she sits on the Nathan and Ruth Diamond bench waiting for her husband to come out of surgery. Like Bombeck, Brakeman has the ability to make us laugh, even in the toughest times.
Brakeman’s penchant for confessions draws us in. We know the college fund was used to resurface the pool and erect the neighborhood’s finest fence. We know she barely made it a week gluten-free after her daughter was diagnosed with Celiac Disease. And we know she avoids her mother, ruined Facebook and is annoyingly thin. Yet we love her anyway. Brakeman’s honesty allows us to exhale and accept our own inadequacies as spouses, parents, caregivers and just plain old human beings. We follow Brakeman down her riotous rabbit holes because we, too, live insane lives."
“These days, Galifianakis is mainly the answer to a political trivia question: Which Democrat did Jesse Helms defeat in his first run for the U.S. Senate in 1972? In "Pick Nick," however, retired Chapel Hill history professor John E. Semonche argues that Galifianakis was much, much more. In a state that was once just black and white, Galifianakis was the first wedge, opening the good ol' boys' club of Tar Heel politics to new ethnic groups. Plus, he was one of the most entertaining politicians North Carolina ever produced ….[Semonche] presents a balanced warts-and-all portrait of his subject, while chronicling a pivotal moment in North Carolina politics.” - Ben Steelman, Star News Online
“The nephew may be better known today, but his uncle Nick Galifianakis’ life and political career is an important one for those who want to understand our state’s history and political background.” - D.G. Martin, columnist and host of “North Carolina BookWatch”
“Pick Nick” shows the historian’s hand at work – facts is facts, as the old folks say – even when your 88-year-old neighbor is the subject of your book. John Semonche’s even-handed biography rescues one of North Carolina’s most colorful politicians from near-obscurity. For a generation of Tar Heels and a legion of immigrants to the state who know little or, more likely, nothing about the election of 1972 and Nick Galifianakis (though they likely recognize the name in another context: actor and comedian Zach Galifianakis is his nephew), “Pick Nick” is an overdue introduction to the man and his times. The best political biographies not only revive memories for those who lived through an era, but also tell the story for those who didn’t. Pick Nick is an accessible tutorial on a savvy first-generation American’s political journey through pre-1972 North Carolina, a page-turning rainy-day read blessedly free of the muddled writing that afflicts so much contemporary scholarship.” - Bob Wilson, The News and Observer
“Semonche recounts the remarkable like of Galifianakis, who was the first to pave the way in politics in North Carolina for candidates of various ethnic backgrounds, including Greek-Americans like himself.” - The National Herald