Recent Addiction & Projects

Titus

I had a temporary addiction to autobiographies/memoirs written by celebrities like:

  • Bossypants by Tina Fey
  • Yes, Please by Amy Poehler
  • Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari
  • The Only Pirate at the Party by Lindsey Stirling
  • The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher
  • Talking As Fast As I Can by Lauren Graham
  • Scrappy Little Nobody Anna Kendrick
  • Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling
  • Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling

I don’t know if they’re technically supposed to be called memoirs or autobiographies, but I couldn’t stop reading them. It’s almost like hanging out with them. But I also have to question whether they actually wrote it or if a ghost did it for them. That’s a writing joke: ghost writer. Get it?

Anyway, I usually pick up the ones I “know,” as in, I’m familiar with a lot of their work i.e. I love everything they appear in. It started with Bossypants by Tina Fey because I think she started this trend, and a friend from film club raved about it, and he was right to.

My most recent readings have been Mindy Kaling’s two books. I like her and many of the celebrities I’ve chosen to read because I have confidence that they wrote their own books because they are writers of their shows or material (i.e. Lindsey Stirling and her music composition).

My latest obsession: The Mindy Project which is the reason I picked up Mindy Kaling’s books, and I regret nothing! I loved them. She is my spirit celebrity (like spirit animal). Basically her new famous take on life is pretty much how I would respond to being famous. How I wish McDonald’s would gift me with their gift cards themselves!

My Own Projects

Speaking of memoirs, lets talk about mine! Just kidding! but I would like to take some time to talk a little about my current projects.

I opened up a document from Jamie and Ryan, my 2013 NaNoWriMo novel the other day, and I wrote about a sentence and a half. Since reading about military dogs and gaining a job working with service dogs, I have added a service dog to that story.

A few days later, I remapped some of the story scenes, but the story is changing for the umpteenth time. I’ve even played with the idea of using this new version for NaNo this year, but I want to work on it now, so I will still need to find a new NaNo.

Excuses for my Lack of Progress 

  • New job to prove myself worthy in
  • Still working old TV job
  • Watching Smallville and other shows via Netflix AND Hulu
  • The new season of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

I didn’t think I would have the time for a while, but I’ve picked up a fiction book again. I finally found the first book to a series where I only owned the middle two our of the four. They’re not clearly marked, and I bought them from a Borders’s closing sale.

I can’t promise I’ll be able to keep to my biweekly routine, but I sure will try.

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The Newsmakers by Lis Wiehl (with Sebastian Stuart)

Despite the drinking problem that caused her to lose custody of her daughter, the main character went from being small market news reporter to a big market reporter who broke big news on her first day on the job which leads to her uprising in the business. Of course, with that, comes new enemies.

I did not finish this book, and I did not care to. I should have known I wouldn’t get much out of this book based on the cover and the summary on the inside sleeve. It was the title that got me. “Newsmakers.” Maybe it’ll make the business I’m in more exciting, I thought. No, it did not. This is a drama filled story, yes. Slightly intriguing. What do they mean this place is dangerous? Who is this boss guy, really? But very formulaic. You got the boss who hired the character giving her her second chance, but it must be too good to be true. Character mulls over this great new opportunity, and everyone around sends her nothing but warnings. And then there’s the mean girl who doesn’t like the new girl and wants her to fail. And of course a new office romance. But no, she must put her career and her daughter first. Oh, but he’s so handsome! “He asked me to dinner! What do I do?!” (No that is not an actual quote from the book, but it might as well have been).

Some of the wording is heavy handed. The boss has a globe in his hand and tosses it up and down. Then the author continues to tell me, “He’s got the whole world in his hands.” Thanks. I needed that metaphor slammed into my face.

And it’s a lot of self empowerment which is not a bad thing, but when the character repeatedly expresses that empowerment to herself, and the reader has to read it over and over again, it gets, again, heavy handed. I know her history, I know her goal, I don’t need a reminder that she is doing this for her daughter every chapter. I don’t feel there are layers to the characters. When the main character was scared, I did not feel fear. Suspension of disbelief just wasn’t there for me.

I wanted to finish the book for the sake of finishing something I started, but this was not my cup of tea, and I just did not care that much about the character. I might watch a movie like this or a TV show. I do keep up with TV shows like this, but it’s not something I want to read in a book. It’s more personal drama than a substantial story. To its credit, though, there is an intriguing murder to be solved, but I couldn’t stand trying to read through the little cliche subplots to get to it.

The writing style reminds me of my own. It’s a lot of step by step, the character walked out her door repeating her mantra. She arrived at work to find… It’s cut and dry, and a lot of things are blatantly being told to the reader when they should be shown. And that’s my problem in my writing. But she got published, so what do I know?

And riddle me this. What does it mean when there’s a contributor name? Did they both write the book or is Sebastian Stuart supposed to be someone everyone knows which convinces them to look at the book like some books have, “with James Patterson,” after the unfamiliar author name?

I think I found a new title for this blog. “The Unpublished Critiquing the Published.”

Anywho, summer reading is just around the corner! I haven’t picked up another book yet, and I have probably a chapter or two of Game of Thrones left; yes, the first book, the one that I first mentioned many many entries back. It’s not for lack of interest, but I’m not going to lie, some of the terminology goes over my head, and I can’t quite remember what all has been going on with each character. It’s a lot of people to keep up with, and I think that turns me off. It’s not a read I can do at work or a waiting room because it requires un-distracted focus and an attention span I do not have to even get through one chapter in one sitting.

I read young adult because those have fantastical stories I can read on a bus or during the two minute commercial breaks in the news cast I’m supposed to be monitoring. I haven’t actually taken much time to read the big guys’ books like Stephen King, Tom Clancy, Grisham, but those books are on my list.

Next up will be still, young adult, a re-read of a vampire tale (not Twilight) that claims to be different from all the other vampire tales when that was the big craze. I remember liking it, but I can’t quite remember what it was all about, and I recently found the sequel at Half Price without knowing there even was a sequel. So next entry will be a two parter.

Why Ben Affleck Can’t Be Batman

Side note (more note to self) about own blog. I have yet to find what makes this my book review blog vs a generic book report of what I like and dislike. I need a thing, and I don’t know what that is. I was hoping to get specific about writing style, but really, as long as I can read it and produce an image and read on, I’m golden. Will keep working on this thing of mine.

Since I just wrote about writing style. I enjoy the first person narrative because you really get inside the mind of the characters. I like the switching of POVs. You really get all sides of the story. Sometimes, I did have to think back on what happened to a character in one chapter when we come back around to them, so that’s a minor caveat. But it’s not like she does five chapters in a row of the same character.

What makes the book so much creepier than the film is that the book, being first person, delves deeper into the characters. It was like they were talking to me. whereas watching the film, they were just characters doing their thing only letting me in a couple of times through their voice over narration.

This will be more of a personal reaction to Gone Girl, the book, than a review. Remember that Facebook post that was going around about books that have stuck with you? This is one of those books.

To recommend this book would attract some judgement on my character, and reading this twisted story had me judging the author. I usually don’t read the acknowledgments, but I thought in this case, it could give me some insight on Flynn. Funny enough she is happily married with kids, and she had married friends read over her work. She even joked that she was glad the story did not ruin their marriages.

Anyway, it is a good book, but it is also terrifying. Don’t overthink it, okay?

I watched the movie first, and my mistake was watching it before attending a wedding, so that was fun. The movie has haunted me enough to pick up the book. Let me tell you, it is an interesting experience to be reading a book when you already have the story, and I think the movie has stayed true to the book, but with all movies based on books, a few scenes had to be cut. I’d have to watch the movie again to be sure, but I think the movie covered the important aspects. It is a testament to the book for me to sit down and read through it when I already know the story.

I don’t even want to summarize this one for you because I don’t know how to do it without spoiling it, and I think because I got no spoilers before walking into the story (the movie), that is why it has such a hold on me.

What is terrifying is the psyche of the characters… And you think about it; people like this actually exist in this world. The characters are extreme, but I think humans are capable of such extremity, and that is horrifying.

SPOILER WARNING!!

There is no happy ending; no one gets their due justice. They’re just trapped. I like and dislike this. I dislike this because the formula calls for a happy ending. Something that at least hints someone will get what’s coming to them; justice must be served! At the same time, I like that Flynn doesn’t follow the formula and not just for the sake of it. It’s a believable “resolution” to the whole story. It wouldn’t make sense for it to end any other way.

END OF SPOILER.

I’ve looked up the author and am intrigued by her work. Random fact about me. Edgar Allan Poe has always been my favorite. I loved the dark stuff, but he had such a dark childhood. I always thought I needed darkness to write. I’ve got my own monsters helping me with that, but I thought I needed Poe-level darkness, and Flynn, I think proves otherwise, and so far, I like that about her.

Minnow by James McTeer II

A slow read due to the fact that I started it after finishing the fast paced, action packed, Canary.

This book is about a boy whose father is sick, immobile, and on the brink of death. The boy wants his mother to stay at his father’s side as he goes out to buy medicine. The boy finds that the pharmacist does not have the medicine his father needs and sends him out to find someone who would have the medicine or something that… I actually can’t even remember what it was that first pharmacist said he needed. I didn’t care for this book; I don’t even remember it’s contents.

The word “negro” was thrown around and that bugged me a little because of the unclear time period of the book.

I assume the setting is meant to take place in a past time period where that word was acceptable but it’s never quite confirmed. There are ox carts.

It’s not like Huckleberry Finn where it’s used in dialogue because in the time period, it was a word that was often used. Judging from ox carts, and the boy having no shoes, I assume so, but I’m still never quite sure. And the fact that witch doctors are characters, surely, the word is unnecessary in a fantasy world like this one. It’s not quite historical fiction either.

This book is fairly new which is what bugs me about that word. Not just that; it’s in third person omniscient, and the author is using the word for description and outside of dialogue. Surely, as the outside narrator he could describe someone as having dark or brown skin or something more descriptive than saying, “A negro sat in it…” (Minnow 47). A few lines down, he uses the word again: “The negro in the barge was old…” Once its established the character, I think it’s just redundant to use the word again. It adds nothing to the story. Granted sometimes it is used in the dialogue; I’ll give him that.

And Rider Strong is right; authors’ pictures should not be included in book jackets and back covers. I want to judge a book by its story not by whose face is involved in the writing of this book. I only enjoyed some parts of this book, and the face in the jacket was a little annoying looking (when I become a famous author, this will probably be dug up for a tabloid story about my beef with this author; he may have died of old age by then because by the time I get published, I’ll be on the brink of old aged death myself, Ha!). For the record, there’s no real beef. Some real beef though, the unnecessarily thrown around word in this book. He lets up later on though.

All the initial annoyance aside, the imagery of the book is fascinating. The boy travels through a descriptive forest of darkness and through a river that seems to try to drown the forest. He faces a mysterious monster that lives in the water, and you can hear the scary gurgling of the water. I enjoyed the descriptive fantasy and imagery of the book. I enjoyed it when there was action like when the boy runs into a group of hunters and when the boy finally finds the witch doctor who knew he was coming, and when the boy woke up with one eye.

The imagery got old and repetitive. I don’t even know what palmetto trees are, but one could play a drinking game with how many times the author told you they were there and poking the character or drooping over the character or the character looked up at it.

The novel paints a pretty picture, but it’s got no story. I got up to the last few chapters, and then skipped and skimmed the last chapter to find out how it ends. Unimpressed. There was no character development, no real showing this boy’s fear and sadness of losing his friend, a stray dog and no relief when they’re reunited over and over throughout his journey.

I feel like he just added obstacles just for the sake of the boy having obstacles in an attempt to make the book exciting. Like the stupid wild boars ramming into the tree that the boy climbed. And just the two? I don’t get it. He must have read Lord of the Flies.

I didn’t feel there was character development. This kid met friends and then had to leave them behind. He saw one of them lose his mother. He was beaten by wold boars. All of these things traumatize a kid, and I didn’t see trauma and change. It’s unrealistic for a child to be so focused on one thing even if it is his father’s life. I could put myself in the kid’s shoes (though he had none) and imagine how I would have dealt with his misfortunes, but reading the novel gave me no emotions except for irritation like I was trying to finish it for the sake of an exam.

And in a way, that’s what I was doing. I couldn’t stand not being able to finish that book before I needed to turn it back into the library. I failed that challenge though. I had to renew my check-out, and then by the time the extended due date came around, I didn’t even want to finish the little I had left of the book.

I wouldn’t say it’s a terrible book, and you shouldn’t read it. Because maybe my annoyance was due to whatever anger-inducing thing was going on in my life at the time of reading this novel, like my poor performance at my new job and annoying sports anchors.

To me the book was pages of frilly language and not enough story and character substance. Maybe that’s your taste, and you’ll like this book. Read it, and tell me I’m crazy.

Reading this book has taught me that I enjoy suspense and action. Seems like written imagery is low on my priority list. Tell me what’s happening and the imagery will emerge in my own mind. That’s probably why my ability to describe where a character is and their surrounding is almost non-existent. I should work on that.

My First Time with Aziz Ansari

Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari

My first audio book, and he gives me flack about it. Ha! Funny story, I requested this and the physical book version from the public library along with Tina Fey’s audio book and Amy Poehler’s audio and physical book. This one just came in first.

Of course I only decided to listen to these audio books because they’re comedic memoirs read by the people I love who actually wrote them. Other than that reason, I may have never popped an audio book into my CD player.

This book by Aziz Ansari is less of a memoir and more of a sociological journal of Ansari’s research with a mix of his comedic wit. I may be biased being a sociology major, but it’s a book that applies to everyone with a lot of interesting finds on today’s dating world, especially with the existence of match making technology. Plus it’s Aziz Ansari.

While some of the text is a little textbook-ish, it’s still some interesting stuff, and it’s presented in a hilarious way. I think this should be a textbook assigned to sociology majors, and it would easily be one of the most talked about among them. “Ooh! Did she assign you guys ‘Modern Romance?’ That was my favorite. I got an A on that essay.”

Now this was just the audio book, and a lot of my review is influenced by the fact that Aziz himself was reading to me, and it felt like he was telling me a story, and I loved imagining that we were bffs, but reading the actual book myself will be a whole other experience. And I’m excited to see all the charts and graphs myself. Nonetheless, the material was still interesting, and I recommend this audio book and the physical one to everyone.

My own thoughts on modern romance: I don’t judge anyone who relies on technological match making for their romantic successes. I’ve seen it work well, but I’m old-fashioned, and I have a little bit of faith. I believe if it’s meant to be, it will be without me forging it through an app. By that I mean, I’m not ready to settle down, and I never will be, but should I be without realizing it, I believe the universe will tell me.

I’ll probably be running my foster based rescue, and he’ll be one of my biggest fosters, and we’ll go halfsies on a giant house for all of our interchanging fosters and live happily ever after.

I just got an email saying the Tina Fey’s audio version of Bossypants is ready for me, so next up, hanging out with Tina Fey.