nonfiction

Nonfiction Friday: Burnout, The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle by Emily Nagoski and Amelia Nagoski

For a term I had never heard of before, “Burnout” is my new go-term term for being at the edge of insanity. This engaging and insightful book is a must read for women everywhere who are just about to give up.


SYNOPSIS

Burnout. Many women in America have experienced it. What’s expected of women and what it’s really like to be a woman in today’s world are two very different things—and women exhaust themselves trying to close the gap between them. How can you “love your body” when every magazine cover has ten diet tips for becoming “your best self”? How do you “lean in” at work when you’re already operating at 110 percent and aren’t recognized for it? How can you live happily and healthily in a sexist world that is constantly telling you you’re too fat, too needy, too noisy, and too selfish?

Sisters Emily Nagoski, PhD, and Amelia Nagoski, DMA, are here to help end the cycle of feeling overwhelmed and exhausted. Instead of asking us to ignore the very real obstacles and societal pressures that stand between women and well-being, they explain with compassion and optimism what we’re up against—and show us how to fight back. In these pages you’ll learn

• what you can do to complete the biological stress cycle—and return your body to a state of relaxation
• how to manage the “monitor” in your brain that regulates the emotion of frustration
• how the Bikini Industrial Complex makes it difficult for women to love their bodies—and how to defend yourself against it
• why rest, human connection, and befriending your inner critic are keys to recovering and preventing burnout

With the help of eye-opening science, prescriptive advice, and helpful worksheets and exercises, all women will find something transformative in these pages—and will be empowered to create positive change. Emily and Amelia aren’t here to preach the broad platitudes of expensive self-care or insist that we strive for the impossible goal of “having it all.” Instead, they tell us that we are enough, just as we are—and that wellness, true wellness, is within our reach. from Amazon.


burnout
“Burnout” Pink Cover with ripped page

REVIEW

Burnout is defined in this book by three components: (1) emotional exhaustion – the fatigue that comes from caring too much, for too long; (2) depersonalization – the depletion of empathy, caring, and compassion; and (3) decreased sense of accomplishment – an unconquerable sense of futility; feeling that nothin you do makes any difference.

Upon first reading this, I felt I’d been spotted. There must be cracks in my facade!

But I am in good company. According to the authors, “burnout” is a phenomena affecting whole groups of people who work in positions of, “people helping people.” Teachers, medical professionals, humanitarian aid workers, and parents are all suffering from burnout in large numbers. Oddly, women are more deeply and specifically impacted.

Now, as a die-heard feminist I like to believe that men are just as susceptible to things as women are capable. However, in this case, I have to agree with the authors. As they walk the reader through historic gender problems, most specifically “human giver syndrome,” it is difficult to argue that differing treatment in childhood wouldn’t have some impact. I can accept that women who are raised to believe that being thin is good and looking pretty is important will result in burnout just as easily as toxic masculinity has roots in “boys will be boys” and “real men don’t cry.”

Be nice, be strong, be polite. No feelings for you

The chapters are broken down into manageable chunks of pertinent information. It was clear to me that the authors had taught because each chapter laid the foundation for the one before it and built on the prior. And, for those who need reminders or who are too busy to read the details they provided a Too Long Didn’t Read (TLDR) at the end of each chapter. By using personal anecdotes, stories from friends, and those from popular fiction, the book was as fun to read as it was informative. Although, I could have done with a lot less Moana references (but that’s just me!).

Chapters one and two clearly lay out what is causing stress in most women’s lives and how to deal with it. Some of the information was new to me but the fact that really stunned me was the notion that our bodies need to get rid of stress. Whether that it through exercise, affection, or even creative measures, we are biologically programmed to need that outlet. Sounds simple enough but they way they explained it resonated with me so deeply I have completely transformed the way I work out and how I prioritize sleep.

Things were a little less solid for me in certain sections. For example, chapter three was about meaning, as in the meaning of life. While your life having “meaning” is one of the main elements that promotes happiness finding your “Something Larger” is important for feeling that your life has a positive impact. Initially I struggled with this section because how can you have “something larger” and avoid falling victim to “human giver syndrome?” But, I suppose being a stay-at-home Mom because you want to be is entirely different than being one because society limits you to that role. Similarly, I can make monetary sacrificing in my career if I want to do that kind of work as long as I am not limited to my choice of jobs by what is appropriate for a woman.

The remainder of the book explains why what sounds simply is so difficult for women. From acknowledging that the game is rigged, fighting the patriarchy, and gaslighting, being a women is fundamentally difficult. And if you don’t get a chance to read the book just know this fact,

“The body mass index (BMI) chart and it labels – underweight, overweight, obese, etc. – were created by a panel of nine individuals, seven of whom were ’employed by weight-loss clinics and thus have an economic interest in encouraging use of their facilities.'”

For every woman out there who is feeling crushed under the weight of the world, this book really helped me. I used to look around at my male friends and wonder, “Why are they so carefree, what’s wrong with me?” There is nothing wrong with me. I was just experiencing burnout.


Tell me, please!

Do you ever feel uniquely stressed?


 

WWW Wednesday

WWW Wednesday: February 26, 2020

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! My favorite meme was last hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and has found a new home with Sam @ Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. Don’t forget to check all the other participants. It is the #1 way I keep my TBR overflowing!


The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


WHAT AM I CURRENTLY READING?

 

This week is all new! I cracked into How to be a Lady in audiobook format mostly to mock it. I am not ashamed to admit that I was wrong. This book is full to the brim of sensible advice on how to be considerable, kind, and thoughtful. It does say the word “Lady” far too frequently and is like listening to a list being read. Still, I am left really thinking long and hard about how wonderful our world would be if we all agreed on a set pattern of social expectations.

I also started The Dark Lord Clementine by Sarah Jean Horwitz. This middle grade book stars Clementine. Her dad, The Dark Lord, has been cursed. Will Clementine be able to save him? Or, will she have to take over Dark Lord duties?

Finally, I started reading The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley. This, the first of the Flavia de Luce mysteries, is my March bookclub pick.


WHAT DID I RECENTLY FINISH READING?

austenland

I picked up and finished Austenland by Shannon Hale this week. I have been a big fan of Hale and the movie but I never realized that there was a book! What JOY! She had a major part in writing the screenplay so, as suspected, the book was very close to the movie. However, I don’t think anything can compare to Jennifer Coolidge. Movie wins!


WHAT WILL I READ NEXT?

 

I picked up the second in the Austenland series and I plan to start that next. However, I also need some nonfiction in my life so I think I will start Quakery which looks like a fun one.


Tell me, please!

What’s on your WWW?


 

Audio Book · nonfiction

The Greatest Love Story Ever Told: An Oral History by Nick Offerman and Megan Mullally

This audiobook version of Nick Offerman and Megan Mullally’s book was like listening to the two of them over a long dinner. Listening to them flirt, chat, compliment, and reminisce will show even the hardest heart what a beautiful marriage can look like.


SYNOPSIS

At last, the full story behind Megan Mullally and Nick Offerman’s epic romance, including stories, portraits, and the occasional puzzle, all telling the smoldering tale that has fascinated Hollywood for over a decade.

The year: 2000. The setting: Los Angeles. A gorgeous virtuoso of an actress had agreed to star in a random play, and a basement-dwelling scenic carpenter had said he would assay a supporting role in the selfsame pageant. At the first rehearsal, she surveyed her fellow cast members, as one does, determining if any of the men might qualify to provide her with a satisfying fling. Her gaze fell upon the carpenter, and like a bolt of lightning, the thought struck her: No dice. Moving on.

Yet, unbeknownst to our protagonists, Cupid had merely set down his bow and picked up a rocket launcher. Then fired a love rocket (not a euphemism). The players were Megan Mullally and Nick Offerman, and the resulting romance, once it ignited, was… epic. Beyond epic. It resulted in a coupling that has endured to this day; a sizzling, perpetual tryst that has captivated the world with its kindness, athleticism, astonishingly low-brow humor, and true (fire emoji) passion.

How did they do it? They came from completely different families, endured a significant age difference, and were separated by the gulf of several social strata. Megan loved books and art history; Nick loved hammers. But much more than these seemingly unsurpassable obstacles were the values they held in common: respect, decency, the ability to mention genitalia in almost any context, and an abiding obsession with the songs of Tom Waits.

Eighteen years later, they’re still very much in love, and have finally decided to reveal the philosophical mountains they have conquered, the lessons they’ve learned, and the myriad jigsaw puzzles they’ve completed, in an audiobook. Featuring anecdotes, hijinks, interviews, photos, and a veritable grab bag of tomfoolery, this is not only the intoxicating audiobook that Mullally’s and Offerman’s fans have been waiting for, it might just hold the solution to the greatest threat facing our modern world: the single life. from Amazon


thegreatestlovestory
“The Greatest Love Story Ever Told” Nick Offerman and Megan Mullally sit together surrounded by pink roses.

REVIEW

After I finished listening to Yes, Please by Amy Poehler I watched all of Parks and Rec and became fairly obsessed with Nick Offerman’s character Ron. I think somewhere in the back of my mind I knew that he was married to Megan Mullally but, honestly, I didn’t really give it much thought. That is, until I saw Ron and Tammy on Parks and Rec. Ron and Tammy are hilarious. So, obviously, when this audiobook came across my path I decided to pick it up. This is five and a half hours of joyful and insightful listening!

Now, I’ve got to say, Nick and Megan are not afraid to talk about sex. So, if dirty jokes and not-veiled remarks about their sex life lies outside of your comfort zone just know that this book is pretty rife with them.

This book is certain to make people jealous of their happy marriage but not me. Instead, I was so thrilled to hear that this kind of love exists. I am sure that they fight (they do touch on several arguments) but they have the kind of relationship that seems built to last, one with shared interests and mutual respect for their solo projects.

What I was envious instead of Nick and Megan’s vocabulary. I have a fairly good grasp of the English language and I had to pause the audiobook SEVEN times to rewind and look up a word.

If you are stuck in dating hell, this book has some solid advice on how to find a significant other: do your own thing, be nice, and say yes to opportunities. I’m summarizing here and it is absolutely worth a listen but that is the gist. Dating sites, set ups, and bar hopping may work for some people, but it is easier to just keep moving your life forward and your eyes open. Also, it seems, being super confident in yourself might help.

Whether you pick up this audiobook for the humor, the romance, or just to listen to the witty and melodious banter of these two you will not be disappointed!


Tell me, please!

Do you enjoy celebrity memoirs?


 

WWW Wednesday

WWW Wednesday: February 19, 2020

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! My favorite meme was last hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and has found a new home with Sam @ Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. Don’t forget to check all the other participants. It is the #1 way I keep my TBR overflowing!


The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


WHAT AM I CURRENTLY READING?

Australia
A Rainbow in the background of the Australian landscape with three kangaroos in the foreground.

It is unbelievable but I managed to clear all of my books off my “currently reading” shelf from prior weeks and I have only this romance anthology currently in the works. I picked up Australia in the middle of the night (thanks insomnia!) because it features a number of romance novelists I enjoy. Bonus: 50% of all royalties will go to a firefighter charity and 50% will go towards wildlife charity.


RECENTLY FINISHED READING

I didn’t post last week because last week was stupid. So, these are my books from the past two weeks.

I finished Last Tsar’s Dragons by Jane Yolen and Adam Stemple. This book reimagines the last days of the Romanovs with dragons. Even though I think Jane Yolen is a treasure, this book didn’t capture my imagination enough to warrant continuing with the series. But, if you are in the mood for altered Russian history you might really enjoy this quick story.

I finally found and finished I Hate Fairyland, Madly Ever After. It is ridiculous and I mean that as a compliment. Super irreverent and violent, it was enjoyable. I am going to wait until I’m in a more vicious mood to pick up the second in this four-part series.

I am supposed to be reading Burnout as a weekly buddy read but the insomnia mentioned above had me finishing it ahead of schedule. It is so good. A full review is coming soon!

I also picked up and finished The Plus One by Sarah Archer which I didn’t enjoy. If you are going to build a robot in two days that is a fully functioning human being (and I do mean fully functioning) then you have to make me believe that it is possible. Or, at least, help me become attached to the main character or the robot! This one will not get a full review. It was poo.

Anne of Green Gables is a delightful classic that I had never previously enjoyed. I read it for a book club and so many of us work with gifted kids that we were laughing historically at how well Anne would fit in with gifted kids today. While it does include a number of racist and culturally offensive remarks I just couldn’t shake how much I enjoyed Anne’s effortless positive nature. That little dash of snark made Anne perfect for me.


WHAT WILL I READ NEXT?

The beauty of having finally cleared my bedside table is that I get to go shopping on my beautiful bookshelves. I am not 100% sure what else I will read but I know I need to start The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie. It the first Flavia de Luce mystery and my book club’s next pick.

I’ve also had a really hard time finding an audiobook that I enjoy but I think that Kevin Smith’s Tough Sh*t shows promise. Either way, I am excited to build a new stack!


Tell me, please!

What’s on your WWW?


 

Fantasy · series · YA

A Heart So Fierce and Broken by Brigid Kemmerer

I came back to this YA series to see what was happening with Rhen and Harper only to have the focus shift to Grey. As a huge fan of the hot Captain of the Guard, Grey, I am thrilled to spend more time with him and I cannot wait for book three.

Warning: this is a review of the second book in a series. As such, there are spoilers from the first book in the following synopsis and review. If you want to avoid them just know that I loved the first book (full review here) and I could not put the second book down!


SYNOPSIS

In the sequel to New York Times bestselling A Curse So Dark and Lonely, Brigid Kemmerer returns to the world of Emberfall in a lush fantasy where friends become foes and love blooms in the darkest of places.

Find the heir, win the crown.
The curse is finally broken, but Prince Rhen of Emberfall faces darker troubles still. Rumors circulate that he is not the true heir and that forbidden magic has been unleashed in Emberfall. Although Rhen has Harper by his side, his guardsman Grey is missing, leaving more questions than answers.

Win the crown, save the kingdom.
Grey may be the heir, but he doesn’t want anyone to know his secret. On the run since he destroyed Lilith, he has no desire to challenge Rhen–until Karis Luran once again threatens to take Emberfall by force. Her own daughter Lia Mara sees the flaws in her mother’s violent plan, but can she convince Grey to stand against Rhen, even for the good of Emberfall?

The heart-pounding, compulsively readable saga continues as loyalties are tested and new love blooms in a kingdom on the brink of war. from Amazon.

 

aheartsofierce
“A Heart so Fierce and Broken” words are woven with vines on a green background.

REVIEW

One of the darker troubles in this book that Rhen is facing is himself. I wasn’t sure what to make of him at the conclusion of A Curse So Dark and Lonely and now I am completely confused. I also have a lot of questions about Rhen and Harper which were left unanswered because this book shifts its focus to Grey and a new character, Lia Mara.

Still, while Grey is certainly center stage, Rhen and Harper don’t completely disappear. Admittedly, Harper takes an extremely minor role in this story but I would have liked to see their romance or relationship grow a bit. Also, perhaps it is just me but Harper was a force to be reckoned with in Curse and the small snippets  we see of her here are fairly weak. Rhen remains a major player in the story but his actions and decision certain made me question what I knew about the Prince of Emberfall.

All of this didn’t matter one whit to me because I came back for Grey.

Admittedly, I was hoping that Grey would be vying for Harper’s attention and I wasn’t completely thrilled with Lia Mara being added to the mix. I’m a big fan of love triangles. Well, most of the time. I have to say that the author’s ability to make me care about this new character is impressive. She took Lia Mara from a character I didn’t know existed (and was annoyed with) to one I deeply rooted for by the end of the book.

This book also expanded the world of Emberfall by adding a whole new cast of characters. True, occasionally the rising action had to give way to make room for this character development and there were times it felt that the story wasn’t progressing. But as a reader who loves characters, I enjoyed each new addition to this rag-tag team. Tycho, Grey’s brave protege tugged at my heartstrings. Lia Mara’s sister and mother had me eternally grateful for my own family. And I loved the odd magical Iisak who I can just sense is going to play a major role in the third book. I was equally happy to see Noah and Jacob having a more major role in this story. All of these characters made the world real for me in a way that the romance and intrigue had to do alone in the first book.

loved this second book in the Cursebreakers Trilogy and I am very excited for the third book to land in my hands. I have complete faith that the author will bring all of the characters together in the culmination of this series and I cannot wait to see how she does it.


Tell me, please!

How do you feel when a series changes character focus?


 

Graphic Novels · Middle Grade · Sunday Morning Comics · Uncategorized

The Okay Witch by Emma Steinkellner

A middle grade graphic novel that speaks to the power of communication in families. I couldn’t love Moth Hush more if she used her magic to make a million copies of herself.


SYNOPSIS

A School Library Journal Best Graphic Novel of 2019!

Sabrina the Teenage Witch meets Roller Girl in this hilarious, one-of-a-kind graphic novel about a half-witch who has just discovered the truth about herself, her family, and her town and is doing her best to survive middle school now that she knows everything!

Magic is harder than it looks.

Thirteen-year-old Moth Hush loves all things witchy. But she’s about to discover that witches aren’t just the stuff of movies, books, and spooky stories. When some eighth-grade bullies try to ruin her Halloween, something really strange happens. It turns out that Founder’s Bluff, Massachusetts, has a centuries-old history of witch drama. And, surprise: Moth’s family is at the center of it all! When Moth’s new powers show up, things get totally out-of-control. She meets a talking cat, falls into an enchanted diary, and unlocks a hidden witch world. Secrets surface from generations past as Moth unravels the complicated legacy at the heart of her town, her family, and herself.

In this spellbinding graphic novel debut, Emma Steinkellner spins a story packed with humor and heart about the weird and wonderful adventures of a witch-in-progress. from Amazon.


theokaywitch
A young teenage girl with huge eyes and flowing hair is standing suspended on a flying broom with a black cat clinging to her leg.

REVIEW

Graphic Novels are powerful. This book will take approximately thirty minutes to read and two and a half hours to read again and again. The Okay Witch is quite simply a gorgeous story ripe for opening a conversation about family, fitting in, bigotry, and second chances and bravo to Emma Steinkellner for layering all of it so beautifully in such an accessible story.

Moth Hush is such a likable character. On Halloween she meets the new student, Charlie, who is just as easy to root for as Moth. Together, the two of them are navigating how to fit in with their peers and their families. But both kids’ parents have been keeping their histories from them and it is hard to move forward when you don’t understand the past.

Children and adults alike will find this book a delightful, but occasionally serious, read. Together this book has the power to do more than entertain. It has the ability to start a conversation about how each person’s history and choices affect our future. More importantly, it showcases the vital role communication has in families. And, it is just pure fun to read.


Tell me, please!

Have you read a graphic novel that you couldn’t stop talking about?


 

Challenges

2020 Books in Two Sentences: January

At the very beginning of 2020 I saw The Knight is Dark and Full of Books do this with their 2019 books and I was in awe. I knew I wanted to do the same for my 2020 books but I also knew that if I didn’t make it a monthly habit it would be a hot mess at the end of the year. I mean, look, it’s already half-way through February and I am so behind on my reviews. So, drumroll please, here is January’s books reviewed for you in two sentences! Any link will take you to a full review.


JANUARY

Denton Little’s Deathdate: A YA contemporary romance / science fiction that tickled my funny bone with gallows humor galore. This was a fantastic way to start the New Year and I cannot wait to get my hands on book #2.

Red, White and Royal Blue: Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston was voted the Winner of Goodread’s Best Romance for 2019. I saw this book everywhere and finally read it only to fall in love with this coming of age story!

Me: A Nonfiction book for the ages that is nearly impossible to put down or forget. Whether you are a fan of Elton John’s music or not, you will be a fan of his humanity and his humility after reading this book.

Nicholas Flamel’s First Codex: This first book in a middle grade fantasy series introduces us to the world of Nicholas, his wife Perry and the nefarious John Dee. I felt for Sophie and Josh Newman who are thrust into their world of magic, changing their lives forever, but I’m not sure I have the energy for this series.

Atomic Habits: My first re-read of 2020 was my favorite Nonfiction read of 2019! Last year this book helped me make and keep so many new habits and I am hopeful that this year it will support me quitting bad habits as successfully.

The Toll: At over 600 action packed pages this was a marathon read. But, much like a long workout, I felt nothing but satisfaction when I finally finished.

A Curse So Dark and Lonely: A YA loose re-telling of The Beauty and the Beast that captured my heart. I love a strong protagonist and Harper delivers in spades even though I am still unsure how I feel about Prince Rhen.

The Greatest Love Story Ever Told: This audiobook version of Nick Offerman and Megan Mullally’s book was like listening to the two of them over a long dinner. Listening to them flirt, chat, compliment, and reminisce will show even the hardest heart what a beautiful marriage can look like.

A Heart So Fierce and Broken: I came back to this YA series to see what was happening with Rhen and Harper only to have the focus shift to Grey. As a huge fan of the third wheel, Grey, from the first book I am thrilled to spend more time with this hot Captain of the Guard.

The Philosopher’s Flight: A historical science fiction that reimagines the our world during WWII if people, mainly women, had the power of magic and flight. This is a book I just cannot stop thinking about and I am so excited to get my hands on the second in the series.

How to Outline My Novel: If you are writing a YA book this how-to would be a great reference! With tons of examples from popular YA books, How to Outline My Novel gives the writers a step-by-step guide on how to outline and finish their YA work.

The Okay Witch: This graphic novel about coming to age and coming to terms with being different is going to be the graphic novel to beat for 2020. I just couldn’t stop loving it and re-reading it!

 


Tell me, please!

How is your 2020 reading / reviewing?


 

nonfiction

Nonfiction Friday: Yes, Please! by Amy Poehler

Amy Poehler had flown under my radar for years but she has my full attention now. I actually finished this book in 2019 (which is a measly four years after it was published) but it has stuck with me. Mostly because Amy has flawless diction. Being able to understand each and every word without undercutting a joke is a true gift. Especially for audiobook listeners who can’t resist speeding up the books to at least 1.25 (me). But also because Amy is the kind of woman we should all want to be – one who is just as comfortable with themselves as they are with vastly different women.


SYNOPSIS

GRAMMY NOMINEE

Audie Award, Humor, 2015

Amy Poehler is hosting a dinner party and you’re invited! Welcome to the audiobook edition of Amy Poehler’s Yes Please. The guest list is star-studded with vocal appearances from Carol Burnett, Seth Meyers, Michael Schur, Patrick Stewart, Kathleen Turner, and even Amy’s parents – Yes Please is the ultimate audiobook extravaganza.

Also included? A one-night-only live performance at Poehler’s Upright Citizens Brigade Theater. Hear Amy read a chapter live in front of a young and attractive Los Angeles audience.

While listening to Yes Please, you’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and you’ll become convinced that your phone is trying to kill you. Don’t miss this collection of stories, thoughts, ideas, lists, and haikus from the mind of one of our most beloved entertainers. Offering Amy’s thoughts on everything from her “too safe” childhood outside of Boston to her early days in New York City, her ideas about Hollywood and “the biz”, the demon that looks back at all of us in the mirror, and her joy at being told she has a “face for wigs” – Yes Please is chock-full of words, and wisdom, to live by. from Amazon.


REVIEW

“Good for her, not for me.” Amy Poehler.

This is the quote that won me over. When Amy see another women doing something differently than she does, she doesn’t think a series of negative thoughts about herself or the other women. Instead, she just says, “Good for her, not for me.” When her friend Maya Rudolph chose to have a drug-free home birth she though, “Good for her, not for me,” as she plotted precisely how early she could get her epidural. I try not tojudge other women but I am terrible at assuming they are judging me.

Maybe its because I’m a nerd and I’ve been a nerd since long before that was cool. I know judgment! And, as a nerd, my eyes always gravitated to the person next to Amy’s blond effervescence. Whether that was Tina Fey, Maya Rudolph, or even Aubrey Plaza, there was always someone next to Amy that I found more easy to identify with than this petite, perky, blond, hilarious woman.

Just look at the cover of her book. It still doesn’t appeal to me. She looks like the confident woman telling us all she is number one. I love that the title is one of her life mantras but I still don’t entirely understand why they posed her this way. Maybe I’m intimidated by her confidence? Actually, you know what, I think I’m going to practice this pose in front of the mirror because she looks boss. 

I’m back. I tried it. It was a stupid look for me. I’m too tall. Good for her, not for me.

yes,please
The neon pink all caps sign saying “Yes Please” sits above a blond woman holding her hand high in the air with her index finger extended.

Amy’s book gave us what all great autobiographies do: an insight into where the person came from, what it was like to experience things we have only seen on television, and tidbits that surprise the listener. But this book is also filled with reflections on choices she made and how she has managed her career in a male dominated field. I especially love the bit where she advises we treat rude and overbearing people as though they are actors that have forgotten their lines.

In the audiobook, she has guests and it is freaking awesome. I will admit, I put the book on regular speed for Patrick Stewart because his voice is glorious and should never be rushed. All of these stories from guests and from Amy herself are tightly woven and I was left with a deep desire to spend more time with this person. In fact, I powered my way through all of Parks and Rec after this book and came out the other side more in love with Amy. Perhaps not quite as much as I grew to love Ron but who doesn’t love Ron?

The book really won me over when she exposed her weaknesses, her mistakes, and all the things she did wrong. Whether it was mocking a child with disabilities (a cardinal sin in my book), drinking and driving, or living off her parents for years, Amy talked about it. More importantly, she talked about the regrets she had about her actions and what she has done to amend those she hurt. Much like Elton John’s Me, I felt in Amy a person focused on being just a little bit better tomorrow than she was yesterday. And what is more lovable than that?

It didn’t bother me that Amy refused to give details about her divorce. Or that she has a boyfriend while writing the book but doesn’t name him. I didn’t pick up the audiobook to listen to her read her Wikipedia page. I just wanted to understand her more. In the end, I think this book is less autobiography, and more listening to a hilarious friend give you advice. Do I think you should read it? Yes, please.


Tell me, please!

Do you enjoy celebrity autobiographies?


 

Romantic · YA

A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer

A YA loose re-telling of The Beauty and the Beast that captured my heart. I love a strong protagonist and Harper delivers in spades even though I am still unsure how I feel about Prince Rhen.


SYNOPSIS

Fall in love, break the curse.

It once seemed so easy to Prince Rhen, the heir to Emberfall. Cursed by a powerful enchantress to repeat the autumn of his eighteenth year over and over, he knew he could be saved if a girl fell for him. But that was before he learned that at the end of each autumn, he would turn into a vicious beast hell-bent on destruction. That was before he destroyed his castle, his family, and every last shred of hope.

Nothing has ever been easy for Harper. With her father long gone, her mother dying, and her brother barely holding their family together while constantly underestimating her because of her cerebral palsy, she learned to be tough enough to survive. But when she tries to save someone else on the streets of Washington, DC, she’s instead somehow sucked into Rhen’s cursed world.

Break the curse, save the kingdom.

A prince? A monster? A curse? Harper doesn’t know where she is or what to believe. But as she spends time with Rhen in this enchanted land, she begins to understand what’s at stake. And as Rhen realizes Harper is not just another girl to charm, his hope comes flooding back. But powerful forces are standing against Emberfall . . . and it will take more than a broken curse to save Harper, Rhen, and his people from utter ruin.

From: Amazon


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“A Curse so Dark and Lonely” Words are woven through with thorns on a blue background.

REVIEW

Occasionally a book lands in your hands at the perfect moment. Perhaps I wouldn’t have fallen so deeply in love with this story if I hadn’t been sick and stuck in bed with ample time on my hands to consume it all in one day. Or, if I had been in a murderous mood and not a romantic one. It doesn’t really matter because I am having a hard time imagining doing anything less than loving on this book.

A Curse So Dark and Lonely is billed as a retelling of Beauty and the Beast but other than a Prince cursed into transforming into a hideous creature, this story is nearly unrecognizably altered. For one, Prince Rhen looks human for the season and only transforms at the end. The whole lesson of Beauty and the Beast is to trap a women into loving your disgustingness through gifts and grand gestures until she professes her love and only then can you reveal that you are really a hot dude. Instead, Prince Rhen is a nice looking human man during the wooing only to violently transform and become a true Beast completely lacking in humanity or the ability to control himself.

The Beauty is also wonderfully changed in this story. While Rhen’s Captain of the Guard, Grey, is tasked with bringing a woman back from our world into Emberfall’s enchanted realm, he tries to bring back a beautiful lost soul that he drags out of a bar. Typical man. “I need a beautiful woman to be my queen, where should I look…a bar!” Harper intercedes on the unconscious girl’s behalf and is taken instead. Her physical beauty isn’t remarked upon. In fact, since she has cerebral palsy, most of the physical commentary (which is still scarce) is spent discussing her gait. Instead, it is her personality that is beautiful.

Let me say too that the evil witch that issues the curse is a real piece of work. Lilith has none of the good intentions of the Disney Beauty and the Beast and just seems to enjoy torturing Rhen and Grey all these years as an intense hobby. Even Harper seems unable to comprehend Lilith’s genuine bad-ness and her cavalier refusal to follow any predictive patterns. Lilith is bad like Voldemort is bad; without logic and seemingly endlessly.

I love reading books where characters are multifaceted and nuanced and I really love Harper. She is a devoted sister, a loving daughter, smart and often overlooked. She has cerebral palsy but that is just one aspect of herself that treats not as defining her but as part of her total identity. Here is the one interaction between Harper and Lilith that made me so happy.

“Do you not see my power?” (Lilith) takes a step closer. “What if I could end the torment of your broken body?”

“No,” says Rhen. He staggers forward. “Harper, what she offers will come at a cost.”

“My body is not broken.” I say.

And I appreciated that the author made a point of adding a note at the end of the book making it clear that while she tried to create a girl who was strong, resilient, and capable, CP affects everyone differently.

I will confess though that I like Rhen almost as well as I have liked the Beast in any Beauty and the Beast retelling. Which is to say, not at all. In every one of these stories you have a spoiled rotten Prince who has been cursed and now feels really super bad about it but is still acting like a spoiled rotten butt-head. Rhen isn’t terribly different but somehow the author built him up slowly but surely until I found myself impressed by his passion for his people. This author even manages to make me believe that together, perhaps, Harper will support Rhen’s desire to be a better person.

Meanwhile, Captain Grey. Hello. Captain Grey has all my votes and I would very much like this fictional character to come to life and teach me to throw some knives. My birthday is in March. Thank you.

This book ended in such as way that I took my agitated and sick self up out of bed and directly to the closest bookseller. I was too sick to logically think about purchasing a copy for my Kindle which is a bit embarrassing now but I am thrilled to have the physical copy so it all worked out. All in all, I loved this book!


Tell me, please!

What is your favorite re-telling?


 

Sunday Comics · Sunday Morning Comics · Uncategorized

Sunday Comics: March 22, 2020

Whether you are a fan of The Awkward Yeti or have never experienced the anthropomorphic delights of Nick Seluk’s body parts, How I Broke Up With My Colon, will have your gut giggling. I read it once and immediately again!

I have been a fan of The Awkward Yeti comics since the first time I saw adorable Gallbladder holding his little stones. He had me at “I maked these.” I want one of these pins but every time I check The Awkward Yeti’s store site it is sold out.

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Sad Gallbladder from Nick Seluk

I tore through Heart and Brains, an Awkward Yeti Collection (Vol. 1) and Heart and Brain, Gut Instincts, an Awkward Yeti Collection (Vol 2). Both had me in utter stitches.


SYNOPSIS

Fascinating, bizarre, and educational true-life medical stories retold in cartoon form by the creator of the bestselling Heart and Brain book series.

Mysterious illnesses. Freakish injuries. X-rays revealing something weird that got stuck in your foot. These strange but true stories are among the 24 medical tales retold in hilarious fashion by New York Times bestselling author/illustrator Nick Seluk. Featuring fascinating stories submitted by people all over the world, How I Broke Up with My Colon is an educational and highly entertaining tour through the bizarre workings of the human body. from Amazon.


REVIEW

Seluk’s latest publication is a combination of comedy and true medical stories. Now, blood and gore doesn’t bother me. And, as you can see, I find cute little body parts misbehaving absolutely hilarious. These twenty-four stories of real medical are half quotes taken from real storytellers and half commentary from the cast of characters created by Seluk. Little Gallbladder made an appearance and my joy knew no bounds.

howIbrokeup

The whole collection is cleverly done and deeply funny. I finished it and immediately flipped back to the beginning to read it again. Even as a big fan of Seluk’s work I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this latest work.

Clearly, based on how much I enjoy little Gallbladder, body humor is just as funny to me as when I was eight. But, I know, for some people these medical stories can hit too close to home. I do have someone near and dear to me who has Crohn’s Disease and I still thought the chapter on Ulcerative Colitis was funny. I just laughed and laughed. I think it is the way Seluk draws these characters. There is no malice or negativity, rather they feel like well intentioned (occasionally insightfully brilliant) children.

And, while I feel that Seluk provides that perfect balance of humor, information, and caring in his strips, others may not. To see if this is your style I recommend checking out a series of strips he has written. I really love this series on anxiety.

Meanwhile, I’m going back in for a third read-through. I just cannot get enough of these comics!

Thank you to Andrews McMeel Publishing and NetGalley for an advanced copy of this book. I received this copy in exchange for an honest review! How I Broke Up With My Colon will be available for purchase on March 24, 2020!


Tell me, please!

Which body part do you think is the funniest?