Saturday, December 30th 2017

We Are Never Meeting In Real Life

We Are Never Meeting In Real LifeWe Are Never Meeting In Real Life by Samantha Irby
Published by Vintage on May 30th 2017
Pages: 288
Goodreads
four-stars

Sometimes you just have to laugh, even when life is a dumpster fire. With We Are Never Meeting in Real Life., "bitches gotta eat" blogger and comedian Samantha Irby turns the serio-comic essay into an art form. Whether talking about how her difficult childhood has led to a problem in making "adult" budgets, explaining why she should be the new Bachelorette--she's "35-ish, but could easily pass for 60-something"--detailing a disastrous pilgrimage-slash-romantic-vacation to Nashville to scatter her estranged father's ashes, sharing awkward sexual encounters, or dispensing advice on how to navigate friendships with former drinking buddies who are now suburban moms--hang in there for the Costco loot--she's as deft at poking fun at the ghosts of her past self as she is at capturing powerful emotional truths.

I listened to this as an audiobook and I highly recommend that version to everyone as it is narrated by the author herself. I loved these essays. They were real, they were raw and they were hilarious. I can’t even remember how I came across this book. It may have been recommended to me as a fan of Jenny Lawson, and the recommendation was very much appreciated.

four-stars

Saturday, February 25th 2017

Love Warrior

Love WarriorLove Warrior Goodreads
four-stars

The highly anticipated new memoir by bestselling author Glennon Doyle Melton tells the story of her journey of self-discovery after the implosion of her marriage.

Just when Glennon Doyle Melton was beginning to feel she had it all figured out—three happy children, a doting spouse, and a writing career so successful that her first book catapulted to the top of the New York Times bestseller list—her husband revealed his infidelity and she was forced to realize that nothing was as it seemed. A recovering alcoholic and bulimic, Glennon found that rock bottom was a familiar place. In the midst of crisis, she knew to hold on to what she discovered in recovery: that her deepest pain has always held within it an invitation to a richer life.

Love Warrior is the story of one marriage, but it is also the story of the healing that is possible for any of us when we refuse to settle for good enough and begin to face pain and love head-on. This astonishing memoir reveals how our ideals of masculinity and femininity can make it impossible for a man and a woman to truly know one another - and it captures the beauty that unfolds when one couple commits to unlearning everything they’ve been taught so that they can finally, after thirteen years of marriage, fall in love.

Love Warrior is a gorgeous and inspiring account of how we are born to be warriors: strong, powerful, and brave; able to confront the pain and claim the love that exists for us all. This chronicle of a beautiful, brutal journey speaks to anyone who yearns for deeper, truer relationships and a more abundant, authentic life.

So I ended up loving this book. That is to say that when I first started it, I was annoyed. I didn’t fully understand Glennon’s choices, but once I got further in the book and once I finished it, it all came together. Please note, this is not a work of fiction. This is her life or at least a significant portion of her life. And while at times I felt like I could not relate to her and her story, her message was nonetheless very hopeful.

four-stars

Thursday, January 19th 2017

Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology

Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and ScientologyTroublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology by Leah Remini, Rebecca Paley
Published by Ballantine Books on November 3rd 2015
Pages: 228
Goodreads
five-stars

The outspoken actress, talk show host, and reality television star offers up a no-holds-barred memoir, including an eye-opening insider account of her tumultuous and heart-wrenching thirty-year-plus association with the Church of Scientology.
Leah Remini has never been the type to hold her tongue. That willingness to speak her mind, stand her ground, and rattle the occasional cage has enabled this tough-talking girl from Brooklyn to forge an enduring and successful career in Hollywood. But being a troublemaker has come at a cost.
That was never more evident than in 2013, when Remini loudly and publicly broke with the Church of Scientology. Now, in this frank, funny, poignant memoir, the former King of Queens star opens up about that experience for the first time, revealing the in-depth details of her painful split with the church and its controversial practices.
Indoctrinated into the church as a child while living with her mother and sister in New York, Remini eventually moved to Los Angeles, where her dreams of becoming an actress and advancing Scientology’s causes grew increasingly intertwined. As an adult, she found the success she’d worked so hard for, and with it a prominent place in the hierarchy of celebrity Scientologists alongside people such as Tom Cruise, Scientology’s most high-profile adherent. Remini spent time directly with Cruise and was included among the guests at his 2006 wedding to Katie Holmes.
But when she began to raise questions about some of the church’s actions, she found herself a target. In the end, she was declared by the church to be a threat to their organization and therefore a “Suppressive Person,” and as a result, all of her fellow parishioners—including members of her own family—were told to disconnect from her. Forever.
Bold, brash, and bravely confessional, Troublemaker chronicles Leah Remini’s remarkable journey toward emotional and spiritual freedom, both for herself and for her family. This is a memoir designed to reveal the hard-won truths of a life lived honestly—from an author unafraid of the consequences.

I never watched King of Queens and I never thought much about Leah Remini one way or another. Then I binged watched 5 episodes of the Scientology and the Aftermath‎ mini-series on A&E. Every time there was a commercial break I would just stare at my mother (who was watching it with me), and say, “Oh. My God.” I didn’t know much about Scientology. I knew that some people had said it was cult-like and bad things happened. But mostly I just thought it was a weird religion where those in it thought that people were brought to earth by aliens. I often thought of it like the cult in the show Parks and Recreation, “The Reasonabilists.” Zorp the Surveyor is the 28-foot-tall lizard-god savior of the cult known as the Reasonabilists that took over Pawnee, Indiana in the 1970’s. Zorp was predicted to come down to Earth and end all human existence by melting off everyone’s faces with his “volcano mouth”. And now I wonder if they got their idea from Scientology.

After watching the entire A&E mini-series I have come to the conclusion that Scientology is a cult and not a religion. And I wanted to know more about Leah Remini’s personal experience having grown up in Scientology. The two things complement each other and if you watched the mini-series, you should read her book and if you have read her book, you should watch the mini-series. I applaud Leah for her courage and determination in bringing Scientology down.

This book was very interesting and there was never a moment where I was bored or wanted to skip parts. It is very engaging and very informative. I learned much more about why she is the way she is and why she is fighting so hard. I cannot imagine the hardships she and her family faced for this “church.” Even though you are reading her words about what happened, it is still hard to believe. I didn’t want to believe it. That these people are treated this way and that this cult could be considered a religion in any way is unbelievable.

I highly recommend this book to everyone. I think everyone should be informed and understand how and why something like this could happen. I hope Leah Remini keeps fighting and I hope Scientology is taken down within my lifetime. Obviously hopefully sooner rather than later.

five-stars

Monday, January 16th 2017

Year of Yes

Year of YesYear of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person by Shonda Rhimes
Published by Simon & Schuster on November 10th 2015
Pages: 311
Goodreads
two-half-stars

In this poignant, hilarious, and deeply intimate call to arms, Hollywood’s most powerful woman, the mega-talented creator of Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal and executive producer of How to Get Away with Murder reveals how saying YES changed her life—and how it can change yours too.
She's the creator and producer of some of the most groundbreaking and audacious shows on television today: Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, How to Get Away with Murder. Her iconic characters—Meredith Grey, Cristina Yang, Olivia Pope, Annalise Keating—live boldly and speak their minds. So who would suspect that Shonda Rhimes, the mega talent who owns Thursday night television (#TGIT), is an introvert? That she hired a publicist so she could avoid public appearances? That she hugged walls at splashy parties and suffered panic attacks before media interviews so severe she remembered nothing afterward?
Before her Year of Yes, Shonda Rhimes was an expert at declining invitations others would leap to accept. With three children at home and three hit television shows on TV, it was easy to say that she was simply too busy. But in truth, she was also afraid. Afraid of cocktail party faux pas like chucking a chicken bone across a room; petrified of live television appearances where Shonda Rhimes could trip and fall and bleed out right there in front of a live studio audience; terrified of the difficult conversations that came so easily to her characters on-screen. In the before, Shonda’s introvert life revolved around burying herself in work, snuggling her children, and comforting herself with food.
And then, on Thanksgiving 2013, Shonda’s sister muttered something that was both a wake up and a call to arms: You never say yes to anything.
The comment sat like a grenade, until it detonated. Then Shonda, the youngest of six children from a supremely competitive family, knew she had to embrace the challenge: for one year, she would say YES to everything that scared her.
This poignant, intimate, and hilarious memoir explores Shonda’s life before her Year of Yes—from her nerdy, book-loving childhood creating imaginary friends to her devotion to creating television characters who reflected the world she saw around her (like Cristina Yang, whose ultimate goal wasn’t marriage, and Cyrus Beene, who is a Republican and gay). And it chronicles her life after her Year of Yes had begun—when Shonda forced herself out of the house and onto the stage, appearing on Jimmy Kimmel Live, and giving the Dartmouth Commencement speech; when she learned to say yes to her health, yes to play and she stepped out of the shadows and into the sun; when she learned to explore, empower, applaud, and love her truest self. Yes.
This wildly candid and compulsively readable book reveals how the mega talented Shonda Rhimes, an unexpected introvert, achieved badassery worthy of a Shondaland character. And how you can, too.

I am going to be honest, I hovered between giving this book 2 or 3 stars and I am still not sure which rating to give it. 2 stars for Goodreads is “it was ok” or 3 stars “I liked it.” Did I like it? I think I did. For the most part. The problem I had with this book is that at times she was very preachy and she repeated certain themes and ideas to the point that I felt she was beating a dead horse. I get the overall message. The overall message to me is, “live life to the fullest,” “go big or go home,” and “you only live once.” All of the phrases that are used to get people to do something so they will live their lives and be happy. There were quite a few spots during the book where I was annoyed with how much she was repeating herself and I had a hard time reading the speeches that she gave at various events that she included in the book. Her overall message is good, even if at times I didn’t find it very relatable. I don’t know that I would really recommend it to anyone, other than if they are fans of hers.

two-half-stars

instagram

follow along @christinavanp