Thursday, January 18, 2018

Book Review: Talking as Fast As I can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls, And Everything in Between - Lauren Graham

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In this collection of personal essays, the beloved star of Gilmore Girls and Parenthood revelas stories about life, love, and working as a woman in Hollywood--along with behind-the-scenes dispatches from the set of the new Gilmore Girls, where she plays the fast-talking Lorelei Gilmore once again.

In Talking as Fast as I can, Lauren Graham hits pause for a moment and looks back on her life, sharing laugh-out-loud stories about growing up, starting out as an actress, and, years later, sitting in her trailer on the Parenthood set and asking herself, "Did you, um make it?"  She opens up about the challenges of being single in Hollywood ("Strangers were worried about me; that's how long I was single!"), the time she was asked to audition her butt for a role, and her experience being a judge on Project Runway ("It's like I had a fashion-induced blackout")

In "What It Was Like, Part One," Graham sits down for an epic Gilmore Girls marathon and reflects on being cast as the fast-talking Lorelei Gilmore.  The essay "What It was Like, Part Two" reveals how it felt to pick up the role again nine years later, and what doing so has meant to her.

Some more things you will learn about Lauren: She once tried to go vegan just to bond with Ellen DeGeneres, she's aware that meeting guys at awards shows has its pitfalls ("If you're meeting someone for the first time after three hours of hair, makeup, and styling, you've already set the bar too high"), and she's a card-carrying REI shopper ("My bungee cords now earn points!")

Including photos and excerpts from the diary Graham kept during the filming of the recent Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, this book is like a cozy night in, catching up with your best friend, laughing and swapping stories, and - of course - talking as fast as you can.

4/5 stars (really liked it)
So I decided to listen to the audiobook since it was read by Lauren Graham.  So glad I did, it was made the book so much better.  I love how she reflects on every season of Gilmore Girls and makes fun of her hair.  I loved the little bit of behind the scenes for the show and how she even started on the show.  Overall a great book.

Thursday, January 04, 2018

Book Review: The Goldfinch - Donna Tartt

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It begins with a boy.  Theo Decker, a thirteen-year-old New Yorker, miraculously survives an accident that kills his mother.  Abandoned by his father, Theo is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend.  Bewildered by his strange new home on Park Avenue, disturbed by schoolmates who don't know how to talk to him, and tormented above all by his unbearable longing for his mother, he clings to one thing that reminds him of her: a small, mysteriously captivating painting that ultimately draws Theo into the underworld of art.

As an adult, Theo moves silkily between the drawing rooms of the rich and the dusty labyrinth of an antiques store where he works.  He is alienated and in love-and at the center of a narrowing, ever more dangerous circle.

The Goldfinch combines vivid characters, mesmerizing language, and suspense, while plumbing with a philosopher's calm the deepest mysteries of love, identity, and art.  It is an old-fashioned story of loss and obsession, survival and self-invention, and the ruthless machinations of fate.

3/5 stars (liked it)
This story spans several years.  It starts out with thirteen year old Theo.  We see his relationship with his mother and how close they were.  Then they are bombed in a museum and his mother dies.  He gets away with a painting, The Goldfinch, which becomes a center of the whole book.  Theo moves in with a rich family, then ends up living with his estranged father in Las Vegas.  While in Las Vegas he meets a strange boy named Boris.  I really like Boris and wish we could have had some of the story with his point of view.  After loosing his father, he moves back to NY and lives with an antiques dealer.  Then several years pass and Theo is grown up.  He's engaged, but not truly happy.  We meet old friends and things wrap up with the painting.  I didn't feel like the book had a true ending.

Book Review: Hold Still - Nina LaCour

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I am a girl ready to explode into nothing.

That night Ingrid told Caitlin, I'll go wherever you go. Ingrid was dead and Caitlin was alone.  Suddenly Caitlin has to dela with a completely unfamiliar life--a life without the art, the laughter, the music, and the joy she shared with her best friend.  When she finds the journal Ingrid left behind, Catilin gets a chance to learn about another side of her friend; and the journal becomes her guide as she deals with forging new friendships, finding a first love, and learning to live without the one person who knew her best.

3/5 stars (liked it)
The book started out with Caitlin dealing with Ingrid's suicide.  We get to know Ingrid and Caitlin throughout the book by seeing what they were like together.  We also meet new people as Caitlin does too.  We see how the death of Ingrid didn't just affect Caitlin, but other kids their age, parents and even teachers.  I really like how we see how Caitlin deals with things and how even at the end it's not happily ever after but life is a little more bearable for her.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Book Review: Annihilation - Jeff VanderMeer

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Eleven secret government expeditions and few have returned unscathed--the first book in VanderMeer's exciting new Southern Reach Trilogy and soon to be a major motion picture.

Area X has been cut off from the rest of the continent for decades.  Nature has reclaimed the last vestiges of human civilization, and the government is involved in sending secret missions to explore Area X.  The first expedition returned with reports of a pristine, Edenic landscape; all the members of the second expedition committed suicide; the third expedition returned as shadows of their former selves, and within months of their return, all had died of aggressive cancer.

Annihilation opens with the twelfth expedition.  The group is composed of four women, including our narrator, a biologist.  Their mission is to map the terrain and collect specimens; to record all of their observations, scientific and otherwise; and, above all, to avoid succumbing to the unpredictable effects of Area X itself.

What they discover shocks them: first, a massive topographic anomaly that does not appear on any map; and second, life forms beyond anything they're equipped to understand.  But it's the surprises that came across the border with them that change everything--the secrets of the expedition members themselves, including our narrator.  What do they really know about Area X--and each other?

3/5 stars (liked it)
We never learn anyone's name.  They are simply referred to as the Biologist, the Psychologist and so on.  The Biologist's husband was on the eleventh expedition and he died of cancer.  We learn through flashbacks on what her relationship was like with him and how he was when he came back.  This book was very interesting and kept me reading.  Although at the end I wasn't sure if all the Biologist had seen and heard was real or if she was somehow hallucinating the entire thing.  I will read the next book in the trilogy.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Book Review: Shadowshaper - Daniel Jose Older

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Sierra Santiago was looking forward to a fun summer of making art, hanging out with her firends, and skating around Brooklyn.  But then a weird zombie guy crashes the first party of the season.  Sierra's near comatose abuelo begins to say "Lo siento" over and over.  And when the graffiti murals in Bed-Stuy start to weep...Well, something stranger than the usual New York mayhem is going on.

Sierra soon discovers a supernatural order called the Shadowshapers, who connect with spirits via paintings, music, and stories.  Her grandfather once shared the order's secrets with an anthropologist, Dr. Jonathan Wick, who turned the Caribbean magic to his own foul ends.  Now Wick wants to become the ultimate Shadowshaper by killing all the others, one by one.  With the help of her friends and the hot graffiti artist Robbie, Sierra must dodge Wick's supernatural creations, harness her own Shadowshaping abilities, and save her family's past, present and future.

3/5 stars (liked it)
I really liked the idea and story behind this.  Although I felt that Sierra was a whinny teenager.  I would have liked to get more back story to Robbie.  I felt their ethnic background were brought up like they were an issue but they really weren't.  Robbie is Haitian and Sierra is Puerto Rican.  Overall a good story and good ending.

Friday, December 08, 2017

Book Review: Hanna Who Fell From the Sky - Christopher Meades

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Hanna has never been outside her secluded community of Clearhaven.  She has never questioned why her father has four wives or why she has fourteen brothers and sisters.  And in only one week, on her eighteenth birthday, Hanna will follow tradition and become the fifth wife of a man more than twice her age.

But just days before the wedding, Hanna meets Daniel, an enigmatic stranger who challenges her to question her fate and to follow her own will.  Then her mother tells her a secret--one that could grant Hanna the freedom she's known only in her dreams.  As her world unravels around her, Hanna must decide whether she was really meant for something greater than the claustrophobic world of Clearhaven.  But can she abandon her beloved younger sister and the only home she's ever known?  Or is there another option--one too fantastical to believe?

With lush, evocative prose, Christopher Meades takes readers on an emotional journey into a fascinating unknon world--and, along the way, brilliantly illuminates complexities of faith, identity and how our origins shape who we are.

3/5 stars (liked it)
I liked Hanna right away and knew she did not belong in this community.  I felt bad for her brothers and sisters and sister-mothers because the father Jotham and how he treats everyone badly.  In this story we see Hanna grow and learn to believe in herself and question things around her.  Most of that is in part to Daniel.  I wish we had learned more about Daniel and his past, although things were mentioned.  Overall I liked the book and really liked how it didn't end quite how I thought it would have.

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Book Review: Revenge Wears Prada - Lauren Weisberger

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Almost a decade has passed since Andy Sachs quit the job "a million girls would die for" working for Miranda Priestly at Runway magazine--a dream that turned out to be a nightmare.  Andy and Emily, her former nemesis and co-assistant, have since joined forces to start a high end bridal magazine.  The Plunge, which has quickly become required reading for the young and stylish.  Now they get to call all the shots: Andy writes and travels to her heart's content; Emily plans parties and secures advertising like a seasoned pro.

Even better, Andy has met the love of her life.  Max Harrison, scion of a storied media family, is confident, successful, and drop-dead gorgeous.  Their wedding will be splashed across all the society pages as their friends and family gather to toast the glowing couple.  Andy Sachs is on top of the world.  But karma's a bitch.

The morning of her wedding, Andy can't shake the past.  And when she discovers a secret letter with crushing implications, her wedding-day jitters turn to cold dread.  Andy realizes that nothing--not her husband, nor her beloved career--is as it seems.  She never suspected that her efforts to build a bright new life would lead her back to the darkness she barely escaped ten years ago--and directly into the path of the devil herself...

2/5 stars (it was ok)
Andy is not the same person she was in the first book.  She seems to have changed quite a bit.  She is best friends with Emily and is writing for a high end bridal magazine.  Alex is long gone and Lilly has moved away.  She is in love with Max a gorgeous guy.  I never saw any chemistry between them and their love felt forced the whole book.  This book is not just about Andy's career and running into Miranda but takes us to married life, kids and career and love again.  I did however like how the book ending as it seemed very fitting. 

Book Review: Talking as Fast As I can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls, And Everything in Between - Lauren Graham

 Talking as Fast As I can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls, And Everything in Between - Lauren Graham In this collection of persona...