Are You There, Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea

Some books have been on my TBR for so long I can’t remember when or why they got added. When I finally get around to reading them, I almost feel obligated, even if I am not interested in them anymore.

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Chelsea Handler was one of those. Slapstick humor…not so much my thing anymore. But, who the heck knows how long she’s been on my list. Probably since Are You There, Vodka? came out in 2007. Seems about right. And since it was on audiobook, which is best for these sorts of memoirs, I decided to give it a try.

Raunchy is the only word I can really use to describe it. And while I am not a modest or easily offended person…this one was a bit (ok a bit more than a bit) over the top. Whoa Bessie. This is one of those that will offends in every single way possible. I’m pretty sure it is the entire purpose of the book. And when that’s the only point? It doesn’t make for quality entertainment, in my opinion. I may have smirked a few times, but mostly I just shuddered, and there were quite a few “ewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwws.”

No thanks.

Lying

Psychology has always been one of my favorite subjects of study. The brain is such a complicated infrastructure that I never cease to be amazed by its never ending facets. There’s just so much to learn and to discover. I have often wished I were more scientifically inclined so I could study it as more than just a hobby and interest.

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Lauren Slater’s so called memoir makes a fascinating case study. At first, she writes simply as a girl with epilepsy, learning how to balance her disorder with puberty. But the further into the book you get…the more you start to realize something is just off about Lauren. Maybe the epilepsy isn’t real. Maybe it is, but she’s exaggerating, as she claims herself to be doing…or maybe you are just trapped in a completely different fantasy of Lauren’s brain.

By the end of the…memoir…it is hard to tell what end is up. What kind of story did I just read? There’s even a chapter to the publisher with instructions on how to market it. Should it be fiction? Nonfiction? Faction?

It makes me think of David Sedaris–who I hate, by the way, because his “nonfiction” is so clearly exaggerated in a very disgusting manner. But this is different, somehow. Lauren is completely upfront with the fact that her fiction is not altogether fact. It’s almost as if she’s trying to figure out herself if her brain is making up her life or if her life is making up her brain.

Either way, if you are interested in the field of psychology at all, this book is definitely a great read. Be prepared for a wild ride that will twist your brain all over the place!

Dear Millie

I guess by now you have figured out that there isn’t a subject that I won’t read about. Nearly every part of the human experience is interesting to me–romance, psychology, war, birth, death, just life in general. People interest me. Everyone has a different story to tell and I want to read them all–fiction and nonfiction.

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In this case, Marco Previero has written the true story of his daughter’s fight against a rare form of brain cancer, or at least the first year of it.

His seven year old daughter Millie was diagnosed with a brain tumor after she complained of “fuzzy eyesight.” What she didn’t tell Daddy was that she could just barely see out of her left eye, and no longer had vision at all in her right! Thus began a long and painful journey through lots of doctors and tests and treatments.

Marco’s diaries are very detailed and full of scientific language–it’s obvious he did a lot of necessary research during the course of his daughter’s treatments. This is not “Grey’s Anatomy” doctoring. This is the nitty gritty, really unpleasant, “what happens while those TV surgeons are off doing God-knows-what in on call rooms” stuff. It isn’t really all sunshine and rainbows like our TV-watching brains like to think. I’m sure somewhere in the back of our minds we know that…but it sure is nice not to think about recovery time or reoccurring tumors or the long drawn out and lethal kinds of cancer.

That’s the kind of information Marco gives us in this book. And it is very informational–more than emotional, as I expected it to be. Now, don’t get me wrong, the author definitely discusses his emotions. But he is almost removed from them, as if he is describing someone else. And maybe that is on purpose. I would imagine the stress and grief and everything else a person in Marco’s position would experience would be extraordinarily overwhelming to feel, let alone write about. However, it does come across a little cold and medicinal.

The main purpose of this book is a letter to his daughter. It also thanks a great number of people who helped the family through this difficult time. Those are the first two audiences. Past that, the book is mostly informative, and seems to be directed towards people in a similar situation–families battling cancer. Overall I think it is a well written narrative from an extremely brave father who went to hell and back in a year.

This book is to be released on March 28, 2015.

 

Fulfills PopSugar #26:  A memoir

Disclaimer:  NetGalley provided this ARC for an unbiased review.

Hyperbole and a Half

Depression sucks.

Like literally sucks. It sucks the life out of you–feelings, desires, motivations, all of it. But the apathy is only the second part of depression. First comes the pain. Blinding, draining pain that does all the sucking.

For those of us who experience or have experienced the beast that this sickness is–because it is a real sickness–it can be really hard to put into words how depression feels. How it completely consumes everything. To anyone on the outside, those who have not experienced anything like this…it’s very hard to grasp what exactly is happening.

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Allie Brosh has found a way to bring her journey through the darkness to light not only through words but pictures. To say I related to her crude sarcastic sense of humor is an understatement, and I am pretty sure there are creases on the side of the book where I was grasping so tight at certain times because it just relates SO HARD.

Her book Hyperbole and a Half isn’t all about depression–there is quite a bit of comic relief about her dogs and her childhood. But the major chapters, which are taken from her blog (at least parts of them are…I know I’ve read pieces of them there), are very real and very poignant views into the mindset of someone suffering from clinical depression. The anxiety, the self-doubt, the rocky and sometimes nonsensical climb to recovery. It’s all there, in technicolor.

I will say that the book did not end as happily as I needed it to. There was no “YOU CAN DO IT!” mantra at the end. And maybe that’s fitting, because this isn’t exactly a self-help book. Still, the last chapter left me feeling a little…”But, I know I’m a shitty person. I FEEL SHITTY. TELL ME HOW TO MAKE MYSELF FEEL LESS SHITTY!” I dunno, I would have rather had another chapter about too much cake.

That’s my only criticism about the book. It’s a really really great book. It’s an important book–if you’ve ever suffered from depression, or know someone suffering from depression. If you are currently suffering…just be wary of that last chapter. It’s a little dangerous.

 

Because this post is all about depression…guys if you are suffering, please please please ask for help. It’s scary, TRUST ME I KNOW. But the other option leaves so many people without you in their life, and there will be a lot of people missing you, I promise.

If you need help, there are a lot of options, and a lot of people standing by waiting for you to ask:

 

Fulfills PopSugar #40:  A graphic novel

WWW Wednesday 3/18/2015

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What are you currently reading?

The Turn of the Screw, The Aspern Papers and Two Stories by Henry James

Dear Millie by Marco Previero

 

What did you just finish reading?

The Horse Healer by Gonzalo Giner

Fairest by Marissa Meyer

Selected Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer

 

What do you think you’ll read next?

Lying by Lauren Slater

Critical Incident by Troy Blackford

Four by Veronica Roth

WWW Wednesday 1/28/2015

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My friend Sam has taken over WWW Wednesdays, hence the new image! Be sure to click the button above and go give her some love!

 

What are you currently reading?

Dubliners & A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

 

What did you just finish reading?

Grandma Gatewood’s Walk by Ben Montgomery

Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin

Seeker by Arwen Elys Dayton

 

What do you think you’ll read next?

The Wonders by Paddy O’Reilly

Dear American Airlines by Jonathan Miles

The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson

 

Savannah Grace’s books are FREE today!

GUYS! I’ve reviewed BOTH of Savannah Grace’s books on this blog, and I absolutely love them! If you love travel memoirs, you NEED to go check her out, and her books are FREE TODAY!

I know, Haley, LOTS OF CAPS LOCK! But I’m excited. Click the linky below and go grab her books right away! Think teenage Elizabeth Gilbert. You’re gonna love her.

 

Free eBook today and tomorrow.

WWW Wednesday 1/7/2015

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What are you currently reading?

The Iliad by Homer

The Same Sky by Amanda Eyre Ward

 

What did you just finish reading?

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Sins of the Father by Thelonious Legend (Book Tour Post will go live on January 14)

Travelling to Infinity:  My Life with Stephen by Jane Hawking

 

What do you think you’ll read next?

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

Moby Dick by Herman Melville

The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle

 

OK…Who made this book list anyway? Seriously, we need to liven things up a bit. Don’t be surprised if I do not follow this. YAWN!

Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen

As the new year starts, we book bloggers have all set new goals. We finished our last book of 2014, and picked up the first book of 2015, hoping for a fresh beginning.

And…over and over again in the last few days I have seen posts all over social media from so many of my fellow bookworms about how disappointing their first new year book has been. Either it’s boring, or it’s too long, or it just isn’t what we expected. But it’s the first book! We have to finish it, right?

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My first book of the year fell into that same disappointing pattern with everyone else. I had high hopes for Jane Hawking’s memoir, Travelling to Infinity. I just watched the Benedict Cumberbatch film on Youtube not too long ago, and I’m so looking forward to watching the new movie with Eddie Redmayne. Stephen Hawking has always seemed somewhat of a mystery to me–our century’s most notable genius, and not only brilliant, but disabled with a disease that is so unknown. This is the exact type of biography/memoir I like to read–one about a person who has achieved so much in spite of so many walls.

The title is very clever, for anyone interested in this book to get to know the man and scientist. Because while I was interested in his wife, and I do realize this was written from her point of view–what I really wanted from this book was to get to know Stephen Hawking. The title is written in just a way to make you think that’s what the book is about.

However…that is not that the book is about.

Sure. Stephen Hawking is there. And you do get to see quite a bit about his deterioration. But his work? No, very little. And in fact, there’s hardly any dialogue with Stephen at all. Most of this book is about Jane’s lack of acknowledgement, and it comes across as extremely bitter. I can understand why she feels this way–she spent her whole life caring for her husband, only to be cast away for a nurse. I don’t mean to make Jane the villain of her own story…it just wasn’t quite the story I expected.

To be honest, I just found most of it to be really boring. I have no interest in hearing about birth stories and child rearing. Her descriptions of her Spanish medieval poetry were neat…when she wasn’t whining about all she couldn’t accomplish. I kept reading about the book only because I truly wanted to know the story of Hawking’s life–Stephen’s, not Jane’s–because he’s a figurehead of our time and it’s one of the things I feel I should know. I wanted to know how his disease progressed, and understand how he became the way he his now.

So, really, this book…meh. I got what I wanted to get out of it. But it’s not one I’m going to recommend with enthusiasm.

 

This does fulfill PopSugar #14:  A nonfiction book.

The Undertaker’s Daughter

Guess I should have waited a bit, and added one more to my year end total! I didn’t think I’d finish this by the end of the day, but I made it!

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The Undertaker’s Daughter will be published January 13and it’s a lovely memoir about a daughter of a Kentucky mortician in the 1960s-70s.

Kate Mayfield had a very close relationship with her father. As one of the youngest in her family, she was the first sibling to be raised strictly in the funeral home, and so she had a natural curiosity about the family business, as well as everything else around her. Her memoir tells the story of the small town she grew up in during the Civil Rights years, just south of the Ohio River.

While I enjoyed this book, whenever I read an ARC I always think about the reception it is going to get upon publishing. This is kind of a rocky time for a memoir from a white southern woman raised in the 60s to come out. While the racial issues are not quite as prominent in the story as in, say, The Help, they are definitely there–desegregation of the schools, interracial relationships, class differences. The movement is more a setting, part of the background of her story, and Kate is fighting against the racist beliefs that surround her. Still, I wonder if the release of the book will be hindered at all, because of the environment we are in currently. I hope not, but this has been a very tough year for a lot of people, unfortunately.

 

Here’s hoping for a better 2015. Happy New Year, everyone!