Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Yes, Please

81yNb5R70oL

I listened to the audiobook version of this publication – which I HIGHLY recommend.

 

The Pitch:

Auto-biography of Amy Pohler’s life and career thus far from her time in Second City all the way up into the final season of “Park’s and Rec”.  This book focuses mostly on her professional life, with small sections that delve into personal stories.

 

The Pros:

First a note about the audiobook version – it’s awesome.  I feel that readers are actually missing out a little bit because of all the added material and different voices to be heard in this version.  Plus, Pohler’s performance and delivery about her own life could never be recreated as brilliantly in your own head so it was a real treat to hear her read it.

 

This book had a clean, clear message that was beautifully woven throughout the course of the novel in several different examples and stories.

Pohler’s voice comes through strong and authentic with just the right amount of humor and humility.  I appreciated her honesty and vulnerability in some of the more personal parts.

From what I could tell on the audiobook version this appeared to be a short read with several parts you could easily stop at.  Each “chapter” felt like a wrap up so there was never a concern that I would forget or miss out on information.

 

The Cons:

There were pacing problems with this novel.  You are warned of this from the very beginning and a couple of times throughout – but it was, at times, very distracting.

Pohler weaves back and forth over the length of her life throughout the novel which is very stylishly done in the first two thirds.  The last third of the novel continued to use this convention but it wasn’t as smooth or easy to follow.  The last third of the novel has several different kinds of writing.  She tells a long form story about the Upright Citizens Brigade that I felt should have been more toward the middle.  She tells almost poetic short form stories about her children.  She has some lists she quickly fires through, and then (for the audiobook version) reads the final chapter in front of a live audience.  While I really enjoyed the live version it only added to the pacing issues and wasn’t as cohesive as I would have liked an ending to a novel to be.

 

The Soapbox:

There were two things that really stood out for me over the course of this novel.  The first was the idea that Pohler kept coming back to of “Yes, please”.  It is an improve standard to ensure that the action continues to move in a skit – you should never say no in improve.  But, Pohler continues to use this idea throughout her life and attributes it to much of her success.  Saying yes and having manners can get you very far, according to her.  I 100% agree.  More and more I’m witnessing the decay of manners – as if it’s some kind of archaic custom we no longer have time for.  This isn’t some rant about men not opening doors for ladies – this reaches everyone down to a very personal level.  People don’t know how to genuinely say please and thank you anymore.  We are starting to become so desensitized that no one even knows how to accept a compliment.  When you don’t have to talk to someone, or look someone in the eye to order some food or a drink you lose the level of gratitude that helps feed a low level of humility within you.  When you don’t have to use manners to acknowledge the effort someone else has either put in or is giving to you these efforts become expected rather than appreciated.  In other words – no manners create divas…and no one wants a diva around 24/7.

 

The second concept that I continue to think about is about gender equality in Hollywood.  Pohler gives an example of one (of many times) that she felt there was a double standard biased against her for being a woman in Hollywood. This example includes a producer attempting to use guilt to cover up his own mistake, as well as asking for a hug (super creepy).  In the end the question she leaves with the reader is, ‘If I was a man, do you think this would have happened to me?’  Of course, the answer is no.  Pohler doesn’t give any kind of solution to the problem, unlike Fey in Bossypants, but she brings up an excellent point.  No matter how hard she’s worked, no matter how much she’s contributed, there still remains a double standard that women – especially in comedy – are stacked against.  I’m in no way an expert on the subject, but I do know that even in my own career and life there are still things that “women are just better at” and it often makes me angry to hear that.  Until we can all see each other as capable of having the same strengths and weaknesses – regardless of gender – this is just keep happening.  I don’t have an answer either, but I did feel quite a bit of solidarity with Pohler in sharing this very personal story.

 

The Breakdown:

Rating: 4 Stars

Reasoning: Quick and hilarious read, but pacing problems at the end left for a jumbled up final message.

Recommended For: Fans of Pohler, comedy writing, parents, working mom’s, anyone in need of a good laugh.

IMG_2595

Before you were born you were loved.

Before you were known you were wanted.

Before we knew what hit us you were here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_2687

I could have never predicted that you would double in size every three months.

I could have never predicted that you would want to make me laugh every single day.

I could have never predicted that the only baby part left in you is this same exact look when you finally fall asleep.

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_2818

My sweet Joseph.  So loving.  So silly.  So adventurous.

You are the child God intended for me.  The child I was meant to have.

Through your unending curiosity and unexpected kisses.

 

 

 

 

 

photo-1

Not all of our days together are good, and I suspect some will be worse.

But every day with you matters to me.

You teach me to slow down, explore, have patience, and most importantly value every moment of sleep I can manage to get.

 

 

 

 

 

photo

Our snuggly, clingy, dependant time is quickly coming to a close.

The smiling baby has now been replaced with a tiny toddler that squeals with delight when I try to chase him down.

But I hope that one day we can both look back on this first year and know that it was imperfectly perfect.  Just the way it’s supposed to be.

I love you.

-Mom


16141924The Pitch:

Jim Gaffigan laments on the perils of fatherhood to five children – and hot pockets.

The Pros:

The chapters are incredibly short and to the point, which made it a funny, quick read.

There were several parts of the book that were laugh out loud funny, and several other that gave me a chuckle.

Lots of pictures in the book, which I loved because it put a face to all his kids when I was reading.

Even though I only have one child reading his torments and victories made me incredibly sympathetic.

The Cons:

The book reads like a collection of blog posts rather than a novel.  That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but not what I was looking for.  If there would have been a more cohesive flow I think it would have helped the book be a little more literary.

The short, blog-like, chapters were incredibly repetitive in the first third of the novel.  It only took one chapter to inform me that he’s happily married with a beautiful wife, five kids, in a two-bedroom apartment in New York City, and a successful comedy career.  Yet, he tells me this almost every chapter for the first third.

The Soapbox:

There is a lot of talk in the book about both the pros and cons of having five children.  I came from a family of four, my husband is from a family of four, all of our parents came from big families – so much of what he spoke about resonated with me.  Yet, he kept coming back to the same point that he had “no idea” why they kept having children, other than being Catholic.  I just felt that was an easy out for him instead of being reflective and vulnerable about the reason they continue to have children.  Whatever he said wasn’t going to be wrong, it’s his life, his wife, his marriage – but this personal, real moment was lost in this book because he just fell onto a joke every time instead.  I really wish he had dug just a little bit deeper on some parts.

 

The Breakdown:

Rating:  Four Stars

Reasoning: Quick, easy, summer read, funny and topical (if you have kids) and, other than the repetition, worth your time.

Recommend For: Fans of Gaffigan, fans of comedy writing, parents, summer readers, pretty much anyone.

Okay – I finally managed to FINISH A BOOK!  So I’m going to make this review as short and sweet as possible because I’d like to hit my Goodreads goal this year.  It took me about ten months but I realized that maybe watching re-runs of “Ridiculiousness” wasn’t the best use of my time.

The Pitch:

Autobiography of Tina Fey’s personal life and writing and acting career so far.  Minus “Mean Girls”, which made me sad.

The Pros:

Chapters were mercifully short which made it a very quick read.

Pictures!!!  As well as copies of scripts, etc.  LOVE that kind of stuff in a non-fiction.

Fey’s voice was very strong and came through on every page.  You can almost hear her reading it to you, which was very entertaining.

There were a couple of very funny lines/moments that made you want to keep reading.

There is a very strong message that is weaved throughout the book and emphasized at the end.

The Cons:

While Fey’s voice was strong the comedic timing/sarcasm needed for some of the jokes/points is lost on paper.  Unfortunately it made her come off as condescending and a little too ‘New Yorker’ for my taste.  I’m almost positive this would have never crossed my mind if I listened to the audiobook instead.

Fey being such a hilarious lady, I (wrongly) assumed that this book would be a laugh a minute.  While it was very witty and tack sharp smart it was not a hilarious book.  So buyer beware if you’re looking for a barrel of laughs – the reviews all over the cover lie.

I was very conflicted about the message that Fey leaves the reader with, but not for the reasons you might think.

The Soapbox:

The main message that Fey was trying to convey is feminism – more like women empowerment.  While there are several amazing chapters/sections that really illustrate this point, her parting words felt a little off to me.  She gives several examples (Amy Pohler’s joke, men in drag on SNL, the shift on SNL, Hilary Clinton comment on Weekend Update, Sarah Palin campaign/SNL skit) of how women empower themselves and how women NEED to empower themselves, she ends the carefully matured message with a ‘crazy bitch’ joke.  From what I gathered, her final thought on the topic of women empowerment/feminism was that, in the entertainment industry, when women get to a certain age the become ‘crazy’ which translates to ‘unhireable’.  She felt that if more women would strive to be in positions of power then we could promote more likeminded women who could still see the potential in women ‘beyond a certain age’.  The main point was that in order for women to get ahead we needed to help out other women and not be afraid to be assertive.  This all still fits with her theme – but as I closed the book I thought to myself, ‘Does that mean that I need to say I loved her book?’  My initial reaction was, ‘Of course not!’ But it has continued to sit strange with me.  I appreciated all of her insights, her struggles, her ambition, but in the end her book wasn’t all that impressive to me.  So am I not helping ‘feminism’ if I say I didn’t like her book?  I don’t know.

The Breakdown:

Rating:  Three Stars

Reasoning: While the message was clear and the novel was well paced and witty, it wasn’t really what I thought it was going to be.  Another example of not believing the hype.

Recommend For: Feminists, Humorists, Tina Fey lovers, busy mom’s that only have five minutes at a time to read!

12924261I was very surprised to find out that one of my favorite books as of late, John Dies at the End, had a sequel coming out.

Not to be outdone by the first book in the series, This Book is Full of Spiders was full of absolutely mind-bending fun.  Rather than the rambling movement toward a terrifying conclusion that John Dies had, this book was a much more structured affair.  I use this term loosely, of course, because we have switching narrators, pages from fictional novels, posts from fictional blogs, and top-secret transcripts from conversations of military personnel.

It was comforting to see all the old characters back in pretty much the same shape as we left them.  It would appear that things in “undisclosed” haven’t changed at all since the terrifying events of the previous novel.  There is plenty of referencing of the previous novel, but enough explanation that a new reader might get what is going on.  But I am honestly of the opinion that if you are going to read a series you need to start it from the beginning.

Things escalate very quickly in this novel and never slow down.  Just when you think you have a handle on what is happening something completely disturbing and unsettling throws you right off the scent again.  I am still haunted by some of the imagery created and I finished this book weeks ago.

Just like the first novel there really isn’t a lot I can say about this book without giving away everything.  It is some of the strangest and yet most brilliant writing I’ve seen in a long time.  Every piece of the novel is strategic for the conclusion and so anything I say could potentially be a spoiler.  You definitely don’t want to have anything spoiled for you in this novel so I think I need to leave it at that.  Just read these books!  Not for the faint of heart but so worth it!

My Rating:  Five Stars

My Reasoning:  Absolutely satisfying sequel to the first novel.  How often can you say that?  Both hilarious and horrifying with enough twisting and turning that you never get bored.

My Recommendations:  Fans of cracked.com, fans of the first novel, anyone that can handle some horror and dick jokes.

Ohh…you read that right.  There is a book with the title Wallbanger and it is worth reading!  I had all intentions of posting this review before the dreaded “singles awareness day”, but my lovely little 6 month old had other plans for me.  At any rate I finished Wallbanger the day after Valentine’s Day and have since been stewing and working on my review.

You see, dear readers, Wallbanger comes from an ever-increasing group of what I’m calling “fanfiction first authors”.  Like Cassandra Clare (Mortal Instruments), E.L. James (50 Shades), and apparently this Christina Lauren woman (Beautiful Bastard) – Alice Clayton was a very famous fanfiction author before her novels were published.  Said novels were also fanfiction first before having the names changed and being published.  You can read my…opinionated reviews on these authors at your own leisure, but know that I do not hold Alice Clayton in the same category as those other fine ladies.

I really like Alice Clayton.  She was always extremely nice to me in our email exchanges when Wallbanger was still a Twilight Fanfiction story.  She also had no pretenses of hiding the fact she intended to publish using different names.  Nor did she forget to thank the “banger nation” in her published novel.  In my opinion she played the game extremely well, and I have nothing but respect for that.

That being said, I still can’t help but feel on the fence about this whole “fanfiction first author” situation.  It’s not quite big enough to be gaining media attention but I feel like it might be changing the face of publishing.  Well at least publishing in the romance novel genre.  I have had conversations with my casual reader friends, my MFA friends, and even my husband and family and there doesn’t seem to be any kind of hot and fast reaction.  What initially seems like disgust soon turns into begrudging respect, and what is initially indifference soon turns into misguided dollar signs.  Just like the current state of Hollywood, anyone who isn’t a book/writing snob like me (self-proclaimed of course) seems to think I should be able to publish something because these women did.  The brutal truth is I wish I had something worth publishing – but mostly for the same reasons I wish I had anything worth publishing.  I want to be published, all writers do, but I think my hang up on the “fanfiction first author” publishing’s is this – it was fanfiction.

Fanfiction is something sacredly geeky.  It’s the place you can escape to when you need to geek out about your beloved fandom without being made fun of.  There is no judgment in fanfiction-land.  There is something for everyone…and I mean EVERYONE.  You can write about anything, you can make the characters do things you would never show to another soul, you can make all sorts of fandom’s intertwine and people BELIEVE it!  It’s this magical place where you can be your best self and no one will shame you.  Because even if someone does you just hide them and carry on in your own little world.

Having a novel that was beloved within fanfiction-land taken from us, doctored up for the mass media, and given (usually) a complete name change breaks that bond between writer and reader in this little world.  Most unfortunate of all once these stories make it on to the written page they are pulled, in their entirety, from the Internet forever.  I understand why this needs to happen but there is still a part of me that wishes I could go back and visit that story on the screen.  There is a strange, feverish, all encompassing feeling when you see that your favorite online story has been updated.  Perhaps knowing you can’t even reminisce of that by visiting the site anymore is what I miss most when these stories finally get to ‘the big show’.

All things considered I still really love Alice Clayton, and Wallbanger even more.  My friend and I would have an absolute conniption fit every time we received the email that it updated.  There would be a text message from one to the other with just one word: Wallbanger.  All other things in our life stood still while we would read the chapter and then spend the rest of the day texting back and forth what we thought.  It was a magical time.  I am happy to report that the same magic has been captured again on the page with this publication.

The only critique I have, which was the same with the online version, is the last third of the novel.  There is a bit of a pacing issue, as well as what I feel was forced drama for the sake of plot.  As well as a level of believability at the end that even I could not look beyond, but it’s a romance novel so I’m not going to even go there.  It is still a fantastic novel with authentic and likeable main and supporting characters.  There is a fantastic use of show not tell for all the settings, and wicked sharp humor.  And the banter….oh the banter.  Alice Clayton is a master of banter.  This novel will make you yearn fondly for the days of when you were wooed, or if you are single make you feel optimistic that decent guys still exist in this world.

I’m still not sure where I’m at with the “fanfiction first author” situation but if every author could have the same grace and talent as Alice Clayton I think publishing would be in a much better place.  Read This Book!

My Rating:  Four Stars

My Reasoning:  Other than what I perceived as pacing, drama, and believability issues at the last third still an excellent book.  The chemistry, the banter, and the writing are absolutely swoon-worthy.  Must read for a steamy little treat.

My Recommendations:  Single and taken ladies that need a little fire and romance in their life.  Wallbanger is just what you didn’t know you were looking for.

Part Three in my Fanfiction Series

readmorewritemorethinkmorebemore.blogspot.com

readmorewritemorethinkmorebemore.blogspot.com

I will be honest with you – I really enjoy constructive criticism.  It’s the only real way to improve as a writer and to grow as a person.  What you are doing isn’t always right, and if someone can professionally and constructively tell you how to improve why not take it?  If you do follow my blog you might have seen that there has been, on occasion, readers who have disagreed with my review of a novel.  That is totally fine!  And I have encouraged those exchanges between us.  Mostly because it was done professionally and constructively, but also because I always like to get into a bit of a debate about books.

But – all bets are off when it comes to Fanfiction-land.  Fanfiction is like message boards – it’s where Trolls are born and thrive.  What’s a Troll you ask?  Well a Troll, in terms of online communities, is a person that purposefully and with malice attempts to antagonize and instigate any kind of exchange with the author or fans of a community.  You’ll see trolls on message boards usually broadcasting some kind of ridiculous conspiracy theory, or even going so low as to call everyone “retarded”, “gay”, or “stupid”.  In Fanfiction-land Trolls take on a different entity entirely.

Usually Fanfiction trolls are methodical with their postings.  You do get the occasional, “your story is retarded”, but those are so easy to just brush off.  It’s the real Fanfiction trolls that get under your skin.  Here is how you know you are dealing with a Fanfiction troll:

  1. They do not sign in to their account to leave the review
  2. The name they choose to post as changes every time but you can tell by the writing it’s the same person
  3. It’s never anything actually constructive they are saying – more a stream of conscious ranting
  4. They obviously are not enjoying the story but continue to review with their ranting in order to get a rise out of you
  5. What starts as just stream of conscious ranting soon turns into actual attacks on yourself and your writing ability

Believe me and heed what I am about to tell you:  DON’T FEED THE TROLLS!

This is exactly what they want you to do.  They want you to have a gut reaction and immediately respond to their awful review. They want you to get all worked up about what they said and attack them back.  They are banking on you being sensitive about your work and want to further crush you by being ridiculous and mean.  You can NOT stoop to their level.  You can not engage them at ALL.  You must ignore their reviews altogether as if they doesn’t exist.

michaelcarusi.com

michaelcarusi.com

You can NOT delete their reviews either.  This will only create an even worse situation where the troll now feels as if they can attack you maliciously because you “can’t handle someone not liking your story”.  They never actually left anything constructive but in their warp, twisted minds, they think their ranting is constructive.  If you delete the reviews it will only make it worse.

The only way to ensure a troll leaves you alone is to ignore them altogether.  Hence – don’t feed the trolls.  Do not give them anything to work with.  It’s going to kill you.  You’re going to be walking around your house mumbling responses you want to give.  You are going to stare at your computer screen thinking you could take on this troll with your cunning and wit.  You are going to be snappy and irritated because they got under your skin.  But you MUST NOT do anything.  Once the troll realizes they will not get any kind of response from you they will move on and leave forever.

Being trolled is a test as a writer.  With even a little success under our belts we start to get a bit of a bloated sense of self.  You start to believe you really are amazing and award worthy.  A troll appears in your writing life to test your level of humility.  You must be able to graciously let this glide past you as if you never thought of it twice.  It is only when you can completely ignore a troll that you can pat yourself on the back for being a good writer.  I say this because if you have a troll on your story for more than one chapter – it was good enough for even the troll to keep reading.

Stay strong my friends and happy writing!

The Adventures of Superbaby

Giving Hope to Flightless Penguins & Kiwis & Humans everywhere!

The Daily Post

The Art and Craft of Blogging

Project Lola

What Women Want

The Adventures of Superbaby

Giving Hope to Flightless Penguins & Kiwis & Humans everywhere!

WordPress.com News

The latest news on WordPress.com and the WordPress community.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 152 other followers