Category Archives: Non-Fiction

Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography – Neil Patrick Harris

Premiere Of Columbia Pictures' "Smurfs 2" - Red CarpetOnly NPH would have a choose-your-own-adventure style memoir. It was such a unique reading experience and made me a little nostalgic to my youth of reading those classic Bantam Books.

My only suggestion when reading this book, is to have a physical copy. I used my Kobo and if you’ve read a choose your own adventure before, you probably use your finger 

rs_634x980-140520152707-BoFIxFTCQAAJ0jVto hold your place so after making your selection so you could go back and read the alternate paths. With an eBook it’s not as easy.

At the end of my journey, I went back to the beginning and flipped through each page to make sure I didn’t miss a single tale. Thank goodness I did that or I would have missed out on all of NPH’s great stories with none other than Elton John. With his trip to Nice to stay at Elton’s extravagant mansion.

NPH recounts his life from Doogie to How I Met Your Mother. From his youth to his life on Broadway. From coming out to his beautiful family he has today.

This book is hilarious, touching and sincere. I only have the best to say about this book. So go pick it up today!

Enjoy!!

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Man’s Search for Meaning – Viktor E. Frankl

mans search for meaning

This was a hard review to write. I enjoyed the first part of the book. It was a great story of strength, perseverance and the acceptance of fate of a doctor who was a prisoner in Auschwitz. But in part II I wasn’t as entranced. I wasn’t expecting the book to be laid out this way. It was a psychological analysis of the meaning of life, using prisoner’s experiences in Auschwitz as the platform for his basis on how humans react to the extreme conditions such as the ones they had to overcome at the concentration camps in Germany.  It was interesting, don’t get me wrong. I guess I was just looking for something else. I was more interested in the life story of Viktor E. Frankl than anything else.

BUCHENWALDI did like the book overall. I had to keep stopping myself mid-paragraph to ingest what I was reading and to remind myself this is not a fictitious tale but this is the truth of the horrific conditions of what these people were subjected to. I forced myself to appreciate what I was reading and not just gloss over it like another horror novel that we are so desensitized to. I am so used to reminding myself while watching gory movies, this is just a movie. This isn’t real. But in this instance I was trying to do the opposite.

It was very humbling. I would definitely recommend this book if you are interested in psychology and how are psyche reacts to the most demeaning, horrendous and dreadful of situations.

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The Whole-Brain Child – Tina Payne Bryson

The Whole-Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind, Survive Everyday Parenting Struggles, and Help Your Family Thrive

by Tina Payne Bryson
thewholebrainchild
I thought there was some great ideas that I will definitely implement once my son is older. This book is for parents with a child at least 2 years of age.

I found this to be really repetitive and I know it’s not completely their fault because the subject at hand is “the whole brain”. But if I had to read “upstairs brain” or “downstairs brain” one more time I was going to lose my mind! (Yes, the pun is intended)

Overall, I would recommend this book, but only the cheat sheets in the back are worth reading. The Refrigerator Guide and the Steps by Ages are all you need to know. It condenses the entire book into a couple of pages and you don’t have to deal with the monotonous task of getting through some of those chapters.

I don’t mean to be over critical of this book, because there are great strategies that I will definitely put into practice. But I definitely flip to the end of the book and save yourself some time.

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Bossypants – Tina Fey

In keeping with the feminine comedic non-fiction kick I have been on, I thought I would review Tina Fey’s Bossypants.

If you love 30 Rock, you will love Bossypants. It’s the story of Tina Fey and how she came to be the woman she is today. (Yes, I know. How cliché)

TinafeyAt the beginning of the story Tina embarks on the tale about how she received the scar on her left cheek. But she never truly reveals the whole story. I would even say she gives you half of the story. She says she’s sick of telling it and then it would lose all its mystery. I was sort of intrigued to find out what had happened myself, but I respect Tina’s privacy.

What can you really say about an autobiography? It’s funny. It’s the story of Tina Fey and her interesting chronicle of becoming one of the funniest women writers in the business. It’s not a hard sell. If you love Tina Fey. Even if you only like Tina Fey, you will definitely enjoy this book.

Her accounts of her nerdy existence are hilarious and heartwarming, while you still feel a little sad for high school Tina, with all the humiliation.

So what are you waiting for? Go read it! And Enjoy!

 

Synopsis

 

Before Liz Lemon, before “Weekend Update,” before “Sarah Palin,” Tina Fey was just a young girl with a dream: a recurring stress dream that she was being chased through a local airport by her middle-school gym teacher. She also had a dream that one day she would be a comedian on TV.

She has seen both these dreams come true.

At last, Tina Fey’s story can be told. From her youthful days as a vicious nerd to her tour of duty on Saturday Night Live; from her passionately half-hearted pursuit of physical beauty to her life as a mother eating things off the floor; from her one-sided college romance to her nearly fatal honeymoon — from the beginning of this paragraph to this final sentence.

Tina Fey reveals all, and proves what we’ve all suspected: you’re no one until someone calls you bossy.

(Includes Special, Never-Before-Solicited Opinions on Breastfeeding, Princesses, Photoshop, the Electoral Process, and Italian Rum Cake!)

 

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Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops – Jen Campbell

tbm_bookshop-cover-front-v1If you like to chuckle at the absurdity and imbecility of other human beings, this book will leave you howling. But there are some stories that will leave you scratching your head, wondering to yourself how someone could be so daft, but either way you will thoroughly enjoy this book, Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops.

“A John Cleese Twitter question [‘What is your pet peeve?’], first sparked the “Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops” blog, which grew over three years into one bookseller’s collection of ridiculous conversations on the shop floor.” Comparable to The Book of Awesome, but the majority of stories happened to her.

The only disappointing part of my reading experience was that it was over too quickly. I read the whole book in 45 minutes (my entire train ride home). I laughed out loud and didn’t care. By now the other commuters should be used to my roaring laughter, because I have been on a comedy kick for a couple of months now—Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? And currently, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened to name a couple.

moreBut don’t fret! Jen announced on her blog that there is a sequel in the works!! More Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops is said to be hitting bookstores April 2013!! And I can’t wait!!

If you are not persuaded by now, then the only other way to get you to believe how funny this book actually is, is to give you a quick glimpse into what you are in for:

‘Can books conduct electricity?’

‘My children are just climbing your bookshelves: that’s ok… isn’t it?’

There are tons more!

From ‘Did Beatrix Potter ever write a book about dinosaurs?’ to the hunt for a paperback which could forecast the next year’s weather; and from ‘I’ve forgotten my glasses, please read me the first chapter’ to ‘Excuse me… is this book edible?’

And this isn’t even the tip of the iceberg. I didn’t want to spoil too much so the best is yet to come! So enjoy and laugh a little!

(Source: Book jacket)

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Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) – Mindy Kaling

One of my new year’s resolutions was to write more blog posts. But as you can probably tell that has not come to fruition. I wrote the post on The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks in January and just got around to posting it recently. It’s not that I haven’t been reading. I am flying through some great titles. It’s just that I haven’t had time to get the reviews completed in timely manner.

10335308There has been a lot going on in the past couple months. In November I got a new job in the publishing industry and I also found out that my husband and I will be having a baby (I’m due July 19th)!! So it has been a couple of months of craziness. Between the stresses of a new job and the morning sickness, time has been fleeting. But to keep my spirits up I have been reading a lot of fantastic humour in the past couple weeks. One in particular is Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) By Mindy Kaling.

This book is just hilarious! If you’ve seen Mindy as Kelly Kapoor in The Office or as Mindy Lahiri in her new show The Mindy Project then you know what a comical character she plays in these roles and seeing as Mindy Kaling is just such an absolutely talented human being you would know that she was a writer for both shows, so this books will not disappoint. Not that Mindy is like the characters she plays on TV, but she will definitely makes you laugh just as hard.

Synopsis:

“Mindy Kaling has lived many lives: the obedient child of immigrant professionals, a timid chubster afraid of her own bike, a Ben Affleck–impersonating Off-Broadway performer and playwright, and, finally, a comedy writer and actress prone to starting fights with her friends and coworkers with the sentence “Can I just say one last thing about this, and then I swear I’ll shut up about it?”

MindyKaling_backad1Perhaps you want to know what Mindy thinks makes a great best friend (someone who will fill your prescription in the middle of the night), or what makes a great guy (one who is aware of all elderly people in any room at any time and acts accordingly), or what is the perfect amount of fame (so famous you can never get convicted of murder in a court of law), or how to maintain a trim figure (you will not find that information in these pages). If so, you’ve come to the right book, mostly!

In Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, Mindy invites readers on a tour of her life and her unscientific observations on romance, friendship, and Hollywood, with several conveniently placed stopping points for you to run errands and make phone calls. Mindy Kaling really is just a Girl Next Door—not so much literally anywhere in the continental United States, but definitely if you live in India or Sri Lanka.”

(Source: Jacket Copy)

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The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks – Rebecca Skloot

When I first picked up The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, I expected it to be a fictional tale along the lines of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry (which would have been fine because I LOVED that book!). But my misconception was brought to my attention very early on. In the first couple pages the introduction discusses how this is in fact a true story based on Henrietta Lacks, her family and how an unfortunate incident benefited the medical world so greatly.

Henrietta Lacks was an unknown name in the medical community, even though her cells were a part of some of the greatest discoveries in medical history. If you asked anyone in the medical field, they would be able to tell you how miraculous and HeLa cells where in their industry. But they were unaware of where these cells came from, and Henrietta’s family made it their mission to let the world know it was their mother/wife/sister that were behind those cells.

When Henrietta Lacks was diagnosed with cancer, she was unaware of what that meant. Henrietta was a proud black woman, but in 1940’s black people were still being treated as second class citizens. Without Henrietta’s knowledge, her cancerous cells were removed from her body and studied at great lengths.

Henrietta’s cells were the first cells ever recorded to survive after being removed from their host and would continue to grow. This changed the face of medical research and modern medicine.

With the use of HeLa cells, the polio vaccine was created. “Demand for the HeLa cells quickly grew. Since they were put into mass production, Henrietta’s cells have been mailed to scientists around the globe for research into cancer, AIDS, the effects of radiation and toxic substances, gene mapping, and countless other scientific pursuits. HeLa cells have been used to test human sensitivity to tape, glue, cosmetics, and many other products. Scientists have grown some 20 tons of her cells, and there are almost 11,000 patents involving HeLa cells.”

henriettaThis story is pieced together by Henrietta’s family, with the assistance of scientific writer Rebecca Skloot. She writes about Henrietta’s past and how her family has spent countless years searching for answers behind their mother’s death and what happened to her. A family that couldn’t afford to see a doctor themselves are fighting to find out what happened to their mother from doctor’s who were getting rich of their mother’s cells.

Rebecca Skloot’s difficult attempt at helping this family and telling their story is courageous and honourable, especially when the family didn’t make it too easy for her. But it is understandable when you discover what the family has gone through over the years.

This story is moving, horrifying and eye-opening. Even though what happened to Henrietta was inexcusable, because of that doctor illegally taking her cells, countless people would have died without them.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I am sure you will to!

(Source: Wikipedia)

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The Devil’s Cinema : The Untold Story Behind Mark Twitchell’s Kill Room – Steve Lillebuen

If you like the show Dexter or you like true crime then this books is for you!!

This account of Mark Twitchell is based in Edmonton, Alberta and is a story of a man who discovered his dark side when he began watching the HBO acclaimed show Dexter. You can’t say that Dexter was the root cause for anything that Mark Twitchell did. He was messed up before he even heard of the show. He doesn’t even really mimic him–as in killing only bad people, a vigilante of sorts–he is more fascinated with Dexter and his “dark passenger” (the voice inside him that forces him to do evil). But Twitchell takes his obsession for a TV show to a whole new level.

I have read true crime before, and some of them come off very dry and overly factual. I get that is the structure some people based their books on. But this one has more of a fiction feel to it. It has you second guessing if Mark Twitchell really even killed anyone. He is very intelligent and convincing. It isn’t until the last chapter where you really see the TRUE Mark Twitchell, which is revealed when you read a passage taken from his private journal. You discover how sick and twisted he really is.

I like how the chapters jump from different points of view. You get to see inside the heads of the men working this case, and you see the whole story come together through the perspective of each detective.

It was a great read and I recommend it to all!!!

ENJOY!!

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Paris Revealed – The Secret Life of a City by Stephen Clarke

If you have never visited Paris, this book will give you the behind-the-scene scoop of the city broken down by arrondissements or districts. If you have been to Paris, then this book is going to make you want to jump on the next plane back! 

I went to Paris last year, as one of my stops on my honeymoon, and I was definitely infected with the “Paris Syndrome“. This is a real thing! This is when “Having idealized Paris as the perfect romantic European city for a long time, once in the city they feel disappointed with what they find.”

It could have been because of the rude people we encountered, the overpriced EVERYTHING or the complicated subway system. But I was not as elated as I thought I would be when I arrived in the uber-romantic city of Paris.

After reading Paris Revealed, I felt like I had to give Paris a second chance. I would definitely like to go back and see if Paris can redeem itself.

This book was quite comical! Stephen Clarke plays off the stereotypes of typical Parisians and shows that there might be a little (a lot) of truth behind them. 

The chapters include topics on: Parisians, Pavements, Water, The Metro, History, Romance, Sex, Food, Fashion, Cinema, Art and Apartments.

One might wonder why there would be an entire chapter on ‘Pavements’, but there is some fascinating  tidbits in there. For instance, there are 484,000 tress in Paris. 96,500 of those trees line the Parisian pavements, and each one of these trees are microshipped. The microship embedded in its trunk keeps a record of the trees age, the vaccinations it has been given, and general notes on its health. Crazy!

In the ‘History’ chapter Clarke touches on one of Paris’s most celebrated writers, Marquise de Sevigne. 

In ‘Romance’, it discusses the modern tradition of hanging a lock on the fence with your lover on the Pont des Arts. Typically, you leave your initials on it, and you keep the key. It is to symbolize your love and it supposed to ensure your swift return to Paris. 

Every paragraph as something new and interesting to say. Once you bypass the relentless self-promotion performed by Clarke, where in each chapter he mentions a reference to another one of his books (A Year in the Merde and 1000 Years of Annoying the French). But I guess his use of repetition worked as a sales tactic because I do have an urge to read them now. 

This books tells you of the best places to see, while steering you clear of some of the other not-so-great attractions. I thought this book was a great guide to places one might not see other ways. Clarke takes you off the beaten path and brings you to less touristy but still incredible must-sees while in Paris.

If you have a secret love affair with Paris in any way you will 100% enjoy this book!

ENJOY!

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A Moveable Feast – Ernest Hemingway

I began reading this book immediately after I finished Paula McLain’s The Paris Wife. I was so intrigued with Hemingway; so much so that I fully immersed myself in this autobiography.

It was definitely not what I expected. First off, I should have known that it wouldn’t be as in-depth as I would have wanted, because Hemingway was such a modest man, and would never speak about himself too much.

I love reading biographies and memoirs, they are so interesting. You begin to feel a personal connection to the writer, because you get to see their lives on a first hand basis. They let you in on personal information and stories about their lives. Not Hemingway. He generalized everything. When he spoke about his second wife Pauline Pfeiffer, he never mentions her by name. He calls her “the girl I was in love with”.

I know Hemingway is too intelligent to care about gossip, but that’s what I was looking for. His feelings and emotions towards Pauline or even for his own wife, Hadley. Maybe some information on his childhood or even a story about his other three wives.

The only emotion he expressed was anger and resentment.

Hemingway had a knack for destroying friendships. He lost friends like Gertrude Stein and F. Scott Fitzgerald. The main reasons for their falling out were: money, alcohol and jealousy. Once the tie has been broken between you and Hemingway the gloves come off.

Hemingway wrote to his editor, after his falling out with Gertrude, “She lost all sense of taste when she had the menopause. Was really an extraordinary business. Suddenly she couldn’t tell a good picture from a bad one, a good writer from a bad one, it all went phtt.” (in The Only Thing That Counts, 1996). He was angry because she did not like one of the books he had written (THE TORRENTS OF SPRING, 1926), because insulted a fellow author and friend, Sherman Anderson. 

He even recalls a conversation he had with F. Scott Fitzgerald, at the end of the book, over Scott’s insecurity with his penis!! Thank goodness Scott was not around when this book was published or he would have been mortified! (good to know, not to get on Hemingway’s bad side).

I would recommend this book because it is a short read and it does give you a little insight to the life of Ernest Hemingway. But I do recommend reading The Paris Wife afterwards!! I know The Paris Wife is fictitious, but after reading A Moveable Feast, I found there to be a lot more truth than I expected.

ENJOY!

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