2 stars · adult · nonfiction

Girl, Wash Your Face: Girl, I don’t think this book is for me

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Girl, Wash Your Face

author : rachel hollis

pages : [hardcover] 220

summary :

Do you ever suspect that everyone else has life figured out and you don’t have a clue? If so, Rachel Hollis has something to tell you: that’s a lie.

As the founder of the lifestyle website TheChicSite.com and CEO of her own media company, Rachel Hollis developed an immense online community by sharing tips for better living while fearlessly revealing the messiness of her own life. Now, in this challenging and inspiring new book, Rachel exposes the twenty lies and misconceptions that too often hold us back from living joyfully and productively, lies we’ve told ourselves so often we don’t even hear them anymore.

With painful honesty and fearless humor, Rachel unpacks and examines the falsehoods that once left her feeling overwhelmed and unworthy, and reveals the specific practical strategies that helped her move past them. In the process, she encourages, entertains, and even kicks a little butt, all to convince you to do whatever it takes to get real and become the joyous, confident woman you were meant to be.

With unflinching faith and rock-hard tenacity, Girl, Wash Your Face shows you how to live with passion and hustle–and how to give yourself grace without giving up.

review :

I’m honestly not sure I’ve ever read a self-help book before, and Girl, Wash Your Face is potentially the most popular one currently out there. A friend was kind enough to lend me her copy, so I eagerly set in to see what the phenomenon was all about.

Girl, Wash Your Face started off pretty positively (despite the fact that I’ve never really responded well to anyone referring to me as ‘girl’). The first chapter was interesting, speaking about not letting yourself down when you make a promise to yourself. I do think this is good to keep in mind–if you aren’t holding yourself accountable when trying to achieve your goals, no one else will be nearly as invested in motivating you. There’s an internal drive needed to be successful. But I don’t really think the book addresses what to do when something stands in the way of you keeping those promises to yourself–like, the author mentions those promises should take precedence over everything else, but if you skip a workout because of a family emergency or fail to write that chapter because your mental health took a dive . . . what do you do then? How do you recover from that ‘failure’? So I think this book contains a lot of good ideas that need some practical tweaks to actually be applicable in the average person’s life.

Because, despite the fact that the author continuously tries to be making herself relatable . . . she doesn’t have the average person’s life. She speaks about goals like buying a $1,000 purse and saving up for a vacation home; I just want to be able to pay back my student loans. She makes it seem like hard work and dedication are the only two things that are needed for success, but seems to forget an important factor: luck. There are incredibly talented, creative people out there who haven’t gotten to the same point where she is today, but who work just as hard. Maybe self-help books just aren’t for me, because this one seemed overtly, falsely . . . optimistic.

What did I like about the book? It was an easy read and fairly interesting. The tips were succinct and I feel like the chapters were the perfect length. Some of the chapter subjects weren’t very applicable to me; as someone who isn’t married and doesn’t have kids I clearly wasn’t the target audience.

Overall I think Girl, Wash Your Face was fine. I think there’s some good advice in here that should be taken out of context, because I feel like the tips work best when not used in comparison to the author’s life. Will I use this advice to keep me motivated in my own goals? Maybe. But at some points after reading, I honestly felt more stressed about my life’s journey, not like I had a better handle on it.

2/5 stars

2 stars · nonfiction · young adult

Lady Killers: so how do you make serial killers boring?

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Lady Killers: Deadly Women Throughout History

author : tori telfer

pages : [paperback] 336

summary :

Inspired by author Tori Telfer’s Jezebel column “Lady Killers,” this thrilling and entertaining compendium investigates female serial killers and their crimes through the ages.

When you think of serial killers throughout history, the names that come to mind are ones like Jack the Ripper, John Wayne Gacy, and Ted Bundy. But what about Tillie Klimek, Moulay Hassan, Kate Bender? The narrative we’re comfortable with is the one where women are the victims of violent crime, not the perpetrators. In fact, serial killers are thought to be so universally, overwhelmingly male that in 1998, FBI profiler Roy Hazelwood infamously declared in a homicide conference, “There are no female serial killers.”

Lady Killers, based on the popular online series that appeared on Jezebel and The Hairpin, disputes that claim and offers fourteen gruesome examples as evidence. Though largely forgotten by history, female serial killers such as Erzsébet Báthory, Nannie Doss, Mary Ann Cotton, and Darya Nikolayevna Saltykova rival their male counterparts in cunning, cruelty, and appetite for destruction.

Each chapter explores the crimes and history of a different subject and then proceeds to unpack her legacy and her portrayal in the media, as well as the stereotypes and sexist clichés that inevitably surround her. The first book to examine female serial killers through a feminist lens with a witty and dryly humorous tone, Lady Killers dismisses easy explanations (she was hormonal, she did it for love, a man made her do it) and tired tropes (she was a femme fatale, a black widow, a witch), delving into the complex reality of female aggression and predation. Featuring 14 illustrations from Dame Darcy, Lady Killers is a bloodcurdling, insightful, and irresistible journey into the heart of darkness.

review:

Lately I’ve been listening to the podcast My Favorite Murder a lot and realized that while I have a great interest in true crime . . . I don’t really read about it. This made me go onto Hoopla (an app through my library that allows me to borrow ebooks for free) and I quickly found Lady Killers.

It was disappointing.

It was a little boring.

Lady Killers talks about female serial killers (mostly historical ones, as the most recent is from the 1950s). It was intriguing because 99.9% of the murderers you hear about are men (don’t even get me started) so it’s interesting to look at the different motivations and methods women have when committing such horrendous acts.

How do you make murder boring, you may ask? I asked myself the same thing. Several of these stories felt like reading the same tale over and over again. Because there were only a handful of women included in here, there could have been a little more variety between the tales. There are only so many times I can read about a lady poisoning her husband without anyone seeming to notice why he spontaneously became so sick before I lose interest.

I did appreciate that these stories are global and only a few take place in the USA. While the overall perspective of women culturally wasn’t very different from country to country, historically speaking, it was interesting to see how different circumstances/political climates may have factored into these crimes.

The tone of the book, which was so casual it was difficult to tell what was fact and what was speculation, threw me off. Casual tones can work really well in making nonfiction more accessible to a broader audience, but it felt more like I was reading a historical gossip magazine than a nonfiction book.

2.5/5 stars

 

5 stars · nonfiction

The Art of How to Train Your Dragon is AMAZING

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the art of how to train your dragon

written by : tracey miller-zarneke

preface by : cressida cowell

pages [hardcover] 160

favorite part of the book : toothless concept art!

summary :

Featuring more than 350 pieces of development artwork that includes early character designs, story sketches, and concept paintings never before released by the studio, The Art of How to Train Your Dragon offers a stunning view of DreamWorks Animation’s film about an unlikely alliance between a young Viking and a deadly dragon, inspired by the original book by Cressida Cowell.

The Art of How to Train Your Dragon presents the insights of the filmmakers who crafted this high-flying cinematic adventure and takes the audience on a visual tour of the Viking and dragon worlds that is an enthralling – but far less treacherous – as one would experience living among fire-breathing creatures with a boisterous Viking tribe.

The reader will be intrigued by page after page of beautifully realized illustrations that show how this remarkable movie about the Viking world, “where only the strong can belong,” mixed with the dragon world with its “fiery furies,” was conceived in its full glory. There are also behind-the-scenes section on the bold cinematic techniques used in creating this strikingly original animated movie. With an exclusive preface by Cressida Crowell and forward by Craig Ferguson, How to Train Your Dragon will be a delight for all movie and animation lovers as well as dragon and Viking fans.

review :

I absolutely love the art books that accompany most animated movies nowadays. They’re pretty expensive so I don’t own nearly as many as I’d like but whenever the stars align, and the pay is good, and the price is right, one falls into my hands. I’ve been waiting on this one for a while. It didn’t disappoint.

The Art of How to Train Your Dragon is slightly reminiscent of The Art of Rise of the Guardians, because each had a children’s/middle grade book series that existed before the film was conceived. And both films aren’t so much direct adaptations as vaguely related entities when compared to the original texts. I loved being able to see the steps that occurred between the original conception of the movie, focused more on the book, and the end result, which told its own story. Using the same basics characters, setting, and themes, but in a slightly aged-up and slightly scarier version of Hiccup’s world.

I loved it all.

I loved seeing concept art–concept art always fascinates me. To see these iterations of beloved characters and know that they could have looked like any one of those options if the design team had taken the film in a different direction. I loved the little fun facts, like Astrid’s braid trailing down her back rather than the side of her head because she kept turning and whacking other characters with it. I loved learning how they layered the settings, cheated with the lighting, threw in details they knew might not make it to the final version.

I can’t pretend to know everything about animation. I’m not an artist. But I know story. And it’s so interesting to see how all of these different components and concepts and ideas thread together into a cohesive and loved whole. Something people will watch and remember and then watch again.

I can’t recommend this book enough! It’s smart, it’s beautiful, and most importantly, it has dragons.

5/5 stars

 

4 stars · nonfiction

Brother Bear: A Transformation Tale

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Brother Bear: A Transformative Tale

author : hiro clark wakabayashi

pages : [hardcover] 124

summary :

Rooted in the lore of Pacific Northwest culture, Brother Bear is a tale of the strong brotherhood between all living creatures. It is also about discovering the power of change in our world, whether it be the change from winter to spring, or from small to large, or the transformation of a boy to a man. This epic story combines humor and emotion with breathtaking images of nature and wildlife from a time long forgotten.

review :

I absolutely love to read the Disney art books, not only because there’s awesome artwork and even concept art included but because it’s always extremely fascinating to see the stories behind the final product. With Brother Bear, apparently, there was so much more of a struggle to get the film complete and epic than I ever would have realized.

This book was a little inspiring, too. Right in the first section it talks about the director’s career and how he got his start at Disney. He was an intern! It’s so awesome to see someone climb up the ladder like that, to really–eventually–make all of their dreams come true and create something that is such a classic.

It’s also inspiring to see what can come out of such hard word. This book details three other full scripts–full scripts–they had to use before Brother Bear settled into its final form. Can you imagine putting all of that time, love, and effort into something that just doesn’t quite end up working in the end and needing to rewrite it entirely? The important message her, however, was that the basic theme and heart of the movie remained the same throughout this process. It was just a journey needed to explore the characters that would be presented and how the story would unfold.

And it’s absolutely hilarious that they had the idea of the moose brothers early on and even when they weren’t working they were basically like “okay they’re going to end up being funny so we’re keeping them”. Author problems. And they ended up tying into the movie so well in the end, so it just goes to show that you can be stubborn about parts of the story you relentlessly love.

I’d recommend this book so, so much. It’s so inspirational and beautiful.

4/5 stars

 

4 stars · nonfiction

The Classic Fairy Tales, edited by Maria Tartar

The Classic Fairy Tales

editor : maria tartar

pages : 416

summary :

Gathering together 44 tales from around the world, from the 5th century on, this critical edition examines the genre, its cultural implications and its critical history. She has focused on six different tale types, and includes multicultural variants and literary rescriptings.

review :

Yes, I needed to read this one for school, but it was so interesting that I thought I’d tell you all a little about my thoughts on it. The Classic Fairy Tales is about as bland of a title as you can get when it comes to this collection. Edited and selected by Maria Tartar, most of the book contains fairy tales while about a fourth of it is articles and criticism concerning fairy tales both modern and ancient.

The fairy tales are all separated into different sections in the book so that the reader can compare several versions of one story–for instance, five different ways of telling Little Red Riding Hood–all at once. There may be what is considered the ‘original’ tale, the first written down, and then several others recorded from oral tradition, as well as modern takes on the old story. I liked comparing how the traditional stories we all know and love differ from more violent, older stories. They’re completely different from modern interpretations as well, which tend to be more feminist, less concerned with eradicating eroticism, and sometimes seem to turn the fairy tale completely upside-down for the fun of it.

While the criticism tends to get a little dull–and may begin to blame Disney for overtaking the fairy tale market–the collection does make some interesting points that I think any fan of traditional (or modern!) tales will enjoy. I know that I’m not the only one out there who’s a sucker for any great fairy tale retelling to hit the market these days and this book explains some of the fascination humanity seems to have lingering over the idea of these tales Pick this up and read it for yourself, then discuss with me because I want to hear what you think of the different versions of stories, which may be the true original, and which may be your favorite!

4/5 stars

2 stars · nonfiction

My Story by Marilyn Monroe

 My Story

by : marilyn monroe & ben hecht

pages : [hardcover] 185

summary :

Written at the height of her fame but not published until over a decade after her death, this autobiography of actress and sex symbol Marilyn Monroe (1926-1962) poignantly recounts her childhood as an unwanted orphan, her early adolescence, her rise in the film industry from bit player to celebrity, and her marriage to Joe DiMaggio. In this intimate account of a very public life, she tells of her first (non-consensual) sexual experience, her romance with the Yankee Clipper, and her prescient vision of herself as “the kind of girl they found dead in the hall bedroom with an empty bottle of sleeping pills in her hand.” The Marilyn in these pages is a revelation: a gifted, intelligent, vulnerable woman who was far more complex than the unwitting sex siren she portrayed on screen. Lavishly illustrated with photos of Marilyn, this special book celebrates the life and career of an American icon—-from the unique perspective of the icon herself.

review :

I had to read this book for class. I had problems with it even before I learned that there’s been controversy over how much of this Marilyn possibly wrote and how much has been written by other authors, like Ben Hecht. There’s no way of knowing how much of this ‘autobiography’ is Monroe’s original words and how much is a persona that’s been built for her by outsiders.

A lot of the story seems to pit Monroe against other ladies and much of the writing is simplistic. Perhaps this is made to make it seem more believable that it is Monroe or it simply shows that she wasn’t very great at writing. Because the book ends, very abruptly, at the supposed finish of the manuscript that she handed in. Even though this is a snapshot of her life, while she was still alive, you would think that there would be a little more thought in coming up with some kind of conclusion or a less jarring transition at the end.

My edition, the most recent one, also included color photos of Monroe. In class we discussed the impact these photos might have on the text. Most of the images have Monroe with a blank stare, posing suggestively . . but the text itself hints that she may not have had any control over what photographs were used to promote herself and her films. It’s interesting to think that this image we have of Monroe may not be anything like her true self at all.

I don’t really understand the continued fascination with Marilyn Monroe but if you’re one of those people who has a poster or shirt of her and don’t really know anything about her, I think you should give this book a read. That way you can know a little more about her life as well as the work she put into making her career and image. It’s a quick book but not one that I’d recommend to most people.

2/5 stars

 

5 stars · nonfiction · young adult

Popular by Mara Van Wagenen

 

Popular: Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek 

author : maya van magenen

pages : [hardcover] 272

memorable quote This is the time to remember that I’m the protagonist in my own story, facing every challenge with grace and wit.

summary :

A touchingly honest, candidly hysterical memoir from breakout teen author Maya Van Wagenen

Stuck at the bottom of the social ladder at pretty much the lowest level of people at school who aren’t paid to be here,” Maya Van Wagenen decided to begin a unique social experiment: spend the school year following a 1950s popularity guide, written by former teen model Betty Cornell. Can curlers, girdles, Vaseline, and a strand of pearls help Maya on her quest to be popular?

The real-life results are painful, funny, and include a wonderful and unexpected surprise—meeting and befriending Betty Cornell herself. Told with humor and grace, Maya’s journey offers readers of all ages a thoroughly contemporary example of kindness and self-confidence.

review :

I can’t recall the last time I’ve willingly picked up a memoir. Something about this interesting premise, combined with a really gorgeous cover, had me picking this up at the library one day. I’d seen a few people with this book but had never heard any opinions about it so I was completely going in blind. And I loved it.

Maya writes so honestly about her experience and I love how even in the darkest moments, times she must have hated living through, she was able to put a positive spin on them while writing. Her humor and wit truly carry the book because even something as novel as old advice taken literally in the modern day wouldn’t be able to interest me if there wasn’t good writing to accompany it. I think that Maya is going to grow into a fine writer-she’s only fifteen! While I can’t wait to see what else she might come up with, I wouldn’t mind her trying more social experiments so we can read about her antics.

Something that was also fun was the communication between Betty Cornell and Maya. I bet the former never thought her popularity guide would be put to use sixty years after it’d been published! I loved hearing about the two reaching out to one another. It was another glimpse into what has changed in the modern world as well as what has essentially remained the same about society . . and high school.

What I really loved about Popular was its overall message. Maya is an average girl and while she perhaps didn’t achieve the kind of popularity that is perpetuated in the media as well as in the halls of a high school, she learns that most people personally have different ideas of what popularity is. Did she manage to achieve what the 1950s popularity guide was trying to train her for? Well, you’ll need to pick up this teen’s memoir to find out.

This was a quick, fun read that I really wouldn’t mind picking up again! I highly recommend it.

5/5 stars

 

books to movies · nonfiction

The Art of Rise of the Guardians

The Art of Rise of the Guardians

by Ramin Zahed, foreword by Alec Baldwin, preface by William Joyce

pages : [hardcover] 158

summary :

In Rise of the Guardians, North, Bunny, Tooth, and Sandman recruit the mysterious Jack Frost to help them stop Pitch from putting an end to childhood belief and sending the world into eternal darkness. Based on the children’s book series by William Joyce, Rise of the Guardians is both an exciting adventure and a poignant exploration of the hopes and dreams of youth.

Rise of the Guardians is one of DreamWorks Animation’s most ambitious films to date. Its mythic premise allowed the artists at the studio to let their imaginations loose, producing a truly unique take on the imaginary figures of childhood, the worlds they inhabit, and the innocence and joy they represent.

With more than 400 pieces of meticulously reproduced art, including storyboards, character designs, visual development art, and effects concepts, The Art of Rise of the Guardians is an insider’s tour of DreamWorks Animation’s dynamic development process. Included is exclusive commentary from the director, producers, production designer, and crew that paints a fascinating picture of the way these filmmakers collaborated to create a stunning CG movie.

review :

Rise of the Guardians is one of my favorite animated movies of all time. For some odd reason it seems like every animated movie I fall in love with I never get to see in the theaters. There’s something amazing about seeing all of these animated characters up on the big screen, though on a smaller screen (and through the second or twelfth time viewing the movie) you get to appreciate all of the fine details that went into making that animation. I have such a high respect for animators. I would love to be able to do what these people can; I’ll settle for hoping to write the same magical storylines these writers come up with.

William Joyce wrote the original children’s series the film was based on and though the two mediums of book and film are completely different, I fell in love with both ideas and wish that more people could dive into Rise of the Guardians and see for themselves how lovely it is. I especially loved Joyce’s preface to this book of art, knowing that he had input in the movie and wanted it to be as great and wonderful as possible. They certainly succeeded.

The art contained in this book is just gorgeous. I could spend ages flipping through the pages just reading through the pictures. But whenever I stopped to read the text, the stories behind the visual developments of the characters were fascinating. It’s easy to see how a figure that seems so iconic to me now could have ended up completely different and I would have never known that there had been another concept up for grabs unless I peered through the pages of this book. I think it’s a great insight for any fan, let alone any art or film lover.

This book is a little more expensive than what I usually buy but I’m one hundred percent certain I made the right decision in purchasing this. The story of the movie is so heartfelt that people of any age can enjoy and cherish it. Seeing the love and hard work that went into the characters while the movie was being made makes me appreciate the outcome that much more. If you loved Rise of the Guardians or enjoy animated movies, pick up this book now! And if you haven’t seen the movie yet, well, what are you waiting for? It’s one that will stick with you forever.

5/5 stars

If you enjoyed this book, you might also love The Art of Tangled.

nonfiction

Bullying Under Attack, edited by John Meyer

Bullying Under Attack

edited by: john meyer

pages : [paperback] 264

summary :

WORDS ARE POWERFUL- they can inflict damage and they can heal. In this anthology of first-person accounts written by teenagers for both their peers and adults, words transform pain into hope and the possibility for change.
“Bullying” “Under Attack “is an eye-opening anthology of all three players in the bullying cycle. These conversational essays on life as the bullied, the bully, and the bystander provide insight and inspiration for change. Rather than offer a cumbersome psychological breakdown, this graceful and hard-hitting book places the reader firmly in the shoes of all involved.
The stories written by The Bullied explain the subtleties and agony of harassment, helping readers understand that there is more to unkind words and behavior than “just joking around.” Although many of these teens have suffered through harassment by their peers, their essays are both empowering and inspiring. By exploring the essays by The Bullies, readers will discover that the bullies are often times incorrectly labled as bad kids, but many are simply trying to fit in, despite their own insecurities and fears. While these bullies may still have their own seemingly insurmountable obstacles at home, they share their experiences and insights hoping to manage and reforming other bullies. The section voiced by The Bystander shares tales of those who have regrettably watched and those who have stepped up to help others. Here, readers will find the inspiration to speak out rather than just standing by while others are emotionally harmed.
Whether due to race, weight, or jealousy, there are a myriad of reasons “WHY.” Included in this startling compendium of personal stories that convey the complexity and nuances of what it means to be bullied, are stories of regret, promises, and encouragement that will help readers find solace during their teen years and show them how as adults their words and actions can provide strength and reassurance to others experiencing all aspects of bullying. Ultimately, they will learn to find their voices in order to break the cycle for good.

review :

Bullying is something I think everyone experiences in some form throughout their education and during life in general. Whether you’re a victim, bystander, or bully, you’re trapped in this system that needs to be rooted out of life. In Bullying Under Attack there are essays from all three sides of the situation. It’s devastating to hear what these victims went through and how they survived and were changed forever by their experiences. Hearing what bullies have to say about their past can be enlightening as well as troubling. And sometimes it seems like bystanders can really be the worst parts of the equation, never stepping up to give the victim the helping hand they need and deserve.

This collection really touched home and was important to me. I think anyone reading it can gain a better perspective of what it’s like to live through this. No matter which aspect of the collection you relate to, I hope that every reader comes out of this book with the conviction that something more needs to be done and bullying needs to be stopped, now.

I really liked how some of these essays addressed cyber bullying as well because I think that aspect of harassment has picked up so much lately and school rules as well as laws have not moved along fast enough to address this tool used by bullies to harm others nearly 24/7. The way that people bully is evolving and people need to evolve alongside it to stay one step ahead, help the kids who need it and encourage those who stand there and ignore what’s happening to speak up and make a difference.

I think that anyone can read this collection and gain something from it, whether you think you’ve never witnessed bullying or you’ve experienced it yourself. I know this is an important issue and I feel like it can never be addressed enough, not until there are no students afraid to go to school and no bullies looking for their next victim.

4/5 stars

5 stars · nonfiction

Ancient Civilizations Brought to You Today

 I’m very interested in history and the different civilizations that thrived long before I was born. I know I’m not the only one fascinated by the idea of these people and places, yearning to know more about what a day in the life of a person living in ancient Greece, The Middle Ages, the Viking Age, or ancient Egypt was like.

I personally was most interested in ancient Greece, partly because I’ve read so much about the mythology there that I wanted to know how it applied to these people and their lives. Unfortunately in most history classes I’ve taken, there hasn’t been much time to focus on other parts of the world, let alone their ancient civilizations. I was also very, very excited to read about vikings. Who doesn’t want to know what it’d be like to live as one of them? Sure, they seem kind of rough and tough (and probably very, very cold) but what made them that way?

Fortunately, the series of “Everyday Life” books by Sterling Publishing don’t simply skim over dates and facts. The great thing about having one book focused on something I’m completely interested in is that I know I’m going to get a thorough understanding of these people.

In Ancient Greece: Everyday Life in the Birthplace of Western Civilization, not only are their sections about their gods and heroes but there are portions that talk about what the people typically ate, how their educational system worked, how their criminal trials proceeded, what happened with weddings . . I could go on and on about all of the separate detailed sections that addressed different aspects of Greek life that I never even thought to ask about!

Viking Age: Everyday Life During the Extraordinary Era of the Norsemen is set up similarly but of course has a plethora of unique information for you to learn so you can surprise your friends with fun facts about Vikings. Of course I enjoyed reading about the different types of ships they had, one of the things these people were most known for, but I also liked reading about what clothing they wore, how they fought battles, how their names were constructed, and what medicine they used.

Both texts are split into several chapters that are further split into sections that pertain to the subject of the chapter. The reading is anything but dense; I could read these books on my own time, for my own enjoyment, and I loved every minute of it.

I highly recommend the “Everyday Life” books and hope that you’ll check out at least one of them! What’s your favorite ancient civilization to learn about?