Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Killing Ruby Rose (3.5) & Books That I Would Rather Die Than Finish

This, like I Am Livia, was a free Amazon Prime book of the month. And like many of the Amazon Prime books, I feel like I give it a giant sigh and a shrug, “eh, at least it was free.” But there are a lot of free books in the world, and there are a lot of books I haven’t finished (more on those later), so why this one? Basically I was on a roll of reading some silly books (I actually finished A Mad, Wicked Folly right before I read this one), and the problem with silly books is I don’t have a whole lot to say about them. This one, for example is: here is the plot. Plot very interesting. Talked much about shoes. Shoes very boring. Why is she wearing yellow leggings as pants? I feel that is wrong on a lot of levels.

ANYWAY the book is about Ruby Rose, and it’s basically Veronica Mars but not really as good….Ruby’s dad was a police officer and he died a few months earlier and Ruby has decided to take out her anger at the world by stalking serial killers who got away with murder. THEN some guy starts stalking RUBY and putting her in the position to kill the bad guys. Is he going to kill HER? Is she going to go to JAIL? Is she going to sleep with the cutest guy in school? Read the book if you care to know. I mostly liked her except the shoe tangents made me yawn. It’s like the show Pretty Little Liars, I liked it when it was about their dead friend texting them. I didn’t like it when it was about pretty clothes and sleeping with teachers.

Entertainment: 5
Love Story: 4
Do you hope the main character survives the book? probably
Better than Twilight? No
…now I’m reconsidering my life choices.

This book is satisfying to read in the same way it’s fun to read Cosmo magazines are or eat an entire bag of potato chips…it’s fun for a minute, and then you feel kind of gross. 

Charlie is like, SO much smarter than the girls that live above him. He is an unemployed wanna be writer, and they are unemployed, hot, and drink a lot. Charlie eventual gets off the couch and attempts to talk to them. 

I somehow stumbled across the "dear girls above me" twitter feed last year, and thought it was pretty funny. This book is just as quirky, following Charlie's life and interactions with the girls, but….he’s kind of an entitled asshole and feels really sorry for himself that he isn’t getting any blowjobs…and I personally feel grossed out by the idea that some guy thinks he’s entitled to blowjobs from pretty girls. Ugh get over yourself. Thinking you deserve blowjobs just for existing is basically rape culture.

Read Hyperbole and a Half instead. 

I don’t even know how this got onto my to-read radar. I think I was depressed from reading Room or something and just wanted something light and fun. It’s an epistolary novel (which I just had to google because I can’t remember how to spell it. And was only 80% sure it was the right word…it means its written as letters, or emails in this case) about a lawyer doing something. There’s a divorce. I don’t know I got like ten pages in and got confused. I didn’t care about any of the characters because I didn’t know who any of them were. I would rather read Bridget Jones: Edge of Reason and OMG part of that book got spoiled for me and now THERE’S NO WAY I will read that book. And I can’t tell you what it is because I don’t believe in spoiling things*

I am SO disappointed in myself but I cannot bring myself to finish this book. It just goes on FOREVER. It’s supposed to be like, SO GREAT, but, ok, here’s the premise:
This girl can’t die. Every time she makes a decision that makes her die she has to go back and relive her life and make a new choice. And she can kind of remember her past lives and what happened when she made the wrong choice. But after she’s died at the end of every chapter for 200 pages I’m like…just die…just die, die, die…is this book ever going to end. I will try to finish it but I’m not making any promises.

I'm really judging myself that I liked Timebound more than this book.



Wednesday, June 18, 2014

A Chorus Line (5)

Conceived by Michael Bennett
Book by James Kirkwood & Nicholas Dante
Music by Marvin Hamlisch
Lyrics by Edward Kleban

This book is everything. I’ve listened to the cast recording countless times. I’ve choreographed to “One” for my musical theatre classes, and I’ve danced to “I Hope I Get It,” but I’ve never seen it. And the next best thing is reading it, right? (wrong. but. I spend a lot more time on a bus than I do in front of a tv)

If you DON’T know what A Chorus Line is LET ME TELL YOU REAL QUICK. Michael Bennett had some long conversations with some of his dancer friends about what life is like for a Broadway chorus dancer. The interviews were turned into this musical. In A Chorus Line, a room full of dancers are auditioning for a musical, and are told by the director that not only their dancing will be judged, but their personalities, and he tries to get them to open up. What follows is a story of love, loss, and theatre. Will watching it help you understand why we crazies do these shows? Maybe.  

CASSIE: “But I don’t want to prove anything anymore. I want to do what I love as much as I can and as long as I can. But at least, now – I’m doing it for me.”

For me, this new path I am taking, diving into teaching and studying child development and learning is so fascinating. Teaching is rewarding to me in the way that I think making art should feel. If you've missed this in the past, I'm an actress. I've wanted to be an actress since I was five, but have pursued it timidly, never being the child who desperately wanted to move to LA or New York. I wanted LA to want me so badly they made me move because that's where I was going to be working. But the nomadic reality of becoming an actor, doing touring shows (if you're lucky!) before you break into Broadway, going from LA to New York, to a regional house that will pay you.... I just don’t want that enough. I want to do the shows and the roles I want to do and not worry about whose watching or how doing show A might get me to theatre Z at some point maybe.

Reading this play was like hearing a resounding "that's ok!" from the artistic community. "Do what you love! Love what you do!" I am so proud of all of my friends who are literally chasing their dreams to New York or Broadway, and I am equally excited about my next year studying teaching. Who knows what the future holds.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

I Am Livia by Phyllis T. Smith (4)

Ok, first off: I liked this book way more than I thought I would. I mean, the cover? First glance: it’s kind of mosaic-y with leaves falling on her face, kinda making her look all disheveled and lying there with her mouth slightly open. It SAYS it’s about one of the most powerful women in the history of Rome but….it looks like a romance novel. On closer inspection, she's standing there defiantly, wind whipping her hair, with her mouth parted in a provocative way...still looks like a romance novel, but one with a likable character. First glance at the cover was on my phone while I was getting ready to spend 30 minutes crimping my hair for a play. And it was the perfect book to read while crimping my stupid hair, except the one night I got too into the book and almost missed my entrance because I was super slow at getting my hair did.

What I Did For Love, indeed
photo cred: Jeff Carpenter Photography
It’s written as though Livia is writing her own memoir in her old age, and she starts by talking about how infamous she became, which is weird because I have no idea who she is. I don’t even recognize the guy that ends up being in charge of Rome, probably because he’s Julius Caesar’s heir – also called Caesar – which means I probably lumped their histories together into one story. This is why history is confusing: everyone has the same names.
Julius Caesar
Caesar, the adopted heir
The story begins with Livia, age 14, overhearing her beloved father discussing Julius Caesar’s assassination. Which we all know is going to happen. (I mean, even I remember that much of history class.) As part of the plot, her father marries Livia to one of this fellow senators. And blah, blah, blah…history. A lot of things happen. Read the book. Or be familiar with history. Eventually she meets Octavianus (Julius Caesar's heir, also called Caesar) and more things happen. And she meets him again, while pregnant with her husband's second child, and more things happen. Intrigue. Scandal. (Spoilers?)

I LOVE historical fiction when I can trust that it is remotely historically accurate. It helps me keep all the facts and players straight when I have a linear story with a hero I find relateable. It makes me feel smart and like I learned something. Plus, it helps to keep history in perspective, that all humans that live now and have lived in the past have possessed human emotions. And the #1 reason to read fiction is to cultivate your sense of empathy. (I’m not kidding, people study this: Scientific American, The GuardianScienceThe NewYorker.) And, as I’ve mentioned before, if there’s a good love story I am 95% more likely to like the book. We all have our weaknesses. This love story was very "aww" worthy.

Stick through it to the end, I know it gets a little lost, but I promise the end is worth the journey. I wasn’t wholly convinced that Rome found Livia as conniving and infamous as she started the book saying she was, BUT a book has to have a hook, so I’ll let that go. 


Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The Girl with All the Gifts by M. R. Carey

Out TODAY! 6/10/14
"Melanie is a very special girl. Dr Caldwell calls her 'our little genius'. Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class. When they come for her, Sergeant keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don't like her. She jokes that she won't bite, but they don't laugh. Melanie loves school. She loves learning about spelling and sums and the world outside the classroom and the children's cells. She tells her favourite teacher all the things she'll do when she grows up. Melanie doesn't know why this makes Miss Justineau look sad."                                                               - Goodreads description, because it's too good to try and do my own.

So, this is pretty uncharacteristic of me, but I haven't actually finished this book yet.

Wait, that is actually SUPER characteristic of me. Once I went on this LONG rant about how AMAZING Angels & Demons was and how much I appreciated that Dan Brown was depicting a priest as a good guy (as opposed to The Da Vinci Code)...and then the next page I read all insanity broke loose and everything I said was wrong.

Whatever, take this with a grain of salt because I only read the 10 chapter excerpt that's free on GoodReads right now. But I was just browsing Goodreads, deciding what to read next while taking a break from all of the three books I'm currently reading (more if you count the ones I haven't admitted to myself I've abandoned). The Girl with All the Gifts looked interesting, and I saw there was an excerpt, so like any good procrastinator, I clicked on it. And WHOOPS looks like I'm not getting anything done till I read this lengthy excerpt of a generous 10 chapters.

It's so good you guys. It kind of reminds me of Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale, but with more of a horror/SciFi element. It's got the perfect amounts of thriller oh-god-whats-going-to-happen-next and actually-makes-you-question-society-and-humankind.

*Real review out tomorrow 8am! Historical fiction/romance*

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

June Books For (& About) Kids

(for the littlest readers)
Cute little story about a little panda named Chu who might have to sneeze. Bad things happened when Chu sneezes. 
(slightly older)
A fun nonfiction read about the life of mathematician Paul Erdos. What I love about it is that it shows math as being a) creative and b) social and NOT c) boring. The illustrations are filled with colorful numbers and real-life uses for math. Its all about why math is cool. 

For more picture books check out my May recommendations

(middle reader)
When mom leaves dad with the kids for the week, disaster strikes at breakfast. There is no milk. Not for breakfast cereal, and not for dad’s tea. Dad goes out to get milk but takes ages and ages to get back. Upon his arrival, he regales the epic story of his hunt for the milk, filled with time-travelling dinosaurs, aliens, wumpires (NOT the sparkly kind), and other mayhem.

Verdict: A fun bedtime story for the kiddos. It reminds me of a Shel Silverstein poem that I memorized in elementary school. If they liked it, try reading Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy to them. If YOU liked it, try TheOcean at the End of the Lane, also by Neil Gaiman, which I would not recommend reading to the kiddos.

The book was also gorgeous, and used all of the illustrations (and even the fonts) to tell the story and add emotional colors to the book. It’s definitely worth getting the physical book as opposed to the kindle version. 

For Grown Ups, but About Kids

In How Children Succeed, journalist Paul Tough explores the education system and current research on what factors make a child grow into a successful adult. The story told to children now is that if you study hard and get good grades AND good test scores, you will get into a good college and then you will get a good job and be a successful adult. According to Tough's research, intelligence and a good SAT score will only get you so far, and children who are well equipped with skills like grit, curiosity, conscientiousness, and optimism will be more successful in college and beyond. Having these skills can help a child/adult more than raw intelligence or even growing up in a more financially stable home. Tough discusses how we can teach children these skills and how they will help them in later life.

I don't know if you've heard yet, but I'm going to grad school to get my Masters in Teaching. I've always been very interested in teaching, but that whole being super interested in acting thing took over my life for a little while. I always assumed I would one day be a teacher, but what and where I was going to teach were questions that kept me from getting my BA in Education.

I feel like it got a little lost near the end, when we got so involved in the chess world I sort of forgot what was actually being discussed. Overall, this book reminded me of all the reasons I want to get involved with the public school system.

For more on teaching, read The Book Whisperer