Showing posts with label non-fiction. Show all posts
Showing posts with label non-fiction. Show all posts

Sunday, November 13, 2016

[Review] Furiously Happy - Jenny Lawson: Mental Illness and Life-Affirmation

In FURIOUSLY HAPPY, Jenny Lawson tells anecdotes of her life. In the center of it all stands her life motto of being furiously, aggressively happy no matter what life throws at you.

What intrigued me: Felt like reading some Non-Fiction.

Loud and Eccentric

FURIOUSLY HAPPY is such a loud book that you're probably in danger of going deaf when reading it. It's quirky, eccentric and voice-y and definitely a book that will catch your attention and stay in your memory for quite a whilte. Lawson's narrative voice is sometimes off-trail, mostly shouting, and absolutely unique. And it's just too much for me personally.

It reads like some sort of strange diary without any sense of structure of coherence. Even after reading it I still don't know what this book is about, really.

You have to be in the mood for this type of writing, a type of train-of-thought esque narration.

Offensive humor?

The message of the book and the only thing that sort-of connects the very random chapters to each other is that they're all a mixture of anecdoctes that showcase the author's "crazy" (her words, not mine) behavior because of the multitude of mental illnesses she lives with. And I just don't like that. 

I can't get behind these self-degrading characterizations and as someone who has had experience with mental illness it actually quite offends me. I get that it's a memoir, at no point Lawson ever tries to make judgements about other people who live with mental illness. But at the end of the day it just rubs me the wrong way when she describes the way she reacts to anxiety-inducing situations as overreacting and ridiculous and calls herself insane.

That's just the humor of this book, this is all that FURIOUSLY HAPPY is about - making fun of your own illness to make peace with it. This isn't a negative thing, it's just soemthing that you have to get, that you have to understand and agree with. I don't. I didn't find FURIOUSLY HAPPY life-affirming in any way. I found it disregarding and quite ignorant, which again, is just my personal takeaway and not the author's fault or in any way an objective judgement of the book. You have to see for yourself if that type of humor resonates with you. 




Overall: Do I Recommend?

FURIOUSLY HAPPY isn't my kind of book. Random chapters, train-of-thought narration, belittling mental illness - it's not my thing. It felt quite pointless and absolutely not funny to me.

Additional Info

Published: 17th October 2016
Pages: 320
Publisher: Kailash
Genre: Adult / Non-Fiction / Biographies & Memoirs
ISBN: 978-3-424-63130-2

"In LET'S PRETEND THIS NEVER HAPPENED, Jenny Lawson baffled readers with stories about growing up the daughter of a taxidermist. In her new book, FURIOUSLY HAPPY, Jenny explores her lifelong battle with mental illness. A hysterical, ridiculous book about crippling depression and anxiety? That sounds like a terrible idea. And terrible ideas are what Jenny does best.

According to Jenny: "Some people might think that being 'furiously happy' is just an excuse to be stupid and irresponsible and invite a herd of kangaroos over to your house without telling your husband first because you suspect he would say no since he's never particularly liked kangaroos. And that would be ridiculous because no one would invite a herd of kangaroos into their house. Two is the limit. I speak from personal experience. My husband says that none is the new limit. I say he should have been clearer about that before I rented all those kangaroos."

"Most of my favorite people are dangerously fucked-up but you'd never guess because we've learned to bare it so honestly that it becomes the new normal. Like John Hughes wrote in The Breakfast Club, 'We're all pretty bizarre. Some of us are just better at hiding it.' Except go back and cross out the word 'hiding.'""(Source: Goodreads)

What's your favorite Non-Fiction read?

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Tuesday, November 1, 2016

[Review] Modern Romance - Aziz Ansari: Digital Age and Dating

In MODERN ROMANCE Comedian Aziz Ansari explores the peculiarities of dating in the age of technology.

What intrigued me: I was in the mood for some Non-Fiction.

More academic than funny

MODERN ROMANCE reads more like a sociological study than a humorous little book peaking fun at dating habits in the 2010s. Undeniably a lot of work went into this as most chapters contain the outcomes of multiple surveys and interviews with people from different age groups. While that is quite the interesting premise, I feel like MODERN ROMANCE would have benefitted more from mixing humor with anecdotes exlusively. Aziz is incredibly funny and MODERN ROMANCE just doesn't embrace that.

Knowing Ansari's stand-up I was hoping for basically a novelized version of one of his performances. Lots of stories, lots of fun things to laugh about. This absolutely isn't what MODERN ROMANCE is, it's an academic study in my opinion that doesn't quite committ. 

Decent Bedside Table Read

It's half anecdotes half academic text and this is just not a flattering combination. I ended up skimming many passages simply because I wasn't interested. It truly does read like a lecture, which isn't surprising since this book has been co-written with a sociology professor. 

Initially MODERN ROMANCE lures you in with pretending to focus primarly on the digital age- which is why I picked it up - but essentially it compares generations. I'm not quite sure what MODERN ROMANCE is trying to do, it certainly doesn't deliver any new revelations that you didn't know if you grew up in the last 20th century. Ultimately I do think aside from a bedside table read that you can skim through whenever you're feeling like you need a light distraction, it's probably just a pick for people who really love Aziz Ansari.




Overall: Do I Recommend?

MODERN ROMANCE is a well-researched book and has its fun moments, but ultimately wasn't quite what I expected and disappointed me through being more academic than funny. If you don't mind that, MODERN ROMANCE still makes for a nice bedside table read.

Additional Info

Published: 19th September 2016
Pages: 352
Publisher: Goldmann
Genre: Adult / Non-Fiction / Sociology
ISBN: 978-3-442-17619-9

"At some point, every one of us embarks on a journey to find love. We meet people, date, get into and out of relationships, all with the hope of finding someone with whom we share a deep connection. This seems standard now, but it’s wildly different from what people did even just decades ago. Single people today have more romantic options than at any point in human history. With technology, our abilities to connect with and sort through these options are staggering. So why are so many people frustrated?

Some of our problems are unique to our time. “Why did this guy just text me an emoji of a pizza?” “Should I go out with this girl even though she listed Combos as one of her favorite snack foods? Combos?!” “My girlfriend just got a message from some dude named Nathan. Who’s Nathan? Did he just send her a photo of his penis? Should I check just to be sure?” 

But the transformation of our romantic lives can’t be explained by technology alone. In a short period of time, the whole culture of finding love has changed dramatically. A few decades ago, people would find a decent person who lived in their neighborhood. Their families would meet and, after deciding neither party seemed like a murderer, they would get married and soon have a kid, all by the time they were twenty-four. Today, people marry later than ever and spend years of their lives on a quest to find the perfect person, a soul mate.

For years, Aziz Ansari has been aiming his comic insight at modern romance, but for Modern Romance, the book, he decided he needed to take things to another level. He teamed up with NYU sociologist Eric Klinenberg and designed a massive research project, including hundreds of interviews and focus groups conducted everywhere from Tokyo to Buenos Aires to Wichita. They analyzed behavioral data and surveys and created their own online research forum on Reddit, which drew thousands of messages. They enlisted the world’s leading social scientists, including Andrew Cherlin, Eli Finkel, Helen Fisher, Sheena Iyengar, Barry Schwartz, Sherry Turkle, and Robb Willer. The result is unlike any social science or humor book we’ve seen before."(Source: Goodreads)

Do you know Aziz Ansari?

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Friday, September 23, 2016

Recreating Flaming June by Sir Frederic Leighton with Stickers | #PaintBySticker Masterpieces

With PAINT BY STICKER MASTERPIECES you can create twelve iconic paintings yourself - with stickers.

What intrigued me: I love art!

MASTERPIECES comes with twelve full color paintings that even someone who's not interested in art has probably seen before. From The Birth of Venus by Sandro Botticelli to Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci, there's definitely a painting you'll like in this. The paintings all come in a handy DIN A4 size.

The first half of the book consists of the twelve paintings, all with numbered little areas that you'll have to put the stickers on. The second half is filled with the sticker sheets. You can easily separate the pages from the book and get going. 

Creating Flaming June

As a little example I'll try and show you guys the first painting I made with stickers. I recreated Flaming June by Sir Frederic Leighton. I inserted a picture of the original on the right, in case you're not familiar with it.

From painting to painting the sizes of the sticker areas vary, and I seem to have picked one of the "more difficult" paintings, meaning with lots of detail. It's advised in the book's introduction to use tweezers if you want the most accurate results, but honestly, nobody has the time for that!

You'd think it can't be that hard to put a sticker on a piece of paper, but it really is. From the get go I wanted it all to look perfect, fearing that maybe if I don't get it completely right the painting would look terrible. But this is really not anything you have to worry about - MASTERPIECES goes for the mosaic look, no matter how badly you mess up the painting will still look fabulous. Like a cool mosaic rendition. 

Here's what it looked like after about 15 minutes

Then the finished product after about 1 1/2 hours




Overall: Do I Recommend?

I enjoyed this a lot. I've already completed a couple other paintings and really had fun with it all. PAINT BY STICKER MASTERPIECES is a great pastime activity.

Additional Info

Published: September 20 2016
Pages: 56
Publisher: Workman Publishing
Genre: Non-Fiction / Arts and Crafts
ISBN: 9780761189510

"Paint by Sticker is a compelling new activity for crafters and artists, doodlers and coloring book enthusiasts of all ages. Masterpieces encourages everyone to channel their inner da Vinci and create twelve iconic works of art.

Paint by Sticker Masterpieces includes everything you need to create twelve vibrant, full-color “paintings”—the stickers, the templates, the intuitive directions. The works include The Birth of Venus, by Sandro Botticelli, The Creation of Adam, by Michelangelo, Mona Lisa, by Leonardo da Vinci, Girl with a Pearl Earring, by Johannes Vermeer, Napoleon at Saint-Bernard Pass, by Jacques-Louis David, The Great Wave off Kanagawa, by Katsushika Hokusai, Houses of Parliament, Sunlight Effect, by Claude Monet, Still Life with Apples and a Pot of Primroses, by Paul Cezanne, Dance at Bougival, by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Bedroom in Arles, by Vincent van Gogh, Breezing Up (A Fair Wind), by Winslow Homer, and the stunning study in color, Flaming June, by Frederic Leighton.

The cardstock pages are perforated for easy removal, making it easy to frame the completed images."
(Source: Workman Publishing)

Do you like crafty stuff?

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Wednesday, July 20, 2016

[Review] Something Wicked: A Ghost Hunter Explores Negative Spirits - Debi Chestnut: In which I'll be sleeping with the lights on

In SOMETHING WICKED, a ghost hunter gives an introduction to negative entities, how they come into our lives, how they operate, and what they are exactly.

What intrigued me: I love reading about the supernatural.

Absolutely terrifying...

Instead of just bombarding with knowledge and giving this as a text book feel as I feared, Chestnut alternates between pure information input and personal experiences. I absolutely enjoyed the little stories about the demonic spirits (or negative entities) she encountered and sometimes even forgot that I wasn't reading fiction. 

SOMETHING WICKED is truly a terrifying read. Just thinking about these evil creatures coexisting with us is absolutely unsettling. Even more reason to pick this up and educate yourself about the different types of entities, and the way you might have accidentally already invited them into your house.

There is just something about SOMETHING WICKED that makes me deeply uncomfortable. While I did want to read this just as a nice past time, because I half believe in anything paranormal and half just needed a good ghost story, it did somewhat convert me into actually, fully believing that we're surrounded by benevolent creatures. Chestnut doesn't necessarily force her beliefs on the reader, she states quite a couple of times how she is open to all religions and everyone's beliefs. The only thing that she is adamant about is that if you're being haunted by something wicked, you'll know. 

...and very fascinating

SOMETHING WICKED balances somewhere between being a strictly informative non-fiction book and a memoir, telling the scariest anecdotes I've read in a while. If you're a horror fan and have problems getting scared, pick this up. Trust me, I will be sleeping with the lights on tonight and I'll definitely be hyper sensitive to anything that even remotely seems like I'm in an otherworldly presence. 
More than once I felt a shiver down my spine reading this, not because Chestnut is pushing it and trying to scare, on the contrary, her narration is pretty straight-forward and clean, but because to me true facts are always scarier than any fiction could be.




Overall: Do I Recommend?

SOMETHING WICKED is a fantastic read for those with a healthy curiosity about the paranormal. Even if you're a non-believer, there are quite the fascinating ghost stories in this that may or may not convince you to overthrow whatever you believe in. But caution: this is honestly one of most terrifying reads I've encountered.

Additional Info

Published: July 8th 2016
Pages: 240
Publisher: Llewellyn Publications
Genre: Non-Fiction / Spirituality
ISBN: 9780738742175

"Forget what you know or think you know about negative entities. Unless you are one of the few who have encountered a demon, it's almost impossible to grasp the depth and scope of such pure evil and how these creatures can enter someone's life and completely turn it upside down. Something Wicked explores the topic of negative energies, dark forces, and exorcisms with fresh eyes so that you may come to your own conclusions."

Do you believe in ghosts?

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Wednesday, February 10, 2016

[Review] The Science of Interstellar - Kip S.Thorne

I've been absolutely obsessed with the movie "Interstellar" lately so it was just a given that I'd check out Kip S. Thorne's explanation of the scientific facts behind the movie.

For those who don't know: Interstellar is a movie starring Matthew McConaughey as a astronaut-turned-farmer in a distant future that gets the opportunity to travel to a different galaxy in order to find a possible inhabitable planet.

NOT a good pick for non-scientists

Honestly, I was confused the whole time. This isn't popcorn literature, this doesn't feel like a Degrasse Tyson lecture. This feels like a straight-up text book and is therefore very poorly marketed.
I expected a book that's aimed at the same audience that loved "Interstellar" the movie. Thorne tries very hard to refrain from using formulas and too much established wording, but I had an extremely hard time reading this book. I had to read every chapter over and over again and concentrate to even grasp half of what he's saying. Thorne is absolutely unable to word complicated science in an easily understandable way. I felt straight up stupid reading this because I didn't understand as much as I would've liked to.

Too many topics - too little depth

There are chapters about every single plot point in Interstellar, explaining for what reasons Nolan and him decided to create Gargantua, Mann's and Miller's planets the way they ended up looking like in the movie.
However, I craved some knowledge beyond that. I don't care about an in-depth explanation of gravitational force. I care about gravitational force in relation to "Interstellar", but I don't want a whole chapter dedicated to cramming astrophysics theory into the reader. It's too much and it ends up being super unimportant if you want to understand the movie. I liked that Thorne features a lot of illustrations and sub-chapters, but I ended up skimming a lot of the theoretical stuff, because it seems unimportant.

What I really expected from this is to gain some insight on the probability of all this. Thorne explains the blight, the possibility of interstellar travel, and that's exactly what I wanted to read. Then again, there are pages and pages focusing on the black hole Gargantua that just ended up confusing me. I still can't tell you how black holes work and it's extremely frustrating. Instead of trying to cram in the planets, gravitational force, black hole theory, and a very unsatisfying explanation of the ending, there should have been a clear focus.

Science is such a wide term, there is no focus, the book tries to loosely move along the plot of the movie, but that's not really helping to ground the reader if you don't really get what's going on.




Overall: Do I Recommend?

Not if you don't have any clue about astrophysics like me. You'll end up feeling more clueless than before. You'll really have to study this one, it's not a light and entertaining read.

Additional Info

Published: November 7th 2014
Pages: 336
Publisher: W.W. Norton & Company
Cover: W.W. Norton & Company, 2014.
Genre: Non-Fiction / Space
ISBN: 9780393351378

"Interstellar, from acclaimed filmmaker Christopher Nolan, takes us on a fantastic voyage far beyond our solar system. Yet in The Science of Interstellar, Kip Thorne, the physicist who assisted Nolan on the scientific aspects of Interstellar, shows us that the movie’s jaw-dropping events and stunning, never-before-attempted visuals are grounded in real science. Thorne shares his experiences working as the science adviser on the film and then moves on to the science itself. In chapters on wormholes, black holes, interstellar travel, and much more, Thorne’s scientific insights—many of them triggered during the actual scripting and shooting of Interstellar—describe the physical laws that govern our universe and the truly astounding phenomena that those laws make possible."
(Source: Goodreads)

Have you read any good non-fiction about space?

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Sunday, December 20, 2015

[Review] Anatomy Lesson - Matt Spadafora

"Anatomy Lesson" is a collection of eleven autobiographical short stories, all centered around the human body.

I'm not a short-story person. Especially not if they're autobiographical. To me, non-fiction can easily get tiring. So it's quite an accomplishment that I actually liked this one.

Vivid Imagery and Honest Writing: A Winning Combination
I have to admit that I needed a while to get accustomed to the writing style. Spadafora writes in very short, staccato-like sentences. If you're not used to it, it's very hard to get used to. I started skimming pages at first and then forced myself to go back because I didn't want to miss anything.

The first story isn't a great way to hit things off, too much monologue and too little direction made me put this book away and try again later. By the second story though, "Ears", a story involving bullies and sexuality, I completely lost it. I think it was a mixture of the writing and the way Spadafora is able to convey emotions that made me so angry and emotional, and - wow. By then, the deal was sealed. I didn't expect to like this as much as I did.

In general the book really benefits from Spadafora's extraordinary ability to convey emotion. I especially loved it when he just wrote the thoughts of the protagonist out in cursive, it just feels honest and real. I really liked that you can tell he isn't trying to alter the way things happened. Spadafora just knows how to set a scene. The images were popping into my head starting from there and to me it felt like the narration was getting realer with every story I read. Or maybe I just started to connect with the protagonist.

The biggest danger and mistake you can make when writing non-fiction is losing yourself in details. Spadafora chooses the topics he wants to talk about carefully and I'm actually amazed by how many interesting things a twenty-something has to tell. The more I read, the more I thought I wouldn't mind reading a contemporary novel about this.

Continuity Issues and No Common Theme

I'm not so sure what I think of the collection as a whole. There is not really a common theme to me, it just feels anecdotes, connecting through the body parts. Maybe that was the intention, but I felt really unsatisfied when I finished this.

I'm not a fan of time-jumps, flashbacks, and the like. My favorite books all stick to one timeline and therefore it really irked me whenever Spadafora jumps in time. Just when I grew to understand the Matt of one story, we jump five years back or forth.
I loved the continuity (ish) between "Heart" and "Hands", two stories about a crush on a girl. I feel like the whole collection would have definitely benefited from it all, had Spadafora chosen a common theme, and a set time line.

I would have loved for it all to tell a story, and to make sense in the end. Then again, they're short stories. This is why I usually don't read them, I like the feeling of knowing how it all ends, even if it's just about a chapter in the author's life.



Overall: Do I Recommend?

Usually I don't read biographies or memoirs, or any kind of non-fiction really, unless I have a special interest in the person who wrote it or the topic. I'm glad I tried this out. Short story collections are usually not for me, I'm not a short story person. Spadafora has a unique way to write that needs some time to grow on you, but when it does, it sucks you in. Combined with the strong character voice (obviously - because it's his own, *ba dum tss*), it's very entertaining.

I wouldn't advise to read this all at once, because I noticed that you actually have to think about the stories for a while to understand what it's really about. That's what I love about "Anatomy Lesson", it feels like a part of the authors soul has gone into writing this. It's genuinely honest. I wish more of the non-fictional autobiographies I read were written in that way.

I wholeheartedly recommend giving this a try, because it's a very honest approach to the trivial things in life. And yes, I want a sequel. I'd love a contemporary from the author. Even if it's not autobiographical, I think the voice is really intriguing and I think there is potential for more!

Additional Info

Original Title: Anatomy Lesson
Author: Matt Spadafora
Published: March 26th 2014
Pages: 136
Medium: Paperback
Publisher: Life Rattle Press
Cover: Life Rattle Press, 2014
Genre: Adult / Non-Fiction / Biographies & Memoirs
ISBN: 1927023696

"Anatomy Lesson is a collection of autobiographical non-fiction stories, each centred on a different part of the body. Stories range from humorous nights on the job to high school heartbreak, from physical injury to mental anguish, from embarrassing childhood mishaps to grappling with body image and bullying."
(Source: Goodreads)

 Can you recommend some good short story collections to me?

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Saturday, May 30, 2015

[Review] Mud, Sweat and Tears - Bear Grylls

I really expected something completely different when I first heard that Grylls is publishing an autobiography. I absolutely love all of his adventure TV series and I could binge watch them forever. He seems like an interesting person in the shows, that's why I wanted to read this book and was actually looking really forward to it.

Why Editing is Your Best Friend

You can skip the first six chapters. Grylls tells us about his family's history, unless you're into pointless accounts about deceased family members that don't have any impact on anything in the story. I wanted to read this book, because I thought it would be just like his TV shows, packed with anecdotes from his survival expeditions. Instead, it is a very boring family chronic in the early chapters, he literally tells us his entire life.

That's the danger of biographies, sometimes the person writing them doesn't even notice that things who are important to them aren't necessarily interesting for the reader. Grylls may have loved his grandfather to death, but I couldn't care less about how he met his wife or how his parents fell in love. I want to read about Grylls himself, I want action!

There's a reason most people don't decide to write and publish their autobiographies before they've reached a certain age: They simply don't have anything important or groundbreaking to tell in their thirties. Yes, Grylls has had his fair share of adventures and life-threatening experiences, but they're not the main focus of this novel. That would have been enough for a book, I just don't understand why Grylls decided to bore us with his childhood and teenage hood shenanigans for half of the book instead.

Childhood Stories and Boring Anecdotes

When Grylls finally begins to talk about himself, we are fobbed off with dozens and dozens of anecdotes from his childhood that aren't really interesting. It's like you're reading twenty short stories after another that have no correlation whatsoever. I wanted to read this book especially because the title suggests that it's solely about his experiences in the wild, had I been interested in him growing up and his life decisions, I wouldn't have chosen to read this particular book.

The structure makes it very difficult to read as well. The whole novel is parted into four main parts which have between 15 and 30 chapters each. When you add this up to a 480 page novel, obviously the chapters vary in length from one to five pages. The structure is a mess and makes it even more hard to go directionless through the entire novel. Maybe they should have added chapter headlines to at least guide the reader a little bit.



Overall: Do I Recommend?

If you're a fan of the TV shows like me and are craving an action-packed novel by our favorite survivalist with lots of wit and action, you're going to be disappointed. If you're interested in every single detail of Grylls' life and him as a person, this is the right book for you.

Additional Info

Published: May 11th 2015
Pages: 480
Genre: Adult / Non-Fiction / Biographies and Memoirs
ISBN: 978-3-492-30750-5

"Bear Grylls is a man who has always sought the ultimate in adventure. Growing up on the Isle of Wight, he was taught by his father to sail and climb at an early age. Inevitably, it wasn't long before Bear was leading out-of-bounds night-climbing missions at school.

As a teenager, he found identity and purpose through both mountaineering and martial arts, which led the young adventurer to the foothills of the mighty Himalaya and a grandmaster's karate training camp in Japan. On returning home, he embarked upon the notoriously gruelling selection course for the British Special Forces to join 21 SAS - a journey that was to push him to the very limits of physical and mental endurance.

Then, in a horrific free-fall parachuting accident in Africa, Bear broke his back in three places. It was touch and go whether he would ever walk again. However, only eighteen months later and defying doctors' expectations, Bear became one of the youngest ever climbers to scale Everest, aged only twenty-three. But this was just the beginning of his many extraordinary adventures . . .

Known and admired by millions - whether from his global adventure TV series, as a bestselling author, or as Chief Scout to the Scouting Association - Bear Grylls has survived where few would dare to go. Now, for the first time, Bear tells the story of his action-packed life. Gripping, moving and wildly exhilarating, Mud, Sweat and Tears is a must-read for adrenalin junkies and armchair adventurers alike. "

What's Your Favorite Autobiography?

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Monday, April 20, 2015

[Review] I Am Ozzy - Ozzy Osbourne

In I AM OZZY, Osbourne lets us in on every single detail of his life, including intoxicated adventures, drug escapades, terrible jobs and his struggle to becoming the person he is today. 
What intrigued me: I have been on a rockstar biography binge!

An Absolute Surprise

If you think about Ozzy Osbourne, the prince of darkness, lead singer of Black Sabbath, you're usually associating him with satanism, murder, drugs and a lot of hatred. This novel shows that he's absolutely not the person the media portrays him as. He's a sweet, sweet guy, who's maybe a little bit naive, but whose biggest flaw is that he doesn't care about what other people think.

It's hilarious to read about how the band members think about the associations with their name and how they all met each other. There is so much media misconception around his person that I'm just in awe.

Not Only for Fans

I'm not a die-hard fan of Black Sabbath and I got this novel in the first place because it was recommended to me. You don't have to be a fan of him to enjoy this, but beware: it's graphic. The life of a heavy metal musician is definitely not suitable for highly sensitive people. Osbourne worked in a slaughter house, has a really dark sense of humor and didn't always bring out the best in his friends. It's remarkable that he survived all of the insane things he tells us about in this book if you think about it.

The writing is a little bit slow. You have to consider though that this is not entertainment literature, this is the life of an actual person - it's absolutely surreal to me how one single human being could have possibly experienced that many absolutely ridiculously dangerous situations and lived to tell the tale. I'm not sure whether you can actually believe everything that's in this novel, and to me, it doesn't even matter.

For a biography, it's definitely an action-packed read and really interesting. In most biographies the authors lose themselves in boring details so much that you just want to skip forward to the interesting bits. In I AM OZZY, you'll regret skimming pages, because you'll most likely miss something huge.




Overall: Do I Recommend?

You don't have to be a fan of Black Sabbath to enjoy this, but it helps. Some parts, especially the forming of the band and his background connections to Led Zeppelin, The Beatles etc. are probably more interesting to fans of the music of the 60s. 

However, Osborne managed to write a hilarious, authentic and interesting novel that doesn't even feel like biography. I rooted for him to finally make it big and he definitely won my heart through this novel. I can only recommend to give it a try.


"They've said some crazy things about me over the years. I mean, okay: 'He bit the head off a bat.' Yes. 'He bit the head off a dove.' Yes. But then you hear things like, 'Ozzy went to the show last night, but he wouldn't perform until he'd killed fifteen puppies . . .' Now me, kill fifteen puppies? I love puppies. I've got eighteen of the f**king things at home. I've killed a few cows in my time, mind you. And the chickens. I shot the chickens in my house that night.

It haunts me, all this crazy stuff. Every day of my life has been an event. I took lethal combinations of booze and drugs for thirty f**king years. I survived a direct hit by a plane, suicidal overdoses, STDs. I've been accused of attempted murder. Then I almost died while riding over a bump on a quad bike at f**king two miles per hour.

People ask me how come I'm still alive, and I don't know what to say. When I was growing up, if you'd have put me up against a wall with the other kids from my street and asked me which one of us was gonna make it to the age of sixty, which one of us would end up with five kids and four grandkids and houses in Buckinghamshire and Beverly Hills, I wouldn't have put money on me, no f**king way. But here I am: ready to tell my story, in my own words, for the first time.

A lot of it ain't gonna be pretty. I've done some bad things in my time. I've always been drawn to the dark side, me. But I ain't the devil. I'm just John Osbourne: a working-class kid from Aston, who quit his job in the factory and went looking for a good time

Do You Listen to Black Sabbath or Have Seen the Osbourne's Reality Show?

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Friday, April 3, 2015

[Review] Choose You Own Autobiography - Neil Patrick Harris

In "Choose Your Own Autobiography" Neil Patrick Harris lets us in on his life and the experiences he made. It's not your typical kind of biography - you're the one that has to make important life decisions for him

I love the idea behind this, especially because I'm a major fan of novels that explore the possibilities of "what if...?". By combining this with a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure book, I immediately knew that I had to read this eventually. Harris definitely took a different spin on it than I had expected.

The life of Neil Patrick Harris, or you in that case, starts at his birth. From deciding whether you want to have a happy childhood or a bad one, to how you plan on engaging in the world of theatre, it's up to you what happens to him in the end. While I did like that the reader is able to take initiative, I didn't like that some paths virtually lead nowhere.

If you make the wrong choice (on purpose, because some answers are just ridiculous), the autobiography ends for you. I actually managed to come to an early end three times before I made the right decisions that lead to the actual ending of the book. I'm slightly disappointed that Harris didn't like to let the reader explore alternate universes where his life goes completely into a different direction, because this is essentially what it's advertised as. I understand that this would probably result into a 1200 page book, but still.

The novel is illustrated uniquely interesting, there are notes from his partner, childhood pictures and other little things that give the story more authenticity. Harris write absolutely captitvatingly and if you're making wrong choices the outcome is hilariously exaggerated. I had a good laugh and actually had to pause sometimes, because it was so funny.



Overall: Do I Recommend?

I know that I'm probably going to reread this a couple of times until I have explored every possible reality in his story. It's hilariously written while still exploring Harris' life in an honest manner. I wouldn't only recommend this to fans of his, but to everyone that's in need of a good laugh.

"Tired of memoirs that only tell you what really happened?

Sick of deeply personal accounts written in the first person? Seeking an exciting, interactive read that puts the “u” back in “aUtobiography”? Then look no further than Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography! In this revolutionary, Joycean experiment in light celebrity narrative, actor/personality/carbon-based life-form Neil Patrick Harris lets you, the reader, live his life. You will be born in New Mexico. You will get your big break at an acting camp. You will get into a bizarre confrontation outside a nightclub with actor Scott Caan. Even better, at each critical juncture of your life, you will choose how to proceed. You will decide whether to try out for Doogie Howser, M.D. You will decide whether to spend years struggling with your sexuality. You will decide what kind of caviar you want to eat on board Elton John’s yacht.

Choose correctly and you’ll find fame, fortune, and true love. Choose incorrectly and you’ll find misery, heartbreak, and a hideous death by piranhas. All this, plus magic tricks, cocktail recipes, embarrassing pictures from your time as a child actor, and even a closing song. Yes, if you buy one book this year, congratulations on being above the American average, but make that book Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography!

Crown Archetype Cover, 2014

Additional Info 

Original Title: Choose You Own Autobiography
Author: Neil Patrick Harris
Published: March 9th 2015
Pages: 416
Medium: Paperback
Publisher: Heyne
Cover: Heyne, 2015
Genre: Adult / Non-Fiction / Biographies & Memoirs
ISBN: 978-3-453-60358-5
Buy From the Publisher's Site 

What's Your Favorite Choose Your Own Adventure Book?

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Friday, January 16, 2015

[Graphic Novel Review] The Alcoholic - Jonathan Ames & Dean Haspiel

In "The Alcoholic" by Jonathan Ames and illustrated by Dean Haspiel, we learn about Jonathan and how drugs had an influence on his life in retrospect. I'm going to take a wild guess here and say that this is a biographical work even if it states on the back (probably sarcastically) that it's not.

Starting with how Jonathan first got into contact with alcohol at the age of fifteen, we find out what it's like to be physically dependent on something. The odd thing about "The Alcoholic" is though, that alcohol isn't the main topic. It's not about a recovering alcoholic who's trying to quit, it's rather about a man that gets attached to things that bring him joy way too easily and needs a lot of time and a lot of pain to realize that what he's doing is toxic. First there's the alcohol, then there's his relationship to a girl initially named Manhattan. Jonathan is a very easily influenced character that doesn't really seem to have any sense of self-preservation. If he wants to do drugs, he does them and the second he starts, he can't stop, even if he'll hate himself afterwards. It's sad, really, watching him make mistakes over and over again that are obviously not going to end well. Whether it's constantly calling his ex-girlfriend, partying with his underage students or going for another drink.

It's easy to like Jonathan, because he's so human in the most beautiful way- he shows the weakness that most people are too proud to admit, he feels no shame talking about the most embrassing moments of his life and he truly cares about the people close to him. (Characters 4/5)

Because the novel is only 136 pages, it's a quick read and theres' not really much to say about the story. There's no clear line, no ending and no start. You might even start the novel at page 36 and end at page 77 and the story would still have the same effect as if you'd read the entire thing. "The Alcoholic" makes it easy to understand the appeal that drugs have on some people, while not glorifying it. It shows the ugly side of drug use and how it's something that Jonathan won't ever really be able to overcome.
Jonathan goes through many stages in his life, and it's remarkable that he managed to achieve so many things in life (graduating Yale, becoming a writer) while being completely addicted to destroying himself. Had this not had some kind of autobiographic background, I would've marked this as unrealistic and probably also a questionable choice in regards to getting the message across that drugs are in fact addicting (what a surprise ...). (Plot 1/5)

Given that it's a graphic novel I'm going to have to write about the illustrations as well. Haspiel does a perfect job in capturing what Ames is talking about. However, aside from Jonathan many characters look alike. I got the notion that every single woman aged 20-40 looked the same. In general Haspiel isn't really able to show aging really well. We can easily see this looking at Aunt Sadie, who's shown from ages 20 to 91 and basically looks the same from 70 to 90. Even though the novel is very graphic in  terms of sexual content, I never found it disgusting. Haspiel has a way of keeping it clean and not too detailed but still detailed enough to make you understand what's going on. (Illustrations 3/5)

Rating: ★★★☆☆ 
Overall: Do I Recommend?

It's a nice read and I really enjoyed it but it's not something I would recommend, especially due to the lack of plot. I felt very unsatisfied after reading this precisely because the story neither has a real ending nor a beginning and is really vague in general. I still don't know whyt he author felt the need to not really end the story and leave it open. I'd love for the characters to all get their ending in a way and I`m quite annoyed not to find out what happened to Manhattan and Jonathan. But like Aunt Sadie put is so nicely: you can't have it all in life.

"This touching, compassionate, ultimately humorous story explores the heart of a failing writer who's coming off a doomed romance and searching for hope. Unfortunately, the first place his search takes him is the bottom of a bottle as he careens from one off-kilter encounter to another in search of himself."

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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Recommendation: Life's That Way: A Memoir - Jim Beaver

In Jim Beaver's LIFE'S THAT WAY: A MEMOIR, he writes about how his wife Cecily got diagnosed with cancer shortly after they had their first child after a long struggle to conceive her. In mails that he writes to his friends and family to update them on Cecily, we get to know him and his family on a very personal level.
What intrigued me: I love the TV show Supernatural and the character that Jim Beaver plays.

Insanely Emotional Writing

This is obviously a biography and a very emotional read. Jim Beaver is an actual writer and published playwright rather than an actor and you can tell. Honestly, this is some of the most beautiful writing I have ever read. He knows how to use the right words, he is able to make the reader feel what he felt. I had to pause sometimes, because I was a trainwreck in some parts, and that means a lot, I’m not easily touched. 

Even if you're not a fan of the TV shows he did like NCIS, Criminal Minds, Crossing Jordan and many more- you're probably going to get emotionally attached to the characters. The original manuscript were the transcripts of the emails he wrote to his family to tell them about the things happening with Cecily, following her diagnosis. Therefore it's very personal, up-close and absolutely honest. This translates beautifully in the writing and I just can't find the right words to say what I feel about this. 

If you know Jim as an actor and a public figure, you know how the story ends and knowing that, makes you just dread the part where it happens. I just love that Jim decided to go on and push through despite the horrible, horrible things he had to live through and gave us this little piece of beautiful writing to help others that might go through the same or similar situations.

Why read it?

It's not a biography at all. It's a tribute and a love letter to life. Because it shows, that humans are capable of deep love, it reminds you to be grateful for what you have. It reminds you to seize the moment and tell the people you love that they are important to you. Do it, before it’s too late. I think it is remarkable that Beaver is able to touch people with his writing so deeply, even though you probably don’t know him, especially not personally.

But he makes you care and he makes you cry, and he makes you want to hug everyone that you love. Also I imagine this book to help comforting to people who witnessed loved ones go through terminal illness. Read it and you’ll understand what I mean.



Additional Info

Published: April 16th 2009
Pages: 303
Publisher: Putnam Adult
Genre: Adult / Non-Fiction / Biographies and Memoirs

"Life's That Way is a modern-day Book of Job. In August 2003, Jim Beaver, a character actor whom many know from the popular HBO series Deadwood, and his wife Cecily learned what they thought was the worst news possible- their daughter Maddie was autistic. Then six weeks later the roof fell in-Cecily was diagnosed with stage-four lung cancer.

Jim immediately began writing a nightly e-mail as a way to keep more than one hundred family and friends up to date about Cecily's condition. Soon four thousand people a day, from all around the world, were receiving them. Initially a cathartic exercise for Jim, the prose turned into an unforgettable journey for his readers.

Cecily died four months after being diagnosed, but Jim continued the e-mails for a year after her diagnosis, revealing how he and Maddie coped with Cecily's death and how they managed to move forward. Life's That Way is a compilation of those nightly e-mails. Jim's experience is universal for anybody who has lost a loved one. But Life's That Way is not solely about loss. It is an immediate, day-by-day account of living through a nightmare but also of discovering the joy of a child, of being on the receiving end of unthinkable kindness, and of learning to navigate life anew. As Jim says, these are hard-won blessings. But then again, life's that way."(Source: Goodreads)

What's your favorite memoir?

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