Friday, May 26, 2017

Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick

You may know Anna Kendrick from her starring role in the Pitch Perfect series, or perhaps her Oscar nominated role in Up in the Air. Maybe you recognize her as Jessica, the snarky friend from the Twilight movies. Or maybe you are one of the people who remember her roles in independent films like Camp, where she plays a "scary little girl". No matter what the role, there is no denying that Anna Kendrick is a actress on the rise, and Scrappy Little Nobody gives an inner look at how this all happened.

Anna describes her ascent from tiny Maine theater to Broadway to Hollywood with ease. Her first big break on Broadway was due to trusting parents sending her with her 14 year old brother to the big city on their own. Her breaks in movies come a little harder, as she explains to high school friends that the Sundance she is at, is the SUNDANCE where celebrities go. And while everyone else was staring college, she was giving acting a full on go, which forced her to grow up quickly. Even as her fame started to rise, her budget did not quite reflect that, and there are some regrettable fashion choices along the way.

Scrappy Little Nobody is one of those books you'll race through to laugh with Anna about her life, and ridiculousness of it all. Not quite a celebrity tell all, not quite a rise to the top story, but a life in progress view that will endure you to this performer. Fans of celebrity memoirs, such as Judy Greer's I Don't Know Where You Know Me From and Aisha Tyler's Self Inflected Wounds won't be disappointed.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Unmentionable: The Victorian Lady's Guide to Sex, Marriage, and Manners by Therese Oneill

Therese Oneill, known for her humor and history columns in The Atlantic and Jezebel, has put together a series of short essays on sex, marriage, childbirth, body image, clothing, and anything you could possibly want to know about women's lives during the Victorian era but were always too afraid to ask. From corsets and bathing to toilets and menstruation, no topic is off limits in Unmentionable: The Victorian Lady's Guide to Sex, Marriage, and Manners. 

In an era known for its romanticism, life for women was anything but. Unmentionable is peppered with illustrations and graphics from Victorian era publications and filled with quotes from male physicians and philosophers who have their fair share of thoughts on the menses and its correlation with hysteria. Oneill has put together a well-researched, thoughtful, hilariously snarky book filled with often horrifying and revelatory facts. The feminist in you will be happy you picked up this book.

Friday, May 12, 2017

UnSweetined by Jodie Sweetin

Jodie Sweetin, best known for her role as Stephanie Tanner on the long-running, wholesome TV show Full House, is up-front and honest in her 2009 memoir entitled UnSweetined. From a young age Sweetin was in show business, getting her big break when Full House premiered in 1987. Sharing bits and pieces of life on the set of Full House and stories of her lifelong friendship with TV sister Candace Cameron Bure, Sweetin writes how much she enjoyed acting. It wasn't long before life as a child star began to take its toll after Sweetin's longtime role came to an end.

Now as a teenager, unable to escape her role as America's sweetheart, Sweetin's acting career came to a screeching halt as she tried to juggle regular life with life as a former child star. With nothing but time on her hands and an endless supply of money, Sweetin's life took a dramatic turn to drug and alcohol abuse. Not afraid to write about her struggles, Sweetin sheds light on her vicious cycle of recovery and relapse (even while writing her book); ultimately only coming clean following the birth of her daughter.

Sweetin's deeply personal memoir is a quick read, filled with humor, charm, and struggle. For Full House fans or those who enjoy memoirs of child stars, UnSweetined is sure to give you a completely different perspective of Jodie Sweetin aside from her "How rude!" saying character Stephanie Tanner.

Friday, May 5, 2017

The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick

Ever since his wife Miriam died a year ago, Arthur Pepper sticks to his routine as a means of coping with his loss. He wakes up at precisely 7:30 every morning, wears the same khaki pants and mustard colored sweater vest, eats breakfast, and waters his fern named Frederica. When he finally gets up the courage to start going through his deceased wife's things, he stumbles upon an exquisite gold charm bracelet in an old pair of boots. Having never seen his wife wear the bracelet, Arthur is especially intrigued by the stories behind the charms on the bracelet. Working with clues from the charms, old addresses, and conversations with Miriam's friends, Arthur sets out on a quest to London, Paris, and India in the hopes of finding out more about Miriam.

The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper is a heartwarming story of love, loss, and grief. Filled with a cast of quirky, witty characters the reader can't help but root for Arthur to change from a bumbling mess to the much better person he's meant to be, all while celebrating the joy that life has to offer.

Friday, April 28, 2017

A Bintel Brief: Love and Longing in Old New York by Liana Finck

With an influx of Eastern Europeans, particularly Jews, immigrating to the United States in the early 1900s, New York City became a melting pot of language, culture, and tradition. For the ever-growing population of Eastern European Jews, whose language was predominantly Yiddish (a mix of German and Hebrew), The Jewish Daily Forward became their lifeline to the world. Published in Yiddish, this paper focused on politics, social issues, and even had an advice column.

Long before Dear Abby's column, The Jewish Daily Forward anonymously published readers' letters asking for advice on topics ranging from marriage to family to religion as these new immigrants assimilated in the United States. These letters were featured in a portion of the paper referred to as the bintel brief, or a bundle of letters.

A Bintel Brief by Liana Finck is a graphic novel retelling of actual letters submitted to the Jewish Daily Forward. From a concerned woman who believes her neighbor stole her watch to a more acculturated woman who is ashamed of her recently immigrated husband, Finck does a wonderful job creating the dialogue and illustrations. Following the brief explanation of the letter is an abbreviated version of the advice offered in the paper upon publication.

With a throw back to nostalgia, Finck's graphic novel is enough to transport you back to a simpler time.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Keep Me Posted by Lisa Beazley

Sisters Cassie and Sid have been close all of their life, but now Cassie lives in New York City and Sid lives in Singapore. The sisters have gone down different paths--Cassie is a social medial loving, busy mom to twin boys, who is struggling to keep the spark lit in her marriage. Sid is the mother to two kids, is a bit of a free spirit, and is also having difficulties in her marriage. When the sisters are together over the holidays, Sid suggests they stay in touch the old fashioned way, by exchanging handwritten letters.

For both sisters, exchanging letters has become a sort of cathartic, eye-opening experience. Filled with confessions, advice, and sisterly bonding, the letter writing project has had more of an impact on Cassie and Sid than they ever imagined...including, thanks to Cassie's lapse in judgement, their letters posted on a blog for all of the world to see.

Lisa Beazley's first book, Keep Me Posted, is a hilarious read for anyone who has ever had a sister and has experienced first hand the trust shared between sisters.

Friday, April 14, 2017

What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty

One day during her usual intense spin cycle class, Alice falls off her bike and hits her head. When she wakes up, life as she knows it has completely changed. Alice thinks she's still twenty-nine, married to her long term boyfriend, and pregnant with her first child. Completely confused, Alice finds it difficult to believe that ten years have passed, in which time she's almost forty, is currently separated from her husband, and has three very unique children. Her life is in an utter state of chaos. Imagine her surprise when the doctors tell her that she must reconstruct the memories from the last decade. Not only does she have to try to remember her children, but she has to figure out why her sister will barely talk to her, what could have possibly happened to have her marriage crumble, and exactly why she's turned out to be the mom and wife she never wanted to be. Completely bewildered, Alice has her work cut out for her.

Covering a wide array of topics from divorce to infertility to death, Lianne Moriarty's What Alice Forgot does not shy away from these difficult topics, all while providing an often humorous look at life.