The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck: A Book Review

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First things first, the title of the book is amazing, and it was the only reason I bothered picking up this book when I came across it at work. Most who know me, know I’m quite curse-y, and rarely have any fucks to give, so naturally, I was quite drawn to this book.

The first few chapters of this book were fantastic, I constantly found myself think “ohh fuck yes” and “amen to that.” In case the title was not indication enough, this book isn’t really for those easily offended by the F word. Or other fun swear words for that matter.

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Now, while I was totally sucked in by the beginning the book, I was constantly afraid it would sort of peter out, and it kinda did.. for me at least. However, while I lost the excitement of the beginning chapters of the book, Manson still made good points and shared interesting anecdotes throughout the remainder of the book.

A handful of the ideas shared by Manson are seemingly counter-intuitive, ie. we need to fail and experience pain. We spend so much time trying to avoid stressful, painful, embarrassing situations, but what do we learn by avoidance? Not very much. In order to grow, change, succeed, and become a decent human being (instead of an entitled little shit) we need to challenge ourselves and own our choices.

This book serves as a nice reminder that life is what you make it. How we interpret our experiences, and how we choose to deal with those experiences makes all the difference in how we move forward in life. Manson talks a bit about taking responsibility for the things that happen to us and the way we feel. While certain things that happen may not be our fault, it is our responsibility to choose what to do with or how to feel about those events.

Not giving a fuck isn’t about being indifferent, entitled, or belittling others, it’s about choosing what matters to us. It’s about our personal values and how we take responsibility for what happens in our own lives. Manson talks about what he calls the “Feedback Loop from Hell,” which is we make ourselves feel bad for feeling whatever it is we feel, and that emotion just spirals out of control. For instance, the Feedback Loop from Hell comes into play when you feel anxious about something, and then in turn feel bad/more anxious about being anxious, as opposed to asking yourself why you feel anxious and just owning it.

 

“Not giving a fuck does not mean being indifferent; it means being comfortable with being different.”

 

To not give a fuck, is to take ownership of how you feel and respond to your situation. Don’t be overtaken by the things that stress you and bring you down, but rather accept it for what it is and say “what the fuck ever.”

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Or to put it more politely:

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Bryan Cranston: A Life in Parts

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Anyone who has watched Breaking Bad knows that Bryan Cranston is a brilliant actor. As someone who isn’t really even a big fan of Breaking Bad (such a heathen, I know) Bryan Cranston’s acting is part of what made me keep watching. He (obviously) talks about Breaking Bad in his new book; not just the making of the show, but also the development and why he believes it took the world by storm. It was really interesting, and often humorous, to read these stories and it shed a new light on the show for me and made me appreciate it just a bit more.

Now obviously, he doesn’t spend the entire book talking about BB, in fact it’s a rather small portion of the book. Cranston also talks about his childhood, youth, and the many crazy adventures that eventually led him to acting. It’s a pretty intriguing read and a cool look into a really nice sounding guy. It would be an understatement to say that Cranston takes his job as an actor seriously, he also takes developing his characters very seriously and he seems to fully embody each characters he plays. From fun, goofy Hal Wilkerson:

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(Some of his stories about working on the set of Malcolm in the Middle are hilarious. And now I want to go watch the entire series on Netflix.)

to the very serious, deep, and intimidating (sometimes downright scary) Walter White/Heisenberg:

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All in all, this was an enjoyable read. Sometimes funny, sometimes deep, but always genuine. I have a lot of respect for Bryan Cranston, props for being a decent human being in Hollywood.

The Snow Queen

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Hans Christian Andersen’s  The Snow Queen, published in 1844, mostly follows the story of two children, Kay and Gerda, best friends and next door neighbors. The children are very close and seemingly do everything together. Meanwhile, an evil hobgoblin (the devil himself) has created a mirror that shows all good and beautiful things as ugly, while all evil/ugly things become uglier. Said mirror then breaks and sends shards of evil down to the earth where they  take up residence in the hearts/eyes of the people. Kay happens to be one of those people who has a shard wedged in both his eye and heart. So not only does he see everything as ugly, but his heart has also now frozen over. He becomes distant from his best friend Gerda, wanders off and stumbles upon the Snow Queen. If you haven’t read The Snow Queen before, picture C.S. Lewis’ White Witch, very similar imagery here, I would be willing to guess Lewis was inspired by Andersen’s Queen.

Anyhow, the Snow Queen sort of seduces Kay to come along with her and then kisses him so he is numbed and forgets his past, his friend Gerda and his family. Gerda is naturally devastated by the disappearance of Kay and becomes determined to find him. The remainder of the tale is of Gerda’s journey through the land to find her friend. She crosses paths with many strange and scary people, until she eventually finds her Kay, she breaks whatever spell type thing Kay is under, and they make their way back home.

This is the second of new editions of Han Christian Andersen books, illustrated by artist Sanna Annukka that I’ve read recently. Previously, I read and reviews The Fir Tree. The style of her artwork is obviously very similar for both, and I find it quite pleasant. Though, to be honest, I was a little more taken with The Fir Tree. I still really like this edition of The Snow Queen, mainly because of Annukka’s illustrations and style.

 

 

I received a copy of The Fir Tree from Blogging For Books in exchange for my honest review.

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Adulthood IS a Myth

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If you aren’t familiar with Sarah Scribbles a) where have you been? and b) get to it! Seriously. I’ll wait.

These comics are hilarious, real, and just so on-point about SO many things. She so perfectly illustrates what being a homebody introvert is like, anxieties a lot of us relate to (but don’t share with each other) and just the realities of being a millennial.

Sarah Andersen also just has a way of speaking to my true weird self. For instance, this comic may be my absolute favorite:

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Not only my weirdness, but she perfectly taps into insecurities we all feel. My husband can verify that this next comic is basically the story of our relationship:

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I highly recommend Adulthood is a Myth if you enjoyed Hyperbole & a Half. If you aren’t familiar with Hyperbole & a Half, please , for your own sake go find a copy, or at least check out Allie Brosh’s site.

The Sarah Scribbles comics can be found on her website and Facebook, so you may not feel the need to purchase this as an ink and paper collection, but personally I just couldn’t resist having such hilarious and relatable at my fingertips and on my bookshelf.

 

The Fir Tree

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The Fir Tree is a classic Han Christian Andersen tale originally published in 1845. The tale tells the story of a fir tree who yearns to grow big, strong, and tall like the other trees in the forest. He yearns to be used like the others he has seen felled, whom he has heard are sailing across the ocean as ship masts, or being adorned in people’s living rooms. The little fir tree is so focused on growing big and being chosen that he forgets to enjoy the process of growing up. Finally, one day the fir tree is cut from his roots and chosen as someone’s Christmas tree. The tree thinks this is just grand, finally his adventure will begin. He finds himself put on display in a parlor and decorated with candies and candles, surrounded by excited small children picking the candy from his branches. This is so thrilling, thinks the lovely fir tree! But alas, the very next day he finds himself moved to the attic, where he lives until the next spring, the whole time believing he will be brought back out for the excitement, or replanting when the ground has thawed. It finally occurs to the fir tree that he had a pleasant life as he was growing in the forest, but he was so focused on growing big and tall to be chosen, that he hadn’t realized how lovely his life had been.

Prior to reading this new illustrated edition of The Fir Tree I was unfamiliar with the story. As a child I seemed to have missed the fairy tale obsession phase, I was never particularly interested when I was younger. However, I think stories like this mean a little more to me now anyhow. The Fir Tree reminds us we need to live in the moment and enjoy the lives we have instead of just waiting for the next thing. We shouldn’t live our lives like the fir tree, thinking: “Tomorrow I won’t tremble… I will fully enjoy all my glory.”

The illustrations in the edition are absolutely charming. I love all the simple and neat geometric shapes coming together to create these lovely illustrations, the color schemes as well are very visually appealing, using lovely earthy tones in the forest and a classic Christmas color scheme during the Christmas celebrations. A slightly disturbing read if just read literally; a tree wants to grow up to be loved, is cut down and used for a day and then sits in an attic all winter. But also a nice quick reminder to love the life you live, stop waiting for this, that and the other.

 

 

 

I received a copy of The Fir Tree from Blogging For Books in exchange for my honest review.

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All the Little Liars

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I was never a fan of cozy mysteries.. That is until I read the Aurora Teagarden series this past winter/spring. Confession, I learned of this series from watching bits of the made-for-TV adaptations of the series on the Hallmark Mysteries channel with my mom. They aren’t horrible, but I must admit the Hallmark version is certainly cozier. Anyhow, that was my introduction to this series, and then I found myself devouring each book earlier this year when I was sick for like three months straight and spent all my down time in bed. There is certainly a bit of a cheese factor to some of these books, but I enjoyed them all nonetheless.

Sooo, when it was announced that after like 13 years Charlaine Harris was going to write another Aurora book, I was stoked. This is was of one of the books I’ve been most excited for this year. I was considered where the series would pick up as Harris hadn’t written Aurora is over a decade, but I gotta admit, I can’t say I was disappointed.

All the Little Liars picks up right where Poppy Done to Death (book #8) left off. I have to say, that had been a concern of mine for this book. I’m glad she picked up right where it left off instead of jumping ahead 13 years, although it sorta did technology wise with use of Facebook and such.

A newly married and pregnant Aurora is back and, as always, surrounded by trouble and a new mystery. Four kids have gone missing, another has been found dead. One of the four kids is Aurora’s very own half-brother Phillip, who appears a handful of times throughout the series. There is always something chaotic going on in Aurora’s life, and this book is no different. This part-time librarian/part-time amateur detective seems to always have trouble knocking on her doorstep, both figuratively and literally.

One of the things I think I appreciated most about this book is that even more than a decade later, the writing style is very much the same and I appreciate that continuity. For me, it flows quite nicely with the rest of the series. I’d like to point out that while this is the ninth book in this series, it isn’t absolutely necessary to read all of these books in order. It certainly helps (especially if you’re like me and are anal about having missed something) but it’s also a series that lends itself to newcomers and allows you to pick up where ever you want.

All-in-all, I enjoyed this read because I have enjoyed this series and it’s characters. I’m curious to see if there will be any more to come for Aurora Teagarden. The series could probably easily end here, but I’d also like to see a mommy Aurora in the future. If you like cozy mysteries obviously this might be for you, but also if you’re just looking for something fairly light read (though not necessarily light in content, I mean.. there are murders in each book of the series) I’d suggest maybe giving Aurora a try.

 

 

Little Shop of Happy Ever After

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Nina Redmond has just lost her job as a librarian as the branch libraries are closing and being moved to a central library. Now facing unemployment,  forced to take a new path, Nina must decide what she will do next. When left to ponder her own dreams, Nina admits she’s always dreamed of owning a small bookshop. With the help of a soon to be former co-worker, Nina toys with the idea of having a mobile bookshop, where she could set up shop where she pleases and reach all sorts of people. Long story short without honestly spoiling much, Nina does indeed buy a large van and stock said van full of books.

This story takes place in Scotland, and while I’m very willing to bet this is a fairly fictional depiction of a small town in the Highlands, Jenny Colgan 100% made me want to go to Scotland, although to be fair, that’s not a new desire. I did get the feeling her depictions of this small town were a bit over the top, a very sugar-coated, Hallmark movie type depiction. Actually, this book could easily get the Hallmark movie treatment. Typically, I don’t like predictable plots nor chick-lit. The reason I stuck it out for this book was entirely for the book-lover, former librarian who just wants to see the world read aspect. Which is an aspect I like very much as a sort of wanna be librarian myself.

I would recommend The Bookshop on the Corner to anyone who considers themselves a book lover, lover of libraries/book stores, and/or enjoys a simple chick-lit, but doesn’t mind a fairly predictable plot.

 

Being Alive Costs: The Invoice

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Imagine you receive an invoice saying you owe some unknown organization 5,700,000 kronor (about $665,000). Clearly, it must be some mistake or a scam, right? But what if it isn’t and you do in fact owe this large sum? How have you acquired such a large bill? Now, imagine that not only is this invoice very real, but it is an invoice for your Experienced Happiness, and you know owe this money to something called World Resources Distribution. As it turns out, everyone has received a similar invoice, of varying amounts based upon their own Experienced Happiness, but somehow you’re debt is double or triple the debt of others.

This is the basic premise of Karlsson’s novel The Invoice. Our narrator, who is never named, receives an invoice for 5,700,000 kronor. Assuming said invoice to be a hoax he ignores the piece of mail until a little while later a new invoice arrives, this time the insane amount plus interest, of course. Upon calling the customer service number provided on the invoice and waiting hours on end to speak with someone, he discovers this invoice is indeed serious and the amount has been calculated based on a survey he filed out absentmindedly in the past to assess his Experienced Happiness.

This was a fun, quick, quirky read. It was a little strange, in a I’m-not-quite-so-what’s-happening way, but I also find it charming at times. The main character is seemingly simple kind of guy who lives alone; a movie buff that works part-time in a video store, and has little family and one close friend. He leads a simple life, so it begs the question, how could he possibly own such a great deal based on his experiences?

The premise of this novel is really quite interesting. People owe a debt based not only on their experiences, but based on how they perceived these experiences. So essentially, those who look on the brighter side and don’t get down as easily having a higher value of life, and therefore their experience costs more. It’s an interesting premise, though at times a little puzzling.

“But how can it amount to so much?” I said, when I could speak again.
“Well,” she said, “being alive costs.”
I said nothing for a while, because I didn’t know what to say.
“But,” I eventually said, “I had no idea it was so expensive. . .”

The main character is a likable guy, and he is part of what makes the story so enjoyable. As a recent-ish college grad, “millennial” who can’t find a decent full time job, some aspects of this book really hit home. For instance, just the premise that “being alive costs” makes my stomach hurt. In The Invoice, every single experience and how it is perceived comes at a price. The stress of that life is unimaginable to me. However, there were some moments in the book that were strangely uplifting. For instance, realizing that even the seemingly small experiences in life matter and/or can mean something, they are all part of the “experience” all a part of the bigger picture. It all sort of came down to a realization that life is what we make it, we each perceive and react to our experiences differently, and that’s sort of what makes life great.

 

 

 

I received a copy of The Invoice from Blogging For Books in exchange for my honest review.
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From Matilda to Mara. A Book Review

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I was super excited to read this as soon as it came out for a handful of reasons. First, I love memoirs. I am at times especially intrigued by what I call “famous people” memoirs.. but not like Kardashian famous, I’m not really interested in that life. I’m more interested in famous people who still act like normal human beings. Anyhowwww, I also wanted to read this because I love Matilda and am 100% guilty of pretty much thinking that Mara Wilson was Matilda Wormwood IRL. While no one is a real life Roald Dahl character, it would still be kinda cool to think that Matilda grew up to be as badass as Mara Wilson has.

I feel like it’s fairly safe to say any kid that grew up in the 90’s has come across Mara Wilson at least at some point in their lifetime. For me it was Matilda, Mrs. Doubtfire (one of the greatest family movies), and Miracle on 34th Street; but like every good little bookworm, I could always relate to Matilda the most.

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This book basically reads like a collections of essays about different times in Mara’s life. Said stories cover working on different movies at a young age, losing her mother to cancer, being diagnosed with OCD, and getting away from Hollywood as a teen to later pursue the creative life by becoming a writer. Mara takes her readers through her personal journey of being a well known child actress, through her adolescent years, and into her adult life as a writer living in New York.

One of the things I like most about this book was Mara’s openness in discussing mental health. In the chapter Patterns for instance, Mara talks a lot about her irrational worrying as a child. This whole chapter was something I could really relate to. While my irrational worrying never manifested itself as OCD as it did for Mara, the way she describes the anxieties she felt was spot on. It’s always refreshing in my opinion to read someone’s very straightforward account of their mental health experiences.

Obviously, being a child star, there are many stories of working on many different movies, and accounts of having worked with some very famous actors. I have to admit, Mara challenged my feelings toward Danny DeVito… For years I have been really creeped out by Danny and seem to assume he is just a crude Frank Reynolds type guy in real life. But then to hear Mara’s account of working with him as the director and co-actor in Matilda was revealing. Now he sounds like a sweet guy who cared a lot about looking out for the child actors he worked with. There is one story involving Danny DeVito and the post-production of Matilda that honestly made me cry, but I won’t spoil it, you’ll have to find out for yourself.

Speaking of crying, there is an entire chapter devoted to Robin Williams alone. I cried multiple times because it was just so heartfelt and raw. And because who doesn’t love Robin Williams? This chapter primarily consists of a blog post Mara made following Robin Williams passing, which you can read here —> Remembering Robin if you so please. It was a sweet tribute to a sweet sounding funny man.

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Mara shares a lot of amusing and heartfelt stories. Not only does she tell interesting and relatable stories, but this is also just so readable for lack of a better term. It’s well written, it flows, and I remained interested the entire time. Overall, I really enjoyed this read.

 

 

Closed Casket: The New Hercule Poirot Mystery

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I am relatively new when it comes to Agatha Christie. And while the writing is obviously a bit dated, Agatha Christie has undoubtedly earned her title as the Queen of Mystery. Agatha Christie is a master of a surprise ending, she will have you guessing whodunit pretty much all the way up to the end. This is a feat I greatly respect, it’s no fun knowing what is coming in a mystery, if I’ve got it figured out half way through the book (or less) why bother? So, I’ve taken a liking to Dame Agatha Christie.

All that to say, when I saw that Sophie Hannah (whom I am admittedly not familiar with) was writing new Hercule Poirot books, I was a bit skeptical. Frankly, I still kind of am. I had read some less than favorable reviews of her first Hercule Poirot, The Monogram Murders, but figured those could just be the purists who will never be satisfied with anything aside from the original. Psst, I too am one of those people.

Hannah has introduced a new narrator (new in The Monogram Murders, totally new to me) Edward Catchpool. At first, I was wary because I had gotten used to Captain Arthur Hastings, whom I rather quite like. However, I can see why it would be necessary as a writer to introduce your own narrator as opposed to trying to recreate two Chrisite characters. Recreating the iconic Belgian detective seems like it would be difficult enough on it’s own. Catchpool kind of annoyed me for a wee bit, he eventually annoyed me less, but I still felt like the only purpose he served was to gather people’s stories.

Obviously, being written in 2016, it’s not going to have the same tone as a 1920’s Agatha Christie original. That being said, I think Hannah did a pretty decent job tone-wise. What stuck out to me is the more overtly sexual tones or implications throughout, that is something I’ve never picked up quite so strongly from an Agatha Christie book. For instance, Claudia Playford is kinda of an asshat, and more openly vulgar than I felt would have been normal in a 1920’s mystery. But what do I know; I’m not offended by vulgarity or sexual tones, they just felt a little out of place at times here.

As I mentioned before, recreating a character like Hercule Poirot seemed like it would be a daunting task, however, I felt like Sophie Hannah did actually manage to capture Poirot’s classic egotism and high self-regard. The mannerisms, the way in which Poirot expresses himself, or reveals his revelations, I felt were pretty spot on.

By about chapter 30, I was honestly kind of over this story. This book has one of the most long-winded reveals I think I have ever read. Also, the motive/reason the culprit committed the murder, was kinda of lame. By the time we’ve heard who is responsible for what, I was like “okay, cool, we’re done here” but then there were another 26 pages (a chapter and a half + epilogue). It was a struggle for me.

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Now, that isn’t to say I didn’t like this read at all, it wasn’t entirely bad. Hell, it kept me up the one night when I was about half way through and the story was moving right along. In all, it’s still worth a read if you just like a mystery, but personally, I was a little disappointed.