REVIEW: Everything Is Going to Be Great by Rachel Shukert

REVIEW: Everything Is Going to Be Great by Rachel ShukertEverything Is Going to Be Great: An Underfunded and Overexposed European Grand Tour by Rachel Shukert
Published by Harper Perennial (2010), 336pg
Filed under: Adult, GLBTQ, Memoir, Non-Fiction, Travel
Got my copy from: Scribd
Buy your own copy at Amazon or BookDepository (affiliate links | info) or add it to your Goodreads shelf

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When she lands a coveted nonpaying, nonspeaking role in a play going on a European tour, Rachel Shukert—with a brand-new degree in acting from NYU and no money—finally scores her big break. And, after a fluke at customs in Vienna, she gets her golden ticket: an unstamped passport, giving her free rein to “find herself” on a grand tour of Europe. Traveling from Vienna to Zurich to Amsterdam, Rachel bounces through complicated relationships, drunken mishaps, miscommunication, and the reality-adjusting culture shock that every twentysomething faces when sent off to negotiate "the real world"—whatever that may be.

Except it’s not so much a “grand tour” as a “meander through some parts of Europe until you run into Amsterdam and then stay there for a few years.”

Amsterdam takes up most of the book, and even then it’s mostly about Rachel’s friends and her romantic mistakes. Not a whole heck of a lot of traveling!

Reading about Rachel’s life is uncomfortable in that way where you want to scream “NO STOP DOING THAT omg what’s wrong with you and your ability to make decisions” all the time, and yet it’s also kinda fun because you know she’ll turn out all right in the end. It’s like watching a trainwreck, only the train’s made of marshmallows and it’s crashing into a golden retriever or something. And then…

3 fictional schools I definitely don’t want to go to

3 schools
Basically I like reading about boarding schools and magical schools and MAGICAL BOARDING SCHOOLS omg, but when I really think about it– I definitely do NOT want to actually attend these schools. There’s actually kind of terrible!

Brakebills Academy from The Magicians is a secret Harvard-y magic school of magic! It is filled with terrible and/or tragic people. People learn things regarding magic, which is good, and they learn them in difficult and scary ways. In order to graduate, you have to be very dedicated to learning about using your magic while also not dying. I am in no way that dedicated to magic and I don’t think a fictional version of myself would be, either.

Larwood House from Witch Week. Jenny mentioned this school in the newest Reading the End podcast (where I got the idea for this post!); it is a school for witch children and troublemakers in an otherwise modern world where magic is outlawed and witches burnt at the stake. The teachers are useless and the students are all bullies. The food doesn’t seem very good, either. I’d probably spend most of my time hiding in the bathroom trying to dodge pre-teen snarls.

Axis Institute from Evil Genius. Okay, so: I’m not an villain trying to conquer the world NOR am I a thief/poisoner/hacker/murderer/counterfeiter/general criminal. So I wouldn’t fit in AT ALL at the Axis Institute! And if I somehow DID get in? I’d probably be murdered within a week.

And one school I definitely WOULD go to: Children’s Academy of Dancing and Stage Training from Ballet Shoes. It’s a school for, well, training children to act and dance! I don’t think I’d be a very good dancer (or actor), but I took ballet lessons as a child so I DO have an interest in it. The teachers are lovely and the children friendly, and it seems like a fun place to attend. And maybe I’d get to be friends with the Fossil girls, and I could visit their amazing house!

Which fictional schools would YOU want to attend?

REVIEW: My Year with Eleanor by Noelle Hancock

REVIEW: My Year with Eleanor by Noelle HancockMy Year with Eleanor by Noelle Hancock
Published by Ecco (2011), eBook, 304pg
Filed under: Adult, Memoir, Non-Fiction
Got my copy from: Scribd
Buy your own copy at Amazon or BookDepository (affiliate links | info) or add it to your Goodreads shelf

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After losing her high-octane job as an entertainment blogger, Noelle Hancock was lost. About to turn twenty-nine, she'd spent her career writing about celebrities' lives and had forgotten how to live her own. Unemployed and full of self-doubt, she had no idea what she wanted out of life. She feared change—in fact, she feared almost everything. Once confident and ambitious, she had become crippled by anxiety, lacking the courage required even to attend a dinner party—until inspiration struck one day in the form of a quote on a chalkboard in a coffee shop:

The only thing I know about Eleanor Roosevelt is this quote:

No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.

which turned out to be fine because I learned a lot about her in My Year with Eleanor! Not that it’s a proper biography, of course, but it’s got enough stuff about her to have convinced me to add a few ER biographies to my to-be-read list.

Did you know she didn’t really become her own person until she was middle aged? She lived in a cabin with two lesbians, and went on tours across the country giving speeches, and went flying in an airplane back when women didn’t “do that,” and oversaw the drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and did a whole bunch of other neat stuff. Lookit!

I really love the idea of taking inspiration for positive life change from a historical hero, even IF it results in the creation of a stunt memoir. I am not a huge fan of stunt memoirs, but this one is better than most because a) I don’t think the author purposefully set out doing her year with the end goal of writing a book1 and b) by completing her year of no fear, the author has for sure changed the course of her life from now on. How many other stunt memoirists can say the same? And then…

REVIEW: Seven for a Secret by Lyndsay Faye

REVIEW: Seven for a Secret by Lyndsay FayeSeven for a Secret (Timothy Wilde Mysteries #2) by Lyndsay Faye
Also in this series: The Gods of Gotham
Published by Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam (2013), Hardcover, 464pg
Filed under: Adult, Crime, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Mystery
Got my copy from: Library
Buy your own copy at Amazon or BookDepository (affiliate links | info) or add it to your Goodreads shelf

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Six months after the formation of the NYPD, its most reluctant and talented officer, Timothy Wilde, thinks himself well versed in his city’s dark practices — until he learns of the gruesome underworld of lies and corruption ruled by the "blackbirders", who snatch free Northerners of color from their homes, masquerade them as slaves, and sell them South to toil as plantation property.

The abolitionist Timothy is horrified by these traders in human flesh. But in 1846, slave catching isn’t just legal — it’s law enforcement.

When the beautiful and terrified Lucy Adams staggers into Timothy’s office to report a robbery and is asked what was stolen, her reply is, "My family". Their search for her mixed-race sister and son will plunge Timothy and his feral brother, Valentine, into a world where police are complicit and politics savage, and corpses appear in the most shocking of places. Timothy finds himself caught between power and principles, desperate to protect his only brother and to unravel the puzzle before all he cares for is lost.

This is the sequel to The Gods of Gotham, which I read back in 2013 and LOVED. SO. MUCH. And yay! Seven for a Secret is just as good, if not better!

Seven for a Secret is one of those books that takes me ages to digest, and I’m note entirely sure if I’ve got it all done with. I definitely feel like I’ll have to reread the whole trilogy again once the third book comes out. There’s so much STUFF in these books, besides all the interesting (and depressing) historical details, so much narrative/character stuff to pick apart that’d definitely take more than one reading to do. And then…

REVIEW: Primates by Jim Ottaviani and Maris Wicks

REVIEW: Primates by Jim Ottaviani and Maris WicksPrimates by Jim Ottaviani and Maris Wicks (Illustrator)
Published by First Second Books (2013), Hardcover, 133pg
Filed under: Biography, Children's, Graphic Novel, History, Middle Grade, Non-Fiction
Got my copy from: Freebie
Buy your own copy at Amazon or BookDepository (affiliate links | info) or add it to your Goodreads shelf

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Jim Ottaviani returns with an action-packed account of the three greatest primatologists of the last century: Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Biruté Galdikas. These three ground-breaking researchers were all students of the great Louis Leakey, and each made profound contributions to primatology—and to our own understanding of ourselves. Tackling Goodall, Fossey, and Galdikas in turn, and covering the highlights of their respective careers, Primates is an accessible, entertaining, and informative look at the field of primatology and at the lives of three of the most remarkable women scientists of the twentieth century. Thanks to the charming and inviting illustrations by Maris Wicks, this is a nonfiction graphic novel with broad appeal.

I don’t know much about primates. Monkeys, apes, whatever: besides what little I know from watching a few specials on the Animal Planet channel I caught years ago, they’re basically a mystery. I know even less about the three women who researched primates SO HARD they’re still creating shockwaves.

Primates is an adorable and informative biography of Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Biruté Galdikas, with a mini-bio of Louis Leakey thrown in for kicks. It’s adorable because of the art style, which makes everyone looks slightly chubby and round. It’s friendly! Everybody looks friendly, even when they’re poaching animals.1 The colors are bright and clear and the whole look of it makes me smile. And then…

REVIEW: Saga Vol. 1 by Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples

REVIEW: Saga Vol. 1 by Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona StaplesSaga, Volume 1 (Saga #1-6) by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples (Illustrator)
Published by Image Comics (2012), eBook, 160pg
Filed under: Action, Adult, Adventure, Fantasy, Fiction, Graphic Novel, Romance, Sci-fi
Got my copy from: Bought
Buy your own copy at Amazon or BookDepository (affiliate links | info) or add it to your Goodreads shelf

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When two soldiers from opposite sides of a never-ending galactic war fall in love, they risk everything to bring a fragile new life into a dangerous old universe.

From New York Times bestselling writer Brian K. Vaughan (Y: The Last Man, Ex Machina) and critically acclaimed artist Fiona Staples (Mystery Society, North 40), Saga is the sweeping tale of one young family fighting to find their place in the worlds. Fantasy and science fiction are wed like never before in this sexy, subversive drama for adults.

This is another one of those series that everybody’s been telling me to read because of how amazing it is. And it is pretty darned amazing!

The first thing that struck me about Saga was the art. omg, so pretty. It’s bright and shiny, but not in an overly cartoon-y way. It’s stylish!

I love the way the characters look like futuristic mixes of scifi and fantasy, too. Which, considering they live in a universe where science and magic are at war with each other, totally makes sense. There is a robot prince with a head like a TV screen!! So cool! And then…

REVIEW: Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

REVIEW: Steve Jobs by Walter IsaacsonSteve Jobs by Walter Isaacson
Published by Simon & Schuster (2011), eBook, 630pg
Filed under: Adult, Biography, Non-Fiction
Got my copy from: Scribd
Buy your own copy at Amazon or BookDepository (affiliate links | info) or add it to your Goodreads shelf

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From best-selling author Walter Isaacson comes the landmark biography of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs.

In Steve Jobs: The Exclusive Biography, Isaacson provides an extraordinary account of Jobs' professional and personal life. Drawn from three years of exclusive and unprecedented interviews Isaacson has conducted with Jobs as well as extensive interviews with Jobs' family members and key colleagues from Apple and its competitors, Steve Jobs: The Exclusive Biography is the definitive portrait of the greatest innovator of his generation.

I have a love-hate relationship with Apple in that I love their products when they work, but hate them when they don’t. More importantly, though, I’m super interested in the history of technology, especially computers! I’ve been wanting to read this Steve Jobs biography for a while now but got discouraged because the hardback is frickin’ heavy; luckily there’s an ebook version on Scribd, so I read it on my iPhone instead.

Steve Jobs was a total dingleberry. I would NOT have wanted to work for him. Not only did he refuse to wear deodorant or shoes for about 20 years, he yelled, belittled and was generally a huge pain in the rear towards everyone he met. He also didn’t like blinking and ate way too much fruit.

He ALSO lead the way to designing some really great devices and changing the way we interact with technology on a massive scale, so I guess it worked out. And then…