Book Review: Eat, Pray, Love

Eat, Pray, Love
By Elizabeth Gilbert

My Edition:
Paperback, 334 pages
2006, Penguin Books
ISBN: 9780143038412

If you don’t already know, this is a memoir of Gilbert’s year-long journey across Italy, India and Indonesia to find happiness, heal after her divorce and discover her spirituality.

Many people have recommended I read this book, most especially my Mum. She bought it for me last year while we were on vacation together and I promised to read it and then totally didn’t. I have a habit of putting off non-fiction because I’m always worried it’ll be boring – this book didn’t seem like it would be an exception, despite the praise. Well, like an ass, I was totally wrong.

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Mini Review: I Am Sophie Tucker

Pic from NetGalley

I Am Sophie Tucker: A Fictional Memoir
By Susan Lloyd Ecker

My Edition:
ARC e-book, 275 pages
2014, Prospecta Press
ISBN: 9781632260062 (hardcover)

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

From NetGalley:  From 1906 through the beginning of television, Sophie Tucker and her bawdy, brash, and risqué songs paved the way for future female performers. Tucker tried to get her story published for nine years, without success. Undaunted, Sophie hired half a dozen ghostwriters, but she still had no takers for her no holds barred autobiography. Eventually, Doubleday published a sanitized version in 1945. “After immersing ourselves in Sophie’s papers and surviving friends,” says co-author Lloyd Ecker, “this initial volume is what should have been the actual autobiography of Tucker. Though she obsessively documented her life, Sophie loved to exaggerate for dramatic effect. This volume is 85% fact, the other 15% who knows?” I Am Sophie Tucker puts back all of the delicious bits nixed by Doubleday’s lawyers and throws in other Tucker show business dirt, intrigue, arrests, romance, murder, gangsters, and scandals.

In short, this book was cute. I’ll trust in Ecker when he says the book is 85% fact, because I’m too lazy to do my own research. Really, I knew next to nothing about Sophie Tucker before reading this book, except that she was a bawdy singer from the 1920s or so. I just thought the book sounded rather entertaining, and it was. I’m willing to bet that all the major events in this book actually happened to Sophie and that the famous people she became friends with, were also her friends in real life.

This book isn’t anything special – the writing didn’t blow me away, but it did keep me entertained and gave me a few chuckles. If Sophie was anything like she was portrayed in this book, she’d definitely be a celebrity I’d love to go back in time and meet. Her sheer determination to make herself famous is inspiring. There are also some great photographs and media material in here, that I think will look much better in print then they did on my first generation Nook.

If you’re a fan of celebrity biographies/memoirs or the entertainment industry in the early 1900s, you’ll probably enjoy this book.

Book Review: Bossypants

20141028_145632Bossypants
By Tina Fey

My Edition:
Paperback, 250 pages
2011, Reagan Arthur/Little, Brown
ISBN: 9780316056892

“You’re nobody until somebody calls you Bossy.” This wonderful memoir has jokes, anecdotes and unsolicited life advice from the hilarious Tina Fey. 

What I liked:
The whole book! My short review is just buy/borrow it, because it’s fantastic and funny and you should read it! When I posted a picture of this book on my Instagram, so many people told me how much they enjoyed the book, and many recommended that I listen to the audiobook, as Fey narrates. I’ve tried a few audiobooks over the years and I really can’t focus on information that way. I may actually give it a try with Bossypants though, because Fey is so witty and I believe hearing her jokes come from her would enhance them, especially now that I’m familiar with the material.

Fey gives readers a wonderful mix of comic insight into life and honest thoughts on a variety of topics such as life as woman, mother and comic, as well as fashion and beauty tips! Every page contained something that made me smile or chuckle and I can’t remember the last time I laughed so many times while reading a book. (It was probably last December, when I read Mindy Kaling’s book – I need to read more humor!)

I wanted to give you a few quotes, but it was difficult, because I was ready to type out pages worth, so you could get the full scope of her wit. Instead, I leafed back through the book and found a few random ones to share.

Fey speaks about her heavily Greek looks and how they affected her dating life:

“I couldn’t compete with sorority girls with their long blond ponytails and hoop earrings. I tried to find the while-boy-looking-to-rebel, but I wasn’t ethnic enough to be an exciting departure. I wasn’t Korean or African American or actually Mexican. I was just not all-the-way-white.”

Her thoughts on babies:

“They’re more than just adorable little creatures on whom you can blame your farts.”

And some practical life advice for all of us:

“Don’t waste your energy trying to educate or change opinions. Go ‘Over! Under! Through!’ [Sesame Street reference] and opinions will change orgainically when you’re the boss. Or they won’t. Who cares? Do your thing and don’t care if they like it.”

What I didn’t like:
Nothing! Wait, you know what? This book wasn’t long enough! I reached the end all too soon and wanted more of Fey’s tips and quips. Hopefully she puts out another book in the future.

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If you like humorous memoirs, this book is for you. If you don’t like comedic books you probably have no soul you might still find some of her more insightful moments useful in your own life.

 

Mini Review: So Much Satrapi!

20140920_154718I have now read all the Marjane Satrapi books I could get my hands on and since these last three were fairly short, I figured I’d put them all in one post.

20140920_154758The Sigh
By Marjane Satrapi

My Edition:
Hardcover, 56 pages
2011, Archaia
ISBN: 9781936393466 (first edition)

The Sigh is a fairy tale and, as the back of the book proclaims, “contains content suitable for readers of all ages” so you could even read it to a child as a bedtime story. The general outline is a familiar one – a father has three daughters, each of whom asks for a gift when he returns from his journey. Unable to procure the gift his youngest, Rose, wishes for, she sighs and thus, The Sigh is called. He gives her the gift she wanted and in exchange the father promises The Sigh a favor to be granted in the future. The Sigh returns for his favor, to take Rose away, and though the father argues, he has to keep his word. Rose is taken to a grand palace and treated like a queen. She later discovers that a prince has kept her there and was too shy to come forward and profess his love. Their feelings are mutual, but Rose ruins everything by accidentally plucking a single feather from the prince’s armpit (yes) and killing him. So she journeys far and wide, helping others, in a search for the feather so she can bring her prince back to life.

Maybe you haven’t read a lot of fairy tales, but to me, this is all a bit familiar. However, Marjane’s illustrations are colorful and beautiful – they make the book a pleasure to read. Though the story isn’t detailed in the way a novel is, Rose is nicely developed. She realizes her mistake and wants to fix it, but on her journey to bring her prince back to life, she selflessly helps three other families. In a nice twist, she’s offered a man’s hand in marriage as payment for two of the families she’s helped. I’m used to reading about princesses being offered up, so it was nice to see a female heroine. The moral of the story is that life is fleeting and we never know when it might end, so we must cherish what we have, while we have it.

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20140920_154807Embroideries
By Marjane Satrapi

My Edition:
Paperback, 144 pages
2006, Pantheon
ISBN: 9780375714672

Embroideries is categorized as a memoir, though it’s more like a book of short stories, told by different female characters living in Iran, done in Marjane’s usual graphic novel style. Marjane and her family and a few friends are sitting down to tea to gossip after lunch while the men nap. These women relate stories about past or present relationship issues and I think that most female readers will find that they’ve done something similar with their own family or friends. I can’t really describe the plot because each little tale has its own – but they range from cheating husbands, old lovers, sexual experiences, marriage and more. This is definitely not a book intended for children. I found myself laughing out loud several times, especially when the women are discussing the male anatomy. As the blurb on the book says, these stories “will strike us as at once deeply familiar and profoundly different from our own” and I’m inclined to agree. I enjoyed this little book very much and would recommend it to most – as long as you have a sense of humor and don’t mind people discussing sex and the naked body.

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20140920_154743Chicken With Plums
By Marjane Satrapi

My edition:
Hardcover, 84 pages
2006, Pantheon
ISBN: 0375424156

I’ll start right off by saying Chicken With Plums was my favorite of these three books. From the back of the book: We are in Tehran in 1958, and Nasser Ali Kahn, one of Iran’s most revered tar players, discovers that his beloved instrument is irreparably damaged. Though he tries, he cannot find one to replace it. In despair, he takes to his bed, renouncing the world and all its pleasures, closing the door on the demands and love of his wife and children.

Nasser Ali selfishly decides to die, but before he does so, he reflects back on his life and we are given a look into his thoughts during the eight days before he passes. This book was fantastically dark and depressing, yet also very poignant and revealing. I didn’t know whether to like Nasser Ali or not – but he felt so human. He plays favorites with his children, argues with his wife, can’t get over the girl who got away, resents his brother for being their mother’s favorite. What shocked me most was the fact that music was such a large part of his life and when he couldn’t find a replacement tar he literally decided to die and die he did! Satrapi packed a lot of emotion into just 84 pages, primarily doing so through her illustrations. I have a lot of respect for her as an author and I’d be hard pressed to say whether I enjoyed this or her Persepolis stories more.

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I think it’s obvious from my recent posts that I’m a fan of Marjane Satrapi. Out of the five books I’ve reviewed, I think there’s something of hers you’d enjoy and I really recommend that you read her work. At this point she’s on my list of authors I’ll buy anything from and if you’ve read any of these books, I’d love to know what you thought!

 

 

Mini Review: Persepolis 2

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Persepolis 2
By Marjane Satrapi

My Edition:
Paperback, 187 pages
2004, Pantheon
ISBN: 9780375714665

Persepolis 2 picks up where Persepolis left off. Here’s a blurb from Amazon: In 1984, Marjane flees fundamentalism and the war with Iraq to begin a new life in Vienna. Once there, she faces the trials of adolescence far from her friends and family, and while she soon carves out a place for herself among a group of fellow outsiders, she continues to struggle for a sense of belonging. Finding that she misses her home more than she can stand, Marjane returns to Iran after graduation. Her difficult homecoming forces her to confront the changes both she and her country have undergone in her absence and her shame at what she perceives as her failure in Austria. Marjane allows her past to weigh heavily on her until she finds some like-minded friends, falls in love, and begins studying art at a university. However, the repression and state-sanctioned chauvinism eventually lead her to question whether she can have a future in Iran.

I liked this book. Read it.

Okay, okay, that’s not a serious review, and I know it. This is one of those books where I’m having a hard time expressing myself – and I don’t think it’s the book, I’m pretty sure I’m just in a mental slump. But if you read Persepolis you clearly need to read the rest of the story – so get your hands on this book. Or better yet, buy the sweet Complete Persepolis edition, which I didn’t know existed until I’d already picked up book one.  If you haven’t read Persepolis, go read it! After reading that I became an instant fan of Satrapi’s work. Graphic novel memoirs? Hell yes! I’d read more memoirs if they were in this format. In fact, after reading Persepolis, I ordered Persepolis 2, Embroideries and The Sigh from Amazon and I have her other book, Chicken With Plums coming from a used bookseller. So Satrapi had me hooked from the first book I read.

Personally, I think that says more about her work than my tired little brain can express right now. Hmm…for people who care, it has a 4 star rating across Amazon, Goodreads and LibraryThing :]

Seriously though, I’m having a hard time expressing what I love about this book – but love it I did, just like volume one. I love Marjane’s style – it’s simple and effective and for such a short book, she gave me a very deep look into her life! I can’t wait to read and hopefully write better reviews of the rest of her work! Just go read all her work and tell me what you think.

I’ll leave you with some more pictures:

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Book Review: Persepolis

Persepolis
By Marjane Satrapi

My Edition:
Paperback, 153 pages
2003, Pantheon Books
ISBN: 9780375714573

Persepolis is a memoir turned graphic novel by Marjane Satrapi about her life growing up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution and the war with Iraq. From the back of the book: “The intelligent and outspoken only child of committed Marxists and the great-granddaughter of one of Iran’s last emperors, Marjane bears witness to a childhood uniquely entwined with the history of her country.”

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