3.5 STARS - This was not my first time picking up this book. I had taken out the hardcover copy at the library many months ago but couldn't get throug3.5 STARS - This was not my first time picking up this book. I had taken out the hardcover copy at the library many months ago but couldn't get through the first chapter where Poehler discusses over and over how hard it is to write a book. After a few pages of this 'poor me' attitude (as if someone forced her to write it) I gave up. It just wasn't in the cards that day.
I recently decided to give it another shot but this time I took out the e-audiobook version with Poehler herself reading the book to me. I love her quirky, fun attitude and it definitely comes through in the audio version. She also invites several famous faces to add little bits to her story including Carol Burnett, Sir Patrick Stewart, Kathleen Turner and Seth Meyers. These additions added that Hollywood panache and some fun ... well, except for Meyers whose reading came off as extremely stiff and awkward which I hadn't expected from a SNL alumni. Even her mom and dad who read some parts felt more relaxed that poor Meyers.
It's hard to put this book into a specific category. It's not quite a memoir, nor is a comedic laugh out loud book (although there were certainly parts where I did laugh out loud to the shock of people walking by me as I listened). It's somewhere in the middle with the surprising theme of self-help coming to the forefront. I guess it shouldn't come as a surprise since Poehler is quite involved in her organization Smart Girls which encourages girls to change the world by just being themselves.
My feelings for this book wavered all over the place. As expected, this book has its funny parts and you get a sense of Amy's personality off-screen (which is quite similar to on-screen). Poehler ranges from the funny, goofy friend to a quiet sage who gives some great advice. But it has a very scattered feel to it as it jumps around from various topics and times in her life. And, sometimes, as with SNL, the focus on some topics went on for too long and became awkward - this included her conversation with Meyers which went from kind of funny to 'I guess you had to be there', to awkward and finally 'ok, wrap it up!'
Poehler keeps her personal life close to the vest which, on one hand, I can understand but on the other, when I'm reading a memoir of sorts I kind of wanted to know more about her family life etc. If you're looking for info on her marriage and subsequent divorce from Will Arnett you won't get it here and even her anecdotes about life on the SNL set and Parks and Recreation are brief.
Overall, I admit to being a little underwhelmed by this book. It had its great moments but they seemed far and few between. It's not a comedic book per se but much more of a look at life lessons she's learned, her rise to fame and some pretty great advice for getting through the sticky stuff of life. Poehler is down-to-earth, genuine and is a funny gal who you can see yourself hanging around with. So, Ames, call me, 'kay? ...more
I was a big fan of Phil Collins' in the 80's and 90's, even seeing him perform in Toronto three times (an awesome performer, in case you're wondering)I was a big fan of Phil Collins' in the 80's and 90's, even seeing him perform in Toronto three times (an awesome performer, in case you're wondering). I still enjoy his older music but I admit that I had lost track of what he'd been up to over the past decade or so.
With Not Dead Yet Collins' has written a no holds barred look at his life. He starts with his beginnings in England with his family and goes into great detail about his early connections with some famous stars (which totally shocked me), his desire to be on stage and shows his readers where his fear of letting people down stems from. He takes his readers through his early years on stage and in music - both as a child performer and later as part of Genesis and as a solo artist.
The book also focuses a lot on his marriages and most especially his children. Going into this book I really didn't know much about his personal life except that he's the father of actress Lily Collins. What I got from this book is a look at a man trying to be a devoted father. While he is often absent from his children's daily lives due to his hectic professional schedule, for the most part, he is quite successful as a dad of five. As a husband? Not so much.
As a songwriter Collins' has proven he has the chops to hold his own with the big dogs of music so it should come to no one's surprise that he can write a mean autobiography too. His cheekiness comes through every so often in his writing (which goes hand-in-hand with his awesome cover picture) and readers will get a real feel for Collins as a person. However, as much as it pains me to say this there is, at times, a whiff of conceitedness on his part. He's done a lot, he knows a lot of people so I'm not sure how he could have written this book without being 'showy' but I wanted to acknowledge the wee big of arrogance that peeks through at times.
And perhaps that's part and parcel with Collin's brutal honesty with himself and his fans. Throughout the book he opens up about some weighty issues as well as theories surrounding his life. I admit that I went into this book looking for the back story involving his song "In the Air Tonight" and a better look into his personal life. I found this book enlightening regarding his recent personal and professional struggles (of which I knew next to nothing about). And yes, he even sheds some light on the inspirational catalyst of In the Air Tonight.
For mega fans of 80's/90's music they'll love the stories involving Genesis and other big name groups of the time. Personally, I found it a little heavy in the naming of 'who played what, on which track and with whom' at times. I was in it for more of the personal look into his life and not who played bass for which recording of a specific song. But that's a personal preference and doesn't influence my rating.
Collins' talent as a song writer, percussionist and eventually as a lead singer is known the world over but it was nice to be reminded of all that he has accomplished and struggled with personally as well. He has had some huge moments in his life, with others being more infamous in nature, but he uses this book to tell his story with blatant honesty and heart. He lays everything out for his readers to witness - his sometimes poor decisions, his monumental successes and rise to fame, his regrets and his love for his family. If you're wanting to get to know Phil better, both on and off stage, you'll want to pick up this book.
Disclaimer: My sincere thanks to Crown Archetype Books for providing me with a complimentary paperback copy of this book in exchange for my honest review....more
I have a gaggle of celebrities who I'm, for one reason or other, drawn to. I may not have seen all of their work but I'm fascinated by them. Alan CummI have a gaggle of celebrities who I'm, for one reason or other, drawn to. I may not have seen all of their work but I'm fascinated by them. Alan Cumming is one of those celebrities. I've seen his work on The Good Wife as Eli Gold (truly awesome) and in a few movies like Spy Kids and as Nightcrawler in X-2: X-men United but it's not like I'm a crazy fan.
Well ... until now.
I decided to listen to Cumming's book because I prefer to listen to non-fiction and with his Scottish accent it was a slam dunk for this gal who goes weak in the knees for a Scottish burr. I had no idea what to expect, hadn't even read the book synopsis and yet I was immediately taken by his writing style, his honesty, humour and how he bared his soul to his readers. I was in for a much deeper read than I had imagined.
Cumming is an excellent narrator (that cannot be said for all authors) and tells his story via two alternating story lines. The first is his description of his childhood in Scotland which was, sadly, not a happy one. The second story line deals with Alan uncovering, via a celebrity genealogy show called Who Do You Think You Are?, the mystery surrounding his maternal grandfather who had died under mysterious circumstances in Malaysia many years before Alan was born. Both stories are intriguing in their own ways and make for quite an edge of your seat read.
When I see an actor on screen I see the character they're portraying and don't typically think about them as a person with a history, family etc. Listening to this e-audiobook, and especially with Cumming speaking the lines, I was sent through a whole gamut of emotions as he told his readers about his turbulent upbringing at the hands of his abusive father who took most opportunities to publicly flaunt his marital cheating as well as belittle and brutalize his two sons. Cumming vividly describes his father as a violent man who was unpredictable and cruel as he routinely gave his sons impossible tasks in the hopes that they'd fail and he'd be able to punish them. The heartfelt and shocking descriptions of how he felt at the hands of the very man who was supposed to love and protect him are tough to read and broke my heart. But his early life had some golden moments which mainly included his brother Tom and his mother who he sweetly refers to as Mary Darling.
In order to survive and endure, Cummings' mind suppressed the abusive memories of his childhood and these memories wouldn't reveal themselves until after his nervous breakdown in his 20's while playing none other than Hamlet on stage. Years later, Cumming slowly comes to terms with his abusive past, his relationship with his father and the emotional bombshell the man put at Cumming's feet. At this point he begins to heal with the help of his husband, friends, mother and brother at his side.
This book is much more of a personal revelation and discovery than a Hollywood tell-all but does include some funny tidbits from Cumming's early acting days, particularly the one from Cannes with Patti Smith, Mary J Blige and Marion Cotillard as well as a little bit from his more current roles on The Good Wife etc.
I loved this book and was totally and utterly taken with Cumming's humour, candidness and insight as he genuinely shares his joy and his pain with his readers. Ultimately this is a story about survival, resilience, inspiration and finally success and happiness despite a horrific childhood. He shows his readers how his revelations about his past abuse from his father have strengthened the relationships he now holds most dear.
See, I knew I liked this guy.
Note: The only downside to listening to the e-audiobook is that I missed out on the wonderful pictures sprinkled throughout the paper copy so you may want to check out that option as well....more
In this book Diane Guerrero, actress in the popular Jane the Virgin and Orange is the New Black TV shows, details her experiences as the daughter of uIn this book Diane Guerrero, actress in the popular Jane the Virgin and Orange is the New Black TV shows, details her experiences as the daughter of undocumented residents who, at the age of 14, suddenly finds herself alone in the US when her parents are deported. Readers will be shocked at how easily Diane slipped through the US system with no government agency contacting Diane, an American citizen, to make sure she was okay after her parents were deported. Instead she relied on the help of her community in Boston, her own sheer determination and the generosity of family friends to take her in. But even with their support, Diane feel quite alone and is forced to become an adult at too early an age.
The issues of undocumented residents has been in the news quite a lot lately making this book relevant and timely. Guerrero gives a personal look into what life is like for undocumented residents - the constant fear of being caught, struggling to make ends meet and being victims of fraudsters out to take advantage of people who desperately want to become legal citizens. She also shows the strength, love and support of her local community and how they come together to help whenever they can.
Her account is, at times, heart-breaking, maddening and shocking but always with a real honesty. She doesn't sugar coat her problems and faults with her readers as she struggles to remain connected with her parents, deal with her feelings of abandonment as well as confront alcohol abuse and mental health issues.
She has a very causal and conversational feel to her writing with some contemporary slang (complete with occasional hashtags) thrown in. Sometimes this writing style can backfire and this book felt more like chatting with a girlfriend most of the time. But I think, for the most part, it works for this book and I couldn't help but imagine her saying some of these lines in a Maritza Ramos style. For those who aren't Orange is the New Black fans, Maritza is the character that Diane plays on the hit show. Diane talks a bit about her OITNB experiences and cast mates - their banter and connection is just as solid on and off set as you'd imagine.
Now when I watch Orange is the New Black I have a much better understanding of this relatively new actress. You really cannot understand a person until you've walked a mile in their shoes. As a Canadian citizen, I have had a very different experience growing up but I appreciate how thoroughly she described her feelings and struggles to her readers to enable us to get a glimpse into her life and help us to sympathize with people in similar situations.
While she has started on a successful career as an actress and has become an advocate for immigrants, readers witness how the loss of her parents, at such an important juncture of her life, influences her positive and negative life experiences in such a dramatic way. While Diane accounts her own struggles in this book she has become the voice of many who continue to fight for the opportunity to be American citizens. She is a force to be reckoned with and I applaud her for sharing her painful upbringing, humanizing immigration and shedding the light on America's need for inclusivity....more
Becoming Nicole details the struggles that a transgender girl had to endure as she made the transition from male to female. The booRating: 3.5/5 stars
Becoming Nicole details the struggles that a transgender girl had to endure as she made the transition from male to female. The book does a good job at educating the reader about what it means to be transgender and raise awareness of the discrimination, harassment and other external struggles that transgender people face.
The author, Pulitzer Prize winner Amy Ellis Nutt, does a great job detailing facts about transgendered people, the discrimination they face, the history of LGBT issues and their fight for rights. This information gives readers a sense of the magnitude of the struggle LGBT people continue to face to gain equality, understanding and respect. The reader is able to witness some of Nicole and her family's struggles and it was often maddening and heart-breaking to see what Nicole had to live through in order to be her true self.
A lot of facts are given but what is missing is the emotional, intimate connection. For a Pulitzer Prize winning author, I expected a lot more. I wanted to know Nicole's side of things, as well as her identical twin and her parents' takes, each of whom struggled differently with Nicole's transition. While snippets from her diary were referred to, Nicole is never given any page time to detail her feelings about being transgender, the harassment and discrimination she faced. Instead the story is told by a narrator with a very journalistic, slightly removed, feeling. I think that omission was a huge missed opportunity.
I am very glad that I read this book and that Nicole has shared her story. While I wasn't a fan of how that story was told I applaud Nicole for coming forward and for her family for standing by her. I hope that this book educates the masses about gender identity and the need for acceptance and understanding....more
My Review: Mãn reads like a novella as Thuy tells her story via short chapters (some only a paragraph or two) about her immigration from Vietnam to CaMy Review: Mãn reads like a novella as Thuy tells her story via short chapters (some only a paragraph or two) about her immigration from Vietnam to Canada. The writing is simple but with a very unique and lyrical feel to it. It's not overdone, definitely not verbose and almost poetic as she recounts brief glimpses of Mãn's life to her readers.
"Mãn", which means "perfectly fulfilled", or "may there be nothing left to desire", or "may all wishes be granted". I can ask for nothing more because my name imposes on me that state of satisfaction and satiety…I grew up without dreams.
As a reader I felt for Mãn and her cold and, for the most part, lonely existence. It was through her love of food and her Vietnamese culture that she found a way to endure. My favourite part of the book were the vivid descriptions of the Vietnamese inspired food. They were sprinkled throughout the book and illustrated how deeply our memories are linked through the preparation and sharing of food from our past and/or culture.
When mothers taught their daughters to cook, they spoke in hushed tones, whispering so that their neighbours couldn’t steal recipes and possibly seduce their husbands with the same dishes. Culinary traditions are passed on secretly, like magic tricks between master and apprentice.
Lyrical writing and food descriptions aside, I have to admit that I struggled to stay invested in Mãn's story, to keep track of who certain characters were or even keep the story arc in plain view. A lot of this feeling stems from the fact that Thuy leaves a lot left unsaid in the book. I'm a 'need to know' kinda gal so when some scenes are only hinted at it left me wanting. For example, I found it unusual that readers aren't privy to Mãn's husband or children's names. I also wanted a more in depth look into certain aspects of her life (for example I would have loved to have learned more about Mãn's Maman). I felt like I was given a glimpse - a taste - into part of her life only for the story to move on before I was ready to let go.
Overall, this book had beautiful language and I loved how Thuy shared her love of food and her Vietnamese heritage with her readers. Unfortunately the beautiful prose had more weight than the story line and in the end I was left wanting a more definitive plot.
My Rating: 3/5 stars
Disclaimer: My sincere thanks to Random House Publishing and Kim Thuy for providing me with a complimentary e-book copy of this book in exchange for my honest review....more
My Review: Circling the Sun details the life of Beryl Markham, a real-life British expat who was raised in Africa in the 1920's. Living in the rough aMy Review: Circling the Sun details the life of Beryl Markham, a real-life British expat who was raised in Africa in the 1920's. Living in the rough and wild African landscape the book also looks at the rather frivolous lifestyle of rich British expats.
Beryl was unique and stood out from other young women of the time. Her accomplishments were impressive and her goals admirable. She was a strong and fiercely independent woman especially for the era in which she lived. She became an accomplished and respected horse trainer and the first woman to fly solo from east to west over the Atlantic Ocean (the fact that this flight was barely mentioned in the book was rather disappointing). She paid a high price to follow her own path but, in the end, I don't think she would have wanted it any other way.
I found it interesting to read about Beryl's connections to Denys Finch Hatton and Baroness Karen Blixen (who wrote under the pen name, Isak Dinesen), the author who wrote "Out of Africa". The story is told with the beautiful and wild backdrop of Africa which was vividly described for the reader.
Beryl was a hard person to figure out. At times you applaud her for her accomplishments and breaking through the barriers put up around her. Even though Beryl endured sexism, abandonment and some rather nasty relationships involving family members and men, Beryl was resilient. Then other times she makes some rather bad choices, comes off as self-centred, immature and so focused on her goals that she barreled through life without enough thought to the consequences. I suppose that makes her realistic but, in the end, not overly likable.
A lot of the book focuses around Beryl's tumultuous relationships with men as well as her dysfunctional family life. She had lived through hard times - abandonment, loss, failed relationships - but I can't say I really connected with her. It was her relationship with her childhood friend Ruta (which I would have loved to read more about) where I felt we truly got to see the real Beryl and its within that relationship that she was able to truly be herself.
This was an interesting read -- the era, the beautiful location, the African culture, the fact that it is based on a real woman -- but I didn't find it overly riveting. This may stem from the fact that the story is told only through Beryl's eyes. I would have loved to get other characters' input on Beryl and her choices - the good and the not so wise. Circling the Sun had a rather leisurely pace as it followed Beryl's life and fans of "Out of Africa" should enjoy this book and its different take on the relationships that were first mentioned in Blixen/Dinesen's work.
My Rating: 3/5 stars
Disclaimer: My sincere thanks to Random House Canada for providing me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
Disclaimer: My sincere thanks to Random House of Canada for providing me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
My ReDisclaimer: My sincere thanks to Random House of Canada for providing me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
My Review: This was an extremely well researched, comprehensive biography that acknowledges that Josephine was much more than just the wife of an infamous historical figure.
The reader gets a very detailed look into the personality of Josephine. She was a very resourceful, conniving and smart woman as she rose from her youth in Martinique to the immense wealth and power that she accrued with Napoleon and her powerful friends. If it weren't for the fact that I know that Josephine was a real historical figure I would have thought there was no way that a woman could have survived what Josephine survived nor amass the power that she had over her very powerful husband.
While I had a limited knowledge of Josephine going into this book, Ambition and Desire went much more in-depth and even included many quotes from real letters. I also enjoyed learning a few new things about the character and the era. For example, the effects on the people who survived The Terror as well as the knowledge that Josephine was such a talented botanist and that she loved to collect rare animals and brought them to her home, Malmaison. It's those facts that I tend to take away from a biography more than the names of the vast array of secondary characters. And there were a lot of secondary characters which I unfortunately had a hard time keeping straight.
One of the main focuses on the book was, of course, Josephine's very unique marriage to Napoleon. There is no arguing that they had a very deep connection to each other even though their relationship was often volatile. I was surprised at the depth of Napoleon's feelings for his wife and the power Josephine regularly had over him. Napoleon and Josephine went into the marriage for different reasons (he for someone to love him for who he was, she to invest in her future) but the result for both of them was an inordinate amount of power and a deep fondness for each other.
While the information provided was interesting I did find the book dry in several parts due to the amounts of detail provided. Surprisingly, even though there was a lot of detail I didn't feel a real connection to Josephine and would have loved to have gotten more of a look into her emotions and how certain issues affected her. She seemed very cold whereas Napoleon surprised me with the depth of feelings in the letters that he regularly wrote his wife.
Going into this book I admittedly had a limited knowledge about Josephine. I had read one book on her several years ago but I only had a very vague notion of her when I started this book. This new book by Kate Williams, while heavy in historical detail, does provide a very extensive description of a very famous woman and wife of a truly notorious man.
My Review: I picked up this book recently from my local library right before a job interview. Trying to distract my nerves I sat there reading the book jacket I was quietly chuckling to myself and it honestly helped to reduce my nerves. I like funny reads. I do. But I also feel that they're really hard to write well. What is deemed "funny" means different things to different people and while I think that Jenny has a great sense of humour I don't necessarily think it came through well in this book.
There were some great, hilarious gems in this book but the overall feeling of chaos in her writing stifled those funny bits. It felt very disjointed -- like you were talking to a overly caffeinated person who would shoot out random stories that didn't necessarily have anything to do with each other. It often felt like she was just babbling and not caring about what she was talking about and after awhile that got frustrating. And don't get me started about the overused and excessively annoying footnotes! Gah! Enough already! I know you're funny Jenny! Show me!
Don't get me wrong, there were certain parts of stories where I did actually laugh out loud because Jenny is funny. But then she'd take too long to get to the end of the story and start to lose me. Or the story seemed much too unrealistic to be true and ... she'd start to lose me. Overall, I guess I just felt really lost. I read over half of the book before I finally called it quits because I just couldn't take any more of the rambling bedlam that is her memoire.
I think Jenny excels at writing funny little snippets (like on her blog, The Bloggess) but this full-fledged book didn't showcase her best comedic assets. With better editing and a more polished feel I think this could have been amazing. Unfortunately her frantic way of storytelling just isn't for me, I guess. I'll stick to reading her blog.
Note: My sincere thanks to Doubleday Books and NetGalley for providing me with a complimentary e-book copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
My Review: I was in the mood for a big historical saga with grand characters, back stabbing family members, rich powerful people set in a tumultuous time ... the whole saga enchilada. Belle Cora is a grand historical saga set in the mid-1800's to the early 1900's and follows the life of Arabella Godwin. Arabella goes from a meek young girl of a fairly affluent New York family to someone who struggles to find her way in the world. Eventually Arabella becomes Belle, a very confident, strong and independent woman (who also happens to be a successful San Francisco madam).
I can see how some people could be turned off reading about the life of a prostitute/madam but Belle's story intrigued me and honestly, Belle Cora is much more than a story about prostitution. This is a story about strength, ingenuity and perseverance. Belle takes her hard knocks, makes bad choices and has some choices thrust upon her but in the end those issues only make her stronger. I will admit that there were several times when life in a brothel, even one run as well as Belle's, seem to be overly glorified.
Margulies excels at vividly describing life in NYC, as well a San Francisco in it's early days. As someone who has never learned much about the colonizing of San Francisco I found the descriptions so realistic that I could easily envision life there. Unfortunately, it was during Belle's time in San Francisco where I began to lose focus in the book. The book had a different feel to it at that point and my attention began to wane. It went from more of a character driven read to one steeped in politics -- politics which were unknown to this Canadian and I felt made the overall pace of the book lag.
One aspect that I was surprised to enjoy was the little hints at the future plot that Belle, as the narrator of the book, gave her readers. You'd think that giving tidbits about what was going to happen in the future would hinder the excitement of the book but it was the opposite. It was just enough information to get my interest piqued again and have me eagerly awaiting that point in the plot.
Overall, this was an enjoyable read filled with vivid historical descriptions, good character development and some gun fights, prostitutes and murder to round it all out.
Recommended for people who enjoy grand historical sagas.
I wasn't sure what to expect from this autobiography. I had read Melissa Gilbert's memoire last year and liked it but it pales in comparison to this dI wasn't sure what to expect from this autobiography. I had read Melissa Gilbert's memoire last year and liked it but it pales in comparison to this down-to-earth and brutally honest read. This book vividly and humorously describes Arngrim's difficult childhood, her career on the Little House set as well as her accomplished life after her Nellie years.
I loved that Arngrim doesn't hold back or sugar coat her descriptions of her fellow cast mates or even her own family. She hasn't written this book to placate anyone or to name drop (which is the feeling I got while reading Gilbert's memoire). This is a raw, emotional, funny (I think her humour comes from her Canadian parents!), and honest look into Arngrim's life and those who influenced her - both positively and negatively.
One of my favourite parts of this book was Arngrim's behind the scenes look at what life was like on the Little House set. Growing up, Little House was one of my favourite shows so learning some behind the scenes secrets was awesome! From learning why baby Carrie tumbles down the hill in the show's opening sequence, what Michael Landon wore under his pants (yowzers!), to how horrible the Nellie wig was to her poor head, Arngrim brings the reader behind the scenes in Walnut Grove.
I was surprised to learn how close Melissa Gilbert (Laura) and Arngrim were in real life. They'd go from being arch enemies on screen to BFF's in real life. I have to admit that I was a little surprised and let down to learn that my favourite character, Mary Ingalls (played by Melissa Sue Anderson), was actually very sullen, stuck up and downright rude to her fellow castmates (which continues, at least with Arngrim, to this day).
Arngrim paints a very clear picture of how the cast and crew bonded like a real family. She shows how her support within the cast gave her the family ties that she sorely lacked at home. The relationship that I found most touching was the very close bond Arngrim had with Steve Tracy who played her husband Percival on the show. I have to admit that I was a little surprised to hear that the cast are still in touch and even get together regularly to catch up with each other!
Nellie was the original 'mean girl' and Arngrim played her to perfection! Little House just wouldn't have been the same without Arngrim's comedic timing and her ability to bring heart to a truly horrible character. I now have a better appreciation for the much hated Nellie Oleson! Arngrim was instrumental in the development of this infamous TV icon who is known throughout the world (just ask the people in France where Nellie is adored!).
Even with her horrible childhood and the stress of being famous, Arngrim didn't become a child star tragedy like so many young actors. She credits Michael Landon as being a firm and constant force in her childhood. By treating her with respect and expecting a lot from all of the child actors on set (which wasn't the norm at the time) Little House is one of the very few TV shows that can boast that none of their child stars were in the news for drug abuse, issues with the law etc.
I have great respect for how, to this day, Arngrim uses her Nellie notoriety in a very positive way. She is a huge advocate for AIDS causes (she started with AIDS activism when it was in its infancy) and she was instrumental in helping to pass a law in California which greatly increased the jail time for incestors (which was truly pitiful before the law was changed).
Reading this book has left me with a desire to introduce Little House to my own children. I honestly think that, even in a world filled with computers and major movie special effects, that Little House still fills an important family-oriented niche all its own. After getting this sneak peak behind the scenes I know that I will never watch another episode of Little House on the Prairie the same way again. Whether you were a Nellie fan or not, I'm sure you'll become an Alison Arngrim fan after reading this book.
Author: Portia de Rossi Genre: Autobiography Pages: 308 Published: November 2010 First Line: "HE DOESN'T WAIT until I'm awake."
Synopsis: This is a detaileAuthor: Portia de Rossi Genre: Autobiography Pages: 308 Published: November 2010 First Line: "HE DOESN'T WAIT until I'm awake."
Synopsis: This is a detailed look into the life of Australian-born actress Portia de Rossi, best known for her work on Ally McBeal and Arrested Development. Portia shows readers her struggles coming to term with her sexuality, dealing with the pressures that were self-imposed as well as pressures put on her by the modeling industry and Hollywood.
My Thoughts: After seeing a bit of Portia's interview on Oprah awhile back I knew that this was an autobiography that I'd be interested in reading. To me, Portia has always seemed to be a Hollywood enigma. She seemed to be on the periphery of Hollywood and wasn't on my radar (after Ally McBeal) until she was dating and eventually marrying comedienne Ellen DeGeneres.
I will say that I truly appreciate the courage it must have taken to write a book dealing with such sensitive issues as accepting one's sexuality, publicly and privately coming out as well as eating disorders. That being said I did find that the book dragged pretty much the entire way. While I found the sneak peeks into the behind-the-scenes at Ally McBeal were really cool I think that I was hoping that the book would focus more on her 'happily ever after' marriage with Ellen (whom I've always admired and is one of the most positive up-beat personalities out there). But that's my fault ... I realized going in that the book would be about her inner struggle with her sexuality and her eating disorder, I just didn't realize that the book would focus, pretty much solely, on the eating disorder.
I had such high hopes for this book but unfortunately this book just didn't come close to measuring up. My favourite parts of the book were the prologue and epilogue which isn't a great sign. I didn't like the feel of the book either. It seemed more like a bunch of journal entries and the pace of the book suffered for it. The back and forth from past to present got a little weary after awhile too and at some points I had to re-read parts in order to figure out what time frame I was currently in.
I think that a big part of why I didn't like this book was that the majority of the book went over the same issue again and again -- Portia's view that she was ugly and fat, her low self-esteem, reducing her caloric intake, her self-loathing when she didn't attain her goals ... I don't want to belittle her struggles or the hell she lived through but it got a redundant and tedious reading chapter after chapter which dealt with the same issues. I found myself skimming paragraphs towards the end because I figured I didn't have to pay close attention since the same issues were reiterated again and again. Not a good sign.
It seemed to get bogged down with the day-to-day rituals of the eating disorder but didn't scratch the surface of Portia's feelings. I thought that the book would focus more on how she overcame her eating disorder and how she came to terms with her sexuality and self-worth. But her recovery was glossed over in the end and seemed a little too neat and tidy for me. The focus was on the anorexia and her lowest points but not on her recovery. I just found that odd and not fulfilling. Odder still is the fact that after reading her autobiography I still don't feel like I know who Portia is.
I admit that I do not know much about eating disorders and have only a general idea about what's involved in the daily life of an anorexic but I was astounded to learn the extent to which it affected her life. For example, not wearing lip gloss for the fear of ingesting extra calories, wearing only her underwear at home because she wanted to be as cold as possible in order to burn off the most calories possible or reducing the amount she ate daily to only 300 calories! At least I can take away a better understanding of the day-to-day life of a person with an eating disorder after reading this book.
I am very glad that Portia has found peace and fulfillment in her life and I'm hoping that by coming out about her sexuality as well as her eating disorder her story (even if I wasn't a fan of her book) can help others as they deal with similar issues.