I want Tina Fey to be my boss

bossypants

 

Reasons to read this book:

1. You’re a fan of Tina Fey
2. You’re a fan of smarty, funny women in general

Reasons not to read this book:

1. You want all sorts of dirt on celebrities she’s worked with
2. Smart, funny women make you uncomfortable.

I was certainly familiar with Tina Fey’s body of work and, like many other women, I related to Liz Lemon. I’ve also been adding many biographies of women I admire to my To Be Read Mountain lately and this one is the first one I’ve tackled. To say I enjoyed the ever loving hell out of it would be a gross understatement. Ms. Fey’s writing style made it a pleasure to blaze through this book over the course of a couple of weekends. She highlights some of the formative events in her life and the people who influenced her the most. Her humor is classic Tina Fey; simultaneously subtle and rapid fire.

Many people, when they admire someone, say they want to go for drinks with a particular person. I don’t want to have drinks with Tina Fey. I want to have a working lunch, where we eat cheeseburgers and she imparts her hilarious wisdom on me. As a firm believer in sharing good books, I immediately lent this book to a co-worker/friend for both her and her 16 year old daughter to read.

Seriously, f#ck Akron

the jeffrey dahmer story

 

Well I haven’t had a book rated less than 3 stars all year so I guess I was due for a stinker.

I started a book club last month for fans of the new podcast My Favorite Murder. If you’re a fan of true crime, I highly recommend it. This book was the first selection and it was not good. It reminded me of a few papers I wrote in college (thankfully just a few) where I procrastinated like hell and when I finally sat down to write, I realized I did not have enough information gathered and I had zero time gather more. I just bullshitted and quoted like crazy to fill the space until I was done. That’s what this book reads like; A half-assed research paper.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock or maybe if you’re super young, you know who Jeffrey Dahmer was. He was a serial killer who murdered 17 young men, mostly gay and mostly racial minorities. This book was originally published in 1991, before Dahmer’s trial had even concluded and the ramifications of his crimes could truly be felt. The writer tried for a more high brow approach to crime writing by adding local history. This can be an effective technique if it’s done correctly and it’s relevant to the narrative. The writer spends dozens of pages on the history of Akron, Ohio. Dahmer’s childhood home is located in Bath Township, which is a suburb of Akron but otherwise has nothing to do with the story. I can only assume Don Davis is from Akron and wanted to use some hometown history to fill out his book.

There are some interesting parts. The murders did expose the racial divides that existed in Milwaukee and caused a great deal of social and political tension in the city. It would have been interesting to see how all of that shook out given some time and perspective. But this was lost in the rush to publish this book while Jeffrey Dahmer was still in the news.

There are excellent true crime books. Ann Rule, Jon Krakauer and Erik Larsen have written some great ones. Do yourself a favor and pick up one of their books and give this one a pass.

You have to actually leave the house, apparently.

mwf seeking bff

I just hit the number of books I read during the entirety of 2015.  Hooray for picking up old (but good) habits again!

I suck at making friends. Even during childhood, when it’s supposed to be easiest, I sucked at making friends. It’s not that I don’t know how to meet people. The idea of going out and introducing myself to people and putting myself out there makes me simultaneously want to scream and vomit. There’s pretty much no way to make new friends without doing this. So in that sense MWF didn’t really offer me too many new insights on how to make friends. It just reminded me that I have to step out of my comfort zone and face the possibility of rejection.

I did enjoy watching Rachel (name buddy, woo!) go on her journey to find a new BFF. She recently moved to Chicago from NYC. While she had plenty of work friends and friendly acquaintances, she had no one she could call on the spur of the moment to ask out to brunch or go get a pedicure. She had no one she could call to commiserate with over life’s problems. So she set out to go on 52 friend dates with new women over the course of one year. It was interesting to see her change her expectations of what she wanted and what a BFF actually is when you’re an adult.

Overall, I didn’t get what I was looking for from this book. But that’s because what I was looking for was some sort of quickie BFF hack, which doesn’t exist in real life. I did find some useful tips for my uber awkward self when getting to know someone.

So who wants to go out to brunch and a pedicure?

In pain of a heart forbade to fly. But you learn to say goodbye/

Childhoods end

 

I knew very little about this book going into it other than it was considered to be a Science Fiction classic and that SyFy recently produced a miniseries adaptation of it. When it popped up on sale for $1.99 on Kindle shortly after that, I figured it would be a good time to fill in some of the gaps in my SciFi reading (long story short. My parents were SciFi nerds. I rebelled by being a horror/true crime fanatic). I’m glad I waited until I was a fully formed adult before reading this one. I don’t think I could have appreciated the complexities of it in my youth.

The book opens when earth is visited by powerful but seemingly benevolent beings whom humanity refers to as The Overlords who essentially take over the running of Earth, much to it’s benefit. Through an entirely non-violent and largely hands off approach, The Overlords eliminate war, poverty, racism, animal cruelty, etc. and basically create a Utopia for mankind. However they remain largely mysterious which raises suspicions in many people on Earth. The identity of the Overlords and their true mission is at the crux of this book.

Childhood’s End did not go at all where I expected it to. A lot of older Science Fiction (and some newer) tends to use future technology as a heavy handed allegory and can be very difficult to read. Frankly I viewed this book like a new dieter views health food. It was going to be Good For Me. It would make me Well Rounded. What I got was a beautiful 200 page musing on the nature of man and his place in the universe. This book is sweeping, sad and beautiful and worth picking up, even if you’re not a fan of the genre.

This is not my first apocalypse

swan song

As a fan of post-apocalypse fiction who cut her literary teeth on Stephen King, it was nearly impossible for me not to compare this book to The Stand. Both tell the story of a worldwide global Armageddon and its aftermath. Both follow the forces of good and evil as they converge for a final confrontation. Despite those very big similarities, they are very different books. In fact, I could probably write a short essay comparing the two. But since this review is supposed to be about Swan Song, I won’t.

This book, written during the Cold War, begins when the world ends with an all out nuclear war between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. The few who are not killed by the blast or the ensuing radiation poisoning are left to survive in frozen, dead wasteland. Heading up Team Good is Sue Wanda “Swan” Prescott, a young girl who has a seemingly empathic ability to commune with plant life. Heading up Team Evil is The Man With Many Faces or The Man With the Scarlet Eye who, it is implied, is The Devil or some sort of demon. Though the themes are certainly biblical, very little of the book is overtly Christian. In fact, imagery from the tarot deck is sprinkled throughout the story.

This was a great story, that I probably should have read many years ago. After over a decade of true crime and post-apocalypse fiction, I found myself mentally screaming at the characters as they walked into what I knew to be an obvious trap. I forgot that this was the first time the world had ended for them, whereas I had experienced it multiple times.