{ESC} BOOK NINE: DIRTY RUSH

Dear Reader,

I’ll admit it: I love this book. Let me tell you why.

According to Rebecca Martinson, this book “fucking tells is like it fucking is.” Unfamiliar with that name? She’s also known as the “deranged sorority girl.” The one who wrote an email to her entire chapter, threatening to “cunt punt” them for being boring and undesirable to frat boys. You can find a hilarious reading of this letter by Michael Shannon here.

So I was scared that a girl who seems to care so much about such pointless, judgmental things claims that this is a book that actually tells the real truth on sorority life. But, it kind of does.

Now, I’ve only been with my sorority for a semester, and I’ll admit that I didn’t relate to about half of what this “Taylor Bell” experienced, but that’s not saying that it doesn’t happen. I’ve talked to girls in other sororities who have group messages that are dedicated to getting adderall and cocaine. And hazing is still a very prevalent thing in greek life, even though I’m fortunate enough to truthfully tell you all that I was in no way hazed.

But this book actually did have some good morals, and the ending was great. I love that the main character, Taylor, was so nonjudgmental, and even most of the other characters stayed that way, too. Plus, the friendships she made were true and even the clichéd theme of sisterhood was portrayed really well.

So yeah, it’s kind of weird that this book was as refreshing to me as it was, and yeah there are certain aspects of it that I didn’t so much enjoy (like how everything was “crystal cute”), but it was a quick read, and a book that I’ll definitely lend to my friends. And then ask for it back so I can read it again.

Sincerely,

Sammy

{ESC} BOOK EIGHT: LET’S PRETEND THIS NEVER HAPPENED

Some of my favorite books to read are autobiographies–especially those written by women. The ones that shatter the ridiculously outdated notion that women are not funny. To anyone who may still think this way, I’m sure you’ve been encouraged to read those of Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Mindy Kaling, Chelsea Handler. Theirs could all gladly prove you wrong. But here’s another suggestion.

Jenny Lawson. Don’t know who that is? I didn’t either, but I continuously saw her book ranked high on the lists, sitting pretty, ahead of some of these greats. So I asked for it for Christmas, knowing nothing more than the fact that this woman is called “The Blogess.”

And now I feel like I know too much. I certainly know more than I had asked for.

But let me tell you: this book may be the funniest book I’ve read to date. I found myself laughing out loud within the first five minutes of sitting down with it. And it couldn’t have come at a better time. Lately, I’ve been pretty disappointed with my book choices, so it was great to finally read a 5-star one again.

Lawson’s life has been absolutely ridiculous since her beginning–so ridiculous that I often found myself believing that there’s no way all of this actually happened. But then I thought, okay, if she is making half of this stuff up, I’d still have to give her props, because there’s no one alive with a crazier imagination.

There’s not much I have to say about this book, not because I’m worried about spoiling it, but because you just have to read it for yourself to fully appreciate and try to understand the life of Jenny Lawson.

Yeah, good luck.

Sincerely,

Sammy

{ESC} BOOK SEVEN: THE EX FILES

A few months ago, I was walking through Half-Priced Books, and I came across The Ex Files. After reading the back, I decided to buy it for $4. Was it worth that $4? Hard to say…

Here’s what I gathered from the back: Kendall’s husband left her for her sister, Sheridan’s husband left her for another man, Asia’s baby daddy left her for his wife, and Vanessa’s husband committed suicide. Each woman deals with heartbreak in a different way–from depression to revenge. Interesting plot, right?

That’s what I thought! But now it’s over a month later and I’m just now finished.

Part of this is due to it being almost 400 pages long, but part of it, too, is because I actually had to put it down at one point.

It says on the cover that it’s a faith-filled novel, but I didn’t even consider everything that meant. So when I got to the part where two characters are casually talking about how homosexuality is a choice–and a wrong one at that–I was floored. It shouldn’t have come to me as a surprise, especially since one of these characters is a pastor, but I was shocked to be reminded that some people truly believe homosexuality to be a sin.

This along with some of the comments about suicide made me a bit uncomfortable, and when I first set it down, I didn’t pick it back up for three and a half weeks. Part of this is because second semester started and all of a sudden I was really busy, but it was also hard for me to go back to a book that was preaching ideas I just couldn’t get behind.

So that’s part of the reason why I give this book 3 stars. Other than that, the characters were alright, but not ones that I fell in love with. I didn’t really understand Sheridan or Vanessa, so I didn’t connect with them, and by the end of it I was so done with Kendall, I didn’t even want to read the chapters devoted to her.

Then we have Asia. I didn’t mind her, but her morals were pretty questionable. And I don’t want to spoil anything (in case this review for some reason prompts you to read the book for yourself), but what she does it horrifying and awful. I enjoyed watching her character develop, though.

Another sidenote is that some parts were really cheesey. There was one part at the end with Sheridan that actually had me rolling my eyes.

Also, I found a blatant typo, and I always find that to be weird. I mean, didn’t someone read this before it got sent to publishing? How was “reuion” missed? Did the editor just get bored and skip that part to get to the end? Because I’m not sure I blame them.

Well that’s all I’ve got for you. The Ex Files was a bit of a disappointment, but I’m holding out hope for Book #8.

It’s a good one.

Sincerely,

Sammy

{ESC} BOOK SIX: MISS PEREGRINE’S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN

Dear Reader,

This is another review where I’m not going to give anything away because I actually picked it up without knowing anything and I really enjoyed it. So, because I don’t want to spoil anything, I’ll just tell you this:

Read this book if you want a particularly quick read. Read it if you enjoy looking at spooky little pictures that go along with a story. Read it if you like mystery and magic and peculiarity. But don’t read it if you want to be shaking from fear in your bedroom, unable to put it down at 1am.

I really liked it. It was an interesting, well-written story, and I’m looking forward to reading the sequel and seeing the movie in 2016. But when I went onto goodreads to give it four stars, I saw that the top four reviews all gave it two.

Confused and curious, I decided to see what their reasons were, and they all seemed to be the same: not scary. Sure, the pictures are creepy enough to send a chill down your back, but sometimes that’s not enough.

Now, I don’t particularly like being scared–partly because I spook easily and partly because I’ve just never seen the appeal of horror stories and films, and even haunted houses for that matter! You want to get an adrenaline rush? Go ride a roller coaster. Don’t give yourself nightmares!

So I say read it. It’s a great book and I’m glad the storyline is to be continued. I’ll definitely be reviewing the sequel once I get around to reading it.

Hopefully Ransom Riggs didn’t read the reviews from goodreads and decide to avenge his reputation and show the critics something truly scary.

If he did you can bet my next review on his work will be far from raving.

Sincerely,

Sammy

{ESC} BOOK FIVE: IT’S KIND OF A FUNNY STORY

Dear Reader,

If you’re just skimming or stopping by: yes. That’s all you need to know. Yes to this book. I. Love. This. Book.

The main character, Craig, is having some problems with depression and finds himself in an adult mental hospital after almost killing himself one night. I think this is a very important book for anyone to read, whether they’re in high school, out of it, or even way past it. Mental illnesses aren’t always treated as they should–like actual illnesses–which is kind of ridiculous. With so many people struggling with things like depression and anorexia and OCD, we really need to not be ignorant in this topic area.

It’s now to the point where 1 in 5 Americans (yeah I googled it) suffer from a mental illness, yet many aren’t comfortable getting help or even talking about it. And, like Craig, there’s not always a specific reason for why people become depressed or anorexic or what have you. It’s a chemical imbalance, one that doesn’t necessarily occur because of a traumatic event or an extremely difficult life. Just because Craig has a supportive family and is in a good school and is a smart kid doesn’t mean he’s going to be okay, or take everything the same way everyone else does. It’s okay for him to get help. Just like it’s okay for a person with a broken bone to get help from a hospital, it’s okay for someone with a mental illness to, too.

It’s Kind of a Funny Story is a beautiful, refreshing, and, yeah, funny story. And this part on the last page (after the story) just made me love the book and Ned Vizzini, himself, so much more:

Ned Vizzini spent five days in adult psychiatric in Methodist Hospital, Park Slope, Brooklyn, 11/29/04 – 12/3/04. 

Ned wrote this 12/10/04 – 1/6/05. 

I’ll definitely be looking into this author some more.

Sincerely,

Sammy

{ESC} BOOK FOUR: BOSSYPANTS

Dear Reader,

Get ready for a very quick review because I have a lot to do today and not a lot to say about this book.

This is not to say that this book is bad in any sense–quite the opposite, actually. It’s great! But, I mean, isn’t that what we’re expecting? People rave about Tina Fey’s autobiography. And this is just another one of those reviews, so I don’t want to waste any more time.

If you’ve never read an autobiography by a comedian (or, should I say, comedienne) before, I highly suggest you start. Tina Fey, Mindy Kaling, Chelsea Handler, and now Amy Poehler! They all have books out and they’re all hilarious. I mean, laugh-out-loud-funny. Seriously, don’t read them in public if you’re not comfortable smiling goofily at a book or chuckling to yourself with others around.

And, actually, I can’t even speak for Amy’s because I haven’t read Yes Please yet, but why would it be any different? It’s Amy Poehler.

Which brings me back to Bossypants: it’s Tina Fey. Of course it’s hilarious and charming, while still insightful and, well, informative of her past. It is still a biography.

So, no more time to waste. If you feel like laughing, and especially if you watch 30 Rock or follow Tina’s career in any way, pick up this book. You won’t be sorry.

Sincerely,

Sammy

{ESC} BOOK THREE: WARM BODIES

Dear Reader,

If there are two things I want you to get from this review it’s this: 1. Warm Bodies is definitely worth the read. And 2. The book is sooooo much better than the movie (shocker).

That actually made me sad, though. I bought the book the same day my sister bought the movie and I read it in a night (it’s a quick read, which I loved). So we watched the movie and, though I adore Nicholas Hoult, I was just mad the whole time. Sarah, on the other hand, had never read the book, so she loved the movie.

But obviously the book is going to go into things that the movie just doesn’t have time for, but that’s what made the book so amazing! I had heard of it before–I knew it was about a zombie who fell in love with a human, but the book explained life before the apocalypse so much better, and it went into the backstories of the characters. I mean, I loved Perry in the book, and his story was heartbreaking, but in the movie he was just a jerk. And we didn’t get to understand why.

Anyway, Warm Bodies is now one of my favorite books. I’d recommend it to anyone who loves a good romance story but doesn’t mind a bit of action, blood, guts, and brains, or an insight into our civilization and what might cause its downfall.

Sincerely,

Sammy

PS. The song for this post is actually from the trailer of Warm Bodies: Lonely Boy – The Black Keys. I hope you enjoy the official music video, which is just a man dancing to the song.

{ESC} BOOK TWO: HOW TO BE PARISIAN WHEREVER YOU ARE

Dear Reader,

I really didn’t think I would love this book as much as I did. Or that it would be as quick of a read. But I read it in one night and absolutely loved it.

It isn’t a story of any kind, but rather tips and insights for a Parisian lifestyle. Four French women came together and wrote everything from basic wardrobe and jewelry pieces to parenting tactics to books you should have on your bookshelf to how to make him think you have a lover.

I’ll admit, when I first started reading it, I didn’t think I would enjoy it. I thought so in the bookstore, but within the first few pages, I read about how the Parisian woman is not a role-model, which is a disclaimer they have. But I kept turning the pages and asked myself, “why am I reading this? Why did I even pick this up?” I mean, this woman seemed so stand-offish and self-entitled. And not only could I never become her (I’ve always tried to be polite and kind to others), but why would I want to?

Nevertheless, I continued reading and slowly fell in love. Maybe it was the perfection of the author’s writing or the fact that it made me miss Paris, but I ate everything up. I mean, I stayed until until 2 just reading furiously and taking notes, writing down everything that I loved (I’ll probably make an entirely separate post later sharing them). And then the next day, I shared them with my sister and we marveled at its beauty together.

Still, I can see the beef that some people have with this book. I mean, there’s a section called “The ABCs of Cheating,” and the first rule is deny, deny, deny. Furthermore, the book is riddled with contradictions and startling claims made by these Parisian women. I’ll repeat: they’re not role models.

But there’s something to say about their message. They have many, but the one that most stuck out and resonated with me was their confidence. If the Parisian woman is one thing, it is confident. And I think there’s something admirable about that.

The Parisienne adores her imperfections, and never completely corrects. They’re not against plastic surgery or makeup or anything, but, as they put, “the gap in her smile or her slightly crooked tooth, her prominent eyebrows or strong nose: these are the signs of a certain strength of character and allow her to feel beautiful without before perfect.

More than anything, their beauty is underneath the surface.

“It’s her personality that sparkles like nothing else: the signs of intellectual wealth.”

So maybe I don’t want to cheat on my husband or act like a snob as often as I can, but I want to be strong, confident, and beautiful. In that sense, I want to be Parisienne.

Sincerely,

Sammy

PS. The song for this post is Flawless Remix by Beyonce feat. Nicki Minaj. Love.

{ESC} BOOK ONE: CRAZY RICH ASIANS

Dear Reader,

I actually forgot to post this review right when I finished the book (last Friday, oops), but better late than never, right?

So here’s what I’m going to do with this Empty Shelf Challenge: once I complete each book, I’m going to share my thoughts on it in a quick review-type fashion. Except I don’t make my reviews in the typical, “here’s the entire plot and prologue, here’s my list of pros and cons that I thought up whilst reading, and here’s my recommendation: do/don’t read this book” way. There’s nothing wrong with that sort of review, it’s just not how I do things.

You see, sometimes I don’t like knowing the plot. I’m very weird about spoilers (I mean I only get one chance for a book to make a first impression on me–one chance to read it for the first time ever! This can be a big deal.) and sometimes I like picking up random books in the library and check them out and read them without so much as perusing the back cover. That’s what I did with Rebel Belle and let me tell you, that was a surprise.

Sometimes the entire book is summarized in a paragraph on the back page and it’s almost like why even read the book in the first place? Of course there’s plenty of reasons to read a book after learning what it’s about, but all I’m saying is sometimes it’s fun to dive in without knowing a thing, and then everything‘s a surprise!

Alright, enough talk about how I’m going to review these books–I’ll just go ahead and do it.

Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan. I actually really loved this book. I picked it up in a random bookstore in Dayton because, well, that title. How could I not? And then I actually did read the back cover and it was enough for me to buy it. And I’m so glad I did.

It wasn’t as quick of a read as the books I’ve been reading lately (it’s 500+ pages), but by the end I couldn’t put it down. There’s just so many stories, so many characters to fall in love with, and so many twists that I didn’t see coming. It’s also much sadder than I expected. I had to put the book down a few times because some of the lines just broke my heart. But, without spoiling anything, I will say that it definitely has its heartwarming parts as well.

All in all, I loved this book–more than I thought I would. AND there’s a sequel. It’s expected to come out in 2015 but I can’t wait. I’ll definitely be picking up my own copy as soon as it’s released. This one was a solid four stars for me.

Sincerely,

Sammy

PS. Miniature throwback for this feature song, but it’s just as good as it was in 2012: Bruises by Train feat. Ashley Monroe

PPS. I’ll be posting all of my 2015 reads on here, of course, but you can also keep up with me on Goodreads. Let’s be friends!

EMPTY SHELF CHALLENGE

Dear Reader,

Each year, one of my resolutions is always the same: read more. And, each year, I start off strong, struggle for a few months, and then end just as I began. But I don’t come close to making any of the reading goals I set for myself.

And maybe it’s because I have more time to read in the winter compared to the rest of the year, but this year I’m going to be self-motivated for the full twelve months.

*Cue The Empty Shelf Challenge*

This challenge was created at the end of 2013 by Jon Acuff and the rules are simple: clear off a shelf in your bedroom/office/library/etc. and fill it by the time the New Year rolls around with the books you read. I’m starting mine today because 1) I just went on a shopping spree where I bought four new books that I can’t wait to dive into and 2) in the words of Jon, himself, waiting until January 1st to do something awesome is stupid and fake.

So that’s what I’m up to. I encourage everyone to partake–I challenge everyone to, actually. And you can even do this if you’re an e-book reader or audiobook listener! Just get out there and read–and share your progress on their Pinterest board too!

Here’s to the many stories to discover in 2015.

Sincerely,

Sammy

PS. Current obsession: Ghost by Ella Henderson