Friday, January 20, 2017

Scrappy Little Nobody

Scrappy Little NobodyAuthor: Anna Kendrick
Info: Touchstone, copyright 2016, 271 pages

Enter Anna’s world and follow her rise from “scrappy little nobody” to somebody who dazzles on the stage, the screen, and now the page—with an electric, singular voice, at once familiar and surprising, sharp and sweet, funny and serious (well, not that serious).

~Goodreads Description

Set up like most celebrity "memoirs" as a collection of essays on any number of topics, most filtering back to a discussion of fame and beginnings, Kendrick appears to be the same intelligent, spunky woman we've come to know on the silver screen.  As I listened to the audiobook (that she narrates) I could definitely see the girl behind the character and how elements of her personality seeped through in different film rolls.

Like Lauren Graham's Talking as Fast as I Can, I didn't know a whole lot about the Anna Kendrick before tackling the book.  I can't tell you how many Facebook posts I've come across talking about her wit and "relatability" on Twitter, but outside of the few times I was bored enough to click on the links to see what she was saying, my familiarity with her was pretty slim.

Where I came away from Talking as Fast as I Can really liking Lauren Graham, I didn't have quite the same reaction to Anna.  She seems like a very lovely person, super talented, and full of wit, but I'm not sure I'd always get her sense of humor :)  In fact, there were several times I thought to myself that I would probably do that awkward chuckle around her that you do when you don't really get the joke but you don't want anyone to know that you didn't.  (If you have no idea what I'm talking about, we should hang out for awhile so that you can see it in action).

It's amazing how young she was when her talent was discovered, and the sacrifices her family made to allow her to follow her dreams.  There's definitely an appreciation for someone willing to stick with acting through the rough years when jobs aren't plentiful.  She also gives an interesting snapshot of the reality of celebrity and finally being noticed.  Those where the moments I think I enjoyed most in the book.

Overall, a fun book to read made better in the author's own voice.  In fact, it's kind of hard to imagine not listening to a memoir when the celebrity reads it themselves.  I think there would be something missing in print.  Not a bad way to kick off the memoirs on my 2017 reading list!


Thursday, January 19, 2017

Dark Matter

Author: Blake Crouch
Info: Crown, copyright 2016, 342 pages

“Are you happy with your life?”

Those are the last words Jason Dessen hears before the masked abductor knocks him unconscious.

Before he awakens to find himself strapped to a gurney, surrounded by strangers in hazmat suits.

Before a man Jason’s never met smiles down at him and says, “Welcome back, my friend.”

In this world he’s woken up to, Jason’s life is not the one he knows. His wife is not his wife. His son was never born. And Jason is not an ordinary college physics professor, but a celebrated genius who has achieved something remarkable. Something impossible.

Is it this world or the other that’s the dream? And even if the home he remembers is real, how can Jason possibly make it back to the family he loves? The answers lie in a journey more wondrous and horrifying than anything he could’ve imagined—one that will force him to confront the darkest parts of himself even as he battles a terrifying, seemingly unbeatable foe.

~Goodreads Description

 I'm going to butcher my quick rundown, but here goes nothing... Jason is happily married with a wonderful son.  One night after heading to his local Chicago bar for a drink, he gets kidnapped by a masked man and taken to an old warehouse.  When he wakes up, he's in Chicago, but not his Chicago.  It's a Chicago where he never met his wife but instead went on to discover some trippy science thing that lets you travel through time and parallel worlds.  Now Jason is in a fight for his life as he attempts to get back to his family and the world he knows.

Hey!  That wasn't too bad!  I really liked this one.  It came recommended (sort of) by a co-worker (well...her husband), and since it was scifi I thought I'd give it a whirl.  The audiobook reader was fantastic and the action started within the first few pages.  This is really more thriller than scifi in case that makes a difference :)  There were moments when I feared that I would get overwhelmed with science.  I had the same feeling reading The Martian, but as in The Martian, I came to realize that I didn't really need to understand specifics as long as I could grasp big concepts - the big concept being that Jason had found a way through a trippy science box thing to travel through time and parallel worlds.  He developed a TARDIS, or DeLorean, in box form.

The book traveled deeper than that though. Crouch explores concepts of destiny, fate, and regret.  If he had it to do over again, would Jason choose the life with his family over the life where he discovered a scientific breakthrough, a breakthrough that could change the course of history?  How does one define fulfillment and happiness?

It reminded me a lot of the movie Sliding Doors with Gwyneth Paltrow about life being decided in a single moment and shows what happens if she gets on a subway train versus missing the very same train.  One moment changed the course of her life.  I'm not sure I subscribe to a theory like that but it is a fascinating concept that Crouch explores with several extremely tense scenes, It's a Wonderful Life emotional moments, and a whole lot of heart.

A highly recommended read.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Set Your DVR!

We interrupt the previously scheduled program to give you the chance to set your DVR for something pretty cool if I do say so myself.

My brother is going to be on Jeopardy tomorrow!

We held our breaths when he drove up to Chicago for  the interview/try-outs, but as the months (like, lots of months) ticked by and he didn't hear anything we thought the chance had passed. Then he got the call, out of the blue, and he immediately started carrying around a pen, clicking it nonstop to give his thumb, the trigger finger, a workout.
He's one of the smartest guys I know which made it absolutely no fun to play games with him when we were growing up.  He also liked to create rules that gave him the advantage (he's kind of a butt like that...but so are the woes of the younger sister :) ).  There's one thing for sure though - I couldn't be prouder of him.  It takes a bit of guts to get yourself on national television.  And tomorrow night I get to say, "Hey, that's my brother up there."

So just in case you're home and have the television on, look of the guy from Whitestown, Indiana and cheer him on.  I will be.

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