What to read: Liane Moriarty, John Green, Allegiant, Insurgent and MORE!

248190_537582386299388_285614533_nWell now I just have an overall case of reader depression. I haven’t posted any book reviews on here since February and after updating Goodreads, I discovered I am actually three books behind on my reading challenge for this year. I would call myself a slacker but I know what the problem is (was). The problem was Orange is the New Black and Game of Thrones. But I am now finished with both. That’s right folks, I watched seasons three AND four of Game of Thrones over Fourth of July weekend. I am a WINNER. Nothing says America like a good television binge. Before you judge me as a lazy heifer, you should know I also worked out three times, had a great holiday cookout with friends for which I made homemade pimento cheese and ensured no vodka went to waste, went to a concert, decorated my back patio, started an herb garden and organized my jewelry (do you understand what an undertaking untangling necklaces can be?!) So THERE.

My biggest accomplishment out of all of this, however, was surviving the Red Wedding. You people have had like a year to recover. As I write this (I always let a post rest overnight before publishing) I’ve had all of one friggin’ day. I’m still traumatized. I need extra therapy after watching 20 episodes of that show in such a short amount of time. I am unfortunately going to have to now give in and read these books. If you know me well, you know that what will drive me up and down a wall faster than anything is NOT KNOWING. My innate sense of impatience and uncanny ability to be a nosy ass (the journalism degree wasn’t a coincidence) doesn’t allow for much “wait and see.” I have avoided reading these books much longer than the show has been on or its fans knew of their existence. The Song of Ice and Fire series was my ex-husband’s absolute favorite. Back in our happy days together (when they actually existed) and thanks to my love for Lord of the Rings, I read a lot of fantasy myself. I know what a ginormous project it is. I can pretty much kiss my reading challenge goodbye if I officially decide to do this.

In the meantime, I’ve read many other fabulous, non nerd alert (for the most part) books since I posted about Wild in February. If you recall, my primary literary mission was to read a lot of the books upon which many of this year’s movies are based. This already included Fault in Our Stars, Labor Day and Wild. There are several others listed here. I want to point out, due to the context of my full-time job, this post and anything else I write about related to movies is completely independent of my profession. I ain’t making money off of this, folks. At least not yet and never in relation to that aspect of my career.

Continue reading

Advertisements

How to be: hi, my name is Nikki. And I am still a Twilight fan.

HUNGRY KIDS...HA!The majority of you people reading this are from the United States of America, Canada or possibly the UK. Therefore we are all fortunate enough to live in (mostly) free societies. We have the right to our opinions, our beliefs, our thoughts, our values, our interests, our hobbies, how we spend our free time…the list goes on and on. We eat what we want, we drink what we want, we read and watch what we want. It’s pretty much amazing.

But we also have the ability to disagree. And gosh knows there isn’t a place where we tend to disagree more than on the INTERNET. It is a cesspool of negativity and attack when it comes to most everything. How nasty people can be is astounding. If I had a dollar bill for every time I’ve read the phrase “I couldn’t care less…” I wouldn’t have to work for a living. Ever. Side note, it’s actually usually misused as “could care less”, which drives me bananas. If you could care less, that means you DO CARE. Think about it.

Grammar nazi-ness aside, let’s talk about Twilight so I can use myself as an example (it IS my blog after all, no matter how neglected it’s been). Rarely has a book/movie/interest divided the human population into two such drastic opposing sides. Y’all know there are starving children in Africa, right? And you really care THAT much if someone likes poorly written novels or followed every detail of the Kimye wedding? Does it affect your ability to pay your bills? Put food on your own table? Get out of the bed in the morning? Yeah…I didn’t think so.

Let me explain why I personally became a Twilight fan, not that it should matter. Two things happened in April and May of 2009 that whooped my ass. My divorce papers were final and I went through my first post-husband break-up with someone I absolutely adored. I was a DISASTER. In full disclosure (to put it in perspective) it was the second time I was legitimately diagnosed with depression. I lived on Chinese food and Ben & Jerry’s. I rarely left the house for anything other than work and to walk the dogs. I was 1,500 miles away from my entire family and just felt quite alone, despite the fact I lived in the second largest city in the U.S. and had a gazillion friends. You get it, it wasn’t pretty. Twilight had recently made it to OnDemand and I still had no freaking clue what the heck it was about and why it was so popular. So one night after picking up the requisite City Wok (orange chicken and pork fried rice should you be curious), I thought well, might as well…

Fifteen minutes into it I knew I had made a terrible mistake. Because I can’t just like something with a passing fancy. I have to love it and hug it and SQUISH IT TO DEATH. I have a penchant for obsession (see: hockey and my high school years). All three Twilight books were purchased and read within like a week and a half. I went to Comic-Con, I even made some new friends. It was awesome. I never got into Twilight because I found it to be Pulitzer-prize winning literature and Oscar-worthy movies. Quite the contrary. It was senseless entertainment and a much-needed distraction. It pulled me out of a my own head for a little bit each day. Books have ALWAYS been an escape for me and no chick I know of – correct me if I am wrong, it’s the internet so I know you will – wants to take on A Tale of Two Cities when she’s bawling her eyes out over a guy and halfway through a pint of Half Baked.

You have no idea why people like the things they do. And you just shouldn’t care. A Twilight habit (or bad TV or shitty movies, whatever your vice) is much better than a cocaine habit, I say. The fun part is you don’t have to like it too! Crazy! Also what you don’t have to do is be so self-righteous about it. You are not better than me because I like Twilight (and 50 Shades of Grey, *gasp*) and you find it trashy and unbearable. I guarantee you that you like something I find unappealing. I have dated Philadelphia sports fans and Conservatives, I can clearly get past terrible interests. (She’s funny, this one!)

I may say to you, hey You, I don’t like that. But hey You, it’s totally cool that you do. Cause that’s how it should work. Remember in Steel Magnolias when Clairee said our ability to accessorize is what separates us from the animals? I believe our ability to pick and choose our likes, interests and individual thoughts are what separates us from not only the animals, but also from being absolutely mundane and boring. Who wants boring?!

 

What to read: Wild

WildTP_Books-330As mentioned in an earlier post, I’m trying to read the majority of BuzzFeed’s 16 Books To Read Before They Hit Theaters This Year that I’ve not completed already. And by majority, I mean the ones I actually want to read (and eventually see the movie). I was attempting to go in order of movie release date, but my anticipation got the best of me and patience has never been one of my better virtues, so I jumped ahead to Wild by Cheryl Strayed. This one has actually been on my Amazon wish list for awhile, as it was a top rated book of 2012 by pretty much every website you can imagine (and The Oprah). How I hadn’t read it already I have no clue. Actually I do, I believe books have their time and place in each of our respective lives. They hit our hands or our Kindles exactly when they’re meant to. Even Twilight had its purpose in my life. More on that later.

As for Wild, I have not been this inspired and motivated by a book since I read Eat, Pray, Love. For the most part, those who’ve read EPL either LOVE it or HATE it, there isn’t much in between. I am in the love love love camp, for both the book and movie. And I continue to drink Eilzabeth Gilbert’s Kool-Aid; I can’t stop myself. EPL is actually the main reason I believe books appear in our lives when needed. December of 2008 was a very hard time. I was in LA, going through my divorce and it was my holiday season “single” for quite some time. I’d also been through a handful of other unfortunate encounters with the opposite sex. I don’t know any other way to phrase that other than “encounters”, as describing them as relationships is both an overstatement and much too kind. At the time, one of my then girlfriends worked for the studio that released EPL and she gave me a copy of the book for Christmas. She told me she hadn’t finished it yet herself, but what she had read reminded her of me, what I was going through, and thought I should read it. She was right. There were parts of that book that were extremely painful to read, but it was still therapeutic.

Although I could relate to what Elizabeth Gilbert went through in the beginning of EPL, why she set off on her travels, I will be forthright and say I cannot, at all, relate to what Cheryl Strayed went through that prompted her travels. She lost her mom, very suddenly and tragically to cancer. While not able to empathize, I can certainly sympathize with her unimaginable loss. It threw her into a mad phase of drugs and infidelity, which led to a very painful divorce. Now that I can empathize with. For example, she says that Paul (her husband) and her “fought and cried and shook the car with [their] rage. [They] were monstrous in [their] cruelty…” Although it was me sitting in my car alone, the same ferocious arguments took place over multiple phone calls. I lost my voice on more than one occasion. Cried so much I became dehydrated. Scared multiple people in the parking lot of Westside Pavilion. I never knew how nasty I could be and gosh knows I never want to be that way again. I don’t need time alone in the wilderness to know that.

I don’t think what I posted about and that I finished this book on Tuesday was a coincidence. They’re perfect companions. Everyone is going through something right now, most likely something we don’t want to be going through. And we all deal differently. I’ve dealt with tough times in a variety of ways, both rather toxic and relatively healthy. These days I personally try to turn to my readings, my Gaby and my yoga mat. Cheryl Strayed turned to 1,100 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail. And I have immense respect for her for doing so. I was proud of myself for just hiking Runyon Canyon when I lived in LA.

As Cheryl more or less says in the book’s trailer and in the last chapter, she truly came out on the other side of her massive hike as a different person, a whole person. As soon as it was over, she realized she had absolutely no idea where her life was going to take her after such a trying journey, she really only knew where she was going to live temporarily, just like we have no clue what is going to happen to us after our tribulations are over. Or really…what is going to happen at all. And that’s absolutely okay.

It was all unknown to me then, as I sat on that white bench on the day I finished my hike. Everything except the fact that I didn’t have to know. – Cheryl Strayed

Xo, Nikki

PS for those of you who are fellow fans, Nick Hornby actually wrote the script for the movie!

What to read: You Knew Me When

2013-09-06-cover_000I recently came across You Knew Me When on, of all places, Lauren Conrad’s Fall Reading List of 2013. I’d already read a handful of novels LC had included, most notably Where’d You Go, Bernadette, which I absolutely loved and of course To Kill a Mockingbird more than once. It’s an all-time favorite and one of my dog’s names is Harper Lee (her first foster mom named her, it naturally caught my eye on Pet Finder!) Anyhow, I’ll be truthful, the first few chapters of You Knew Me When had me rolling my eyes. Katherine Hill is a very cliché character: the 30-something high-powered NYC executive who has sacrificed life and love for her career. As the story what happened with her ex-best friend, Laney Hancock, unfolds, there is depth in the character development and you do get quite involved. It just isn’t a story with groundbreaking material and it’s rather predictable. I’m not saying it’s not entertaining, as it’s great chick lit, the perfect vacation read or what to pick up once you step off an emotional roller coaster like Labor Day. Or, you know, what to read at 1 a.m. when you’re freaking out over gray hair. Every reader gets something different out of each book he/she reads. All novels don’t have to be award winners or perfectly written to be enjoyable. You will hear more on my opinion of this later, I despise a book (or TV or movie) snob.

As a 10-year marketing veteran and geek though, this is where it gets fun. While Googling reviews of You Knew Me When, I came across this article on HuffPo Books from the release last fall. The book’s author, Emily Liebert, is a smart cookie. Since Katherine is an exec at a cosmetics company in the novel, Liebert teamed up with Zoya Nail Polish and both a fashion and jewelry designer to create products based on the main characters. Studios have been doing this with movies for years. Most recently for Skyfall, Hunger Games and let’s not forget the fashion and cosmetics empire Twilight built. There is already a plethora of, er, merchandise out there branded with 50 Shades of Grey, but it will only increase as August approaches. Make fun of me all you want, I’m not ashamed to say I CAN’T FRIGGIN’ WAIT. However, it’s quite unique and ambitious for a relatively unknown author and first-time novelist such as Liebert to step out and do it all herself for her initial major release. Gotta give her kudos for that.

On the Kindle now is Wild by Cheryl Strayed, which is an upcoming movie with a screenplay from Nick Hornby and starring Reese Witherspoon. Reese I could love again when she finally broke up with Jake Gyllenhaal. Clearly she realized he and I are soul mates…too bad he hasn’t yet. I figured it out 12 years ago; I’m getting impatient.

Xo, Nikki