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Real Friends By Shannon Hale

31145178Real Friends By Shannon Hale, Illustrated By LeUyen Pham

Published 2 May 2017 by First Second

Goodreads

Summary: When best friends are not forever . . .

Shannon and Adrienne have been best friends ever since they were little. But one day, Adrienne starts hanging out with Jen, the most popular girl in class and the leader of a circle of friends called The Group. Everyone in The Group wants to be Jen’s #1, and some girls would do anything to stay on top . . . even if it means bullying others.

Now every day is like a roller coaster for Shannon. Will she and Adrienne stay friends? Can she stand up for herself? And is she in The Group—or out?

Newbery Honor author Shannon Hale and New York Timesbestselling illustrator LeUyen Pham join forces in this graphic memoir about how hard it is to find your real friends—and why it’s worth the journey.

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This hit home so hard.

I had a similar childhood. I had difficulties making friends, then I moved and thought I had a great group of friends before that turned out to be a sham. They were mean, nasty little girls and when I moved up to secondary school I thought I’d make better friends. Wrong. I didn’t.

I understood where Shannon was coming from. There is nothing spectacular about the plot — it wasn’t moving or gripping but it is important. It’s important because we need to talk about this more. We need to talk about bullying, about loneliness, OCD and our own battles with ourselves. This book isn’t riveting but it delves into some extremely real and relatable problems. Real Friends provides us with an outlook of something that everyone of us has experienced before: loneliness, struggling to fit in, fake friends, and the desperate search for true friendship. It talks about sibling rivalry, sibling bullying and even touches on the importance of asking for permission before doing something like kissing someone.

I read the acknowledgement that the author had written at the end of the book. One where she felt the need to have her main character (also named Shannon) to have the ability to say “no” to her bully instead of easily forgiving. She wanted to instil the idea that it was okay for us to say no and create boundaries between us and the bullies or the people who hurt us. I think this is important — because so often we’re told to live and let live, to forgive and forget, but they don’t tell us what to do when it gets hard and difficult to do that.

I want this book to be read by everyone, of every age group because of this importance. It is important to be able to make your own choices, to have the ability to say no when it is uncomfortable for you and not to give in because of what others will say about you. It is important that we keep talking about this, that we keep sharing our stories and continue to help keep each other afloat.

Read this. Please.

This is going straight into my favourites pile.

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Scrappy Little Nobody By Anna Kendrick

 

29868610Scrappy Little Nobody By Anna Kendrick

Originally published 15 Nov 2016 By Touchstone Books

Audiobook published 15 November 2016 By Simon & Schuster Audio, narrated by Anna Kendrick

Goodreads

Summary: A collection of humorous autobiographical essays by the Academy Award-nominated actress and star of Up in the Air and Pitch Perfect.

Even before she made a name for herself on the silver screen starring in films like Pitch Perfect, Up in the Air, Twilight, and Into the Woods, Anna Kendrick was unusually small, weird, and “10 percent defiant.”

At the ripe age of thirteen, she had already resolved to “keep the crazy inside my head where it belonged. Forever. But here’s the thing about crazy: It. Wants. Out.” In Scrappy Little Nobody, she invites readers inside her brain, sharing extraordinary and charmingly ordinary stories with candor and winningly wry observations.

With her razor-sharp wit, Anna recounts the absurdities she’s experienced on her way to and from the heart of pop culture as only she can—from her unusual path to the performing arts (Vanilla Ice and baggy neon pants may have played a role) to her double life as a middle-school student who also starred on Broadway to her initial “dating experiments” (including only liking boys who didn’t like her back) to reviewing a binder full of butt doubles to her struggle to live like an adult woman instead of a perpetual “man-child.”

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).

Yes, Anna Kendrick, YES!

I love Anna Kendrick. She’s one of my favourite celebrities. This book needs to be listened to. The audiobook is read by Anna Kendrick herself, which makes the book even better because you’re listening to it in her voice; reading the way she wants you to read it. There’s two things we need to address before I start on the review:

  1. I love Anna Kendrick, so maybe, in some form, it is slightly biased.
  2. Anna Kendrick has her flaws as a narrator. SO THERE.

To most, Anna Kendrick is just another “up-and-coming” actress, probably most famous for her time in Pitch Perfect. And yes, I loved her in that movie and I absolutely love Pitch Perfect. What most people don’t really see is Anna Kendrick the human. I often forget that she’s a person just like me and that she has real thoughts and feelings. She’s not a robot created by her PR team (maybe slightly?) and this book really shed some light into human Anna. Anna Kendrick is smart. She comes across as intelligent in the book and she has a lot of great insights on feminism, the entertainment industry and just trying to survive a world that’s beyond her capabilities.

Anna does do one thing poorly: she doesn’t pace very well. She talks really fast (I didn’t even need to speed up the audiobook at all) and sometimes its hard to catch on to whatever she is saying.

Is she superbly funny? No. She’s not. But that’s not the point of this book. She’s not trying to advert that she’s hilarious. The book is just a series of essays about her life and how she’s just trying to scrap on by. It’s not meant to be series, or intellectual reading, but just a girl sharing her feelings, opinions and thoughts about things you didn’t ask her about.

I think that’s what I like most about this book. The fact that she recognises herself as average and human; that she wants as much as possible to remain as down-to-earth as possible despite being a celebrity.

I do want to own a paperback copy of this at some point — she had a lot of great opinions, many of which are completely important and relevant to today’s discourse.

Listen to the audiobook. I promise you, you’re going to love Scrappy Little Nobody.

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Bloom: Navigating Life and Style

Bloom: Navigating Life and Style by Estee Lalonde
Published 6 Oct 2016 by Ebury Press

Goodreads

Summary: ‘For me, the word “bloom” encapsulates the idea that anything is possible when you put your mind to it. It’s a word that hints at becoming who you are meant to be.’ Estée Lalonde

In Bloom, Estée shares the moments, people, things and life lessons that have made her who she is today and offers her tips for surviving life. Celebrate your bloom story and what makes you unique.

Youtubers getting book deals seems to be a trend as of late.

I’m actually a fan of Estee’s videos. I love how calm and collected she is and I love her beauty and style content. As a fan, I’m quite disappointed with this book. I loved the opening few pages, but as it went on it, Estee just seemed to glance over all her problems to keep it positive and nice. I feel that her stories were on a very surface level, she didn’t go too in depth, and she didn’t share how she overcame her problems. She just did, and that was that.

I don’t really know what Bloom is supposed to be. Its a mixture of her life story (very briefly explored) and later some bits about beauty, some recepies and about travelling. In a way she is quite relateable. I feel like I could relate to the things she was talking about like anxiety, long distance relationships etc and the way she writes makes it seem like you’re talking to a friend. I went through this book in a day. Its a really quick read, fairly simple to digest. Aesthetically, Bloom is very pleasing. I loved the layout, fonts and pictures. It is very Estee, but other than that, the real content is rather simple. It does remind me a little bit of Tanya Burr’s Love Tanya though it is lacking in the self help portion (though, I don’t think Bloom was meant to be a self help book).

Easy to thumb through if you have the time. Worth buying if you’re into clean aesthetics for the coffee tables, but probably not one for the shelves.

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Crazy is My Superpower By AJ Mendez Brooks

Crazy is My Superpower By AJ Mendez Brooks
Published 4 April 2017 By Penguin Random House

Goodreads

Summary: Three-time WWE Diva’s Champion A.J. Brooks’ Crazy is My Superpower is a literary memoir chronicling her unlikely rise from 100-pound nerd growing up in extreme poverty and enduring years of abuse to international sex symbol and professional wrestling champion (known as A.J. Lee). A.J. fought against stereotypes, forced the men in her industry to view her with respect, and inspired a huge fan base of over 2 million Twitter followers with her fierce independent streak.

I cried. Literally.

If you are not familiar with the name AJ Mendez Brooks, formerly known as AJ Lee, she was one of the top female wrestlers for the WWE. She came, she conquered until the day she retired on her own terms.

AJ is my role model for many reasons. Growing up I’ve always admired the strong female wrestlers on TV. In a sport that’s mostly dominated by men, the women wrestlers were relegated to being valets, managers, or used for half time dance sessions in their underwear. But long gone are the days where women of wrestling are used as eye candy. They wrestle, they take bumps, they fight — literally. While there are many who could be attributed to helping lead the way of the women’s revolution amongst wrestlers, I personally feel that AJ helped mould our current group of female wrestlers. She was different — she wasn’t those tough chicks, she was skinny, small and packaged as a geek goddess (which she was). She appealed to young girls, older girls, males and females alike. There’s something special about her that forces people to look.

She was one of my favourite wrestlers (and still is!) and though I’m so sad that I can no longer see her on TV, I’m so happy she released a memoir. I preordered this and finally, it came and I devoured it in days. I loved learning more about her background. She came from nothing, from actual poverty, had her fair share of shit and was later diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

This book is important. Its revelant, not just for wrestling fans, but for non wrestling fans as well. She tackles the book in a simple tongue in cheek manner, its not difficult to get into the book at all. She talks in great lengths about her struggle with a bipolar mother, and later, her struggle being bipolar herself. I believe the book will help a lot of people — people who feel they are margianalised for being different, people who were bullied, people who suffer through mental illnesses. My favourite part is that she’s trying to break the stigma against the word crazy, against mental illness. There’s nothing to be ashamed of. Things happen, and you are not alone.

Read, open your mind and heart. You are never alone. This one will be on my favourite shelf for a long time (and by that I mean forever).

 

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Brunette Ambition By Lea Michele

Brunette Ambition By Lea Michele
Published May 20th 2014 by Harmony Books

Goodreads

Summary: The star of the hit show Glee shares her experiences and insider tips on beauty, fashion, inner strength, and more in an illustrated book that’s part memoir, part how-to, and part style guide.

Lea Michele is one of the hardest working performers in show business. Whether she’s starring as Rachel Berry on Glee, rocking a glamorous look on the red carpet, recording her solo album, or acting as the spokesperson for L’Oreal, Lea is the ultimate multi-tasker. She knows better than anyone that it is difficult to be your best self and keep things in perspective when your to-do list is overflowing and you are faced with challenges, so she’s developed a foolproof system for remaining healthy and centered. In Brunette Ambition, she reveals the lessons and advice that have worked for her–from beauty and fashion secrets to fitness tips, and career insights.

Supplemented with never-before-seen photos and revealing anecdotes, it’s the book Lea wishes she’d had in her teens and early twenties: A practical and inspirational guide to harnessing tenacity and passion and living the fullest life, no matter what obstacles life puts in your way.

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Brunette Ambition is marketed as a memoir on goodreads but it isn’t. If you’re planning to learn more about Lea’s life, this book probably isn’t going to help you all that much.

It was fairly interesting to learn about her family and her theater life but a good majority of the book is essentially a self-help book. It reminds me kind of like Lauren Conrad’s Style book — it’s one of those tips and tricks type of book.

I am a fan of hers but I don’t feel like I learnt too much about her. She briefly touched on Glee and even then it wasn’t a behind-the-scenes or any of that sort. It was just a chapter of pictures and how they’re like family, which I think at this point everyone knows that.

To market it as a memoir is rather misleading and if you don’t care about the abundance of recipes and beauty tips then this book probably has little use to you. Perhaps Lea should have focused solely on making Brunette Ambition a self-help book instead (or waiting a couple more years before writing a memoir).

A three star rating seems awfully gracious, but because I found some of the tips useful to me I think a three star would suffice. This book would be of better use perhaps for die-hard fans or her teenage fans, but probably not for anyone who wants to learn about her. Google her, you’ll learn more.

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