“The Royal We” by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan

Image result for the royal we book coverThis book is amazing. Right from the start, I wanted to devour it (Devour is also the name of a sci-fi soap opera frequently referred to in part of the book). It was clever and witty and the characters were so well done that I didn’t want to stop reading it.

The story takes place over several years and is broken up into parts that are separated by about 2 years each time. So it starts in autumn 2007, then goes to summer 2009, etc. up to autumn 2013 and eventually “present day.” Honestly, I really couldn’t tell if “present day” was just a few months after autumn 2013 or another 2 years. Maybe that part should have been clarified.

Anyway, the main character is Rebecca Porter, or Bex, who is an American exchange student studying at Oxford for a year. Surprise, the guy living down the hall from her is Nicholas of Wales, future king of England. She makes fast friends with the rest of the people living on her floor, fun is had by all.

Eventually Bex and Nick get together, some royal stuff happens, a tad bit of drama.

Through it all, the story is peppered with Bex’s twin sister, Lacey, who really likes attention and literally quit med school to move to London just because Bex was there. (There were times when I didn’t care much for Lacey.) Also Freddie, Nick’s younger brother who is all fun, all the time, but, come to find out, actually does have feelings about things.

The dialogue is funny and charming and of course, I imagined lots of things in a British accent. I never wanted this story to end.

One thing is for sure, though, Bex is a lot more patient than most girls I know, including me. This girl let a guy date her in secret for FOUR YEARS, and she was apparently fine with it. I don’t know anyone who would allow their boyfriend to openly flirt with other girls in public for that long just to keep up appearances.

The book does give you a bit of a cliffhanger, but I got the feeling that it was more of a “decide your own story” idea than a “that’s all you get” feel. There was also a bonus chapter from Freddie’s side of the story, which was a nice addition.

Now I want to read other books by these two women. I also started reading “Choose Your Own Autobiography” by Neil Patrick Harris and I’m still working on “The Casual Vacancy” by J.K. Rowling. That one is a struggle bus, but I will prevail.

Bye for now,
Maegan

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“Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina” by Misty Copeland

Image result for life in motion book coverI know of Misty Copeland because she made history by becoming the first black principal dancer for American Ballet Theatre, and she has also been a guest judge on various dance competition shows that I obsess over.

I love dance and I used to take ballet when I was younger, so I was interested to get some of Misty’s perspective. Turns out, she didn’t have it easy growing up.

Misty writes about how when she was younger, her mother would pack up and move with her children, oftentimes leaving boyfriends or husbands in her wake. There were six children together, who were very close and protective of each other. Eventually, money issues led to Misty, her sibling, their mother, and her mother’s boyfriend living in a motel.

All the while, Misty took her first ballet class at the age of 13 at the Boys and Girls Club. She grew to love it and was invited to take classes at the ballet teacher’s school. Not long after Misty started dancing, her mother wanted her to give up dance because she *wasn’t spending enough time with her friends,* even though dance was Misty’s life. She ended up moving in with her ballet teacher and lived with her for two years. The one thing I couldn’t help but think is that I bet her mom feels pretty bad now that she almost destroyed Misty’s career.

The book also details what Misty faced in the dance world with her race and body type. Through it all, it seems like she had many things fall into place to get her where she needed to be. She was a ballet prodigy who turned down the opportunity to study with professional ballet companies, she joined American Ballet Theatre when she was 15 or 16 but had to sit out her first year due to an injury, and yet, she still had directors in the company who wanted her to succeed and gave her opportunities to get to where she wanted to be. It’s pretty amazing to think about.

Misty also got to do some pretty cool things, like become friends with Prince and perform at some of his concerts on tour and find mentors who were stars in their day.

This book wasn’t written like most memoirs I’ve read. Instead of short chapters in essay form or conversations, the chapters were longer and written like a journal almost. The story jumped back and forth between big events in her life, but it seemed like everything come together eventually. This was also the first audiobook memoir that I listened to that wasn’t read by the author. Then again, I’m sure Misty Copeland is quite busy.

She is so inspiring and I love watching her dance, so I’m glad I took the time to pick up this book.

Until later,
Maegan

“Talking as Fast as I Can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls (and Everything in Between)” by Lauren Graham

Related imageI’ve been a fan of Gilmore Girls since grade-school, when I used to come home and watch it every day at 4 when it aired on what was then ABC Family. When I found out that Netflix was doing a revival series, I was EXCITED, but I had to make sure to rewatch the entire series first to make sure I hadn’t forgotten anything. I had definitely forgotten things. But I finally got around to watching the original series in its entirety and then I watched “A Year in the Life.”

Not long after “A Year in the Life” was released, I stumbled upon this book through my library. But I knew I couldn’t read it just yet because I hadn’t finished the entire series. So I added it to my to-be-read list and carried on. Not long ago, I rediscovered it and decided to take it for a spin since I knew what happened in the show and there would no longer be any spoilers.

It’s weird for me to think that Lauren Graham is actually named Lauren. When I think of this actress in real life, I either think of Lorelei or I think “LaurenGraham” as all one word. So it took me aback a little to hear LaurenGraham referring to herself as Lauren in this book.

But anyway, in the book, Lauren (it’s still weird) details her road to fame, which included some theater stops and seems to have been propelled by “Gilmore Girls.” Which is fine by all of us. I love seeing Lauren Graham in movies and on TV shows. One of the next shows I want to watch is “Parenthood,” where she plays Mom/Sister in the big ole Braverman family.

I think the best part about this book was hearing all the insider secrets from “Gilmore Girls,” which is probably the biggest reason I picked it up. I also found that Graham had already published a book prior to this memoir, called “Someday, Someday, Maybe.” It has already been added to my list. And apparently she is publishing a new book sometime next year. Lots to look forward to.

Next up is Misty Copeland’s memoir, “Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina,” and working on “The Casual Vacancy” by J.K. Rowling. I also checked out “The Royal We” by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan, because LaurenGraham mentioned in her book that she was working on adapting it into a screenplay and I am quite susceptible to books mentioned in other books.

That’s all for now,
Maegan

“God: A Human History” by Reza Aslan

9780553394726I didn’t realize it before now, but this book just came out about three weeks ago. I actually found out about it because one of my Facebook friends shared a video of Reza Aslan speaking about how in our minds, God is against certain things (such as being gay), but God doesn’t hate gay people, we hate gay people (in the general senseā€”I definitely don’t hate gay people) and we project those thoughts onto God. Then there’s was a plug for the book and I was interested, so I checked it out.

The book itself was pretty much a history of religion and how different gods were viewed throughout different civilizations. Spoiler alert: gods are the way they are because we are the way we are. Basically, whatever features you have yourself, you will project those onto your god.

I must admit, at times I did feel like I was zoning out because it felt like I was in my freshman required history class a little. But I’ve also never heard religion taught like this before, which made me think about things in a different way.

The book is not terribly long, but it is a little heavy. A little more than halfway through I just put it down and picked up something bouncy and fun (more on that later) because I needed to change it up.

While Aslan clarifies that he is a Christian in the introduction, the book doesn’t feel biased at all. On the contrary, there are several different viewpoints and philosophies that are addressed. Only in the conclusion does he again state his own opinions and beliefs.

It was a very interesting read and a different side of religion than you get to see in church every week.

Bye for now,
Maegan

“Why Not Me?” by Mindy Kaling

Image result for why not meThis book is pretty similar to Mindy’s other book, “Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns).” The main difference is that her last book was written while she was still an actress and writer for “The Office,” whereas now the show has ended and she is the showrunner for her own show, “The Mindy Project.”

I’ve actually never seen “The Mindy Project,” just know that one of my friends used to watch it in college and that it has since moved to Hulu.

Anyway, the book is more of the same with stories about working in TV and being a comedy writer, but there’s a little more about dating and a little less about her early years.

Overall, Mindy Kaling has gotten to do some really cool things, including meeting President Obama a few times, but her life seems extremely busy and I don’t understand how she functions on so little sleep.

I noticed that the book has some humor, but it’s not as laugh-out-loud funny as a few others that I’ve read. Still has good moments.

This book was a pretty quick read, and it made me add B.J. Novak’s books to my to-be-read list, but there are still quite a few in front of that. I’ve already started “The Casual Vacancy” by J.K. Rowling and “God” by Reza Aslan, and I have a few more lined up after that, so my mindset is I’ll get to it when I get to it.

More on that later,
Maegan

“Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)” by Mindy Kaling

Image result for is everyone hanging out without me book coverI really didn’t know much about Mindy Kaling until I started watching “The Office,” and even now I’m only a couple seasons in. I didn’t know this, but in addition to playing the role of Kelly Kapoor, Mindy Kaling also wrote several episodes. Also, according to the internet, her birth name is “Vera Mindy Chokalingam.” I wonder where Kaling came from. That was not explained.

What was explained covered a whole range of topics, from early life to college to New York to Los Angeles to “The Office” to body image to Mindy’s funeral. It was a little all over the place but I also feel like it gave you a good sense of how she is in real life.

This book is pretty short, so it only took a couple days to make it through. One thing I’ve started to notice as I read all these memoirs is that all the famous funny people seem to know each other. Mindy is good friends with B.J. Novak and Ellie Kemper, and she once worked with Kristen Wiig and Amy Poehler. She was also an intern on “Late Night with Conan O’Brien.”

It’s funny, some of the things that Mindy mentions now that this book has been out for a few years. For instance, in a segment about franchises she would like to reboot, she specifically states that she would like to make another Ghostbusters movie with women as the crew. Which has now happened. I wonder how Mindy feels about this. Maybe she’ll write another book about that.

One thing I noticed in switching back and forth between the ebook and the audiobook is that the audiobook has places sprinkled in where just a word or two is different than the print book. I don’t know if they’re different versions or if it’s just what Mindy wanted to say when she was reading but I saw a couple direct quotes that were totally different between the two and it was not addressed at all.

Anyway, I have my next five books lined up now and you are not allowed to judge me.

On to that,
Maegan

“My Name is Memory” by Ann Brashares

Image result for my name is memory reviewAdmittedly, I did not finish this book as quickly as I would have liked. But alas, here we are. I was so excited to read all the Ann Brashares books after I started on the “Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants” books but I think I just slowed down a little with the other books I was reading or listening to on audiobook. There’s still one more though, so I have to start that one soon.

Anyway, this book is about Daniel, who has the memory, which means that he remembers all the lives his soul has lived, dating back more than 2,000 years. Through it all, he falls in love with the same woman every time, but she doesn’t remember him from one life to the next. Most people don’t, but Daniel has the gift. In this life, it’s 2004 and we’re in Virginia. Daniel’s lady friend is named Lucy, although he refers to her as Sophia since that was the first name he knew her by, and they are seniors in high school. They have a brief interaction before parting ways, and the story doesn’t pick up again for a few more years. Through it all, the chapters are intermixed with Daniel’s point-of-view along different time periods in different places that he has lived.

While the story mostly focuses on Daniel and Lucy, there are a few recurring characters, like Lucy’s best friend and Daniel’s friend Ben who also has the memory and the main antagonist in the story. (Can’t give too much away.)

There’s not a lot of drama or action until the end of the book, but it still keeps you interested throughout. Although, there are a few moments when you just think, “Dang, Lucy is making poor choices.” But I think Daniel makes a few poor choices along the line too.

Upon further research, I discovered that this book is meant to be part of a trilogy, which explains why the ending was TERRIBLE. Without letting too much slip, there are SO MANY unanswered questions. Did the bad guy get taken down? Did they good guy do what he was supposed to do? Did the thing happening at the monastery ever happen? Why are a certain character’s family not concerned?

According to the internet, Ann Brashares’ publisher put a lid on the next two books but as of her Twitter in December of 2015 she is working on getting the rights so that she can continue the story. I would definitely read it once that happens.

One thing that bothers me about this story and these characters is how much Lucy and Daniel are willing to give up for just each other. I mean, their entire lives mean nothing obviously because they are ready to just throw in the towel and start over. No mind to their family or friends or school or jobs. It’s especially selfish of Lucy, whose parents have already been through putting one daughter in the ground.

I digress. I actually just found out this book is written for adults, but other than the discussion of a few *intimate acts,* I would have had no idea. It seems like even when Ann Brashares writes adult books, her characters are still pretty young. The oldest Lucy gets in this book is probably 23 or 24, which is a similar age to the main characters in Brashares’ other adult book, “The Last Summer (of You and Me).”

Next up is “The Whole Thing Together,” which is Brashares’ newest book. At the same time, I started “The Casual Vacancy” by J.K. Rowling and I began the audiobook of “Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?” by Mindy Kaling, and I’m pretty excited about those two.

Until next time,
Maegan

“My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories” edited by Stephanie Perkins

Image result for stephanie perkins my true love gave to me book coverThis book is really just an anthology of short stories by pretty well known young adult authors, all Christmas/holiday-themed, of course.

The authors that I recognized were Gayle Forman, Rainbow Rowell, David Levithan, and Jenny Han. Other stories were written by Stephanie Perkins, Holly Black, Matt de la Pena, Kelly Link, Myra McEntire, Laini Taylor, and Kiersten White.

I really liked the variety of this book. Even though all the stories happened roughly around the same time, there were many different backdrops and cultures represented. Some of them had some common themes of unhappy-teenager-turned-happy, or “Omg I want to leave this place so bad,” but they all faced some kind of adversary that changed their perspective.

Most of them were realistic fiction, but a few were pretty mythical. For those, I almost felt like you needed more time than just a short story to explain the magic behind the plot. Like actual magic needs to be explained. Where does your power come from? Why are you the only one using it? Why are these characters not freaked out that you are performing magic?

Anyway, I stumbled upon this book on my library’s website and thought, “‘Tis the season.” It was a nice change listening to short stories instead of novels.

I haven’t decided yet what is next on the list, but I’ll figure it out. I’ve been reading “My Name is Memory” by Ann Brashares for a while, and I’m finally almost done with that one, so I’ll be posting about it soon I’m sure. Then I may tackle my to-be-read list, or I may reread something for the 14th time.

We shall see,
Maegan

“Bossypants” by Tina Fey

Image result for bossypants by tina feyThis book is hilarious. It’s been out for a little more than six years now and I have wanted to read it for a while, especially after I read Amy Poehler’s memoir a little while back, and I finally got around to it. If you ever wondered, yes, Tina Fey really is that funny.

There were several moments where I actually laughed out loud during this book. It was even better because I mostly listened to the audiobook, which was read by the author, so I heard the book exactly as it was intended, with all the little voices in Tina Fey’s mind.

Saturday Night Live was mentioned, along with 30 Rock, but it also had a lot about Fey’s childhood and her family. It was also pretty cool to get a little glimpse into what it looks like behind the scenes at a show like Saturday Night Live, but you also get that some when watching 30 Rock.

In the ebook and print versions (and supposedly in a PDF on the audiobook version) there are also lots of pictures of Fey as a kid and from different stories that she tells, which are amazing. It’s always so weird to see pictures of celebrities before they were celebrities. Like “No way, they were a real person once too!”

Overall, this book was fantastic, even if I didn’t understand all the references or know every SNL character.

Ta-ta for now,
Maegan

“Tales of the Peculiars” by Ransom Riggs

Related imageTechnically this book is written by “Millard Nullings,” who is a character in the “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” novels. His peculiar ability is that he is completely invisible, so you don’t even know he’s there unless he speaks. Or he’s wearing clothes. It’s kinda weird to think that this kid just goes around stark naked all the time and no one knows and/or is bothered by it.

Anyway, “Tales of the Peculiars” is a collection of old folk tales that peculiars would read to their children. The book was mentioned in the “Miss Peregrine’s” books several times, and a few of the stories were mentioned in the later books. One, “The Pigeons of Saint Paul’s,” was read through in the books, but the story in this collection was totally different. Another, “The Tale of Cuthbert,” was exactly the same, with an added ending by “Millard.” The changes and the annotations go to show how much the stories have theoretically changed as they’ve been passed down through generations of peculiars.

Some of them were a little weird, but they were still pretty family friendly for the most part. It was nice to see some of the other abilities that peculiars can have other than just the peculiars we’ve come to know in the prior books.

If you pay attention to the book, there’s a nice little Easter egg on the copyright page:

Image result for tales of the peculiars copyright page

I was amused. In the books previously, it was mentioned that the word “sydrigasti” is an old term for peculiars, so Syndrigast Publications is born.

For my next read, I’ve gone in a totally different direction and started reading “Bossypants” by Tina Fey because I love her and I’ve always wanted to read this book.

I’ll tell you when I’m done,
Maegan