Outrageous – Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson

Furiously Happy

by Jenny Lawson

 

furiously-happy

Published 2015

Genres: Non-fiction / Memoir / Humour

 

“Okay. This magazine says that you can tell what you should do with your life if you just take away all thoughts of risks. So what would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?”

“I’d be a Pegasus.”

“That’s not really how this works.”

“I’d be a brown Pegasus though, because if you were a white Pegasus you’d be hounded by Lisa Frank fans and nine-year-olds. And black Pegasuses are just as bad because they’re all badass and heavy metal bands would probably want to kidnap them. But no one wants a shabby brown Pegasus. I could just flap around the neighbourhood and no one would really care. And maybe I’d wish for back herpes so that people wouldn’t hassle me for rides.”

Victor looked back at his magazine. “I’m not going to talk to you if you’re not taking this seriously.”

“I am taking this seriously,” I said. “I’d be a rumpled, brown Pegasus with back herpes if I knew I couldn’t fail.”

“That’s not how it works,” Victor said. “It’s supposed to teach you what you really want in life.”

“That is what I want.”

“PICK SOMETHING REAL.”

Jenny Lawson, a.k.a. The Bloggess, recounts stories from her life that shine a light on the mental health issues she lives with. And in no way are they dark and miserable. She relates her stories with humour, humility, and honesty. Never thought you’d laugh at tales of someone else’s mental health problems? Think again. Somehow, in Furiously Happy, The Bloggess makes it ok to laugh.

 

Janelle says…

It’s been a long time since I laughed so hard that I cried. It’s also been a long time since I had to smother my face while reading at 3am so as not to wake up my family with my giggling. Both of those things happened while I was reading Furiously Happy.

Entering Jenny Lawson’s world was like entering another dimension while on a sugar high and surrounded by cuddly, jumpy puppies who are all holding balloons. I know, it makes no sense, but it sounds damn fun doesn’t it?!

In one way, it seems a bit off to be recommending that you go read this book because you will laugh yourself silly at this recounting of someone’s mental illness. But Jenny Lawson wants you to laugh. That’s at the core of her Furiously Happy movement. To not let her mental issues be an automatic pass into a melancholy state. She is determined to be not only happy, but FURIOUSLY happy. Just like her raccoon friend, Rory. Look at his delightful little face on the cover there. Does he not make you want to join in with whatever party is going on in his head?!

Speaking of Rory, the story she tells about purchasing him and then using him to pull pranks on her long-suffering husband is so funny that I’m laughing right now just thinking about it. As is the story about her going to an overnight sleep clinic to find out if she has sleep apnoea, which was so fantastic I read it twice. In fact, I’m having so much fun reminiscing in my head about this book, that it’s making me want to re-read it immediately!

I can’t do this book justice by speaking any more about it, it would be like doing a poor job of retelling an awesome joke. That “you had to be there” factor. But I’m telling you, you absolutely MUST go there. Please. And then come back here and tell me about it so we can laugh together.

Rating:

Did not like it  –  It was ok  –  Liked it  –  Really liked it  –  It was amazing

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Raw – Like a Queen by Constance Hall

Like a Queen by Constance Hall

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Published 2016

Genres: Non Fiction/Biographical

“Every time you are expressing kindness, handing over some of your wage to a charity, giving another Queen a compliment, recognising a lonely Queen and taking the time to get to know her, offering to babysit for that single mum at school who’s doing it all on her own, sacrificing your coffee money for that homeless guy who waits at the train station every morning, choose to understand instead of judge.

You are changing the world. Every time that you are connecting yourself to someone else, you are changing the world.

Queens are the change the world needs.

This, Queens,

Is just the beginning.”

Australian “Mummy” blogger, Constance Hall’s, first book. A must read for all ‘Queens’.


Mel says…

Before I read Like a Queen, I had only read exerpts of Con’s writing on Facebook and my only memory of her was from a series of Australian Big Brother, many many years ago. So let’s just say that my opinion of her was fairly iffy, at best. But as my girlfriends and fellow Mum’s started raving about this book, I just had to give it a read.

I’ll start with the negatives first; for one, Con is up front with her lack of grammar and punctuation in her blog but I must admit, publishing a book should come with an editor, right? So I don’t think it is too much to ask for someone to have proofread and corrected the use of the words ‘woman’ and women’ in their correct context. It is minor, but something that ALWAYS irritates me. Secondly, I did get a tad irritated with how much Con used the word ‘Queen’ throughout. I know, I know, the book is titled Like a QUEEN for crying out loud, but to use it up to 5-6 times in one paragraph just irked me.
By the last 50 or so pages, I was kind of over the whole book, but I do appreciate the messages that were coming across.

Ok, I have gotten the negatives off my chest, so on to the positives. This book literally had me LOL’ing many times, once in a busy cafe with other patrons staring awkwardly at me. Con tells it like it is and when it comes to early motherhood, it was pretty bloody accurate. As a new mother myself, a lot of the stories that were told resonated with me, as they were so fresh in my memory from my own personal experiences.

From poop to sex and everything in between, this book made me cringe, laugh and hold back tears. I did enjoy reading about Constance’s life in general however, as I was not an avid fan of hers before reading her book, I wasn’t all that interested in those chapters. The chapters that were in relation to mothering and motherhood are what kept me intrigued, but I did struggle to finish it.

Overall, this is a book for women but in particular, Mum’s. New Mum’s, old Mum’s, Grandmothers and step-mothers. I think we can all relate to a lot of the stories and learn from the generous heart that belongs to the original “Queeny’ herself, Constance.

 

Rating:

Did not like it  –  It was ok  –  Liked it  –  Really liked it  –  It was amazing

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Inspiring – Wildflower by Drew Barrymore

Wildflower

by Drew Barrymore

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Published 2015

Genres: Non-fiction/Memoir

Out there in the world of chaos
All the concrete and fumes
People with determination behind the wheel
The soles of their feet wiser
Some faces with souls of routine
Others with high hope of their destination
Among all the human and industrial invention
My eyes find a tiny wildflower
With pretty yellow petals
And a brown button nose
Reminding me that there is beauty everywhere
A compass of nature
A second of stillness in my mind
As my heart races to the rhythms
Of it swaying in the wind
You are that Flower,
Reminding me of what is real

 

 

Mel says…

Before reading this book, I already admired and loved Drew for her movies. So when I saw she had released a collection of life stories, I was excited to learn more about her and her private life.

I should also note that at the start of the year, I set myself the simple New Year’s resolution of learning to appreciate and enjoy the smaller things in life. From the sound of rain, to the smell of freshly cut grass and the first moments I get to spend with my newborn daughter. This book spoke to me, through all of this wisdom.

Wildflower is written in a way that is typical of Drew’s character; free flowing. Each short story is about a different part of her life journey and that is exactly how I felt whilst reading this book, like I was on a journey. She is inspiring and truthful in all that she writes.

There is no dive into her dark childhood, like most would expect from a celebrity biography, nor is there any “dishing of the dirt” on other celebrities, so if you are looking for a juicy gossip read, this is not the book for you! Instead, this book is a journey through many of Drew’s life epiphany’s. From her young childhood years, through the teens and right up to her 40th birthday, she discusses her emancipation that forced her to grow up and fast, acting, charity work and her most important role, motherhood.

Once I closed this book, I couldn’t wait to go out and buy my own copy. I feel inspired to be creative, loving and appreciative of all the small things I have been gifted throughout my life. She has spoken to me on so many levels and I encourage all women to give this a read!

I thought I couldn’t love Drew Barrymore anymore than I already did, but I was wrong!

 

Rating:

Did not like it  –  It was ok  –  Liked it  –  Really liked it  –  It was amazing

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Controversial – Troublemaker by Leah Remini

Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology

by Leah Remini

Published 2015

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Genres: Non-Fiction / Memoir

“It is to the Church of Scientology that I say this: I wrote this book because I feel an urgency and responsibility to reveal the injustices and hypocrisy that were perpetrated against those who left and spoke out before me. Those who again and again have been harassed and bullied into silence. This book is also a personal act of defiance – against intolerance, which I have witnessed, lived with, and been part of for far too long.

Mel says…

When I heard that Leah Remini was releasing a memoir based on her experiences in the Church of Scientology, I was so excited! I love Leah Remini, as I was a huge fan of her show King of Queens, so knew that her personality would ensure this book was highly controversial and guess what? It was!!

Leah’s brutal honesty makes this book what it was. There was no holds barred when it came to naming and shaming in this book. One such person who’s name one would expect to appear in any story around Scientology, is Tom Cruise. Yes, you do get a LOT of Tom Cruise dirt and yes, it is cringe worthy!

This book is not purely about Scientology though, despite the fact that it consumed most of her life, she does delve into the nitty gritty of her personal life. She isn’t afraid to acknowledge any transgressions she has committed and one such example was breaking up a marriage at the age of 19.

Leah Remini is a love her, or hate her kind of girl. You won’t put this book down thinking hmm…she is ok, I guess. 

I am not a Scientologist, nor have I ever read much about the religion, however this book is a real eye opening recount of one person’s experience of the church. A must read for anyone who is as curious as I was!

“..it’s been a little more than two years now since I left the organization, for the first time it’s like I’m living a real and authentic life – everything from sitting and enjoying a glass of wine with non-Scientologist girlfriends without secretly judging them as they speak about their lives and thinking Scientology could help them with that, to worrying that I am wasting my time finding enjoyment in my child or family when I should be on course or in session instead. I put so much time, energy, and resources into the church that it left little room for anything else.” 

 

Rating:

Did not like it  –  It was ok  –  Liked it  –  Really liked it  –  It was amazing

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Unique – Dear Mr. You by Mary-Louise Parker

Dear Mr. You

by Mary-Louise Parker

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Published 2015

Genres: Non-Fiction / Memoir

“Perhaps there are no answers for us poor humans, but we know a handful of things. We know that there exists a planet with four thousand versions of songbirds. Because that is possible and because on that same planet can exist sentient beings made up almost entirely of stardust, and because actual poetry erupts mightily from some of those beings, and there is music, sex, and babies; because we are all roaming a universe that may in fact be a hologram, with another dimension consecutively projecting itself outside the definition of relativity and gravity; because of all that, there is no reason why my prayers shouldn’t be able to reach your mother whose name I didn’t even know.”

 

Janelle says…

This is not your standard autobiography. And thank goodness, because more than anything, I really liked the unique format of this book. Writing letters to people (in the case of this book – men) who have influenced your life in some way – sometimes through a close relationship, sometimes with only an obscure or fleeting impact – is such an intriguing method of self-exploration and sharing your story.

Parker writes in a way that is almost stream-of-consciousness, with really insightful thoughts about the world and the important moments in our lives. It wasn’t until I was about a third of the way through the book that I was really taken by her writing though. The more I read, the more I understood her way of thinking and writing and her letters grew on me, and by the end I felt a real affection for her.

The mystery of the book is that we don’t know for sure who all of the letters are to. Some are obvious or have been deciphered and discussed online – her grandfather, her ex. But for most of them, we might never know. Which I think actually adds to the lure of this book. The idea that seemingly anonymous people who may have only touched your life for a day or an hour or less, can still make you ponder life’s questions deeply and embed themselves in your memory in the long-term.

I wouldn’t say this was one of my favourite books of this year, but it’s clear that Mary-Louise Parker has real writing talent. She’s funny, and honest, and has a way of describing things that make me feel like maybe I have had the same thoughts once, but would never have been able to figure out how to get them down on paper. If you have been a fan of Mary-Louise until now, or are just in the mood for reading something a little out-of-the-square and thoughtful, then give Dear Mr. You a read.

 

“He won’t be able to jump until he is almost eight, will not be capable of pronouncing the letter r, and will pass through a period, as his mother did, where he will stutter so badly that it makes him cry. There will be plenty that he won’t be the best at, but it is within all the medium and below that I will find relief, knowing he can enjoy the enviable position of normal, and the thrill of improving from floundering to adequate.”

 

Rating:

Did not like it  –  It was ok  –  Liked it  –  Really liked it  –  It was amazing

*I was provided with an ARC of this book from the publisher via Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review*

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Wise – Yes Please by Amy Poehler

Yes Please

by Amy Poehler

amy poehler yes please

Published 2014

Genres: Non-Fiction / Memoir / Humour

 

“I stood onstage in my blue checked dress, Toto in my arms, and looked at the audience of parents, teachers, and students. I breathed in….and I had a huge realisation. I could decide right then and there what the next moment would be. I could try something new. I could go off script and give something a shot. I could say whatever I wanted.”

 

Janelle says…

This is just what a memoir/autobiography should be – a good balance of personal history, life lessons and advice, gossip and humour.

It’s also just what an audiobook should be. There’s so much content you don’t get with the printed version. There are special guest appearances, from Kathleen Turner, Patrick Stewart, Seth Meyers, and Amy’s parents. There’s snippets of extra narration from Amy along the way. She even performs a sweet little song. There’s even a haiku read by Patrick Stewart!

Amy goes into detail about her early life, her stand-up/improv/acting career to this point, and the people who have influenced her along the way. She also tackles divorce, female self-image, and most interestingly to me – parenting.

“I loved being pregnant, I loved being at work and still feeling vital and busy while this extraordinary thing was happening inside of me. I never felt alone. I always had a companion.”

This is EXACTLY how I felt when I was pregnant, especially the first time, and I remember saying basically the same words to my husband.

Amy is so honest and heartfelt in her thoughts on being a mother. At one point she speaks a lot about “mother-on-mother crime”, which is absolutely a real, sad and ridiculous thing. I love her saying, “Good for her! Not for me” – this viewpoint really needs to be adopted by mothers in general, it would save us all a lot of judgement and hurt!

This review is already a little quote-heavy, but I just can’t resist slipping in one more – in my opinion, the most hilarious moment in the book. Enjoy – and get yourself a copy of this on audio! You will laugh and nod and it will make you happy!

“But take it from me, no one knows the biz like I know the biz, I love the biz. Hollywood’s a crazy biz, and I know the biz, cause the biz is in my blood. Some say I’m a biz-wiz. Either way, show-business is my business, so you better get busy with the business I know.”

Rating:

Did not like it  –  It was ok  –  Liked it  –  Really liked it  –  It was amazing

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