Saturday, May 20, 2017

Talking As Fast As I Can (Lauren Graham) Book Review

2017 Reading Challenge

2. Talking As Fast As I Can by Lauren Graham

Synopsis:
In this collection of personal essays, the beloved star of Gilmore Girls and Parenthood reveals stories about life, love, and working as a woman in Hollywood—along with behind-the-scenes dispatches from the set of the new Gilmore Girls, where she plays the fast-talking Lorelai Gilmore once again.
In Talking as Fast as I Can, Lauren Graham hits pause for a moment and looks back on her life, sharing laugh-out-loud stories about growing up, starting out as an actress, and, years later, sitting in her trailer on the Parenthood set and asking herself, “Did you, um, make it?” She opens up about the challenges of being single in Hollywood (“Strangers were worried about me; that’s how long I was single!”), the time she was asked to audition her butt for a role, and her experience being a judge on Project Runway (“It’s like I had a fashion-induced blackout”).
In “What It Was Like, Part One,” Graham sits down for an epic Gilmore Girls marathon and reflects on being cast as the fast-talking Lorelai Gilmore. The essay “What It Was Like, Part Two” reveals how it felt to pick up the role again nine years later, and what doing so has meant to her.

My Review:
Gilmore Girls is one of my favorite TV shows of all time. I also think that Lorelai and Rory are relatable to almost every mother - daughter relationship. I have been fortunate to have a close relationship with my mom and like Rory, I have always loved to read. As far as Parenthood, I've only seen a couple episodes here and there.

Lauren Graham has been a class act. She has avoided controversies and the like in the media, one of the rare celebrities to do so. She has acted more as a role model in that respect. It was nice to read about how Lauren got started in acting. She proves that you can't gain success overnight and every role, no matter how small, counts. As in any job, you have to start at the bottom and work yourself up the ladder to success. 

Since I'm a Gilmore Girls fan, I appreciated how Lauren reflected back on the successful seven year run. And even though I haven't seen the new episodes (since I don't have Netflix), I liked her journal entries, as I'm referring to it as, on what happened behind the scenes while filming those four episodes and her thoughts on reprising her role. Since everyone was talking about the four final words, I am aware of what they are and honestly, I saw it coming. It makes sense to me. 

Her look back on Parenthood was good, too. I love the fact that she created an alter ego as a way to give advice on life and such to the kid/teen actors on the show. It was creative. I kind of feel like she was closer to the Parenthood cast in a different way than the Gilmore Girls cast.

While I enjoyed Lauren's thoughts and advice (as well as her sarcasm and wit at times) throughout the book, I really enjoyed the chapters 'Someday, Someday, Maybe You'll Believe My Novel Wasn't Completely Autobiographical' and 'Kitchen Timer'. She talked about the process of writing her novel and this book as well. She admitted her struggles with procrastination and dealing with deadlines. Writing can be hard at times and that's okay. So she incorporated the strategy that Don Roos uses: the kitchen timer. The kitchen timer method is setting a time limit (an hour for example), having no distractions, and do nothing but write during that time. And then stopping no matter where you are after the said time is up and giving yourself credit when completed. It's all about keeping an appointment, so technically it's not necessary to write the entire time, but you still have to keep the scheduled appointment. Keep in mind, it doesn't matter if you write on an existing project or journal write for that time. 

I have one critique for the kitchen timer method. While I get that it's important to not have any distractions like not going on the internet or phone or doing anything else for that matter, there's one that I don't agree with. It's recommended that you don't have any music on, unless it doesn't have words or in another language than your own. Here's my problem with that: music actually helps me stay concentrated on what I'm doing and helps me think. Growing up, I would put music on if I was having trouble with my homework, like math, and it helped me to focus and get it done. 

Since I just said music helps me out when I get stuck, my question is:

What do you do when you get stuck or have a mental block?

Happy Reading and Keep On Writing!

❤Meg❤




Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The Tales of Uncle Remus: The Adventures of Brer Rabbit (Julius Lester) Book Review

2017 Reading Challenge

3. The Tales of Uncle Remus: The Adventures of Brer Rabbit by Julius Lester
    Topic: book you loved as a child

Synopsis:
Whether he is besting Brer Fox or sneaking into Mr. Man's garden, Brer Rabbit is always teaching a valuable lesson. These classic tales are full of wit, humor, and creativity, and Julius Lester brings an added contemporary sense to these forty-eight timeless stories.

My Review:
I have loved to read as long as I remember, well since I learned how to read. I had many books that I loved as a child, but I went with this one for the reading challenge. I originally received this book when I was seven from my aunt and uncle. It was a favorite then and now.

It was nice to revisit Brer Rabbit and the rest of the delightful cast of characters. The forty-eight stories are black folklore tales passed on from generation to generation. They're great short stories for any race, however. I, once again, enjoyed the array of hilarious adventures of Brer Rabbit and his friends. Like most folklore tales and fairy tales, each story comes with a valuable moral or lesson. What I also liked is that it includes both color and black and white pictures throughout the book to bring the stories to life. What kid, or adult for that matter, doesn't like that?

What book was a favorite of your when you were a child?

Happy Reading and Keep on Writing!

❤Meg❤

Monday, April 24, 2017

Missing Melissa (Alretha Thomas) Book Review

2017 Reading Challenge

1. Missing Melissa by Alretha Thomas

Synopsis:
Twenty-two years old with a journalism degree from UCLA and a promising entry level position at a television station, Madeline Patterson is ready to take on the Universe. Raised by two loving parents, adored by her grandmother, protected by her dog, Pepper, and supported by her best friend—Madeline has it all. There’s only one thing missing—literally missing—her identical twin, Melissa.
When Madeline and Melissa were three-years-old, their mother was carjacked in broad daylight while taking them to a doctor’s appointment. She was able to get away with Madeline in tow, but the assailants left the scene before she could rescue Melissa. A long and massive search ensued, but Melissa was never found and is believed to be dead. However, a dream Madeline has on her twenty-second birthday, wherein Melissa appears to her as a grown woman pleading for help, convinces her Melissa is still alive. Against her parents’ wishes, Madeline vows to find her twin. However, in doing so, she unknowingly stumbles upon a series of startling clues that point to her parents’ possible involvement in Melissa’s disappearance. Paralyzed by fear, Madeline doesn’t want to face what could possibly be the ugly and grim truth about her parents. However, her desire to find Melissa propels her forward—but nothing could prepare her for what she discovers.


My Review:
A great mystery filled with surprising twists and turns. Fresh out of college, Maddie is entering the workforce as a promising journalist. It's what she's always wanted, except there's a piece of her life that's missing: her twin sister, Melissa. When they were just three, Melissa went missing and has been presumed dead. Nineteen years later, Maddie starts having dreams of her sister. Everyone else thinks it's strange, but Maddie can't help but wonder if Melissa's been alive all this time. It prompts Maddie to have the police re-open the investigation against the wishes of her family. What she doesn't expect to find are family secrets that may open up new wounds. Is Melissa alive or dead? With many twists and turns along the way, this story will keep you guessing until the very end.

Happy Reading and Keep on Writing!

❤Meg❤

Friday, April 14, 2017

April Updates

First, I chose not to do the April A to Z Challenge this year. I had so much going on in March and the beginning of April. I knew I wouldn't have been able to put a lot of effort into the posts as much as I would have liked to. And since there's no linky list, it would have been harder for me to keep track during the first few days of the challenge.

The reason why I was so busy was I decided to do the show this year. I've been involved with community theatre for ten years now. Last year, I chose to do stage crew instead of acting. This year, we did Beauty and the Beast. It's a childhood and lifelong favorite of mine (and no, I haven't seen the live action movie yet) and I wanted to be a part of it. March was filled with rehearsals as the show was at the end of March and the beginning of April. We just closed this past Sunday, as we do two weekends. I had a lot of fun, but there were definitely some struggles and rough times during the course of these past three months. Our tech week, or as we actors call it hell week, was during the week of March 27. It was a really intense week with a lot of frustration and tears due to last minute changes to certain dances, multiple times. One dance was literally changed right after dress rehearsal (which is the night before opening night) and I was one of those in it. In the end, it was all worth it and the show was spectacular. Out of our six shows, four sold out. On Sunday, there were tears in our eyes when we sang Beauty and the Beast in the finale - sad that it was over with an amazing cast who gave it our all every night.

I will be writing about my theatre life in a post on my other blog right after I finish my long at series. I do have two posts already up, which will be linked down below. My third post will be out soon.

This year, I have read eight books so far and the book reviews for them will be up soon as well.

Meg's Long QT Journey Series:

❤Meg❤

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Meg's 2016-2017 Book Awards

It's finally here: 

Meg's 2016-2017 Book Awards

Best Overall Book:
1. A Girl's Guide to Moving On - Debbie Macomber
2. The Inn at Rose Harbor - Debbie Macomber
3. Taking the Lead - Derek Hough
4. To Protect and Serve - Staci Stallings
5. Twelve Days of Christmas - Debbie Macomber

Honorable Mentions:
1. Tara Road - Maeve Binchy
2. The Glass Castle - Jeannette Walls
3. 41: A Portrait of My Father - George W. Bush
4. Angela's Ashes - Frank McCourt
5. Mystic Summer - Hannah McKinnon

Worst Book Overall:
1. Kellie's Diary #1 - Thomas Jenner and Angeline Perkins
2. Murder in the South of France - Susan Kiernan-Lewis
3. Sinful Cinderella - Anita Valle
4. The Iron Heel - Jack London
5. Confessions of a Transformed Heart - Nancy D. Sheppard
6. The 7 Habits That Will Change Your Life Forever - Adam Gouge
7. Homicide By Hamlet - Lois Lavrisa

Best in Classics:
1. A Separate Peace - John Knowles
2. The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin - Benjamin Franklin
3. The Sun Also Rises - Ernest Hemingway

Best Celebrity Book:
1. Taking the Lead - Derek Hough
2. My Point...And I Do Have One - Ellen DeGeneres
3. Live Original - Sadie Robertson

Best Book by an Author I've Read Before:
1. The Inn at Rose Harbor - Debbie Macomber
2. Rose Harbor in Bloom - Debbie Macomber
3. Love Letters - Debbie Macomber
4. Silver Linings - Debbie Macomber
5. Last One Home - Debbie Macomber
6. A Girl's Guide to Moving On - Debbie Macomber
7. Twelve Days of Christmas - Debbie Macomber

Best Book by a New Author I've Read:
1. To Protect and Serve - Staci Stallings
2. Tara Road - Maeve Binchy
3. Behind Her Smile - Rosemary Hines
4. The Tour - Jean Grainger

Book That Surprised Me:
1. Angela's Ashes - Frank McCourt
2. The Glass Castle - Jeannette Walls
3. 41: A Portrait of My Father - George W. Bush

Happy Reading and Keep on Writing!

❤Meg❤

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin Book Review

2016 Reading Challenge

54. The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin by Benjamin Franklin
      Topic/Theme: an autobiography

Synopsis:
Few men could compare to Benjamin Franklin. Virtually self-taught, he excelled as an athlete, a man of letters, a printer, a scientist, a wit, an inventor, an editor, and a writer, and he was probably the most successful diplomat in American history. David Hume hailed him as the first great philosopher and great man of letters in the New World.
Written initially to guide his son, Franklin's autobiography is a lively, spellbinding account of his unique and eventful life. Stylistically his best work, it has become a classic in world literature, one to inspire and delight readers everywhere.

My Review:
Benjamin Franklin is known for being one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. As a polymath, he was an author, printer, political theorist, politician, freemason, postmaster, scientist, inventor, civic activist, statesman, and diplomat. He is credited for laying or aiding in the foundation for several things including the first fire department in Philadelphia, the University of Pennsylvania (then known as The Academy and College of Philadelphia), the first public library (Library Company of Philadelphia), and Pennsylvania Hospital, the first hospital in the United States.

Ben Franklin started writing his autobiography for his son William. He wrote about parts of his life and he referred to it as memoirs instead of an autobiography. He talks about growing up in Boston, before running away to Philadelphia when he was 17 - to start over in a new city. Growing up in Philly, it was interesting to get to know more about Philly back then. Trying to establish himself in Philly, he became involved in several different avenues, including the newspaper and printing business and the postal service. He talks about the different positions he had in politics, including the time spent in the UK and France. Ben also was involved in making some changes to the Declaration of Independence.

There is no question that this book is unfinished. The American Revolution isn't mentioned because he felt that he couldn't talk about it for whatever reason. It's possible that he just ran out of time to write about it or didn't have the time to write about it. Benjamin Franklin wrote much of his autobiography from memory, especially about his childhood and the early days in Philadelphia. 

One of my favorite qualities about Ben Franklin is that he's always thought he could do better than what he was doing and that includes writing these pages. In doing so, he kept making changes to it from when he started writing it in 1771 until his death in 1790.

To keep this from going further, I have done a follow-up post about his thirteen virtues he lived by, which will be posted later today.

I want to point out that the picture I posted above of the book is my own copy that my grandmother had in the house.

Fun Fact: Ben Franklin never intended for this to be published.

Happy Reading and Keep on Writing!

❤Meg❤

Ben Franklin's 13 Virtues Lived By

Benjamin Franklin lived his life according to thirteen virtues. It was like his own religion and what he believed in. For that reason, I thought it could be a good follow-up post.

Note: His virtues can be found in his autobiography, hence the quotes.

The Thirteen Virtues are the following:

1. "Temperance. Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation."

2. "Silence. Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation."

3. "Order. Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time."

4. "Resolution. Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve."

5. "Frugality. Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; i.e., waste nothing."

6."Industry. Lose no time; be always employ'd in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions."

7. "Sincerity. Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly, and, if you speak, speak accordingly."

8. "Justice. Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your duty."

9. "Moderation. Avoid extremes; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve."

10. "Cleanliness. Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, clothes, or habitation."

11. "Tranquility. Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable."

12. "Chastity. Rarely use venery but for health or offspring, never to dullness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another's peace or reputation."

13. "Humility. Imitate Jesus and Socrates."

What do you think of Ben Franklin's 13 Virtues?

Happy Reading and Keep on Writing!

❤Meg❤