Yes Please by Amy Poehler

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06/03/15

For my first venture into Audible land, I selected this title. Tooteth my horn I shall, as it was a bloody excellent choice. A little bit on audiobooks to begin. Who knew? They seem to be a fabulous idea, I’ve loved carrying my tablet around with me the past few days like a literary limpet, having Amy’s voice narrate my life as I draw a bath, make a cup of tea or clean the house. I’d probably dismissed the format in the past due to my stubborn love for physical copies, and the immense satisfaction one derives from running ones fingers across the spines of neatly-arranged contemporary fiction. Is there a term for this? Taking bibliophile to new disturbing levels. Anyway, all systems go for my Audible account.

Yes Please is a wonderfully funny collection of stories. I would very much recommend this book to any fans of the woman herself, improvised comedy, Tina Fey, or anybody curious about the surprising amount of genuine life advice that hits home amongst Amy’s stories. A particular shout out to the fans of Parks & Recreation (my pretties.) So let me take this opportunity to express my love for Leslie Knope. She is undoubtedly one of my favourite characters in television. Even in my Season One hesitancies – in her early stages of development she was dramatically ditsier and unrelentingly wide-eyed to the point of ignorance – she grew over the years to become this wonderful, indefatigably positive, determined, funny creature. I wish I shared her strength. Though I do share her unwavering love for breakfast foods. Anytime I have waffles, I think of Leslie. With the spirit of Pawnee, anytime I see some form of investment in my home town, like a new university building or an unusually attractive lamppost, I think of Leslie. Anytime I go to a park, Leslie. Anytime I recreate, boom. Incidentally I am currently living in worrying denial as I continue to postpone my viewing of the final series of Parks & Recreation. Final? Nope.

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This book could be a most effective coping mechanism, in saying that. It’s certainly not an “all-aspects-splayed” kind of autobiography, it’s more of a joyful recollection of the stories Ms Poehler wants to tell, the ones she feels she can derive nuggets of advice from. It’s silly and wildly funny, but also incredibly sensible and thoughtful in its conclusions. “Manners are the secret keys to the universe.” It’s a wonderful balance of self-praise and self-deprecation, one which I aspire to strike at some point in my own life. My particular favourite sections, in no particular order as the hilarity is perfectly unrelenting, are the following: 1) The Parks & Rec Cast. Amy offers a little dedication to each main member of the P&R cast, with adorable fondness. Facts we may not know about them, the times she laughed the hardest, and her favourite memories with them. I nearly wept. Let’s just say I may have been chopping onions at the time. Sweet, poignant onions. 2) Sex tips (for all, but aimed primarily at the over 80s). Concise and brutal, she is not afraid to truth-bomb the hell out of a chapter. 3) Discussing Leslie Knope’s ‘ridiculous alternative surnames’ with Michael Schur. Leslie Knobody, anyone? 4) Abel & Archie Arnett. Fairly side-stepping the details of her divorce, Amy talks of her pregnancies and motherhood so intimately and adorably. Extremely touching.

As if her honeyed-apple-pie slightly-Bostonian twang weren’t enough to delight your narrative senses (I sincerely think she should narrate children’s books) we have some guest stars in the midst of Yes Please. Including – I jest not – Carol Burnett, Kathleen Turner, Patrick Stewart, Seth Meyers, and even Amy’s parents. Pay particular attention to the advice of William and Eileen Poehler, you won’t regret it. And as is expected, there are anecdotes-aplenty, including vodka-related ageing advice with Betty White, and a chance encounter with Robert Downey Junior in a small café, where Amy pitched to him her idea for a small indie film named Iron Man

I cannot recommend this audiobook enough. I haven’t laughed so hard at a book in a long time, and I’ve read the finest erotic fiction that English pounds can buy. In all sincerity, I’ll leave you with a section on demons, and I’ll be damned if you don’t take any new sense of inner-happiness from this:

“Hopefully as you get older, you start to learn how to live with your demon. It’s hard at first. Some people give their demon so much room that there is no space in their head or bed for love. They feed their demon and it gets really strong and then it makes them stay in abusive relationships or starve their beautiful bodies. But sometimes, you get a little older and get a little bored of the demon. Through good therapy and friends and self-love you can practice treating the demon like a hacky, annoying cousin. Maybe a day even comes when you are getting dressed for a fancy event and it whispers, “You aren’t pretty,” and you go, “I know, I know, now let me find my earrings.” Sometimes you say, “Demon, I promise you I will let you remind me of my ugliness, but right now I am having hot sex so I will check in later.”

Rosie’s Review: 9 Audibles of 10.

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Goth Girl and the Ghost of a Mouse

Goth Girl and the Ghost of a Mouse by Chris Riddell

09/01/15

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Confession (x1): Sometimes I like to read children’s books. [Awaits fiery judgement…it’s actually not so bad.] It’s comforting, like laying your head on the soft indents of your own pillow after a week away from home, and inhaling lost sleeps.

Confession (x2): I received this book for my 25th birthday, from a close friend. Upon request.

I shall make no bones about it – don’t worry, it’s out of my system now – this is a beautiful book. Hardback (unf), wonderfully tactile covers embossed with skulls and pages edged with purple foil, dozens of intricate illustrations nodding to Punch magazine, even a small pocket on the inside back cover which contains a teeny-weeny book entitled “Memoirs of a Mouse”, by Ishmael Whiskers. Calm thyself, my inky beating heart. So now that I have ritually divulged my Confessions of a Book Cover Whore, I will talk about the story itself.

We follow Ada Goth on a little mystery-tale around the Ghastly-Gorm Hall, as she and fellow members of the Attic Club stumble upon all manner of peculiar creatures shackled to various wings of the mansion. Meanwhile her father Lord Goth, mildly estranged following the tragic circus-accident of Ada’s mother, delegates his duties at the helm of the Annual Metaphorical Bicycle Race & Indoor Hunt. I feel a little pinpick of “Way to make the children cry, Rosie”, but there could be a little bit more to the plot, but it is admittedly so chock-full of other delights that it is hard to judge it on such harsh parameters. There are more literary puns than you can shake a quill at. There are so many references to Victorian novels and even modern popular culture. I couldn’t help but chuckle – actual portly-gentleman-chuckles which I didn’t believe I was capable of – at the wonderful witticisms in Riddell’s writing. We are gifted with Foot Notes by “the severed foot of a famous writer who lost the aforementioned foot at the Battle of Baden-Baden-Wurttemberg-Baden”. Twist your tongue around that beauty. The Hobby-House Racecourse features such milestones as “The Gravel Path of Conceit” and “The Chicane of Thwarted Hope”. If you are a lover of classics in any form, or A Series of Unfortunate Events, or just older-children’s books in general, I would highly recommend this. If this book were a small child I would pinch their toffee-apple cheeks and marvel at their general adorableness. I’ve never sounded more like a 90 year old woman.

Favourite Character: Hamish the Shetland Centaur. The Foot Note states as follows: “Shetland centaurs are just one of a number of mythical creatures living in Scotland. The Glasgow cyclops and the Edinburgh gorgon are well known, but the Arbroath smokie, a fire-breathing mermaid, is more elusive.”

This made me want to read: Goth Girl and the Fete Worse Than Death.

Inky Review: 7.5 bindings of 10. Essentially, this book is a hundred kinds of darling.

Gone Girl

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

08/01/15

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[Spoilers]

The first thing I want to superficially declare is how much I love the cover of this book. It’s difficult to capture on camera but it has this wonderful velveteen-chalk kind of texture that retains the smudges of your fingers. (It’s the little things in life.)

The second thing I want to simply declare is that I love this story. It’s just brilliant, I haven’t felt so emotionally involved in a book for a long time. Amy’s plan to dismantle Nick’s life is wonderfully executed in its disturbing, italicised bitterness. Split into two sections: “BOY LOSES GIRL” & “BOY MEETS GIRL”, Flynn gives equal weight to both Nick and Amy’s versions of events, in alternating chapters. What I should note is that I saw Gone Girl the film last year, and therefore started reading this with the prior knowledge that I was being lied to by both parties. Yet even as the novel concluded, I never felt as though I knew the “real” versions of these characters. There was Diary Amy – the ‘cool girl’ – Amazing Amy, Dead Amy, and her counterparts of Nick the Loyal Husband, Nick the Adulterer, Nick the Bereaved.

Pages 80-81 hold one of the most interesting cogs of the novel for me. What is discussed is the vapours of postmodernism; the experience of the world through a screen. “I’ve literally seen it all, and the worst thing, the thing that makes me want to blow my brains out, is: The secondhand experience is always better. The image is crisper, the view is keener, the camera angle and the soundtrack manipulate my emotions in a way reality can’t anymore. It’s a very different era in which to be a person, just a real, actual person, instead of a collection of personality traits selected from an endless automat of characters.” I’ll let you decide whose perspective this was: Nick’s or Amy’s.

Favourite quote: “‘If I had a dick, I would fuck this peanut butter’, deliberately spraying cracker bits toward me.” [Not reflective of the mood of the novel as a whole, but I still found it hilarious at the time.]

Favourite character: Now I’m going to be rather cheeky here and bend the rules before I’ve even set them. I cannot decide on a singular favourite character, it is definitely a delicate balance between Nick Dunne and Margot Dunne. Twins. I loved how their relationship was never neglected in the marital tempest of the plot, how easily it could have been underdeveloped. Nick to me was like an unravelling spool of cotton, and always aware of the mess he had created, but unable to stop himself. It was a placid acceptance of the situation. I often put myself in Margot’s shoes and thought how I would feel – all signs are leading towards the notion that my twin brother killed his wife, the repercussions of which he is handling so badly. Her unbottled, no-nonsense snark was perfectly written.

This made me want to read: Sharp Objects (Gillian Flynn’s debut novel)

Rosie’s Review: 9.5 bindings of 10. Absolute whirlwind of a novel to start the year.

(Fuck me, this was a long review.)