Book Review – Choose Your Own Autobiography

Title: Choose Your Own Autobiography
Author: Neil Patrick Harris
Format: Hardback
Published: 2014

NPH is a trip, and I wish I knew him in real life.  This autobiography totally proves that.

For starters, the book is a throw back to the choose your own adventure books of my childhood (and his, he’s not that much older than me), complete with making you flip back and forth around the book for the whole story.

I gotta say, I was totally into those books as a kid, but I had a knack for *always* picking the fastest route to end the book.  I’d turn maybe two pages and then BOOM! i was dead or something.  And in this book, sure enough, I picked the fastest way out and was done in less than five pages.  I’m awesome like that.

So I read through the second attempt and managed to get a pretty good view of his early life – childhood and early breaks – and a huge chunk of his personal life,  but somehow managed to totally miss everything about HIMYM and movies and everything else.  Oops.  But I’ve found the cocktail recipe multiple times, so I’m probably going to need to try that.

Oh, and if you’re not a fan of the CYOA books, I’m going to have to explain them.  You’d read a section, written in second person, and at the end, it’d give you a choice.  You’d pick one and flip to the corresponding page.  Same here, except instead of “A bear is trying to eat you, what do you do?” You’re getting choices like “to read about the time you appeared on broadway…”

 

It’s a must for a child of the 80s, and a must for any NPH/HIMYM/Doogie fan.

Read this book.  Several times.

5/5.

 

 

Book Review: The Letter Q

The Letter Q: Queer Writers’ Notes to Their Younger Selves
Edited By: Sarah Moon & James Lecesne
Format, etc: Hardback, 2012

So an author, Sarah, got together with the creator of the Trevor Project, James, and decided to do a non-fiction book on a simple premise – what would you say to your (sometimes much)younger self to say that everything will be okay? They then took this idea to five dozen GLBT authors and artists and came up with a collection large enough to make this book.

I’ll admit, I have no need for this book. (Truth be told Q is my favorite letter of the alphabet and the cover grabbed me.) But when I saw it at the library, I was intrigued. I wanted to know what these people needed to say.

As far as the letters themselves… here’s the thing. I was expecting something…less mainstream. But the letters all just basically say “Hey, life will be good, everything will be better, push through the crap you’re dealing with now,” which isn’t a bad thing, but. Very few of these letters actually address GLBT issues directly. And like I said, that’s not a bad thing, but since that’s the point of the book, I was sort of expecting a little more of it. Also, the letters all sort of blend together after a while. After you read a handful of them, there aren’t any extra gems of wisdom, and since they’re letters to the author’s self, some of them don’t really apply to anyone else. I read the intro paragraph of a couple of them and then skipped on to the next one.

Another issue that I had with this book is that I didn’t really know who a lot (okay most) of these people were. I think that it would have made a little more of an impact for the people to have been better known so that the people reading the book could be like “Oh, if made it…”

Still, I think that for a teenager dealing with GLBT issues (the book’s actual demographic), that the book will be helpful. Because of that, I’m torn with giving it a number. If the book fits, It’s a 5/5, but if the book doesn’t, it’s barely a 3/5.

trevor-project-image-31

If you need help, call the helpline.  Remember, you *are* important
and loved and you will make a difference in this world…

Book Review – Brokeback Mountain

Brokeback Mountain
Annie Proulx
Paperback
Published 1997

So, I saw the movie, and when I saw the book on the bargain shelf at my favorite used bookstore, I was a little surprised to discover that Brokeback Mountain was a story before it was a script. And, it was like 5 cents, so, I picked it up.

This story is about 10k, by my estimate, which makes it the very high end of a short story or a novelette, depending on who you ask. And that count is only an estimate (and there was maths involved) so I’m just going to call it a story. Plus, it was originally published in both the New Yorker and a short story collection.

The story is really basic. Two ranch hands have one summer and then wish they had more time and do and don’t and… if you are at all familliar with the movie, you’ll understand – it’s no wonder they built a movie out of here, there isn’t much more than an idea.

Unfortunately, there’s a lot of dialect and in some cases, even reading it out loud didn’t help and I ended up skimming over what was said. Also, Annie’s writing style is… not anything I’m a fan of, and there were a lot of sentences that felt like poorly structured and/or run-on monstrosities and I just wanted to take my red pen to it.

At least with this one, I can see why they got a movie idea from it, but the story needs a crapload of help.
2/5. Rent the movie instead.

Book Review – And Tango Makes Three

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And Tango Makes Three

Justin Richardson & Peter Parnell

Illustrations by Henry Cole

Hardback, 2005

In the newer ranks of suddenly banned books, we have “And Tango Makes Three.”  So, of course, back to my ongoing saga of having to read it.

In this book, we are transported to New York City and the zoo.  There, all the penguins are taking mates and doing all the things that mates do together, including building nests, making eggs, and hatching penguin babies.

Except that we don’t follow one of those couples, we follow Roy and Silo, two boy penguins who, as it turns out, are very very happy together.  And they do all the things that a penguin couple do, except lay an egg, even though they actually take a rock to their nest to see what happens.

A zookeeper puts an egg in their nest for them, and they nurture it, just like the other penguin couples, and love it, just like the other penguin couples, and take turns taking care of each other and the egg, just like other penguin couples, until it hatches into little baby Tango.  Thus making three.

So, you know, parents banned this adorably cute book because, *gasp*, Roy and Silo are big, gay penguins, and we can’t have that no matter how fabulous the two of them are.

And the book ends with them lovingly snuggled together.  And then I turned the page and read… “Author’s Note:  All of the events in this story are true.”

*sigh*

So let me get this straight.  (*snicker*) People are trying to ban a true story from being in our libraries?  Again?  Just… *sigh*

I’m sure you know what my opinion on that is.

As for the book, it’s sweet, it’s charming, it’s simple, and again, it’s 100% true.  I love this book.  5/5

Book Review – Without you by Anthony Rapp

Title: Without You: A memoir of love, loss, and the musical Rent
Author: Anthony Rapp
Format: Paperback
Written: 2006
Published: 2006

I have a gay friend (and really, all of us ladies need to have one good, gay friend) who got me hooked on the musical Rent.  I love Rent.  There’s nothing about it that I hate (okay, except for when Angel dies, and the fact that he looks better in a skirt than I ever could hope to), and really, I mean that.  It surpassed Once as #1 in my list of Musicals to Watch.

Phew.  Now that I’ve gushed… I saw this book on the shelf of a discount bookseller at a book festival here in Nashville and I bought it on the spot, breaking my cardinal rule of only buying books at the festival that I could get signed.

When I got around to reading it (you should see the avalanche that is my TBR pile), I realized there was a lot more going on than just talk of the musical.  Anthony Rapp – if you don’t know rent, you may remember him from Adventures in Babysitting (the horror!) – talks about his family, his career, the men he’s dated, his mother’s cancer (cancer is the suck), and, you know, the musical.

Here’s the thing.  Tonio (as his mother calls him) may be phenomenal as an actor and a singer, but he’s not the best writer.  I couldn’t help but feel like he was holding back a little.  Like… it’s one thing to say “oh, this was sad so I cried,” but its another thing to actually show us the crying.  And I felt like there was talk of crying but no hope for need of a tissue. (Disclaimer: I did cry when his mother died, but my Grandmother died of cancer, so it’s personal.  I was crying for Gramma more than anything.)

I did learn a lot about the musical.  But it was interjected with several other things (sometimes a bit poorly), and that was distracting. Like, one minute he’s talking about the musical, then he’s talking about a boyfriend that may or may not have been in his life, his brother, etc.

I think I would have rather read a memoir about just his private life, or a memoir about just his time on Rent.  (Side note, all the talk is about Broadway, they only talk about the movie version for two pages and its glossed over, since it happens right about the time the book got written. Not saying if that’s good or bad, just letting you know.)

The worst thing is that (probably because this is divided so much) I can name a better book about homosexuality or cancer or friendship or just about anything else that this book touches on.  I love Anthony Rapp, I was just a bit underwhelmed with this.

Bottom line – if you seriously like Rent (and not just the movie version), read it. It’s not the best book, but it’s an entertaining read.  Three out of five pages.

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