Christine A. (writereviseedit) - , - Reviews

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The Beauty Experiment: How I Skipped Lipstick, Ditched Fashion, Faced the World without Concealer . . . and Made Over My Life
Review Date: 10/30/2014

Endearing? Or self-indulgent?

"The Beauty Experiment: How I skipped lipstick, ditched fashion, faced the world without concealer, and learned to love the real me" ... was given low marks by another reviewer - and I may know why. At the start, Phoebe Baker Hyde sets up her autobiographical tale (of turning away from everyday feminine conventions like makeup and designer duds) by giving readers a detailed account of her move to China along with her husband and soon-to-be newborn.

The focus is very much on HER and this intro reads as if she's a bit self-indulgent. Potentially whiny even. I mean, I wouldn't mind being in China. But, then, being in another country as a lifestyle is VERY different from being there as a tourist. I know from whence I speak. But I digress! There is GOOD reason for her to be focused on her self.

The entire book is about HER experience, after all. Not anyone else's. And, if we don't have an understanding of what's going on in her thought process or what motivated her to get all glammed up and sexified in the first place, we can't truly understand why she'd veer off in the other direction and/or find that experience any different or more/less rewarding.

The moral of this review? You DO have to get through Phoebe Baker Hyde's set up to get to the meat of this story: The bits you're dying to get to. And it's worth the wait, seeing as she weaves wit and familiar tensions into her narrative. What I wish she'd included? Pics of herself snapped throughout her journey - but I choose to see this as a positive.

It tells me that she didn't do this JUST to have reason to write a book and wasn't consciously intending to exploit her experience. And I appreciate that. Overall, "The Beauty Experiment" isn't an I-can't-put-it-down expose or voracious read, but it is WORTH a read.

Review Date: 3/6/2012

Loved, loved, loved this book - my only criticism (of myself) is that I read Jen Lancaster's "Bright Lights, Big..." first. It kind of spoiled some of this material for me, but not enough to detract from my love of her totally honest, self-effacing and hilarious written accounts of her own ridiculousness. Humorist essays at their finest!

Review Date: 1/27/2012

Kind of like David Sedaris meets Elizabeth Wurtzel, Jen Lancaster uses "Bright Lights, Big Ass" as a showcase for her generally hilarious, brutally honest and raucous take on life in every aspect. I truly love humor essay style writing, so I could be biased.

A note to the faint of heart: If the mild profanity in the title of this book turns you off, you likely WON'T appreciate its contents. If, however, you love people who tell it like it is (and do so from a viewpoint they've spent a lifetime cultivating)? You'll love this book.

I'm glad I read it and have sought out other stories cultivated in Jennsylvania (read the book). In my view? This is her best collection.

- c.

Crap Lyrics: A Celebration of the Very Worst Pop Lyrics of All Time . . . Ever!
Review Date: 2/27/2014

Admittedly, I'm still enjoying this book (I take it with me to the dentist's). It's not quite as biting as the title suggests (pun intended), but it is still witty, opinionated and reveals the author's broad interest in music: Three things I look for in books which praise and, particularly, pan pop music. I love the cover art, too. It looks good laying on a coffee table. NOTE: It is written by a Brit (I think he's British), so that colors the language in a way that American-written critiques don't.

The Daring Female's Guide to Ecstatic Living : 30 Dares for a More Gutsy and Fulfilling Life
Review Date: 2/11/2015

Natasha Kogan does a great job of connecting with her readers in "The Daring Female's Guide to Ecstatic Living" - a book in which she shares her own personal strategies for approaching life, fulfilling her dreams and being bold on a DAILY basis. An easy read that's like sitting down with a girlfriend who truly cares about you, as an individual, and wishes you the same successes she's created for herself by being brave.

Do You Know the Real You? : More Than 66 Ways to Understand Your Personality (Compass)
Review Date: 12/8/2013

Not what I expected, but still interesting ...

This book wasn't as straight-forward as I'd expected in the way it presents the opportunity to get to know "the Real You". Admittedly, I hadn't seen it in person or been able to flip through it beforehand. I guess I'd imaged a book filled with tests or questionnaires.

And, yes, I 'm that oddball who loves being in school and actually looks forward to tests: Be they academic tests or something as simple as blood tests (lol). What you truly wind up getting here is a book that is thoughtfully broken down into various categories. Then you're presented with a discussion of each.

There's some self reflection involved, but this is not - I repeat - not a book of self tests, self surveys, etc. Yet it is informative and interesting!

Holy Cow : An Indian Adventure
Holy Cow : An Indian Adventure
Author: Sarah Macdonald
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.7/5 Stars.
Review Date: 10/27/2013
Helpful Score: 2

I absolutely love, love, love this book ...

I've had it for a number of years - since it came out - and am always on the hunt for new books by Sarah Macdonald. But, alas, I never find any. And that's a shame, because while a few other reviewers write that they feel Sarah takes too long to get to a point I think that extra development and insight into her own, individual thought process, perspective and situation is what makes this so appealing.

This is not meant to be a "here's-what-it's-like-to-live-briefly-in-India" type book. It's not the retelling of one woman's trip to an ashram by choice; if you want that buy "Eat, Pray, Love". This is a real account by a real woman who had real reason to be freaked out, delighted and surprised by the odd situations she found herself in while embarking on a strange, new adventure she was thrust into.

It's a lively, comprehensive travelogue. And it's great!

Leap Days: Chronicles of a Midlife Move
Leap Days: Chronicles of a Midlife Move
Author: Katherine Lanpher
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3/5 Stars.
Review Date: 1/9/2011

Katherine Lanpher did a nice job of making this readable, intimate and funny without going overboard in any one direction - at times sentimental, it does beg the question: "Who am I (here, now, then, when)?"

Let Go of Clutter
Let Go of Clutter
Author: Harriet Schechter
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
Review Date: 5/10/2017

"Let Go of Clutter" is a great book for anyone who likes straight talk and is looking to reevaluate what's taking up space in their hearts, minds and lives. Literally--with handy lists and everything and a dash of humor included!

Harriet "The Miracle Worker" Schechter has presented for The Learning Annex and elsewhere. This book essentially sums up and addresses tips, tricks, checklists and factoids which have arisen out of her workshops and consultations.

If you're serious about cleaning house? You need this book.

A Million Little Pieces
A Million Little Pieces
Author: James Frey
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.4/5 Stars.
Review Date: 11/10/2009

An interesting book. Not sure what all the contraversy was about. Whether James Frey experienced all, any or a portion of what he documented seemed irrelevant to me. I think the true attraction of the account was its openness. It's not a shy sharing of information, nor is it particularly shocking. But, it was a good-enough read, the characters held my interest and the antagonist/protagonist (yes, they seem to be one in the same) revealed himself to an appropriate degree without seeming terribly self-serving. Definitely worth reading for yourself to form an educated opinion about its merits. There are also a few devices used (capitalization of certain words) which was intriguing...I couldn't quite crack the code on that, but it added to my interest level.

No! I Don't Want to Join a Book Club: Diary of a Sixtieth Year
No! I Don't Want to Join a Book Club: Diary of a Sixtieth Year
Author: Virginia Ironside
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.3/5 Stars.
Review Date: 5/16/2017

I was hesitant to read this book, having only JUST turned 50 myself. But I'm glad I did. It was a pleasure from cover to cover. In fact? I couldn't wait to steal away each morning before work and read a few more pages.

It became a nice ritual. I'll miss having it in my possession, but it's the kind of book you just can't keep to yourself. Virginia's stories will stick with me. That's reward enough!

Normal Gets You Nowhere
Normal Gets You Nowhere
Author: Kelly Cutrone, Meredith Bryan
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.7/5 Stars.
Review Date: 11/14/2013

Kelly Cutrone's not a writer for the weak of heart. She tells it to you straight, is willing to swear as needed and sees through the bull going on around us and is willing to share her opinions loudly and strongly. "Normal Gets You Nowhere" is a great way to get to know Cutrone and decide whether or not you agree with her alternative viewpoints and forceful opinions. I love 'er!

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft (10th Anniversary Edition)
On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft (10th Anniversary Edition)
Author: Stephen King
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.2/5 Stars.
Review Date: 10/9/2016

Stephen King's "On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft" 10th Anniversary Edition is the kind of book you'll want to buy extra copies of - esp. if you're a writer. I got my first copy in a PBS swap (for a friend), began reading it and couldn't put it down. So, I ordered her a brand new copy along w/a journal.

It's filled with neat details about King's life, insights on writing which I can attest to (I've been a freelance writer/editor since 2006 and have been a former newpaper editor/journalist) -&- it's the kind of book that finds you laughing out loud in bed and then wondering if anyone else might've heard you cackling.

It's a conversational memoir that's full of humorous tidbits and yet manages to share vital information with the would-be writer in all of us. If I had unlimited income and didn't think they'd wonder if I was off my rocker, I'd buy boxes full and hand them out to everyone I meet. It's that good. In my opinion, anyway.

This particular edition is also nice-looking, feels good in the hand and is bound in a soft but easy to keep clean treated paper cover that to me feels buttery and suede-like. Call my crazy. I don't care. I'm crazy for "On Writing" by Stephen King. And I'm not necessarily a fan of the horror genre.

This book is also a good entre to anyone (like me) who hasn't really read a lot of King's other stuff. I'm dying to find out what the results of his efforts were.

One Flash of Lightning: A Samurai Path for Living the Moment
Review Date: 11/5/2009

Stephanie Russell does a wonderful job of making the reader feel empowered, capable & strong w/o using language that is dumbed down or simplistic. Written especially with women in mind (in my opinion), it's great to read one chapter or entry at a time while taking in a view of the outdoors & having a cup of coffee or tea. Very good for moments of quiet contemplation. I enjoyed it! I guess that's why I wanted to share it w/others!!!

The Pleasure of My Company
The Pleasure of My Company
Author: Steve Martin
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.7/5 Stars.
Review Date: 11/5/2009

Though you're never quite sure which mental maladies the main character truly identifies with (possibly all), you're always entertained by Steve Martin's ability to draw a complete, human & intimate picture of him - & the other characters who bring color to his life & challenge him (mostly unwittingly) to be & do more than simply identify with his illness(es). This was quick, fantastic reading - almost too much so. Once I was done, I wanted to read it again. The guy grows on you!!! It didn't hurt that I was intimately familiar w/the setting, but I think anyone can enjoy this book - if they enjoy a great twist of phrase, honest dialogue & the notion of getting inside someone else's head.

Review Date: 1/26/2017

Jen Lancaster rocks my socks off!

Jen Lancaster rocks my socks off. I do have to say that listening to her stories on CD (vs. reading them) leaves less to the imagination. But these are great stories, which mainly center around her h.s. and college years.

If I had one criticism of this particular collection (unabridged CDs), it's this: I do wish Jen had read the stories herself. But that's me being picky. I'm a huge fan of David Sedaris and his audio books.

I guess I like hearing authors put themselves out there.

Still? This is a great title!

The Seeking Self: The Quest for Self Improvement and the Creation of Personal Suffering
Review Date: 11/5/2009

More academic than I was expecting, I think the kind of person who will truly enjoy reading this is someone who is serious about grappling w/extistential issues related to the self & what constitues the "self" in relation to the "outside" world.

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