Friday, 24 February 2017

Buffering by Hannah Hart

by Hannah Hart

Summary: The wildly popular YouTube personality and author of the New York Times bestseller My Drunk Kitchen is back! This time, she’s stirring up memories and tales from her past.

By combing through the journals that Hannah has kept for much of her life, this collection of narrative essays deliver a fuller picture of her life, her experiences, and the things she’s figured out about family, faith, love, sexuality, self-worth, friendship and fame.

Revealing what makes Hannah tick, this sometimes cringe-worthy, poignant collection of stories is sure to deliver plenty of Hannah’s wit and wisdom, and hopefully encourage you to try your hand at her patented brand of reckless optimism.
So... I loved this book way more than I thought I was going to. Not that I expected it to be bad, I didn't, but I'm not a major follower of Hannah's online. I watch some of her videos (and saw Camp Takota) but I don't follow religiously so I wasn't sure how interested I would be listening to her life story (and I guess I had a bit of an unfair preconceived opinion of "Youtube Books" -- which was one of the reasons I wanted to try one really).

Basically, I just got this one on a whim and I'm really glad I did.

She is an excellent storyteller -- both her writing and her narration (I listened to it on audio, which I highly recommend). And it wasn't anything like I thought it would be. Given that she's a Youtuber and a lesbian, I figured those would be the biggest aspects of the book, but they weren't.

I mean, they played a part (and were really interesting to hear about), but most of the story was about her life growing up and it provides good insight into what it's like to grow up with a parent who has a mental illness and the impact it can have on a child and the adult they become.

The book was ultimately more about family than anything else, and it really drives home the message that you can never really know what someone else is going through or what they've gone through.

Even if you're not familiar with Hannah Harts online presence, I still highly recommend this book. I'd rate it 5 stars out of 5.


Thursday, 23 February 2017

Let's Talk: Awesome Women in Non-Fiction

I seem to have this new obsession with reading/listening to non-fiction books by/about awesome women.

With the memoirs... It's so easy to measure yourself against the glittering, photoshopped, edited versions of celebrities and feel inadequate. But they're just people. Their anxieties and insecurities and struggles are just like ours. They have issues with mental illness and body image and self doubt, just like us. And they manage to be great in spite of those, so we can be too.

And with the biographies/historical non-fic... it's inspiring to read about the extraordinary lives so many women have lived, to read about the things they've endured and extraordinary things they've done and see the spaces they've carved out for themselves in history. To see all the ways things have changed for women...and the ways that they haven't.

And that's my rambling introduction to the list of biographies/memoirs of awesome women that are in my TBR (or on my wishlist). The ones in italics are the ones I've already read:

Yes Please by Amy Poehler
Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick
The Princess Diarist, Shockaholic, and Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher
Buffering by Hannah Hart
If This is a Woman: Inside Ravensbruk by Sarah Helm (currently reading)
You Can't Touch My Hair by Jessica Williams
Bloom by Estee Lalonde
Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh
Where Am I Now? by Mara Wilson
Forever Liesl by Charmian Carr
Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly
You're Never Weird on the Internet by Felicia Day
In the Country We Love: by Diane Guerrero
Unsinkable by Debbie Reynolds
Debbie: My Life by Debbie Reynolds
Nujeen by Nujeen Mustafa
Spy Princess: The Life of Noor Inayat Khan by Shrabani Basu
Spectacles by Sue Perkins
Seriously...I'm Kidding by Ellen DeGeneres
Talking As Fast As I Can by Lauren Graham
Unfilered by Lily Collins
Call the Midwife by Jennifer Worth
The Places at the End of the World, Ghosts by Daylight Janine di Giovanni

Basically, women are fabulous and we can learn a lot from the ones who lived and grew before us, both  ourselves and about things outwith our realm of experience (e.g. I'm a white woman, I've never had to deal with the racism women of colour face but that doesn't mean I should be ignorant to it).

If you have any recommendations of other books that should be on my radar, let me know? (Especially if you have any recs of non-fiction books by transwomen because they're vastly underrepresented in my tbr).


p.s. anyone else notice a bit of a theme going on with the covers of memoirs?

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

The Bear and the Nightingale
by Katherine Arden

Summary: At the edge of the Russian wilderness, winter lasts most of the year and the snowdrifts grow taller than houses. But Vasilisa doesn’t mind—she spends the winter nights huddled around the embers of a fire with her beloved siblings, listening to her nurse’s fairy tales. Above all, she loves the chilling story of Frost, the blue-eyed winter demon, who appears in the frigid night to claim unwary souls. Wise Russians fear him, her nurse says, and honor the spirits of house and yard and forest that protect their homes from evil.

After Vasilisa’s mother dies, her father goes to Moscow and brings home a new wife. Fiercely devout, city-bred, Vasilisa’s new stepmother forbids her family from honoring the household spirits. The family acquiesces, but Vasilisa is frightened, sensing that more hinges upon their rituals than anyone knows.

And indeed, crops begin to fail, evil creatures of the forest creep nearer, and misfortune stalks the village. All the while, Vasilisa’s stepmother grows ever harsher in her determination to groom her rebellious stepdaughter for either marriage or confinement in a convent.

As danger circles, Vasilisa must defy even the people she loves and call on dangerous gifts she has long concealed—this, in order to protect her family from a threat that seems to have stepped from her nurse’s most frightening tales.
This is one of those books that reminds me why I love reading -- it got all under my skin and hooked its nails into my emotions and I loved every second of it. Before I was even half way through I knew it had earned a spot on my favourites shelf.

Basically...I adored it.

The world was a mix of old Russia and intricate folklore woven together beautifully and the writing was lovely. And the characters... I loved them, especially Vasya -- she was an excellent character, I loved that she was complex and strong but her strength was in her compassion and fearlessness and the lengths she'd go to to protect the people she cares about rather than physical strength. And I loved the way the relationships developed and that family was such a big role in the story.

I loved all of it pretty much. The only thing I didn't love was that there was spousal rape and assault mentioned kind of casually in the story and not really acknowledged as wrong...which is fitting with the time period and it isn't written graphically, but I thought I'd mention that here in case that was a deal breaker for someone or something that would bother them if they weren't expecting it.

I don't have much else to say about the book really...I just really, really loved it and it left me pining for the sequels. I'd rate it 5 stars out of 5.



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