Tag: memoir

How Not To Be a Boy Review

How Not To Be a BoyTitle: How Not To  Be a Boy

Author: Robert Webb

Genre: Memoir

Series: n/a

Goodreads Rating: 4.26/5

Goodreads Link

Synopsis: Rules for being a man:
Don’t Cry; Love Sport; Play Rough; Drink Beer; Don’t Talk About Feelings

But Robert Webb has been wondering for some time now: are those rules actually any use? To anyone?

Looking back over his life, from schoolboy crushes (on girls and boys) to discovering the power of making people laugh (in the Cambridge Footlights with David Mitchell), and from losing his beloved mother to becoming a husband and father, Robert Webb considers the absurd expectations boys and men have thrust upon them at every stage of life.

Hilarious and heartbreaking, How Not To Be a Boy explores the relationships that made Robert who he is as a man, the lessons we learn as sons and daughters, and the understanding that sometimes you aren’t the Luke Skywalker of your life – you’re actually Darth Vader.

How Not To Be a Boy by Robert Webb Elaine Howlin Literary Blog

What I thought about the book:  I loved this! I have never wanted to reread a memoir but I will definitely be rereading this.

I listened to the audiobook narrated by Robert Webb himself (best way to experience a memoir). His narration is wonderful and the audiobook features a very entertaining and interesting interview at the end about some topics raised in the book.

It leaves you with so much to think about concerning gender and stereotyping while still being very entertaining.

“The great thing about refusing to feel feelings is that, once you’ve denied them, you don’t have to take responsibility for them. Your feelings will be someone else’s problem – your mother’s problem, your girlfriend’s problem, your wife’s problem. If it has to come out at all, let it come out as anger. You’re allowed to be angry. It’s boyish and man-like to be angry.”
― Robert Webb, How Not To Be a Boy

My Rating: 5 star review

Get the book: Amazon | Book Depository | Google | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Easons | Waterstones | Dubray

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Synopsis from Goodreads. Photos from my Instagram @elainehowlin_

Mom & Me & Mom by Maya Angelou Review

Mom & Me & MomTitle: Mom & Me & Mom
 
Author: Maya Angelou
 
Genre: Autobiography
 
Series: Maya Angelou Autobiography #7
 
Goodreads Rating: 4.16/5
 
 

Synopsis: The story of Maya Angelou’s extraordinary life has been chronicled in her multiple bestselling autobiographies. But now, at last, the legendary author shares the deepest personal story of her life: her relationship with her mother.

For the first time, Angelou reveals the triumphs and struggles of being the daughter of Vivian Baxter, an indomitable spirit whose petite size belied her larger-than-life presence—a presence absent during much of Angelou’s early life. When her marriage began to crumble, Vivian famously sent three-year-old Maya and her older brother away from their California home to live with their grandmother in Stamps, Arkansas. The subsequent feelings of abandonment stayed with Angelou for years, but their reunion, a decade later, began a story that has never before been told. In Mom & Me & Mom, Angelou dramatizes her years reconciling with the mother she preferred to simply call “Lady,” revealing the profound moments that shifted the balance of love and respect between them.

Delving into one of her life’s most rich, rewarding, and fraught relationships, Mom & Me & Mom explores the healing and love that evolved between the two women over the course of their lives, the love that fostered Maya Angelou’s rise from immeasurable depths to reach impossible heights.

Mom & Me & Mom Maya Angelou

 
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What I thought about the book: I listened to an audiobook of this read by Maya Angelou, the best way to read a memoir in my opinion. (Check out John Cleese’s audio memoir as well it’s very funny)

In this memoir, Angelou explores her relationship with her mother which was pretty non-existent in the early years of her life but grew into something resilient and empowering later.

Her mother was essentially a stranger to her as a child, she chose to call her Lady instead of Mom which says a lot about the distance she felt. It also shows how she saw her as no ordinary woman but as someone to look up to, someone refined and feminine but still in charge.

This book really shows how love grows between people and how it makes us stronger.

 
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My Rating: 5 star review

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New Release Tuesday

Happy Book Birthday!

The following are some of the books released today that I think are worth reading.

Shadowsong (Wintersong, #2)Shadowsong (Wintersong #2) by S. Jae-Jones

Six months after the end of Wintersong, Liesl is working toward furthering both her brother’s and her own musical careers. Although she is determined to look forward and not behind, life in the world above is not as easy as Liesl had hoped. Her younger brother Josef is cold, distant, and withdrawn, while Liesl can’t forget the austere young man she left beneath the earth, and the music he inspired in her.

When troubling signs arise that the barrier between worlds is crumbling, Liesl must return to the Underground to unravel the mystery of life, death, and the Goblin King—who he was, who he is, and who he will be. What will it take to break the old laws once and for all? What is the true meaning of sacrifice when the fate of the world—or the ones Liesl loves—is in her hands?

Order now from Book Depository

Only ChildOnly Child by Rhiannon Navin

“Perfect for fans of Room… a heartbreaking but important novel.” —Real Simple

Readers of Jodi Picoult and Liane Moriarty will also like this tenderhearted debut about healing and family, narrated by an unforgettable six-year-old boy who reminds us that sometimes the littlest bodies hold the biggest hearts and the quietest voices speak the loudest.

Squeezed into a coat closet with his classmates and teacher, first grader Zach Taylor can hear gunshots ringing through the halls of his school. A gunman has entered the building, taking nineteen lives and irrevocably changing the very fabric of this close-knit community. While Zach’s mother pursues a quest for justice against the shooter’s parents, holding them responsible for their son’s actions, Zach retreats into his super-secret hideout and loses himself in a world of books and art. Armed with his newfound understanding, and with the optimism and stubbornness only a child could have, Zach sets out on a captivating journey towards healing and forgiveness, determined to help the adults in his life rediscover the universal truths of love and compassion needed to pull them through their darkest hours.

Order now from Book Depository

How to Stop TimeHow to Stop Time by Matt Haig

“The first rule is that you don’t fall in love, ‘ he said… ‘There are other rules too, but that is the main one. No falling in love. No staying in love. No daydreaming of love. If you stick to this you will just about be okay.'” 

A love story across the ages – and for the ages – about a man lost in time, the woman who could save him, and the lifetimes it can take to learn how to live

Tom Hazard has a dangerous secret. He may look like an ordinary 41-year-old, but owing to a rare condition, he’s been alive for centuries. Tom has lived history–performing with Shakespeare, exploring the high seas with Captain Cook, and sharing cocktails with Fitzgerald. Now, he just wants an ordinary life.

So Tom moves back to London, his old home, to become a high school history teacher–the perfect job for someone who has witnessed the city’s history first hand. Better yet, a captivating French teacher at his school seems fascinated by him. But the Albatross Society, the secretive group which protects people like Tom, has one rule: never fall in love. As painful memories of his past and the erratic behavior of the Society’s watchful leader threaten to derail his new life and romance, the one thing he can’t have just happens to be the one thing that might save him. Tom will have to decide once and for all whether to remain stuck in the past, or finally begin living in the present.

How to Stop Time is a bighearted, wildly original novel about losing and finding yourself, the inevitability of change, and how with enough time to learn, we just might find happiness.

Order now from Book Depository

The Art of Vanishing: A Memoir of WanderlustThe Art of Vanishing: A Memoir of Wanderlust by Laura Smith

A young woman chafing at the confines of marriage confronts the high cost of craving freedom and adventure

At twenty-five, as her wedding date approached, Laura Smith began to feel trapped. Not by her fiance, who shared her appetite for adventure, but by the unsettling idea that it was hard to be at once married and free.

Laura wanted her life to be different. She wanted her marriage to be different. And she found in the strangely captivating story of another restless young woman determined to live without constraints both an enticement and a challenge. Barbara Newhall Follett was a free-spirited trailblazer who published her first novel at 11, enlisted as a deck hand on a boat bound for the south China seas at 15 and was one of the first women to hike the Appalachian trail. Then in December 1939, when she was not much older than Laura, she walked out of her apartment on a quiet tree-lined street in Brookline, leaving behind a fraying marriage, and vanished without a trace. Obsessed by her story, Laura set off to find out what had happened.

The Art of Vanishing is a riveting mystery and a piercing exploration of marriage and convention that asks deep and uncomfortable questions: Why do we give up on our childhood dreams? Is marriage a golden noose? Must we find ourselves in the same row houses with Pottery Barn lamps telling our kids to behave? Searingly honest and written with a raw intensity, it will challenge you to rethink your most intimate decisions and may just upend your life.

Order now from Book Depository

Making the Monster: The Science Behind Mary Shelley's FrankensteinMaking the Monster: The Science Behind Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein by Kathryn Harkup

The year 1818 saw the publication of one of the most influential science-fiction stories of all time. Frankenstein: Or, Modern Prometheus by Mary Shelley had a huge impact on gothic horror and science fiction genres. The name Frankenstein has become part of our everyday language, often used in derogatory terms to describe scientists who have overstepped a perceived moral line. But how did a 19-year-old woman with no formal education come up with the idea for an extraordinary novel such as Frankenstein? The period of 1790-1820 saw huge advances in our understanding of electricity and physiology. Sensational science demonstrations caught the imagination of the general public, and newspapers were full of tales of murderers and resurrectionists.

It is unlikely that Frankenstein would have been successful in his attempts to create life back in 1818. However, advances in medical science mean we have overcome many of the stumbling blocks that would have thwarted his ambition. We can resuscitate people using defibrillators, save lives using blood transfusions, and prolong life through organ transplants–these procedures are nowadays considered almost routine. Many of these modern achievements are a direct result of 19th century scientists conducting their gruesome experiments on the dead.

Making the Monster explores the science behind Shelley’s book. From tales of reanimated zombie kittens to electrical experiments on human cadavers, Kathryn Harkup examines the science and scientists that influenced Mary Shelley and inspired her most famous creation, Victor Frankenstein. While, thankfully, we are still far from being able to recreate Victor’s “creature,” scientists have tried to create the building blocks of life, and the dream of creating life-forms from scratch is now tantalizingly close.

Order now from Book Depository


I think these all sound amazing. I’m especially looking forward to Shadowsong and Making the Monster.

Scrappy Little Nobody – Anna Kendrick

31411951Title: Scrappy Little Nobody
 
Author: Anna Kendrick
 
Genre: Autobiography
 
Goodreads Rating: 3.98/5
 
 

Synopsis: A collection of humorous autobiographical essays by the Academy Award-nominated actress and star of Up in the Air and Pitch Perfect.

“I’m excited to publish my first book, and because I get uncomfortable when people have high expectations, I’d like to use this opportunity to showcase my ineptitude, pettiness, and the frequency with which I embarrass myself. And while many of my female inspirations who have become authors are incredibly well-educated and accomplished comedy writers, I’m very, very funny on Twitter, according to Buzzfeed and my mom, so I feel like this is a great idea. Quick question: are run-on sentences still frowned upon? Wait, is ending a sentence with a preposition still frowned upon? I mean, upon frowned? Dammit!” —Anna Kendrick

Anna Kendrick’s autobiographical collection of essays amusingly recounts memorable moments throughout her life, from her middle class upbringing in New England to the blockbuster movies that have made her one of Hollywood’s most popular actresses today. Expanding upon the witty and ironic dispatches for which she is known, Anna Kendrick’s essays offer her one-of-a-kind commentary on the absurdities she’s experienced on her way to and from the heart of pop culture.

 
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What I thought about the book: I listened to the audiobook for this one. It was a lot of fun, Anna is very entertaining and easy to listen to. She’s lived a pretty normal life but that doesn’t mean her story is boring. Her wit and character make for a very uplifting read.
 
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My Rating:
4 paws