Tag Archives: celebrities

Review: Natural Disaster: I Cover Them. I Am One.

Recap: Ginger Zee is one of the most recognizable faces in TV news. As the chief meteorologist for ABC News, she appears daily on Good Morning America, travels the country to storm chase and deliver vitally important news about the weather and shares the details of her personal life on Instagram – complete with very adorable photos and videos of her two young sons.

But as she describes in her memoir, it took a while and a windy road for her to get this point. She worked in small markets, wore flip flops her first time on-air and wasn’t entirely sure how to write a script. She dated men who were horrible for her, broke off an engagement and suffered from verbal and emotional abuse. She tried to commit suicide and ultimately checked herself into a facility to get help. All of this was going on “behind the scenes” as she climbs the professional ladder, eventually making it to New York.

She is so delightfully adorable on-air and on social media that it’s hard for viewers to consider the many layers of anxiety and depression that she has managed over the years. And that is exactly why she wrote the book – to show the way things appear on the outside aren’t always the way they appear inside. This book is a thorough study on that, and an encouraging look at what can happen when you recognize the problems in your life and finally decide to get help.

Analysis: Ginger Zee’s story is powerful and necessary to be heard. Especially by young women – in any industry. But as a TV news person myself, I was also enraptured with her tales of job interviews, TV mishaps and ABC Network travels and assignments.

As much as I love her as a person and her anecdotes and found her story to be captivating, the writing itself could have used some work. The Natural Disaster title works perfectly as a representation of what she does for a living and how she describes herself, but the metaphor is used repeatedly throughout the book, to the point where I felt like I was being beat over the head with it. At times, I also found the book confusing in terms of time jumps. There were a few chapters that would go in chronological order and then she would write something like “But wait, let’s go back because this was also happening that entire time.” Maybe she was going for a little whiplash action in her writing just as she felt she was experiencing in her life, and just as one would experience in a real natural disaster. Either way, I sometimes got a little lost keeping track of what happened when because of those time jumps.

All that said, Ginger Zee has a voice and she’s using it to talk about big topics that MATTER. And there’s nothing more that I can do except respect and thank her for that.

Get Natural Disaster in paperback for $16.99.

Or on your Kindle for $14.99.

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Review: Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography

nphRecap: You may recognize him as Doogie Howser. Or that other weird doctor, Dr. Horrible. To you, he may be Barney Stinson. Or a very angry Hedwig. Or he may just be the high guy from Harold and Kumar. Either way, Neil Patrick Harris has made quite the imprint on Hollywood in the past 25 years he’s been in the business. Like many other stars, he uses his celebrity here to write his own memoir, but NPH is far too cool to just run your everyday, run-of-the-mill celebrity memoir. After all, he loves magic. So he makes his memoir a little more magical by writing it in the form of the “Choose Your Own Adventure” books of yesteryear. Finish a chapter, and choose between options like this: “If you need a drink to calm down, turn to page 45. If you need to wake your brain back up, turn to page 150. To continue your stage career, willkommen/bienvenue/welcomeim/au/to page 130. To attempt to relaunch your movie career, turn to page 124.”

Some chapters are silly absurdist fake short stories he’s written about his life. Some are recipes for his favorites food and cocktails. Some are magic tricks. But most are real stories from his life, including his time as a child star, the years when he was “washed up” in his twenties, his various stints in theater, his comeback into movies and television, his coming out of the closet both personally and publicly and the process he and his husband went through to have their children.

NPH has led every kind of life you can feature in an autobiography, so he gives us, the reader, the choice to read whichever one we like.

Analysis: The truth is I didn’t follow the choose your own adventure format and just read straight through the book. I think most people do — considering NPH wrote in an extra page in the book that no chapter urges you to turn to; clearly he knew people would find it because they’re lazy like me and just reading straight through. That said, the book is enjoyable either way. It zigs and zags through his life — some of it in order, some out of order. Some of the absurdist fake story chapters had me rolling my eyes thinking ‘why did I even bother to read these two pages?’ But the rest of the book more than makes up for it.

The struggles he’s faced in his career, in figuring out his sexuality and in having a family are as real as they get. NPH may appear to have it all, but it took him a long time and a lot of strife to get there. The sections about his children moved me to tears. He keeps his sense of humor throughout every page of the book, even if it’s in just the directions at the end of a chapter. His Barney Stinson silliness wreaks havoc on the book in the best way possible. This was by far the most creatively written memoir I’ve ever read and easily one of the most enjoyable, fun, and deeply moving.

Get Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography in hardcover for just $4.29.

Or on your Kindle for $12.99.

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Tom Hanks To Release Book of Short Stories About Typewriters

mv5bmtq2mjmwnda3nl5bml5banbnxkftztcwmta2ndy3nq-_v1_uy317_cr20214317_al_When you’ve spent so much of your professional life reading, analyzing, interpreting and acting out scripts, you learn a thing or two about the written word.

That goes for actor Tom Hanks, who’s now proving his chops in his debut book with Alfred A. Knopf, entitled Uncommon Type: Some Stories, due for an October release, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The book features 17 short stories revolving around typewriters, but ranging in story and style. Hanks started working on the stories two years ago and released a statement about the project:

“In the two years of working on the stories. I made movies in New York, Berlin, Budapest, and Atlanta and wrote in all of them. I wrote in hotels during press tours. I wrote on vacation. I wrote on planes, at home, and in the office. When I could actually make a schedule, and keep to it, I wrote in the mornings from nine to one.”

In recent years, there have been a lot of jokes made about how Tom Hanks feels like “America’s Dad.” He even did a bit about it on SNL in October. Much in the way that everyone wants to see what their “dad” does, they also want to read what he has to say. I have no doubt that Hanks’ book will not only sell well, but will also be impeccably written. He’s just …that kind of guy.

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Review: Scrappy Little Nobody

scrappy-little-nobody-9781501117206_lgRecap: Actress and singer Anna Kendrick proves she’s as funny as you think she is in this bestselling memoir about her path to becoming a Tony and Oscar-nominated actress, best known for her role in Pitch Perfect. Like Tina Fey’s BossypantsScrappy Little Nobody reads as if Kendrick is speaking to you with silly lines that you can hear in her voice like “if i saw ‘advanced’ in the corner of a Martha Stewart Living recipe, I’d think, Bring it on, you crazy bitch” or “Player WHAA.”

Her memoir tells her story, including growing up in Maine and becoming an unlikely child star on Broadway, being nominated for a Tony, continuing to work in theater and then movies, dating guys, losing her virginity, meeting celebrities, and being nominated for an Oscar while still not being able to afford food or toilet paper. But it also includes more introspective stories as well, about mourning her grandmother while shooting a movie, about witnessing Drew Barrymore having a “moment” to herself after winning an award, about getting advice from acting legends, about dealing with her anxiety.

Analysis: It’s too much for me to count the number of times I laughed out loud while reading this. She’s witty and silly while still being analytical and finding subtle ways to let the reader into who she really is. She also tells stories in great detail. She described premiere dresses, scenes from movies, references to camera shots during awards shows in such a fun way, I found myself Googling photos and YouTube clips so I could see everything. She wrote the book, knowing that would happen too, specifically when she includes a photo of her stoned at that red carpet and wrote “Here’s a picture of my stoned face, so you don’t have to Google it later.” (How does she know? She just does.)

Scrappy Little Nobody includes all the things a celebrity memoir should: fun facts about shooting her most famous movies and skits — like how she lost her shoe while performing at the Oscars, the complete ridiculousness of being famous — like how she showed up stoned to a red carpet about a brief hospitalization,  what it’s really like to work with Zac Efron (spoiler: every bit as incredible as you think), and the fact that she’s just a real person who often can’t believe her life is her life.

Get Scrappy Little Nobody in paperback for $8.06.

Or on your Kindle for $13.99.

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Chris Colfer To Pen More Books in Series

It was just about this time last year when I told you Glee star Chris Colfer would be writing more books in his The Land of Stories series. Well, now he has even more to write.

According to Entertainment Weekly, the actor will be penning two more Land of Stories books — The Mother Goose Diaries and Queen Red Riding Hood’s Guide to Royalty — to be released in 2015 and 2016, a perfect project for him as Glee comes to an end next year.

But that’s not all. In addition to the new books in the series, Colfer also plans to write two picture books based on the Land of Stories series and two companion books to be released as part of a holiday box set next year.

Colfer is already a bestselling author from the first books in The Land of Stories series. As long as they continue to sell well, Colfer may not need to rush to find his next acting job after Glee ends. It seems like he’s doing just fine.

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Tom Hanks To Pen Book of Short Stories

He acts! He directs! And now he writes!

According to Vulture, Oscar-winning actor Tom Hanks plans to write a book of short stories. This comes after he made his short story debut in The New Yorker.

The stories in the book will apparently be “loosely connected to photographs of typewriters from Hanks’ personal collection.”

Yes, Tom Hanks loves typewriters. In fact, he loves them so much, he collects them and helped create an iPad app that lets people type and print documents as if it’s on an old-fashioned typewriter. But a book full of stories about pictures of typewriters? Seems a little iffy to me. But hey, whatever floats your boat!

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Beyonce Biography Coming in 2015

In case you haven’t had enough of Beyonce, there’s more to come. The “first unauthorized biography” on the music powerhouse is due to be released next year.

 According to Vulture, Grand Central Publishing will release the Beyonce bio, written by J. Randy Taraborrelli. Taraborrelli has written biographies on Madonna, Michael Jackson, and the Hiltons. But keep in mind — this is an unauthorized biography, meaning there will be no sit-down with or access to Beyonce. All the information and interviews will be with secondary sources. So the real big Bey bio is still yet to come.

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Review: 27

Recap: When pop music sensation Amy Winehouse died of an overdose a little more than three years ago, the world was stunned — and then it wasn’t. Yes, the British singer was a 27-year-old, whose music was just starting to gain popularity in the United States. But ultimately, it was clear that Winehouse had been down a destructive, drug-consuming and alcohol-consuming path for years. Her singing voice had gotten worse. Her body had become visibly weak. She was in the media often for doing crazy and bizarre things, and her substance abuse problem was no secret.

But it resulted in an outcome that could either be considered morbid or legendary: she entered “The 27 Club.” That is to say, she “joined the club” of other famous rock stars and musicians who have also died at 27. The other big names in the club include Brian Jones, of The Rolling Stones, Jim Morrison of The Doors, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, and Kurt Cobain. 27 explores the “club,” putting into perspective whether famous musicians are more likely to die at that age for some reason, and if so, why, or if it’s just coincidence.

The author’s point of view? Mostly coincidence. But he researched the backgrounds of each of these six most notable members of the “club,” examining their relationships with their parents, with drugs and alcohol, with sexuality, and with fame and success at a young age. He more or less explains that anyone who achieves such success so early in life may be more inclined to die young — especially when issues with confidence, substance abuse and family are at play.

Analysis: The research done for this nonfiction book is extensive, as one would expect from acclaimed biographer Howard Sounes, and that research proves how many things these celebrities had in common — aside from their innate musical talent.

As Sounes points out the similarities between these musicians, it’s less surprising their lives would lead to same ultimate outcome. Many of them had terrible relationships with their parents. All dabbled in drugs and alcohol at a young age, and were equally as experimental sexually. Most of that stemmed from self-esteem and confidence issues — not thinking they were good enough, scared to be alone, stage fright. Some even suffered from mental health problems, like Brian Jones, who was said to be bipolar. Most of them had already peaked professionally and had been kicked out of their bands, given horrible performances, and been arrested several times.

The book explores their deaths as much as it explores their lives. Brian Jones drowned in a pool after a night of drinking and drugs. Jim Morrison, after taking heroin and laying in a bathtub. Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix, overdoses. Amy Winehouse, alcohol. Kurt Cobain, the only suicide. But there are dozens of theories about how each of these people died  — murder, being the primary suggestion.

The author suggests it’s no surprise they died so young because by 27, most of them had lived full lives, accomplishing and going through more than what most people achieve in a lifetime. Whether you’re a big music fan or not, 27 is more than worth a read, with its six true tales of life, success and death.

Get 27 in hardcover for $18.74.

Or get it on your Kindle for $12.99.

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Billy Eichner to Pen Book

OKAY, FOR A DOLLAR, WHAT’S YOUR GUESS ON THE NEXT BIG-NAME TO PEN A BOOK…AND MORE IMPORTANTLY, DO YOU CARE?

If you couldn’t already guess from that introduction, it’s Billy Eichner, star and host of Funny or Die and Fuse’s Billy On the Street. The comedian, who on his show, prances around New York City, screaming questions at people about what they know or like about celebrities and pop culture, has recently signed a publishing deal with Hachette Grand Publishing, according to Entertainment Weekly.

It’s not clear what the book will detail, but on Eichner’s Tumblr page, he mentioned “This book is for anyone obsessed with show business, pop culture, social media and lots of other fun topics that fill our days as we hurtle helplessly towards accidents, illness, infidelity and death.”

That’s about what I guess I’d expect from the pop culture obsessed man himself! No word on when the new book will be released.

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Bryan Cranston To Pen ‘Breaking Bad’ Memoir

Spoiler alert: Walter White is not dead. Actor Bryan Cranston, of Breaking Bad fame, is planning to put his creative energy into another medium: writing.

According to The New York Timeshe’s penning a memoir, which will cover the six years he spent shooting the hit show Breaking Bad. In a statement, Cranston said he plans to “tell the stories of my life and reveal the secrets and lies that I lived with for six years shooting ‘Breaking Bad’.”

Scriber, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, is publishing the book. It’s due to come out in Fall 2015.

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