Tag Archives: comedy

Review: How To Rule The World

Recap: When Wendy Sloane returns home from college to her small Pennsylvania town, she anticipates a quiet summer, catching up with her mother and grandpa and working at the small independent bookstore her family owns. It certainly starts out that way. But Wendy has a secret, one that no one, not even her mother knows. She wants to be a writer. This particular summer is the summer when Wendy starts to face her fears and works to accomplish her goals. She tells her mother about her plans to be a writer, while she works on her first book.

But she also uses the summer to play one big trick on her small town. Taking after her grandpa, the town trickster himself, Wendy paints a horrific display on the outside of her family’s bookstore. She’s on a mission to prove how easily people’s opinions can be swayed and how important it is to think for yourself. Her scheme sends the townspeople in a dither, all thanks to the power of persuasion — something that Wendy realizes is strong enough to rule the world.

Analysis: Jade Heasley writes this coming-of-age story with wit and charm. A light and easy read, I came to enjoy Wendy’s spunky, motivated attitude. She’s a tough girl, and it’s that spirit that helps her pull off the big stunt without turning people against her.

How to Rule the World is a fun book that kept me interested and didn’t force me to think too much. It did have a few flaws however. Parts of the book seemed preachy; as much as I liked Wendy, she was also a bit of a goody-goody, turning down dates with the town “bad boy,” instead of exploring her crush, as I imagine most 19-year-old girls would. Not to mention, she speaks very philosophically for a teenager. I understood that she’s a writer, and with that, comes more analytical thinking than the average person, but it still seemed a bit unlikely for someone her age.

There were also portions of the book that seemed irrelevant or forced, particularly the sections about her father. Since Wendy lives with her mother and grandpa, the author does have to explain where her father is. We get a few glimpses into the bad relationship he had with Wendy’s mom, their divorce, and one angry phone dialogue between Wendy and her dad, but it felt forced, as though the reader is meant to hate the father very quickly without very much reason.

That being said, it’s still a story with a good message to enjoy growing up and never give up on your dreams.

MVP: Wendy. Wise for her age and determined, she’s the girl young girls want to be, young boys want to date, and mothers want to have as their own daughter.

Get How to Rule the World in paperback for $12.99.

Or get it on your Kindle for just $7.99.

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‘Wimpy Kid’ Children’s Books Available Digitally Tomorrow

If you’re dealing with Hurricane Sandy right now and are without power, here’s some good news to keep your bored children amused. Tomorrow, books one through six of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series will be available as e-books.

According to Entertainment Weekly, the books will be trademarked as Wimp-E-Books (so clever). This comes after the series’ author Jeff Kinney put off the e-book adaptation. The series includes illustrations, and Kinney was concerned the e-book format wouldn’t do them justice, as Erin Strecker explains.

“I’ve been working very closely with Amazon and Apple and Barnes & Noble to make sure the books look right for the format,” said Kinney, who has over 75 million Diary of a Wimpy Kid books in print in 41 languages, in more than 44 countries. “It’s almost exactly like the hardcovers, if not exactly. We don’t want to distract from the humor of the books, which are very reliant on timing. If we ever do something supplemental, it will have to be something special.

A new seventh book in the series will be released November 13 in both hardcover and digital formats.

 

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Lena Dunham Signs $3.5M Book Deal

It’s the book analysts are saying will be the next big comedic memoir/bestseller since Tina Fey’s Bossypants. Last week, Random House announced it had acquired a more than $3.5 million dollar book deal with writer, director, actress Lena Dunham. Dunham created, wrote, and starred in the hit TV comedy Girls, which aired its first season on HBO this summer.

According to The New York Times, Dunham’s book is a collection of essays entitled Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She Learned. Dunham started shopping around a 66-page proposal, including illustrations and anecdotes to a number of different publishing companies. A bidding war is what led to the astronomical $3.5+ million deal. But Random House beat the others out in the end.

Random House is comparing Dunham’s work to writers like Nora Ephron and David Sedaris. The publisher says it will include stories about sex, food, traveling, and work. No word yet on when the book will be released.

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Review: Bossypants (Audiobook)

Recap: Smart, charming, and downright hilarious, Tina Fey’s Bossypants not only gives us a behind-the-scenes look at Fey’s life and background. It also offers career and life lessons, with funny anecdotes along the way. In Fey’s bestselling memoir, the 30 Rock and former SNL writer shares with us stories from her childhood, how she made it in the business, and how that Sarah Palin impression came to be. But mixed in with the overall story of her life are small, fun side stories — like those about her gay theater friends from childhood and her co-workers at the YMCA in Evanston, IL.

In this case, I listened to Bossypantsinstead of reading it. After all, Tina Fey reads the book herself. Also included in the audiobook is an audio version of the first Sarah Palin sketch Fey performed alongside Amy Poehler on SNL. There’s also a bonus disc, which features pictures from Fey’s past and a video of the SNL Sarah Palin skit. For me, that’s more than enough of a reason to choose the audiobook over the paperback.

Analysis: If there’s anything to get out of this book, it’s that yes, Tina Fey is as awesome, funny, smart, and charming as you think she is. If you’ve ever driven a long way by yourself, there’s perhaps no better companion for the road than the Bossypants audiobook.

Fey does not hold back, sharing with us some letters she either has or wishes she had sent to critics. She details her experience in meeting Sylvester Stallone. She even explains why former SNL star Cheri Oteri would have been better in one particular skit than Chris Kattan (who ultimately performed the skit). Her honesty can, at times, be astounding. But when reading a memoir, isn’t that exactly what you want?

The best parts of her story are easily about her days at SNL and 30 Rock. After all, that’s what she’s known for, and getting a behind-the-scenes look at the two shows is interesting — and let’s be honest — exactly the reason you picked up the book in the first place. She explains how she wasn’t even working at SNL when she did the Sarah Palin impressions, how she rarely impersonated people because she never looked like anyone, and how Alec Baldwin had been her choice for 30 Rock from the start and NBC probably wouldn’t have greenlit the show had he not signed on.

It’s not only Fey’s wit and candor that impress; she also subtlely includes career tips and life lessons. When talking about her days in improv, she explains tricks like “agree and say yes” or “yes, and…” or “think of solutions, not questions.” It becomes clear throughout this chapter that Fey is not only telling us how improv works; she’s telling us how life works.

MVP: Do you really have to ask? Sarah Palin.

Get the Bossypants audiobook now for $19.79.

Get it on your Kindle for just $12.99.

Or in paperback for $10.87.

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Get Chelsea Handler’s My Horizontal Life Ebook for $2.99, Free with Amazon Prime

Though I’ve yet to read Chelsea, Chelsea Bang, Bang, Chelsea Handler’s first book, My Horizontal Life, is easily her best. An hysterical collection of short stories about her sex life and one night stands, Handler shares her comedic chops better here than on any episode of her late night show, Chelsea Lately.

Handler details her escapades with midgets, cruise ship performers, and strippers. And the best part — it’s true! And even better — she has no shame! She shares all the gory details without hesitation, causing such strong laughter, you forget you’re reading a book.

Right now, you can get My Horizontal Life for just $2.99 for your Kindle, free for Amazon Prime members.

It’s also available in paperback for $9.96.

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More Chick Lit Greatness from Jennifer Weiner

Jennifer Weiner is one of the many chick lit princesses out there nowadays, often throwing women into laughing fits followed by sobbing in only the way chick lit and chick flicks can.

Best known for her novel — which was then turned into the movie starring Cameron Diaz and Shirley MacLaine — In Her Shoes, Weiner is set to publish another book this coming July, according to this article by Chicklit Club.

This one, called The Next Best Thing, takes her typically funny, awkward female heroine to a new level. It tells the story of a girl who gets the green light for a TV series she’s been writing. She then heads out to LA to make it happen, as the synopsis explains.

At 23, Ruth Saunders headed west with her 70-year-old grandma in tow, hoping to be hired as a television writer. Four years later, she’s hit the jackpot when she gets The Call: the sitcom she wrote, The Next Best Thing, has gotten the green light, and Ruthie’s going to be the show-runner. But her dreams of Hollywood happiness are threatened by demanding actors, number-crunching executives, an unrequited crush on a boss, and her grandmother’s impending nuptials. Set against the fascinating backdrop of Los Angeles show business culture, with an insider’s ear and eye for writer’s rooms, bad behaviour backstage and set politics, Jennifer Weiner’s new novel is a rollicking ride on the Hollywood rollercoaster and a heartfelt story about what it’s like for a young woman to love, and lose, in the land where dreams come true.

With Weiner’s experience making In Her Shoes into a movie and debuting her series State of Georgia last fall, it’s fitting and understandable that Weiner would want to write a book about the Hollywood production process. I’ve been in the mood to read another Weiner novel lately, so with the new one coming out, maybe it’s time I dig into some of her other goodies. Have any of you read her books? Which is your favorite?
Pre-order The Next Best Thing in hardcover for just $17.

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Get Mad Men: The Illustrated World for $9

If you’re a fan of the TV show Mad Men and are going through withdrawal, here’s the perfect thing to get you through until the new episodes begin: Mad Men: The Illustrated World. It’s a TV tie-in, a book component to go along with the fabulous 1960’s ad world of Don Draper. Included are kitschy styling tips, recipes for the perfect cocktail, and chapters on the home and office. It’s the only official tie-in to the show, and brings the life of Don, his co-workers, women, and children to the page in a funny, bright way.

Get Mad Men: The Illustrated World for just $9.

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Tina Fey, Betty White Get Grammy Nods for Audiobooks

They’re funny, they’re cute, and they both have bestselling books. So there’s no reason Tina Fey and Betty White shouldn’t be nominated for awards for the memoirs they released this year. But for these two lucky ladies, it’s not their written words that are being admired; it’s also their spoken words.

Tina Fey and Betty White both received Grammy nominations in the “Spoken Word” category for their audiobooks: Bossypants by Tina Fey and If You Ask Me (And Of Course You Won’t) by Betty White.

Though this year’s other nominations in the category include audio performances, it seems that in recent years, audiobooks have taken the lead.

According to this article by the L.A. Times, former President Bill Clinton won the 2005 Spoken Word Grammy with his book My Life. In 2006, it went to then Senator Barack Obama’s Dreams from My Father. Jimmy Carter’s audiobook won in 2007. Obama’s The Audacity of Hope won in 2008. The 2009 Spoken Word Grammy went to Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth, 2010’s award went to Michael J. Fox for his audiobook, and 2011 went to Jon Stewart for his.

It seems that the Grammy panel really enjoys listening to politicians, comedians, and celebrities while driving their cars. And really, who can blame them? So if you had to choose, who would it be? Betty White or Tina Fey?

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