Friday, July 21, 2017

Stef's "So Good You Can't Put It Down" Book Reviews Summer 2017 Reading Challenges! - Third Update

My first book of the summer has been completed!!!!! YAY! :D

Once again, beware of possible spoilers. However, I think I did pretty well not giving anything major away.

Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling
Began: June 3, 2017 12:23 AM
Finished: July 14, 2017 12:48 AM

It took me a month. I'm a slow reader, I guess. Then again, I was juggling this book with others. Focusing on this book alone is when I finally completed it.

I loved this book! It is because of this book that I am now a fan of Mindy Kaling. I'm going to actually miss reading it, especially outdoors, but I am looking to purchase my own copy of this one and its predecessor, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns), which she occasionally refers to in Why Not Me? and seems to be a similar premise, to add to my collection. I'm looking forward to seeing what is next for her (which is actually the movie adaptation of Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time coming out in March 2018).

I feel both inspired and empowered from reading this book. Even if some of her chapters seem longer, her quick humor is so easy to read through and leaves you surprised like "Wow. I am done with this section already." There is one part in her chapter called "A Perfect Courtship in my Alternate Life" that consists of fictional emails and text messages and I wasn't very excited about reading them, but she manages to make this entertaining as well. Her chapter "Harvard Law School Class Day Speech" is a transcription of her Harvard Law School 2014 commencement address and when I first read it I followed along while watching and listening to the video of it on YouTube.


Her words don't totally align and aren't exact with the book's transcription, but it was still an interesting, accurate reading experience. It was fun to see her written words literally come to life as I read them. I recommend. :)

Here is the review I wrote for Goodreads (at least so far)!

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I made it!!! The first book of the summer and my reading challenges done! :D

Such a good book! I feel so inspired! I feel like I've just been on this journey with her. Mindy Kaling gives such great, honest, life advice with lighthearted sarcastic humor and made me think of things from new perspectives. It is such a light, quick read and the mint-colored cover is so calming and inviting. It's also nice and light to hold in your hands. :)

I want to read her other book now and hopes she writes more of them! :D I also want to purchase my own copy of this book now too.

Oh! And before I conclude! Here is the Jai Courtney paragraph on page 44 that I was talking about as promised:


I kept returning to this page and paragraph just because I love it so much. And just in case you're wondering what Jai Courtney looks like...

Credit: GQ Australia - This is actually my favorite written interview with him. Very interesting read and great photos! I learned some Aussie jargon along the way too! Check it out! :)

Hamana hamana hamana 😍😍😍

So now I have been resuming my reading of Katherine Applegate's Beach Blondes. I am on page 382 out of 721. Basically I am halfway through. I'm still in the July section and need to be at page 491 by August 1. Let's attempt that goal again. If I did it last time, I think I can do it again this time.

We're still following Summer's triple romances and we still see teenagers annoyingly thinking that they are "in love," but at least Summer has been learning from past mistakes. Considering her episode with Adam, she doesn't want to fall too quickly into love, which is refreshing, especially considering that she is a main character in this type of genre. She also stands up for herself well too and tells off characters when need be. Sometimes I get frustrated with lead characters when someone says something unpleasant to them but the character remains silent because they either have no words to respond, do have the words but hold back, or they do spurt out something but immediately regret it after. "Say something back!!" I end up silently screaming at the book. Summer, thankfully, often manages to speak up for herself and rarely regrets it. It makes her a decent character. She's also a pretty funny person in general with her responses.

The "Video Blog" chapters are still irritating. I can't stand how they halt the action. They give us insight into Summer's deeper thoughts and provide details as to what has been going on between the lines of the story so that Applegate doesn't have to dedicate a core of the story to them, but like I have said before, we already know her feelings, and these minor details aren't that important. Sometimes I feel like skipping over these chapters, but then I feel like my reading of the book won't be complete. What do I care what she tells Jennifer, who is a character that we haven't even met or care about?

Diana is still the most interesting character. Her story is what drives me to keep reading, but yet it gives me the most anxiety too. She has gotten happier lately because she has come to a realization about her current situation and is concocting a plan to achieve justice. Applegate does a pretty good job keeping us guessing with Diana. Right now my mindset with her is "What exactly is she planning?"

On Monday night I MAY have managed to find and purchase NEXT year's all-summer book excursion by month (reminiscent of Beach Blondes) at Barnes and Noble. :P

It is called Summer Brides, a collection of novellas written by Marybeth Whalen, Beth Wiseman, and Debra Clopton respectively. I believe it was the only one of its kind on a "Bargain Priced" table, so therefore I felt that it was meant for me. It appears to follow this trend I have observed of wedding books on the rise nicely.

Summer Brides is a part of the A Year of Weddings Novella Collection, so therefore there are books in this series called Winter Brides, Spring Brides, and Autumn Brides as well. There are also individual novellas that are separate books that make up these books. For example, A June Bride (Whalen), A July Bride (Wiseman), and An August Bride (Clopton), make up the eventual Summer Brides collection, which was my motivation for buying it. It mirrors the Beach Blondes setup in this way, but is an anthology with multiple authors as opposed to Applegate's continuous narrative. There is also a book full of the complete collection called A Year of Weddings: Twelve Love Stories, which would have been a better purchase down the road had I known this. Now I feel like I need to collect the rest of the series to have it be complete! I'm somewhat feeling the same way about the SUMMER novel series too so I can continue reading that story.

Reading is something that makes me feel good and is leisurely for me, so I don't want to turn it into a collector's item perfectionist thing. It's okay if I only read and own a few (or even one) books out of a series. No harm done. I mean, I was okay with reading the The Last Little Blue Envelope out of order last year.

Some of the books in the A Year of Weddings Novella Collection series, such as the full collection, are only available on Kindle/Nook or audiobook anyway. Right now I prefer solid books, so I may have made the correct choice for now. I'm hoping to obtain the other books somehow so that I can somehow read them throughout a/the year by month nonstop.

They have gotten mixed reviews on Goodreads. We'll see how these go with me if I do resolve to take them on and keep the book. See, lately I'm buying certain books in stores thinking that I am not going to be able to find them otherwise and/or for a good price online, so I have some decisions to make. I do think that they would make an interesting year long reading challenge for me to compare and contrast writing styles and stories.

For now though, I sadly returned Kaling's book to the library on Monday *sniff* but in place of it I checked out Ruth Ware's The Woman in Cabin 10. I'm excited about this one. I've been visiting Barnes and Noble more frequently and keep seeing it for sale. I'm tempted to buy it, but because Sprague Library has it, I'm borrowing it first to test the waters. I also have to work on Amy Schumer's book The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo as well.

You know, I am loving writing these book blog posts! I'm starting to consider dedicating a blog, maybe this one, to just them! lol

By the way, we now have 239 books in our library! I'm still organizing my personal collection of what I want to contribute, keep, and donate.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Stef's "So Good You Can't Put It Down" Book Reviews Summer 2017 Reading Challenges! - Second Update

I finally returned to Sprague Library yesterday to check out Mindy Kaling's Why Not Me? and Amy Schumer's The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo! :) They are now due back August 2 and I am determined to finally finish at least Kaling's by that date.

Sprague Library has another book in its Pop Picks section of which I took notice. I also see it often on sale at Barnes and Noble as a new release popular bestseller. I was considering taking this one out yesterday too. However, another Sprague Library rule is that any patron who is not a student or faculty member is not allowed to check out more than three books at a time, so because I took out my two books as well as a book for my father, I had reached my limit.

The book is a horror mystery novel called The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware. It is about this travel magazine journalist (one reason why I want to read it) named Lo Blacklock who aboards a luxury cruise. She eventually sees a woman being thrown overboard, but because all passengers are accounted for, the cruise goes on as if nothing is amiss. So now it is up to Lo to crack the case. It looks like an engrossing, quick read.

I was actually considering eliminating Schumer's book in lieu of this one, but then remembered that I often do this with books. I start reading them, but then get excited about another book and then never finish the original. Because I had already begin reading Schumer's book and in my last blog post stated that I am looking forward to reading more of it, plus it is a part of my Summer 2017 reading challenge that I don't want to quit, I had to make my choice. I don't want to give up on Schumer just yet. Plus, I also am already working on a fiction novel with Beach Blondes, so I want to focus on that and not get lose track of that one either.

I plan on adding The Woman in Cabin 10 to my Summer 2017 reading list. I may not finish (or even start it) by the time summer ends, but let it be known that I am interested! We'll see what happens with it. I could still read it beyond summer and it would be fine.

By the way, I neglected to tell you in my last blog post how we are doing with Operation Basement Bookshelf. Right now we have 188 books categorized, classified, and filed. :)

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Stef's "So Good You Can't Put It Down" Book Reviews Summer 2017 Reading Challenges! - First Update

June was a busy reading month for me! It is now July 1! Let's see how I did. :)

Here are my page numbers as of now:

Beach Blondes by Katherine Applegate - 296 out of 721

The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer - 45 out of 323

Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling - 123 out of 228

Beware of possible spoilers! 

As you can see, I surpassed by Beach Blondes June goal (on June 22), of which I am very proud! :D

Let me explain something about this book that I have discovered during my journey with it. It is actually three books in one, which explains the thickness of it. It consists of the novels June Dreams, July's Promise, and August Magic. From my understanding, these were all individually released in 1995 and then rereleased as a full book in 2008, and boy does it ever date itself. I mean, the kids don't use cell phones! They use PAY PHONES and listen to their CD COLLECTIONS! On Goodreads there are adults on their commenting about remembering reading this when they were kids and wanting to read it again, making me feel so late to the party! I mean, 1995 was one thing. I was a five-year-old back then. But I feel odd reading this now as an adult given the teenage subject matter and think that if I jumped in when it came out in 2008 it would be more relevant for me because I WAS A TEENAGER THEN.

However, reading it for the first time as an adult helps me appreciate it better for what it is. It also makes me feel wiser than these kids. :P

You know, this book is surprising me. It is way better than I expected and clearly deserves a better cover photo. There is definitely more to this book than meets the eye given some of its serious subject matter and the cutesy photo of a bunch of blonde girls taking a selfie on the beach does not do it justice by any means. It's false advertising. So far there has been only one scene that I recall of the girls hanging out on the beach, and it's only two of them laying on the sand. In fact, throughout the whole book, there is only one blonde and very few female characters to begin with. Another is brunette, another is Latina (whom isn't described as being blonde), and this other girl, a minor character, is a redhead.

However, even though I do enjoy its engaging tale, I do find some flaws with it regardless. Okay so the plot surrounds an awkward teenage girl named Summer Smith from Bloomington, Minnesota (who constantly reminds the reader and the other characters of her origins, much to her own embarrassment) who is invited by her Aunt Mallory to stay at her home in Crab Claw Key in Florida for the summer. Mallory, a romance novelist now that she has divorced her husband, embarks on a book tour for the week and leaves poor sweet Summer with her reclusive cousin Diana, who doesn't make it a secret that she doesn't want Summer there.

Diana Olan (the brunette) is clearly the most interesting character in this book by far. At first she comes across this typical bitchy teenage mean girl, making me dread her stereotypical behavior, but then as we learn more about her, we realize that something deeper is going on with her. This carries the story for me. She actually got an emotional reaction of out of me when I read it in the car on the way back from a family day trip to the Borgata in Atlantic City. I want to read more about her and how she is going to overcome her troubles. I admire Applegate for taking the strides she does with this character and her plot. It's what makes this book different from the other teenage beach novels I have read.

However, the main focus is on Summer, who all of a sudden is attracting practically every boy in town even though back in Minnesota she was invisible to the opposite sex. These encounters were foretold to her by a tarot card reader while on the plane there, by the way. 

She first meets Seth Warner, who randomly kisses her in the airport but turns out has a delusional ex-girlfriend (Lianne, the redhead) that believes that they are still in a relationship and that Seth is lying and then for some reason he gets mad at Summer for being upset about this; then Diver, this hippie guy who has sworn off girls and lives in the stilt house Diana throws Summer in, only wears one pair of swim trunks (his singular attire), and declares that the neighboring pelican's name is Frank; and finally Adam Merrick, the wealthy senator's son who uses the typical lines that only an arrogant player with money, looks, and power would utter and originally dated Diana in the summer prior and has now set his sights on Summer.

I mean, seriously, all of the boys in this book are a little strange. Summer has no true winner here.

One of my biggest problems with this book is how philosophical these kids are. It makes sense when Diver does this, because it's his character, but the rest of them do this too. They don't speak like normal teenagers but instead all have these existential moments where they talk deeply about life and claim that Summer is experiencing all of this romance because apparently Crab Claw Key is so mystic that people forget who they are while they're there. Summer attempts to transform into a different person and do things she normally wouldn't, making her confused about her actions afterward, and they all attribute this to the setting itself.

Another thing I can't stand are the video blog chapters. Scattered throughout the book are chapters called "Video Blog," for which Summer pretty much provides a stream of consciousness monologue for Jennifer, her best friend back home who is vacationing in California. These basically serve as Summer's reflections of what is happening in the story, and more insufferably, act as recaps of what we have already just read. These chapters aren't needed. I already know how Summer is feeling about her situation considering I am following her as the main character and listen to all of these existential discussions she has. These are reprieves from the action and I use them as a place to stop reading for the time being, but they just get in the way. The book would be shortened significantly if these chapters were removed.

I want to move onto the other books, but I don't want to leave out Marquez. Marquez is a Cuban-American girl who goes by her last name because Maria (her first) is too common and Esmeralda (her middle) is a bit too too, I guess. She befriends Summer, gets her a job at the Crab 'n' Conch, a restaurant that is apparently the world's worst place to work according to the kids, and remains her sole companion throughout the book. She is no-nonsense and serves as the comic relief, but yet has issues of her own that are slowly unraveling. Applegate also uses her as an opportunity to discuss immigration, which is still very relevant to our world today, so that's interesting. 

So now I'm waiting on seeing what is coming up for these kids, such as what Adam is going to do next to win Summer's heart back (let's just say that by page 296 he has REALLY pissed her off...an understatement at best). I am also really wondering what Diana is going to do as she plummets deeper and deeper into her sorrows. I've actually decided to take a small break from this book because I was reading it nonstop one week and needed a breather from its heavy premise, so I chose to devote this time to continue the other books on my list.

Then I have my comedienne ladies, Mindy Kaling and Amy Schumer! I haven't worked on my Roseanne Barr book yet because I was so engrossed by these books. Plus, they are library books, so I need to prioritize.

I had to return these books to Sprague Library on June 29. Because it is a college library, their policy is that only students and faculty can renew books. During the summer they are closed on Fridays and Sundays and are closed today this week as well, so I have to wait until Monday to go back to retrieve them so I can resume my reading once again. :P

This was the first time that returning books to the library gave me withdrawals!

So far I am liking Kaling's book more than Schumer's, which I guess is evidenced by my page progression above and is funny because I initially thought it was going to be the other way around.

I'm halfway through it, about to start Part 3. This is thanks to her short, quick read chapters of simple stories and tips. It's both lightweight and lighthearted and takes us into Kaling's life, about which she is completely honest and is her intention with the book. She occasionally makes references to her first book, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns), so I want to read that one now too. I also kinda like the cover design better. No offense to Schumer's nude backside, but Kaling's mint-colored cover relaxes me. 

She also happens to mention my current celebrity crush, the super hot (and hairy) Australian actor Jai Courtney, on Page 44! I'm on a Suicide Squad (2016) kick lately, in which he portrays Captain Boomerang. She says that her friend Ike (Barinholtz) knows him, and I was like, "Yeah, he does! They worked on Suicide Squad together!" I never knew who Courtney was beforehand, so I'm thrilled that I discovered him just in time to understand her reference. It's so ironic and I got so excited when I saw it! I was going to take a photo of the paragraph dedicated to him for this blog, but didn't plan on not having access to it by the time I published this (Grr!), so I'll try to supply it for my next reading update. I'm almost done reading her book anyway. It's my favorite book of the summer so far. :)

As for Schumer's book, for some reason I am getting more melancholy vibes from her and I don't really know why, given that hers and Kaling's books are basically the same concept. Don't get me wrong, it's still a funny book. 

Various aspects of her book have stayed with me. For example, in one chapter she describes her one and only one night stand. Normally I am against one night stands 100%, but her story made me see them in a new perspective. 

In the next chapter she talks about being an introvert, which seems highly unlikely for someone with her personality, but it made me realize that my own introverted side isn't necessarily a bad thing, especially for female writers like ourselves. She and Kaling talk about their work process, which is a huge reason why I am reading their books. I like reading about successful women writers and how they got to where they are today as they deal with their inner and outer struggles. It makes them more human and relatable and makes me feel less alone. 

Schumer I feel often gets a bad rep, but I have gained some more respect for her after reading what I did about her so far in her book. She comes across a good person, especially when she talks about her riches to rags to riches background and how she gives money just because she wants to. I'm looking forward to reading more of her story. :)

Throughout the month of June I took all three of these books on my daily walks to a local park or schoolyard, both of which are usually void of people or at least consist of very few, where I would sit at a vacant picnic table and just read in the sunlight or the occasional windy/rainy day. These are my most serene moments of the summer.

I highly recommend. :)

Thursday, June 15, 2017

"Scream Queens" Cancellation: My Thoughts and a Brief Review of the Two-Season Series Overall

"Scream Queens" has literally been cancelled for a month now (announced May 15) and I'm just finding out now. lol Last night I tweeted another girl about the show when she tweeted about binge-watching it only to wake up this morning to her response tweet telling me that it has been cancelled. I looked it up and lo and behold found articles about it.

I've been looking it up on and off to see if it had been been renewed, so I'm surprised that I missed this news. This entire time since the Season 2 finale I had been indifferent to whether or not it would be renewed and had planned to be fine with either outcome. The following is why.

I figure that I'd blog about my feelings about this considering how I've dedicated blog posts to it before. This is the first time that a TV show I followed has been straight up cancelled as opposed to simply ending after a lengthy run, like creator Ryan Murphy's other creation, "Glee."

Okay so here are my thoughts.

Murphy says that they told their story, and I agree with him. It ended in a way that was complete, so I wasn't really foreseeing any continuation. There was nothing about the Season 2 finale that told me that any more needed to be said. It's also telling when the main cast starts to move onto other projects that the end is near. The lead female characters all have successful careers and Lea Michele's character, Hester Ulrich (I literally forgot her name. I had to look it up.), the main antagonist of the series, actually ends up scot-free in a relationship with Dr. Brock Holt (John Stamos).

The only thing that threw me was the cliffhanger ending when Chanel Oberlin (Emma Roberts) encountered a Kappa Kappa Tau logo and the Season 1 Red Devil once again in her car, which opened up an opportunity for a third season. It ended much like the Season 1 finale, after all.

But, there isn't a true reason for one. Most of the main characters have died, including fan favorite Chad Radwell (Glen Powell). Some fans, including myself, speculated that maybe Grace Gardner (Skyler Samuels) would return for Season 3 for revenge, considering that she is also still alive and living in an insane asylum, but I guess that isn't coming to pass.

The fact that I had to look up most of these characters and actors' names and forgot that Denise Hemphill (Niecy Nash) survived the series tells me that maybe this show wasn't as memorable as I remembered.

The true stars were clearly the Chanels (which I'm now kinda realizing and understanding how it was a parody of "Heathers"! lol!), particularly Roberts, and Chanel #3 (Billie Lourd) and Chanel #5 (Abigail Breslin).

You know, Season 2 wasn't nearly as interesting as Season 1, and unfortunately plenty of fans felt this way, which probably led to its demise. It lacked the ratings. This is probably because Season 1 was a fresh, new concept and the audience didn't know what to expect, whereas for Season 2, you kinda had an idea. I tuned in, but not as much. What really aggravated me about Season 2 was how early on they revealed the faces behind the Green Meanie, thus making the finale anticlimactic. Once they disclosed to the audience who the three Green Meanies were and all that was left was for the characters to find out, I lost interest. Even Chanel's relationship with Dr. Brock was cringeworthy. I mean, I know Chanel is supposed to be an adult, but it was still so weird for me. She's a girl in her twenties competing with a middle aged woman, Dean Cathy Munsch (Jamie Lee Curtis - I remembered her full name at least!), for a middle aged man's affections (even though, now that I recall, Brock was either younger or older than he appeared, which made him a suspect, or not...See how much I've forgotten about this show??!). I know this was the comedy, and it was unique to say the least, but still...weird, even for "Scream Queens" standards I guess. I also wish they gave Chanel #5 a romantic happy ending. I was getting sick of her being a constant punching bag so I'm actually very pleased with her outcome of finding her purpose working at the hospital with Zayday Williams (Keke Palmer - remembered her too!) and finally away from the two bitches she called friends.

In fact, the only good thing to come out of Season 2 is Billie Lourd and Taylor Lautner's (who played Dr. Cassidy Cascade - I remembered!) real life relationship, which is still going strong!

So, a Season 3 would have been fun and a good number of seasons to flesh out the rest of the series, but definitely not necessary. You don't want to drag something out to a point where the entire series as a whole becomes despicable and you run out of ideas, somewhat like how "Glee" got stale towards the end. But yet that show was regarded very successful and had a very heartwarming series finale. "Scream Queens" has ended on a not high, not bad, but mediocre note.

It normally upsets viewers when a beloved TV show is cancelled after a season ends on a cliffhanger, but for "Scream Queens," it is actually pretty appropriate given the show's theme, and I'm satisfied with the run.

So long, "Screams Queens"! It has been a crazy ride! :)

Friday, June 2, 2017

Stef's "So Good You Can't Put It Down" Book Reviews Summer 2017 Reading Challenges!

I've decided to take on a number of my own personal reading and book challenges this summer and am announcing it now on here to be somewhat held accountable and report on the outcome. lol

The challenges so far are as follows. And of course, they all have female leads.

1) Basement Bookshelf Library

My father Steve and I, both writers and bibliphiles, have accumulated a lot of books into our collections over the years. We have donated some books, and I plan to donate some more, but the time has come to organize the tomes in our home library. Last month we attended the Lacordaire Academy Used Book Sale, which ran from May 18-21, and purchased some new additions, so now we have to figure out how to combine the old with the new (and used.)

2) Beach Blondes: A SUMMER Novel

I'm hoping that this novel isn't as young as it appears because I don't know if I am necessarily in the mood for teenage girl drama, but who cares, right?

I bought this book from Berkeley Heights Public Library (even though it gave off a teenage vibe I was still interested in the plot :P) and am impressed with how thick it is considering it is a member of the TEEN FICTION genre. I mean, it's 721 pages!

Something I like to try is reading books according to setting. For example, I had planned on starting the book November 9 by Colleen Hoover on, you guessed it, November 9, 2016. Unfortunately, this didn't come to pass. I think maybe I was in the middle of another book? I don't know. But I do own the novel, so I will try again this year. :)

As for Beach Blondes by Katherine Applegate, I took notice of it again when I started sorting my book collection and noticed that it is categorized by month, meaning sections dedicated to June, July, and August. Given that June was coming up shortly, I decided that this was the perfect time to take on my setting reading challenge. It is June 2 now and I have to be on page 266 by July 1...

Wish me luck!

3) Comedienne Memoirs

As I have said in my last book post, I have been getting into memoirs, particularly those written by female authors. My dad and I went to Sprague Library at Montclair State University just last night and I, like usual, visited the "Pop Picks" section to see what I could find. As opposed to the rest of the library, these shelves consist of more contemporary titles. They tend to rotate this section every so often too.

There seemed to be an influx of celebrity memoirs/biographies/autobiographies all of a sudden in this section.

The first one that caught my eye was Amy Schumer's The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo. I'm not a huge fan of Schumer's comedy, but I don't totally dislike it either. There are times she makes me laugh with her girl-next-door attitude and I appreciate her as a person. I think I saw an interview with her once when she said that she wanted to stay true to herself and that's all she can do or something like that. Whatever she said, she gained my respect from it. lol

I was a little iffy about this book though because so far she seems to make a lot of vagina jokes, which don't bother me, but I hope it isn't an indication that she provides an overkill of such jokes throughout. Like, a "Look at how progressive and edgy I am! I keep referencing my pussy in my book! Haha!" type thing. One of the first chapters discusses her experience seeing some hot guy at an airport. Her humor in this section drew me in so I decided to check it out.

Before I made this decision, however, I came across Mindy Kaling's Why Not Me? Again, not a huge fan of Kaling, pretty much as indifferent as I am with Schumer. I have come to like her more recently from her voice acting work as Disgust in Inside Out (2015). But when I cracked open Kaling's book, I found myself chuckling at her simple humor. I appreciate how light the book feels in my hands and how short it looks. Both her book and Schumer's have short, quick read chapters, so I think for at least Kaling's I can take it on and manage to finish it. Then I realized that I could apply her story to myself because with this book she intends to convey her tales of finding confidence to be herself. I can always learn that type of lesson. Considering all of these good feelings I have so far toward this book, and even somewhat preferring it to Schumer's, I decided to check this one out as well.

What I noticed so far about both books is that they seem to have the same concept, comedy, and sarcastic tone. I then realized that their writing styles (provided it is their writing styles and not just a ghostwriter trying to emulate their voices lol Kaling says that she is comedy writer, which made me more interested to read her work) are reminiscent of the approach of one such comedienne, Roseanne Barr.

Back in January and February I got sick with a fever and started watching "Roseanne" on Laff. I never really watched the show when it first came out in the nineties, but I had some memories of it and now watching it as an adult I appreciated it even more. I found Barr's book Roseanne: My Life as a Woman, which she claims to have written herself within its pages, at the Lacordaire Used Book Sale and decided to purchase it. I read the same amount of pages in this book I read from the others when I first bought it and sense the same humor.

My plan this summer is to read all three books and compare and contrast the written work and experiences of a white comedienne, a comedienne of color, and a white comedienne from the nineties, who are all fairly successful in their own right, and perhaps apply their advice to my own creative success as a woman. All chapters seem to be short, sweet, entertaining, and interesting.

My Schumer and Kaling books are due back at the library on June 29.

4) Still working on THIS book...

Ugh. I have gotten further with this book since my last book blog post, but I'm lacking interest in it now. I've invested so much in it now that I feel like I've come so far and I don't want to give it up! I want to see what happens now!

It started off good, but now the two main characters Marie-Laure and Joseph keep gushing about how much they love each other and engaging in these cheesy, over the top sex scenes that you just know something bad is going to come across these two. Joseph is betrothed to another woman in an arranged marriage, of course, so that's a typical star-crossed lovers storyline for you. I keep predicting that Marie-Laure is going to get pregnant by him (even though they have been using "sheaths") and because he is an aristocrat and she is a scullery maid, it's going to bring about a scandal and secrets. So cliche. I'm not here for it right now.

I actually ran into Janis at the used book sale and told her about my qualms with this book. She shook her head and understood my woes. lol

So, there you have it. My Summer 2017 Reading Challenges so far! Wish me luck! I'll hopefully be back with updates as my reading progresses! :)

Sunday, May 28, 2017

I Got Quoted for a Buzzfeed Article!!! :D

One of my goals achieved! lol!

They originally asked the Buzzfeed Community "Which Show From Your Childhood Do You Wish Was Never Cancelled?"

I contributed "The Puzzle Place" in the comments and they chose mine!! ​I wasn't sure if they were going to choose my contribution or not, but I really wanted them to and purposely commented to be included. I never really submit comments to Buzzfeed for this intention, but this time I tried it out. It was too perfect of an opportunity. I even carefully crafted my comment to be presentable and especially well written if chosen. Haha! I was thinking maybe they would use mine because it's unique and I provided an explanation.

I make it a habit to deactivate my Facebook account but purposely stayed active until the article was published so that my comment would remain live and I wanted to use my main account for the submission! lol I was determined. I didn't want to take any chances. However, I ended up deactivating my Facebook a bit more again recently because I felt like it (I am way more productive and peaceful when I am not on social media) and was thinking that if they were going to use it, they probably had seen it already anyway or maybe didn't see or maybe decided not use it. lol I was like, "No big deal if they don't."

But tonight when I got home I visited Buzzfeed, as I do, I saw that they had finally posted the article. So I clicked on it and scrolled, wondering if I was going to see my contribution.

I came across "The Puzzle Place" addition, wondered if it was mine (Could it be??), AND IT WAS!

This is so cool! I'm so excited!!!

I may be going a little bit too enthusiastic about this, but it's pretty interesting to see myself and my opinions in a Buzzfeed Community article on a site I consistently visit. I appreciate their nostalgic posts. :) Some of the comments even say that they are glad that someone (me) remembered "The Puzzle Place". :)

You can check out the full article here. It's a list of "25 Shows From Your Childhood That Should’ve Had At LEAST One More Season".

It's a nice list with plenty of great old kids shows acknowledged on there. Number 8 is my personal favorite though. ;)

8 is actually one of my favorites numbers, so I love that about this experience too. lol

If I'm this excited being quoted in a Buzzfeed article, imagine how psyched I am going to be when I'm published in even greater forums. Looking forward to that. ;)

Monday, May 8, 2017

Biblical, Shakespearean, and Other Themes in "Heathers"

Let's celebrate my half birthday by sharing my first analytical blog essay in months! :D

For the past few weeks, I have been on a "Heathers" kick. Heathers was a teen movie in 1988 starring Winona Ryder and Christian Slater and it was remade as an Off-Broadway musical in 2014. I watched this YouTube video one Sunday morning, heard "Dead Girl Walking", liked it, looked it up along with the rest of the musical, and the rest was history.


I had heard about the musical when it came out, but still didn't really think that much about it. Although, I will give its Twitter account credit for being the one Broadway musical account to follow me. ;)

I never really knew what "Heathers" was about, hence my current interest to now delve more into it. All I knew was that it is about a clique of girls all with the name Heather and that this teenage bad boy tries to kill everybody. I always sensed the dark tone, but now I have more of an understanding of the story in general.

For example, I never knew that Ryder's character wasn't named Heather. I always thought that she was the fourth Heather or something. However, high school senior Veronica Sawyer (Winona Ryder in the movie, Barrett Wilbert Weed in the musical) is a teenage nobody who longs for life in elementary school when all of her classmates got along with each other. She hooks up with the awful popular girls, the Heathers (Heather Chandler, the Queen Bee, Heather Duke, the bitchy second-in-command, and Heather McNamara, the one that tags along and has some deep issues of her own), in order to avoid being targeted by the bullies. She becomes attracted to new kid Jason "J.D." Dean (Christian Slater in the movie, Ryan McCartan in the musical) when he is the only one strong enough to stand up to the bullies and wishes for him to protect her. The two develop a sort of flirtation and end up accidentally-on-purpose murdering the mean kids for revenge and framing the homicides as suicides to alleviate the blame, thus launching a whole teen suicide awareness campaign at their Westerburg High School. From this, Veronica's life starts to spiral out of control as J.D.'s true dark colors are revealed and he gets more and more determined to purge the bullies in order to sanctify society.

There are some themes in this plot that I believe are worth noticing, so let's dive right in! :) Incidentally, although I will be talking about both the film and the musical, I'll be going by the musical more. They made some changes from the film for the stage version and I feel more familiar with the latter.

Beware of spoilers and adult language!!!

Sunday, April 30, 2017

I'm Still Here!!!

Hey friends! You might be wondering where my blog posts have been. Well, as I have said in this blog post, once I get busy professionally, I can't really focus as much on this blog. However, that being said, this blog is still a priority that I keep thinking about. I have blog posts to finish and share (especially this year's Women's History Month project, which is almost finished but yet behind...I'm working on it!) plus other things I want to accomplish, so I just wanted to let you know that I'm still here! :) April has been a pretty busy month for me, for I recently started a new freelancing position that has been keeping me hard at work, so I am extremely grateful for that. It's just a matter of me managing my time better and using my free time to work on this blog.

So, there you have it! :)

-Stef :)

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Real Influential Women Role Models (Real and Fictitious) Stef's Female Friendships Women's History Month Project


This Women's History Month I am going to do something extra special. For my series "Real Influential Women Role Models (Real and Fictitious)" in the past, I have written about fictional female characters and the occasional celebrities and historical figures who I feel exhibit characteristics of the strong woman. I also spotlighted several female TV show cast of characters that compose the nature of their particular shows. Now I am planning something completely different.

This Women's History Month, I decided to write blog posts focusing on the various groups of women who have shaped me, from family members to friendships I have made during my different stages of life. I've noticed that I have individual groups of friends that each has its own title depending on our friendship's theme. So throughout this month (the plan is weekly), I am going to share stories about my friends and how they have each contributed to my life and continue to do so. :)

I'm very excited about these heartwarming installments. Stay tuned!

Happy Women's History Month! :D

(Edit: These might take a while longer because I'm realizing that I may want to include some more photos that I need to find, but I will do my best to deliver these throughout the month, even if it may go into April.)

(Edit: March 16, 11:30 AM: I might save all of these for the final two weeks of March. :) )

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Stef's "So Good You Can't Put It Down" Book Reviews: Goodreads 2016 Reading Challenge

LOL! Finally!

2016 was my first year participating in a Goodreads Challenge. Determined, I originally planned on reading 12 books this year, one for each month. However, seeing that I probably wouldn't accomplish this amount, I shortened it to eight books this year. Baby steps.

I did manage to read some whole books, but at the end of the year I was still behind. However, I also dabbled and started some other books, so to me, as long as a still read something, it still counts regardless if I completed them or not. I'll probably consider them my 2017 books too when I actually finish some of them. :P

For a lot of the books I read, I use My Bibliofile: A Reading Journal for Book Lovers to record my thoughts along the process. My father gave me this for Christmas one year and it is one of the best gifts I have ever received! Some books I do not include in this because I want to save pages in it and want to dedicate my entries to books I know I am into and want to finish. I think I might use some of the notes I took in this so I can remember what I thought of these books better. :P


So here are the books I read in 2016! :D

Monday, February 27, 2017

Ryan Gosling Deserves More than an Academy Award for What He Did on Oscar Night 2017

This was originally going to be a "Chatting with Stef" video, but I think I can articulate my thoughts on the matter better here.

So the 2017 Academy Awards, also known as the Oscars, took place last night. Awards were given, political stances were taken, jokes were made (mostly at Donald Trump's expense), and everyone is talking about the mistake at the end.

However, there is something that nobody seems to be talking about nearly as much, but should. Although, it has gotten a lot of attention of Twitter and other comment sections.

The news is covering Gosling's facial expression to La La Land's loss and his sister Mandi, who he generously brought to join him, but this needs to be acknowledged so much more, which is why I am writing this blog post.

First of all, I can't stand jokes at award shows. It's like, shut up and just give out the awards. They're usually never that humorous and are all just ways to get people chattering. Then again, perhaps it depends on the jokes, but I digress.

One of the "jokes" was bringing a bunch of unsuspecting Hollywood tourists into the theater and parading them in front of the nominees. The tourists were understandably starstruck, taking photos and videos of their favorite actors and actresses before them as host Jimmy Kimmel guided them down the line and introduced them.

However, what struck me more was Ryan Gosling's reaction to all of this, which for me spoke volumes.

Ryan Gosling, who was up for La La Land and sat in the front row, was the ONLY celebrity to STAND UP and STAY STANDING to greet the lineup. Not only that, he seemed to have quick, lighthearted conversations with each member. I was actually appalled to see that the others didn't really follow suit. And not to change the subject, I heard that he also made a nice speech about his girlfriend Eva Mendes back at the Golden Globes.

The man is a Grade A class act and deserves to be commended.

At first I didn't notice this, but people have pointed out that he gave the first guy his box of candy (throughout the night they dropped candy from the ceiling) and may have even handed him his autograph. But all of this is beside the point. Gosling did what the rest of the celebrities would not.

Sure there were some guys who briefly stood up and took photos and Denzel Washington got up for that one couple, but that was more because the woman said that he was her favorite actor and Kimmel somewhat obligated him. I got the impression that Washington couldn't be bothered and neither could the rest of them. I'll even go as far as saying that they kinda looked borderline repulsed by the everyday people and couldn't wait for them to leave.

Then again, this was just my impression.

I could be over thinking this and overpraising the guy, but it holds true that Ryan Gosling was the only star to treat the tourists with respect as fellow human beings plainly by standing up to get on their level and connecting with them as opposed to gawking and giggling at the "hilarity" of it all. But then again, you can't really blame them for responding strangely like that. It can always be cool for fans to meet famous people and for famous people to meet fans, but this was just such an odd and cringeworthy way of doing it. Now, if the tourists were let into an after party and could freely mingle as equals, that might be another story.

It was as if both the tourists and the actors alike were on display. Okay, well maybe the actors were caught off guard and found the whole extravagancy just as awkward as I did, so they were put on the spot and too stunned and maybe even too shy and low key to respond right. Maybe they deal with fans on a daily basis and needed a break from it. Maybe they aren't supposed to interact with people on the fly to protect themselves. Some of them were friendly enough when hugging and shaking hands with their fans, which was the extent of their communications.

I also want to give all of the women the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps their feet were killing them because of their heels or they were restricted from movement in their outfits. As a woman who has worn such attire in the past, I can totally understand this.

This still doesn't excuse the fact that this looked more like an opportunity to mock the "lesser" common folk and their excitement than anything by tricking them to show up, which isn't necessarily the celebrities' fault. They clearly didn't plan for this to occur.

People are mostly commenting about how funny and/or awesome it was and how lucky these people were, but I did manage to find a few tweets and comments from the opposing side, and I agree with them. Here are two of them:







The others basically echo a similar theme.

I repeat that maybe I am overanalyzing this. Some say that it was nice of the Academy and Jimmy Kimmel to allow this and was a harmless surprise and Kimmel style prank. It was, after all, a once in a lifetime opportunity for the tourists to meet their favorite stars and certainly a night they will never forget. Maybe it was the best night of their lives! Many people will probably disagree with my opinions about this because the tourists themselves looked happy to be there and, like, they were at the Oscars and ran into so many stars at once! Some people wish that they were in their shoes and that this would happen to them.

Why, then, should I complain on their behalf? I don't speak for anybody else.

Perhaps they were also in on the joke? This definitely needs to be considered because they were going to be on the Oscars and maybe certain permissions needed to be verified, such as for being filmed. Some people might feel ashamed wearing street clothes to such a formal event in front of cameras and a bunch of celebrities who are all decked out for the Oscars, which again intensifies the idea of the rich and famous humiliating the common folk. They also most likely had to be fully surveyed for safety reasons before they stepped foot into that theater.

Plus, if they were serious Hollywood fans, how would they not know that the Oscars were being filmed at that location at that time? Isn't the Red Carpet outside also an obvious clue? Well, they did take them through the side door and not every Hollywood tourist has to be that knowledgeable about every single thing happening in the industry...

Maybe it's because I am a private person, but as I was watching this, sensing the uneasiness through the screen and wondering how I would respond to the situation, I thought to myself that I probably would have been annoyed by the spotlight and may not be alone. Furthermore, my desire to meet so many celebrities isn't that great.

The Hollywood elite need to remember that they were once just as ordinary as us and if it weren't for the people walking in, they wouldn't be sitting in those nice comfy chairs awaiting their award acceptances and distributions. People like us spend our well earned money, which is probably about 1/100,000,000 of what these celebrities make, on tickets to see these films because we appreciate this art and appreciate these performers producing that art. I hope to never change my perceptions about this and remain humble.

Ryan Gosling understands this, for instead of remaining in his chair like everyone else, he stood among the commoners. The least the rest could have done was rise from their seats along with him to recognize the people who have helped and continue to help them get into their current positions of success and stature. Not that they aren't grateful, but it would have been nice to see them take this extra step to show that gratitude and camaraderie between us and them. Then again, that could have dragged the uncomfortable segment out longer and they were already pressing on time.

Something tells me that if this happened at the Tony Awards, more of the performers would socialize with the entering fans. Theater people seem more inclusive and accepting.

Interestingly enough, I was never really that huge a fan of Ryan Gosling. Let me be clear that I never disliked him, but I also wasn't one of the many girls my age who gushed over his portrayal of Noah Calhoun in Nicholas Sparks's The Notebook (2004), which is how I first discovered him. If I had to choose a Ryan, I always chose Ryan Reynolds, another fellow decent human being in my opinion.

I truly enjoyed Gosling's performance in La La Land when Abby and I saw it back in late December (and shockingly didn't make a review vlog of it). Gosling was up Best Actor in a Leading Role, but lost to Casey Affleck for Manchester by the Sea.

He may not have received an award, but he certainly has received a new fan in me from his one simple act of kindness. Many claim it is because of his Canadian upbringing. Regardless of what it is, he certainly earned my respect last night.

Thank you, Ryan Gosling.

If you want to see what I am talking about throughout this piece, here is the video of it:


(But maybe the celebrities were in on it [too]. If so, their reactions were simply them acting! Hmm... If that's true, then they really are a pretty talented bunch and perhaps more talented than I thought because they managed to convince me enough to write a whole blog post criticizing them!)

Monday, January 30, 2017

Reflections about..."The Bodyguard" at Paper Mill Playhouse Friday December 23, 2016 at 1:30 PM

I've been practically either sick or busy all month, so I haven't been able to devote more of my time to this blog, but I am finally delivering this post!

The Bodyguard was a 1992 movie starring Whitney Houston and Kevin Costner about a pop singer who has a stalker, so her manager hires a bodyguard to protect her.

Now this story comes to audiences live in a stage production...but not quite. I say not quite because I read the synopsis of the movie on Wikipedia and it doesn't really match up. It has some similarities, but the musical adaptation is a total retelling and liberties are taken.

Written by Alexander Dinelaris, the show has played in London, Australia, Germany, Korea, and Toronto, all with different casts. Now it kicked off its U.S. debut and tour at Paper Mill Playhouse, starring Grammy Award winner Deborah Cox as Houston's character Rachel Marron and Judson Mills as Costner's character Frank Farmer. It premiered on November 25 and played until January 1.


Going into it, I wasn't sure what to expect. All I knew about this story is that it was based on a movie starring Whitney Houston who sings "I Will Always Love You" at the end. I didn't know how well this would translate to a stage musical, so I was interested in seeing how it is done.