Review | Scrappy Little Nobody | Anna Kendrick

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Scrappy Little Nobody

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

Even before she made a name for herself on the silver screen starring in films like Pitch PerfectUp in the AirTwilight, and Into the Woods, Anna Kendrick was unusually small, weird, and “10 percent defiant.”

At the ripe age of thirteen, she had already resolved to “keep the crazy inside my head where it belonged. Forever. But here’s the thing about crazy: It. Wants. Out.” In Scrappy Little Nobody, she invites readers inside her brain, sharing extraordinary and charmingly ordinary stories with candor and winningly wry observations.

With her razor-sharp wit, Anna recounts the absurdities she’s experienced on her way to and from the heart of pop culture as only she can—from her unusual path to the performing arts (Vanilla Ice and baggy neon pants may have played a role) to her double life as a middle-school student who also starred on Broadway to her initial “dating experiments” (including only liking boys who didn’t like her back) to reviewing a binder full of butt doubles to her struggle to live like an adult woman instead of a perpetual “man-child.”

Enter Anna’s world and follow her rise from “scrappy little nobody” to somebody who dazzles on the stage, the screen, and now the page—with an electric, singular voice, at once familiar and surprising, sharp and sweet, funny and serious (well, not that serious).


I love Anna Kendrick. And please don’t think that my love for her resulted in me obviously giving this book 5 stars, because before listening to it I actually thought she was kind of bitchy and pretentious. But hearing this book changed my opinion of her and I just loved it.

Anna’s thoughts are empowering. She celebrates women and their bodies throughout the various essays in here, despite constantly circling back to the fact that it took her a very long time to feel satisfied with hers (she has a short-person complex). Her sexuality is owned with pride, and I respect that a lot. If this book is anything besides an autobiography, it’s somewhat of a feminist manifesto.

At the same time that she’s writing in the vein of rah-rah-sisterhood, Anna’s essays also show her vulnerable side. I relate to her on such a personal level, especially when she starts discussing the concept of nicety versus driven, hardworking, professional, etc. In high school, after suffering for years at the hands of a bully, I developed what I call a protective chip on my shoulder where I dropped my niceness and started being a bitch to people who deserved it. The word “bitch” became a name of pride for me, and I owned it with my head held high when one of my former bullies would call me by it. Anna discusses her own experiences in much the same way and it really opened my eyes to preconceptions and misrepresentations in our (in particular, professional, but also general) culture.

The way Anna narrates her story is endearing, honest, and edgy. I didn’t feel like I was listening to an actress, but a friend instead. If ever there was any doubt that actors aren’t like us regular people, her inner monologue as shown in her essays will make you feel otherwise. I certainly do. And, at the end of it, the one question I’m left with is this: Anna, do you still sleep on your IKEA bed?


Links

Goodreads     Amazon.ca     Indigo

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Review | I See London, I See France | Sarah Mlynowski

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I See London, I See France

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I see London, I see France, I see Sydney’s underpants.

Nineteen-year-old Sydney has the perfect summer mapped out. She’s spending the next four and half weeks traveling through Europe with her childhood best friend, Leela. Their plans include Eiffel-Tower selfies, eating cocco gelato, and making out with très hot strangers. Her plans do not include Leela’s cheating ex-boyfriend showing up on the flight to London, falling for the cheating ex-boyfriend’s très hot friend, monitoring her mother’s spiraling mental health via texts, or feeling like the rope in a friendship tug-of-war.

As Sydney zigzags through Amsterdam, Switzerland, Italy, and France, she must learn when to hold on, when to keep moving, and when to jump into the Riviera…wearing only her polka-dot underpants.


First of all, I’ve gotten a lot of new subscribers in the last week or so, and I just want to say thank you and welcome! I’d love if you could tell me in the comments how you found this blog so I know how to reach even more readers!

This novel was a really fun ride from start to finish. Think Maureen Johnson’s 13 Little Blue Envelopes meets Euro Trip. Sydney and her best friend Leela are no strangers to boys, but when the book starts it has been a while since Sydney let herself have much fun. She’s taken on the burden of her mom’s agoraphobia and allowed it to distance herself from her friend.

I liked that Sydney and Leela’s friendship felt deep and genuine right away. There was no need to set it up or provide much backstory because their chemistry and the way they interacted spoke volumes. I also liked that Leela’s codependent personality revealed itself in stages which simultaneously allowed the reader to feel towards her the same way that Sydney did, at the same pace. For example, it’s not as if she was written to be really annoying but the reader finds her that way before Sydney does. Instead, as the reader I found that my feelings for her changed and developed as the character developed, which is really strong writing in my opinion. 

There are, of course, boys, and lots of them. While it was fun to watch Sydney explore various dalliances and play with romance, nothing was super steamy or exciting. Even when the main love interest gets on the scene, I wasn’t desperate to flip the pages to get more of him. Not that he was written badly or even boringly–I just didn’t get the tingles when I read about them.

The book also lacks in setting description. Sydney and Leela are travelling through all of these incredible places across Europe, but there are no visual details provided. I felt very much like Sydney had tunnel vision, focusing mainly on Leela, the boys, and her phone. I wanted to snap my fingers in her face and say, “Look up, lady! I want to know what London looks like!” It was definitely a weakness that resulted in me feeling somewhat removed from the story.

However, the pacing is very fast and the characters are well developed. It definitely has the feel of being the first of a series because you are left with a few unanswered questions and what I would call “problems” that still need to be resolved by the characters. For example, I don’t think Leela and Sydney’s friendship is going to last if Leela doesn’t grow up a little bit. I also NEED to know more about Kat. Honestly, I hope the sequel focuses solely on Sydney’s upcoming school year; her adventures with Kat were hinted at and I want to see that in detail, and I want to see how she navigates her new long-distance relationships. Plus with her mom on the road to recovery and her sister possibly going down a self-destructive path, there is so much story to be read there! I’m really excited. I’m sure she doesn’t need it, but if the author ever wants someone to bounce ideas with, I’m here.

I definitely recommend it and hope you will all grab yourself a copy. A great start to my 2018 Reading Challenge for sure!


Links

Goodreads     Indigo     Amazon.ca

2017 Wrap-Up

I am writing this while in the bathroom battling my first UTI in two years, so I want to instead reflect on the good that came from this blog in 2017. It was the year that I found the time to return to blogging regularly and exceeded my reading goals (goal was to read 40 books; I finished 2017 off having read 45). I also explored new genres, found new favourite authors, and went to my first ever book signing with the amazing Maggie Stiefvater for her equally amazing novel All the Crooked Saints. In celebration, I’m sharing with you my top 5 books of 2017, and the books I’m most looking forward to reading in 2018.

All the Crooked Saints

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As I wrote in my review, I realized while reading this book that I was experiencing something special. It was the same feeling I’d had reading Harry Potter or The Fault in Our Stars. At some point I stopped, took a breath, and realized that no other book would be able to compare, and it was true. For the rest of the year, every book fell short of the joy and enrapture that captivated me during this book. It was poignant and eye-opening in a year where I think everyone needed to focus on self-reflection and self-improvement. I will forever recommend this book one hundred times over and believe me when I say that you are missing out on the experience of a lifetime if you haven’t read this yet.

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The Storyteller

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Before reading this book I had sworn against Jodi Picoult. I found her novels to be too formulaic and repetitive, but something made me take a chance on this one. Perhaps the cover, which I was drawn to instantly. But the description on the back also suggested more than her usual troubled and/or sick child and a court case. I’m so glad I took that chance. I was sucked into this novel in such a way that I lived and breathed it even when my nose wasn’t between the pages. A story of the holocaust that I haven’t seen since Schindler’s List. It is heartbreaking and bloody and messes with your head but it is worth every second of torment, sadness, empathy, understanding, and joy. This novel is a wild ride that I would take again and again.

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I Hate Everyone But You

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Not only has this audiobook deepened my love for Allison Raskin and Gaby Dunn but it’s given me a better understanding of how amazing audiobooks can be and why people love them so much. Raskin and Dunn’s performance of their novel has definitely set the bar for all future audiobooks that I’ll listen to and it was truly a privilege to experience this one. I would urge anyone interested in this novel to listen to it rather than read it, as I think you get more from the authors’ performances that you might miss reading it and interpreting it on your own. I love, love, love it and plan on listening to it again in 2018.

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There’s Someone Inside Your House

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I believe this novel has introduced a new sub-genre of YA Horror that we haven’t seen before: slasher-horror YA. And as someone who hates horror movies and slasher films because they get too real for me, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this book. It definitely had its faults, as I outlined in my review, but I can’t deny that it kept me hooked right to the very end. It also served the redeem Stephanie Perkins in my eyes after I read (and hated) Lola and the Boy Next Door. The writing of There’s Someone Inside Your House isn’t on par with Anna and the French Kiss or Isla and the Happily Ever After, which I think are her best novels so far, but there is certainly potential for her to develop this slasher voice more and make something truly epic out of it.

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Bad Girls Throughout History

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Hands-down one of the most inspiring books I’ve ever read. I borrowed this from the library as an ebook and can’t wait to own a physical copy in full colour! Ann Shen is an amazing artist and in this book she managed to pare down each woman’s history to what was most important and interesting so that I never felt like anything was lacking or biased. I learned things that I never had the opportunity to during my history major at the University of Toronto (hate that school, don’t go there!) and it reignited my love for feminist history and discourse. I can’t wait to read her next book and see more of what she has to offer.

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And in 2018…

Here is a gallery of the books I’m most looking forward to reading in 2018.

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