Mandy’s Miscellaneous Flavours: Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?

Mindy Kaling

Three Rivers Press (Sept. 18 2012)

Hardcover

Humour and Entertainment, Humour, Essays

222 pages

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Mindy Kaling has lived many lives: the obedient child of immigrant professionals, a timid chubster afraid of her own bike, a Ben Affleck–impersonating Off-Broadway performer and playwright, and, finally, a comedy writer and actress prone to starting fights with her friends and coworkers with the sentence “Can I just say one last thing about this, and then I swear I’ll shut up about it?”
 
Perhaps you want to know what Mindy thinks makes a great best friend (someone who will fill your prescription in the middle of the night), or what makes a great guy (one who is aware of all elderly people in any room at any time and acts accordingly), or what is the perfect amount of fame (so famous you can never get convicted of murder in a court of law), or how to maintain a trim figure (you will not find that information in these pages). If so, you’ve come to the right book, mostly!
 
In Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, Mindy invites readers on a tour of her life and her unscientific observations on romance, friendship, and Hollywood, with several conveniently placed stopping points for you to run errands and make phone calls. Mindy Kaling really is just a Girl Next Door—not so much literally anywhere in the continental United States, but definitely if you live in India or Sri Lanka.

***

First off, on the extremely slim chance that you are somehow reading this, I love you Mindy Kaling and I wish we were friends 5ever.

Anyways…

After lugging around numerous dense and heavy books amid midterm season (lord help us), Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me is the perfect break from it all.

Not to say that this book is merely consisted of fluff. On the contrary, this book still has substance underneath all the jokes. Like Ben and Jerry’s after a long day filled of BS. Ice cream with the yummy brownie bits in it.

So what is Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me book about? In Mindy Kaling’s words: “In this book I write a lot about romance, female friendships, unfair situations that now seem unfunny in retrospect, unfair situations that I still don’t think are funny, Hollywood, heartache, and my childhood. Just that really hard-core, masculine stuff men love to read about.”

So it’s no surprise being the manliest manly-man out there that I thoroughly enjoyed this book.

Within this book Mindy Kaling talks about her life from childhood to adulthood, her success with The Office, from her ups and downs, to bullies and best friends, all in the form of witty stories.

We are given a peek into Mindy’s creative and playful mind, with passages entitled “Don’t Peak in High School”, “Types of Women in Romantic Comedies Who Are Not Real”, “Why do Men Put on Their Shoes So Slowly?” and other clever remarks that are sprinkled throughout the book.

At times serious, at times hilarious, but always honest, Mindy Kaling manages to weave a string of what would seem as incoherent thoughts together. Among one of her musings, one story that stuck with me well after reading it was of one about the friendship between her and a girl called Mavis in high school. The story of two friends finding each other at the perfect time only to drift apart and go their own ways just seems like something everyone will be able to relate to.

At times it’s as if she was peeking into my own mind (“There is no sunrise so beautiful that it is worth waking me up to see it”) rather than the other way around. And I guess that’s what I ultimately liked about this book and Mindy herself, how relatable she is. Flipping through the books pages was like reading letters sent by a close friend, which I liked a lot…

And not because the only thing I get in the mail are bills.

Until next time!

Amanda  

Mandy’s Miscellaneous Flavours: Griffin & Sabine: An Extraordinary Correspondence by Nick Bantock (Review)

Griffin and Sabine: An Extraordinary Correspondence

Nick Bantock

Chronicle Books- September 1991

Hardcover

Romance/Mystery/Illustrated novel/epistolary book/fantasy/Paranormal

28 pages

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Griffin: It’s good to get in touch with you at last. Could I have one of your fish postcards? I think you were right — the wine glass has more impact than the cup. –Sabine

But Griffin had never met a woman named Sabine. How did she know him? How did she know his artwork? Who is she? Thus begins the strange and intriguing correspondence of Griffin and Sabine. And since each letter must be pulled from its own envelope, the reader has the delightful, forbidden sensation of reading someone else’s mail. Griffin & Sabine is like no other illustrated novel: appealing to the poet and artist in everyone and sure to inspire a renaissance in the fine art of letter-writing, it tells an extraordinary story in an extraordinary way.

***

I have to admit I’m not quite sure where to begin with this book, but I do know that I wish I could take a picture of each page and post it here, but I’ll refrain myself. This is a book blog after all, not a picture album (also imagine the copyright issues, yikes!)

With that said, I should probably begin this review by saying that Nick Bantock’s book isn’t for everyone.

If you’re the type who prefers their books to have a clear plot and narrative, Griffin & Sabine is unfortunately not for you. However, if you’re up for an unconventional form of storytelling, and have an appreciation for art, then you should give this book a try. I know I don’t regret it.

 Also as the title suggests, yes, it’s a romance. Yet it’s so typical of me to finally read a romance “novel” that isn’t truly a romance novel.

I haven’t encountered any books like this one before, so its peculiar format instantly caught my eye. An epistolary novel, the story unfolds (literally) before the readers’ (viewers?) eyes as a series of postcards and removable letters.

Without giving too much away, Griffin and Sabine: An Extraordinary Correspondence, is exactly what it sounds like. Griffin, a postcard designer from London, has his life turned upside down after a cryptic postcard from Sabine Strohem, a woman he has never met. Claiming to be from the Sicmon Islands, Sabine adds a splash of colour and intrigue to Griffin’s grey and dreary existence. So of course they begin to correspond regularly, leading the two to ultimately fall for one another.

As Griffin writes in one of his handmade postcards: “Why doesn’t this alarm me as much as it should?”

I can honestly say I was thinking the same thing.

As the readers, we are not given any more insight into the characters’ or story’s development. All we have to rely on are the letters that we have before our eyes, and the unfounded trust in the words of Griffin and Sabine. We are forced to be some kind of detective, putting the pieces (or rather letters) together to better grasp what is happening. Despite being so restricted of material, it is notable how heartfelt and believable the connection is between the two star-crossed lovers. However, the “realness” of the exchanges is forever disrupted by subtleties that add to the mysterious and even mystical feel of the book. For example, a major difference between the letters of Sabine and Griffin are how they are dated. Griffin’s always have a date, Sabine’s never do. This shouldn’t really matter; however, Sabine’s timeless and dateless letters only build up Griffon’s theory of his slow descent into madness. His final letter to her is heartbreaking, while Sabine’s last letter basically says:

Shit’s gonna go down.

With all that said, the world has changed since then. This book was published in September of 1991. Now we live in a time of emails, texts messages, instant chat and tweets. Ultimately leaving one to wonder how a book in this format would be received if it were written today.

Seriously, when’s the last time you handwrote a letter?

I thought so.

Mandy

The Seldom Diaries: The Edge of Never by J.A Redmerski

the-edge-of-never-ja-redmerskiThe Edge of Never
J.A Redmerski
Published by Createspace
November 15th 2012
Paperback
Romace\New Adult\Contemporary
426 pages

Twenty-year-old Camryn Bennett had always been one to think out-of-the-box, who knew she wanted something more in life than following the same repetitive patterns and growing old with the same repetitive life story. And she thought that her life was going in the right direction until everything fell apart.

Determined not to dwell on the negative and push forward, Camryn is set to move in with her best friend and plans to start a new job. But after an unexpected night at the hottest club in downtown North Carolina, she makes the ultimate decision to leave the only life she’s ever known, far behind.

With a purse, a cell phone and a small bag with a few necessities, Camryn, with absolutely no direction or purpose boards a Greyhound bus alone and sets out to find herself. What she finds is a guy named Andrew Parrish, someone not so very different from her and who harbors his own dark secrets. But Camryn swore never to let down her walls again. And she vowed never to fall in love.

But with Andrew, Camryn finds herself doing a lot of things she never thought she’d do. He shows her what it’s really like to live out-of-the-box and to give in to her deepest, darkest desires. On their sporadic road-trip he becomes the center of her exciting and daring new life, pulling love and lust and emotion out of her in ways she never imagined possible. But will Andrew’s dark secret push them inseparably together, or tear them completely apart?

… … …

So I feel like I haven’t read anything completely romantic in a while. This one had caught my eye during the summer when I was frequenting the bookstore. The black and grey tones of the cover, along with the cursive writing of the last word of the title made me think of Paris. I haven’t been there yet, but that’s just what came to mind. The only problem I had with it, was the fact that when you look quickly, the ‘N’ in never doesn’t stand out as much as the rest of the writing. I had thought it was The Edge of Ever.

The book itself. I loved it. Though, I have to admit that I liked Andrew, Camryn’s love interest more than I liked her. I feel a little guilty. Reading romance novels\chick lit, I feel as if there’s a silent imaginary girl code where you have to automatically like the main character for support. A little illogical and unreasonable, yeah- probably. I just feel that way when I crack it open. I think I may have stopped reading them for a bit because all the women just seemed like the same kind of person with different names. A little depressing, but in this book, Camryn nips that comparison in the bud.

Camryn isn’t your typical damsel in distress. She is a likeable character, and throughout the book, I like her a lot more than I did in the beginning. She just comes off a little cold? I guess there’s a point to it, probably having to do with character developement and all that jazz. At the Underworld- an exclusive club that she and her best friend Natalie and Damon, Nat’s BF wiggle their way into, Camryn trots off to the sex room or sex balcony (I couldn’t really gather the description properly) to talk with bartender Blake to talk. Camryn is usually standoffish when it comes to guys, even going as far to tell them that she is a lesbian so they won’t start up a conversation. I’m a little shocked when she decides to chat up Blake boy, but as the reader I roll with the punches.

Later, after a fight with her best pal, Camryn just absolutely has to get away. She has no idea where she’s going, she just knows that she needs to go. I think this is the part of the book that I adored. I can relate to that feeling of just wanting to pack a bag and go anywhere. To read it on paper, or in this case on my cellular device, it was refreshing to read. Now! Andrew finally comes into the picture. But unlike the chatty Cathy that Camryn was with Blake, she tries her best not to talk to him until of course his music shoves her out of her beauty sleep.

Their dynamic changes though when they acknowledge their attraction for each other? It’s pretty sweet, Andrew is this pretty laid back, laissez-faire kind of guy. With tattoos. And plays the guitar. Swoon. Anyway. Besides his misuse with the word ‘babe’, he was totally adorable in that sexy knight in shining armor kind of way. After Andrew saves Camryn from near assault, or dreadfully much worse- they decide to spend the rest of their road trip together. Winkwink. They travel to New Orleans where Andrew coaxes Camryn to conquer a few of her fears while they conquer each other through the sheets. Was that a lame line that I just dropped?

Yes, it was

.The sex scenes were a little weird. I thought J.A was going to border the BDSM craze. She didn’t, but I thought she would.

Though, I think things moved way quickly, but I suppose that’ll happen on a roadtrip with stranger. This book was a tad inspirational in the aspect that after reading it, I immediately wanted to get up and do something I’ve never done. Great motivation. I should take it to the gym. Half kidding.

xox,
Sasha

Nostalgic tales: Dream Lake

Title: Dream Lake
Author: Lisa Kleypas
Type of Book: Trade Paperback
Pages: 336
Genre: romance, contemporary, paranormal–ghost

Ahh miss Kleypas but you truly know how to make my toes animate themselves and start singing a mighty fine tune. But seriously, if you guys thought Sam Nolan was delicious, y’all best make room because Alex Nolan is just sinful and no amount of finger biting will make you turn away. Although I haven’t read Crystal Cove the third instalment, Dream Lake is my overall favourite.

Alex Nolan bad soul, heavy drinker, the youngest of the Nolan kids who suffered the most thanks to his parents’ alcoholic ways. Got married and divorced made him a very bitter man. Highly believes the world is better off if it just left him the hell alone. Which I will say he probably is better off. Sadly enough for him and delightful giggles for us readers the supernatural just got thrown into the mix. If that wasn’t enough on Alex’s plate wait till he meets his lady-in-waiting, cute, bubbly, petite and so much sunshine you need sunglasses Zoe.

She needed a house to get a fixing for her ill grandmother and he was the best in town.

A real opposite attract kind of couple, in the previous book Rainshadow Road we got a sample of these individuals, once more the author plays the magic bit around but it’s a lot more tone down in comparison with her previous novel. Mostly I think is because of there being a ghost in the mix and his tale is equally as sad. A ghost who can’t remember isn’t as sad as a ghost who can’t remember and the lost-love who never stopped loving/waiting for him. What worked really well too was the theme of alcoholism and how it affects not only the abuser but the people around them as well and I found the author did a good job is highlighting the dangers of it without making it seem cartoony or over dramatic.

Throughout the book Alex and Zoe go through many rough patches, Alex and his devils coming to haunt him and Zoe who behind her upbeat-ness hides tons insecurities and loneliness. Nobody said love between the broken would be easy; however it was nice to see how both of them, by being with each other were in fact healing one another and together became stronger. I truly do recommend this book, a great read, great writing style and gourmet dishes Zoe cooks up will have you drooling all over.

Grading: 5/5

Meli<3

Michelle’s Paper Garden: Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

Title: Neverwhere

Author: Neil Gaiman

Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks

Year: 2003

Type: Paperback

Number of Pages: 370

Genre: Urban Fantasy, Horror, Fantasy, Adventure, Contemporary

Summary: When Richard Mayhew stops one day to help a girl he finds bleeding on a London pavement, his life is forever altered, for he finds himself propelled into an alternative reality that exists in a subterranean labyrinth of sewer canals and abandoned subway stations. He has fallen through the cracks of reality and has landed somewhere different, somewhere that is Neverwhere.

[http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/14497.Neverwhere]

Review:

Slight rant before beginning: that is a ridiculously short summary. The Time Machine had a longer summary than that and the book is half the size of Neverwhere. Hmph.

This is one of my favourite books. Thank you, that is my review.

I’m just kidding! Okay so this book is weird. Basically, there is a whole hidden world under our world and each station of London’s Underground is something different. How cool is that?

The main character, Richard, is a little annoying because he doesn’t really do much, but there is an array of better characters in the book like Lady Door who can magically open doors anywhere and the Marquis de Carabas who is my favourite character. Lady Door is clever and a strong female lead. Thank you for the strong female lead. I am so sick of reading about damsels in distress. Give me a girl who can hold her own. Marquis is odd and a little two-faced. The only reason he even helps Door is because she will have to owe him a favour. The villains of Neverwhere were creepy and twisted and gave me the heebie-jeebies. They love blood and torture. They are a pair of sick cookies and they will stop at nothing to kill Door. I loved them, especially after reading American Gods where the villains were less than scary. (That is a review for another time)

As for the story, you have to go in knowing that it is going to be weird. Think world of Alice in Wonderland or Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and with about the same level of randomness. Question nothing and all will be well, though the world building is very impressive; it almost seems plausible if magic was a real thing and all. Anyway, the world and the eccentric characters fascinated me and the story kept me hooked.

Oh a word of caution: Stay away from the graphic novel and the miniseries.

5/5

Like I said, this is one of my favourite books. Neil Gaiman is godly and the sooner you accept that, the sooner you will find true happiness.

Words for Dessert: Diary By Chuck Palahniuk

Words for Dessert is my little home for Book Reviews. :)

Diary
Chuck Palahniuk
Anchor, 2004
Trade Paperback
262 Pages
A Genre that can only be described as Palahniuk’s flavor…
Dark Humor/Mystery/Suspense/Contemporary

Misty Wilmot has had it. Once a promising young artist, she’s now stuck on an island ruined by tourism, drinking too much and working as a waitress in a hotel. Her husband, a contractor, is in a coma after a suicide attempt, but that doesn’t stop his clients from threatening Misty with lawsuits over a series of vile messages they’ve found on the walls of houses he remodeled.

Suddenly, though, Misty finds her artistic talent returning as she begins a period of compulsive painting. Inspired but confused by this burst of creativity, she soon finds herself a pawn in a larger conspiracy that threatens to cost hundreds of lives. What unfolds is a dark, hilarious story from America’s most inventive nihilist, and Palahniuk’s most impressive work to date.
GoodReads Summary

I first read this book back in 2005 or 2006 when I was 15 years old, again in 2008, and I recently skimmed through it trying to remember if I enjoyed it or not. While it’s not my favourite, it’ll always hold a special place in my heart.

“Can You Feel This?”

I did.

This book with its angst filled existential nihilistic narrator is the one that introduced me to Chuck Palahniuk’s style of storytelling (not Fight Club?! I know…). This was also the first book I chose for myself (and not forced upon in school) outside of the Teen/YA genre (and I’ve had a hard time looking back since).

Diary can be a hard read for new comers to this genre/Palahniuk’s writing… or at least, I found it a little hard but at the same time, it’s still a quick read with only 262 pages. This book stirred quite a bit of an internal struggle for me. There were some points (graphic in gore-y disturbing details and imagery) that made me want to put the book down and take a breather and at the same time push through because I needed to know more. I think that’s just how Palahniuk works though, it’s a little fascinating how his dark tales can affect you.

I was really interested in the art and history aspect of this novel because it was brought into the story in such a strange and kind of freaky way. Misty Wilmot’s struggles and suffering really put me on edge and as the story unravels… well… without revealing anything I can only say, it’s seriously messed up. And I can understand why Palahniuk uses his character’s talent for art and personal struggles to his advantage. Most artists (successful or not) use their darker thoughts and struggles as inspiration for their art as well as an outlet to let go of these demons. It was clever.

The book also has a few moments that caught me off guard leaning forward on the edge of my seat with my mind screaming “WHAT?!”

I smile just thinking about it. Ahh… Good times.

This was the first book that gave me the whole “What the hell did I just read” reaction and I’m quite happy for it. I’d definitely recommend it for someone who wants to step into a new genre. I can’t guarantee that it’ll be everyone’s cup of tea but all the same, still an enjoyable read.

My 15 year old me would have probably rated this book a 5 out of 5. But nowwww…. I think I’d rate it a 4. Why? Well I’m still a squeamish person and some of those visuals I could have lived without haha. Petty… I know.

Have you read this book or any of Chuck Palahniuk’s books/shorts? What did you think?
Any recommendations (of his writing or writing similar to his style/genre) to give me? (Other Palahniuk flavors I’ve read are Fight Club, Choke, Tell-All, and Guts.)

Until Next Time~!
Sam