Review: It’s Messy, by Amanda de Cadenet

About the book, It’s Messy Its-Messy-cover

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Wave (September 19, 2017)

In this deeply personal collection of essays, creator of the The Conversation Amanda de Cadenet shares the hard-won advice and practical insights she’s gained through her experiences as businesswoman, friend, wife, and mother.

Amanda is on a mission to facilitate conversations that allow all women to be seen, heard, and understood. Through her multimedia platform The Conversation, she interviews some of today’s most bad ass women—from Hillary Clinton to Lady Gaga—in no-holds-barred conversations that get to the heart of what means to be female. Now, in It’s Messy, Amanda offers readers an extension of that conversation, inviting them into her life and sharing her own story.

From childhood fame to a high-profile marriage (and divorce) to teen motherhood to the sexism that threatened to end her career before it started, Amanda shares the good, the bad, and the messy of her life, synthesizing lessons she’s learned along the way. Through it all, she offers an original perspective as a feminist on the front lines of celebrity culture. Edgy, irreverent, poignant and provocative, It’s Messy addresses the issues, concerns, and experiences relevant to women today.

Buy, read, and discuss It’s Messy:

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads


About the author, Amanda de Cadenet

Amanda-de-Cadenet-APAmanda de Cadenet is a creative force with a lifelong career in the media. She began as a host on British television at the age of fifteen and became a sought-after photographer shortly after—as a result her impressive photography career already spans nearly twenty years. She is the youngest woman ever to shoot a Vogue cover and has photographed many of the most influential figures in popular and political culture. As a media entrepreneur, Amanda is the creator of The Conversation, a series that showcases her in-depth interviews on real topics with celebrated women. Whether it’s in conversations with Lady Gaga, Sarah Silverman, Zoe Saldana, Chelsea Handler, or Gwyneth Paltrow, or in discussions with devoted followers of her social channels, Amanda delivers an honest and authentic voice. The series has aired in eighteen countries and is featured online, with over ten million viewers. In January 2016, Amanda conducted an exclusive one-on-one interview with presidential candidate Secretary Clinton. In February 2016, Amanda launched #Girlgaze, a digital media company utilizing user submitted content and highlighting the work of  Gen Z women photographers and directors.

Connect with Amanda:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | YouTube


My Thoughts Melissa A. Bartell

I love collections of essays and short stories. You can pick them up and put them down, start from random points, if you’re of a mind to, and leave them in the bathroom for a week, to be read when you’re pretty much a captive audience. When such a collection is good, it hooks you, makes you think, makes you want to phone the author and gush over her words.

It’s Messy was good  – in that way – for me.

The author, Amanda de Cadenet is, like me, a solid GenXer. Okay, she’s British and comes from a famous family, and we had radically different lives, but she has a sensibility I really responded to – to the point where I was following my husband around our house reading bits of her essays out loud.

Here’s what I loved about It’s Messy: It’s candid – it’s candid in the kind of way I wish I was comfortable being. It’s not ha-ha funny, but there’s a wry undertone that runs through even the most poignant of pieces. I responded to that very strongly. And mostly – it’s universal. Sure, the details are specific to the author, but the emotional truths she shares, the life lessons she relates  – those apply to all of us.

I also liked – and this may seem a small thing, but in an age when we are just learning about intersectionality, it’s important – in her introduction she referred to “anyone who identifies as female.” As an ally, that phrase sold me on the entire book.

And, let me be clear, It’s Messy: Essays on Boys, Boobs, and Badass Women, is a great book. I laughed, I cried, I felt like I’d been having a two hundred-ish-page-long conversation with a dear friend, the kind who is insightful and blunt, but also caring.

Because people always want to know what our favorites are, I will call out two of the essays as things I responded to particularly. The first is “Life According to Little Amanda” which is sort of a bio, but a little bit deeper, and slightly less linear. While I’ve never sat down next to a member of Duran Duran and ended up dating him, or spend time in juvie, I know what it is to feel out of place, or like regular life just isn’t working.

The second which I particularly enjoyed despite the fact that I’m not a parent, is “How to Parent in the Time of Trump,” because it’s so very important that we nurture our younger generation but that we’re also honest with them. Many of my friends have kids who are asking the same sorts of questions Amanda’s kids are asking, and I feel like I should make copies of this essay and share it with all of them.

Naah… they all just need the whole book.

Goes well with a tall glass of milk (or your favorite milk-alternative) and a slice of leftover birthday cake.


Tour Stops TLC Book Tours

Tuesday, August 22nd: A Bookish Affair

Wednesday, August 23rd: Lit and Life

Thursday, August 24th: A Bookish Way of Life

Monday, August 28th: From the TBR Pile

Tuesday, August 29th: Bibliotica

Wednesday, August 30th: Comfy Reading

Thursday, August 31st: Book Hooked Blog

Friday, September 1st: The Geeky Bibliophile

Tuesday, September 5th: A Chick Who Reads

Wednesday, September 6th: Wining Wife

Thursday, September 7th: Patricia’s Wisdom

Friday, September 8th: Thoughts On This ‘n That

Monday, September 11th: Literary Quicksand

TBD: Books & Tea

Review: The View from the Cheap Seats, by Neil Gaiman

About the book, The View From the Cheap Seats The View from the Cheap Seats

• Paperback: 544 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Reprint edition (May 16, 2017)

The New York Times bestselling non-fiction collection, now in paperback, from the author of American Gods, now a STARZ Original Series.

An enthralling collection of nonfiction essays on a myriad of topics—from art and artists to dreams, myths, and memories—observed in #1 New York Times bestselling author Neil Gaiman’s probing, amusing, and distinctive style.

An inquisitive observer, thoughtful commentator, and assiduous craftsman, Neil Gaiman has long been celebrated for the sharp intellect and startling imagination that informs his bestselling fiction. Now, The View from the Cheap Seats brings together for the first time ever more than sixty pieces of his outstanding nonfiction. Analytical yet playful, erudite yet accessible, this cornucopia explores a broad range of interests and topics, including (but not limited to): authors past and present; music; storytelling; comics; bookshops; travel; fairy tales; America; inspiration; libraries; ghosts; and the title piece, at turns touching and self-deprecating, which recounts the author’s experiences at the 2010 Academy Awards in Hollywood.

Insightful, incisive, witty, and wise, The View from the Cheap Seats explores the issues and subjects that matter most to Neil Gaiman—offering a glimpse into the head and heart of one of the most acclaimed, beloved, and influential artists of our time.

Buy, read, and discuss The View from the Cheap Seats:

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads


About the author, Neil Gaiman Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman is the New York Times bestselling author of the novels Neverwhere, Stardust, American Gods, Coraline, Anansi Boys, The Graveyard Book, Good Omens (with Terry Pratchett), The Ocean at the End of the Lane, and The Truth Is a Cave in the Black Mountains; the Sandman series of graphic novels; and the story collections Smoke and Mirrors, Fragile Things, and Trigger Warning. He is the winner of numerous literary honors, including the Hugo, Bram Stoker, and World Fantasy awards, and the Newberry and Carnegie Medals. Originally from England, he now lives in the United States. He is Professor in the Arts at Bard College.

Connect with Neil:

Blog | Facebook | Instagram | Tumblr | Twitter


My Thoughts Melissa A. Bartell

With the exception of American Gods (I’m apparently the only person on the planet who didn’t like it, but I recognize that it may have come into my life at a bad time, and I’ll eventually give it another chance) I’m a big fan of Neil Gaiman’s work, so when I was offered the opportunity to review some of his non-fiction, I went over the wall and into the ocean (metaphorically) and ended up wishing I was young enough to be a Bard student so I could take this man’s class.

I was hooked on this collection from the moment I opened the book and read his preface (introduction, whatever – I don’t have the book in front of me because a friend pulled it out of my hands the second I declared “FINISHED!”), and while not every piece resonated with me the same way, I found myself entranced, intrigued, provoked, amused, moved, and amazed, sometimes alternately, sometimes all at once.

I tend to read books of essays and short stories in chunks. I keep them in the bathroom, either in a basket near the toilet (oh, come on, we all read there) or on the side of the tub and pick them up whenever I’m in the appropriate place. I don’t pick and choose the order, though sometimes I’m tempted by a title.

That opening piece, “Some Things I Believe,” is something I’ll re-read, likely often. The section on comic books (and comic book shops, and comic book artists’ influence on Gaiman) is something I appreciated as a casual comic book reader, but I know my husband and the friend who stole my book will love a lot.

The section about film was incredibly informative, but there are also essays devoted to ghosts, music, and even one on the political/cultural situation in Syria.

Reading this book felt like a conversation with an old friend, the kind that rambles from topic to topic, touching on recurring themes, offering new insights, and involves each of you making lists of Books You Must Read and Music You Must Hear.

It’s fitting, then, that Gaiman himself wrote, “Literature does not occur in a vacuum. It cannot be a monologue. It has to be a conversation, and new people, new readers, need to be brought into the conversation too.”

This book, The View from the Cheap Seats, is that conversation. Or at least, it’s an overture to starting it.

Goes well with Earl Grey tea and raspberry crumble.


Tour Stops TLC Book Tours

Tuesday, May 16th: G. Jacks Writes

Wednesday, May 17th: Vox Libris

Thursday, May 18th: Based on a True Story

Friday, May 19th: A Splendidly Messy Life

Monday, May 22nd: 100 Pages a Day…Stephanie’s Book Reviews

Tuesday, May 23rd: Sapphire Ng

Wednesday, May 24th: Book Snob

Wednesday, May 24th: Man of La Book

Thursday, May 25th: guiltless reading

Friday, May 26th: Lit and Life

Tuesday, May 30th: In Bed with Books

Wednesday, May 31st: Real Life Reading

Thursday, June 1st: From the TBR Pile

Thursday, June 1st: Bibliotica

Friday, June 2nd: Bibliophiliac

 

 

Review: The Bitch is Back, edited by Cathi Hanauer

About the book, The Bitch is Back the-bitch-is-back-cover

• Hardcover: 368 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow (September 27, 2016)

More than a decade after the New York Times bestselling anthology The Bitch in the House spoke up loud and clear for a generation of young women, nine of the original contributors are back—along with sixteen captivating new voices—sharing their ruminations from an older, stronger, and wiser perspective about love, sex, work, family, independence, body-image, health, and aging: the critical flash points of women’s lives today.

“Born out of anger,” the essays in The Bitch in the House chronicled the face of womanhood at the beginning of a new millennium. Now those funny, smart, passionate contributors—today less bitter and resentful, and more confident, competent, and content—capture the spirit of postfeminism in this equally provocative, illuminating, and compelling companion anthology.

Having aged into their forties, fifties, and sixties, these “bitches”—bestselling authors, renowned journalists, and critically acclaimed novelists—are back . . . and better than ever. In The Bitch Is Back, Cathi Hanauer, Kate Christensen, Sarah Crichton, Debora Spar, Ann Hood, Veronica Chambers, and nineteen other women offer unique views on womanhood and feminism today. Some of the “original bitches” (OBs) revisit their earlier essays to reflect on their previous selves. All reveal how their lives have changed in the intervening years—whether they stayed coupled, left marriages, or had affairs; developed cancer or other physical challenges; coped with partners who strayed, died, or remained faithful; became full-time wage earners or homemakers; opened up their marriages; remained childless or became parents; or experienced other meaningful life transitions.

As a “new wave” of feminists begins to take center stage, this powerful, timely collection sheds a much-needed light on both past and present, offering understanding, compassion, and wisdom for modern women’s lives, all the while pointing toward the exciting possibilities of tomorrow.

Buy, read, and discuss The Bitch is Back

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads


About the editor, Cathi Hanauer cathi-hanauer-ap

Cathi Hanauer is the author of three novels—My Sister’s Bones, Sweet Ruin, and Gone—and is the editor of the New York Times bestselling essay collection The Bitch in the House. A former columnist for Glamour, Mademoiselle, and Seventeen, she has written for The New York Times, Elle, Self, Real Simple, and other magazines. She lives in Northampton, Massachusetts, with her husband, New York Times “Modern Love” editor Daniel Jones, and their daughter and son.

Connect with Cathi

Website, | Facebook | Twitter


My Thoughts Melissa A. Bartell

I loved this book. It’s funny and feisty and fierce, but at the same time it’s serious and poignant. Some of the authors included are women whose work I’ve been reading all my life and some are new to me, and even when they were describing situations that were foreign to me I found their words interesting, relevant, and often provocative. These are real women writing about their real lives. They write about marriage and family and being single and being professional and turning your back on what people expect.

They write with honest voices full of wit and wisdom and no small amount of warmth.

And these writings very obviously come from a place where Truth is deeply rooted.

Ordinarily, this is the part of my review where I would pick out a few favorites from the collection of essays and highlight them, but I can’t do that. Why? Because to highlight any of them feels like slighting the rest.

Instead, let me just share my enthusiasm, no – my delight – in the fact that this true stories were from women my age and older. Strong women. Smart women. And, yes, bitchy women, but only in the sense that these women have reclaimed the word ‘bitch’ and made it representative of feminism, personal choice, and self expression in only the best ways. If these women are bitches, then, damn! I want to be a bitch, too.

Essay after essay, I could not stop reading these words. The woman who declared that she was trans after years of marriage and still shares a home and a life with her original wife. Beautiful. The college president owning her fight to stay youthful. I completely get that. The book unwinds, the tales go on, and  – seriously – I read in the bathroom a lot, and my feet fell asleep more than once because I was so engaged in these words.

I’ve found myself enthralled by books before. I’ve found myself completely engaged in stories both fictional and non.

But The Bitch is Back grabbed my attention from the first word of the forward, and never let me waver until I’d sucked the last sentence into my soul.

Read it. I promise. You’ll find yourself nodding you head and smiling and laughing  – and sometimes cursing – only to smile and laugh and nod some more.

Goes well with whatever you love. I chose coffee and a toasted bagel and Greek yogurt with fruit and honey.

 


Tour Stops TLC Book Tours

Tuesday, September 27th: Dwell in Possibility

Wednesday, September 28th: G. Jacks Writes

Thursday, September 29th: Much Madness is Divinest Sense

Monday, October 3rd: Thoughts On This ‘n That

Tuesday, October 4th: Bibliotica

Wednesday, October 5th: Book Hooked Blog

Thursday, October 6th: In Bed with Books

Monday, October 10th: A Lovely Bookshelf on the Wall

Tuesday, October 11th: Stranded in Chaos

Thursday, October 13th: West Metro Mommy

TBD: Doing Dewey

 

Life in General, by Becca Rowan (@ravenousreader) #Review

About the book, Life in General Life in General

  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (November 20, 2014)
  • Paperback: 358 pages

Approaching her 50th birthday in 2006, author Becca Rowan decided to explore her passage into mid-life through writing. She created a blog called Becca’s Byline, and soon connected with other women who were exploring questions about life, family, home, work, and pursuing their dreams.

LIFE IN GENERAL is a collection of essays reflecting on experiences familiar to women in midlife: the empty nest, becoming a grandparent, long term marriage, caring for aging parents, downsizing a home, changes in the workplace, finding a passion for living. Readers will connect with these thoughtful, humorous, and inspiring pieces, and find new hope and ideas to make their own particular lives more fulfilling.

Buy, read, and discuss Life in General

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Direct from the Author | Goodreads


About the author, Becca Rowan Becca Rowan

Becca Rowan is a writer and creator of the blog Becca’s Byline. She is a senior editor at All Things Girl magazine where she writes about books, popular culture, and home life. She is also a musician, and performs as a pianist and as a member of Classical Bells, a professional handbell ensemble. Born and raised in southeastern Michigan, she currently lives in Northville (a suburb of Detroit) with her husband of 38 years, and their two pampered Shih Tzus, Magic and Molly Mei.

Connect with Becca

Website | Facebook | Twitter


My Thoughts

It’s not often that I get to review a book by someone I consider a friend, but Becca and I have been ‘blog buddies’ for years, and worked together at All Things Girl. Despite this, or maybe because of it, my review is an honest one, and, for the record, I paid for my copy of her book.

In a world where anyone can publish with relative ease, many people look down at self-published work. If you’re one of those people who recoils in horror when you see “CreateSpace” listed as a publisher, and therefore skip this book because of that, then I’m sad for you, because Becca’s collection of essays are candid, witty, beautiful glimpses into the life of a typical American woman, and as much as they are universal, they also prove that there really is no such thing as ‘typical.’

As a long-time reader of Becca’s blog, some of the material in Life in General, more correctly titled Life in General: an American woman reflects on midlife in the 21st century, was familiar to me, but her writing style – that of an old friend you’re meeting for coffee, or a favorite (and very young) aunt offering life-lessons – is so warm and engaging that even the familiar felt new, and the pieces I hadn’t read offered me wonderful insights into her personality and character.

But you don’t have to know Becca, or be familiar with her previous work, to enjoy this book. If you’re already over fifty, you’ll likely find yourself nodding in agreement at some of the things she relates – how her lifestyle has changed now that she and her husband are empty-nesters, for example. If, like me, you’re still a few years shy of fifty, there’s still a lot to appreciate. While her essays are exactly what she calls them: personal reflections, they are also full of ideas, advice, and little tidbits of daily life that make you go, “Hey, I should try that,” or, “wow, that sounds so cozy.”

More than just being an enjoyable read, however, I found that the process of carefully reading Becca’s work made my own fingers itch to be flying over a keyboard again, after weeks (at the time I read it, around Christmas of last year) of not feeling very ‘writey.’

And that’s what good writing does, I think. It educates. It inspires. It says, “hey, this is me and this is my story, but why don’t you tell me your story, too?”

Becca Rowan’s Life in General is really good writing.

Goes well with a pot of tea, a plate of buttery scones, a rainy day, and a dog or two to cuddle.