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September 21, 2015 – 1:10 am | 2 Comments

I’m not sure why I get excited every fall about new TV shows, especially since many turn out to be mediocre or unwatchable. But maybe because I’ve been so beaten down by the last TV …

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Book Review: FURIOUSLY HAPPY by Jenny Lawson

September 16, 2015 – 8:17 pm | No Comment

furiously happyJenny Lawson, aka The Bloggess, follows up her popular memoir, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, with Furiously Happy, another book of essays about incidents that sound too wacky to be true, but which longtime fans of her writing will recognize as everyday occurrences in her life.

This time around, Lawson also delves into the topic of mental illness, which she struggles with, having suffered depression, panic attacks, anxiety disorders, and a “terrible boxed set” of other disorders and phobias. For those who don’t understand, Lawson explains succinctly: “Depression is like…when you don’t want cheese anymore. Even though it’s cheese.”

Several years ago, when she’d had enough of the disease, she embarked on a mission to be furiously happy, and started a trending hashtag and movement of people who wanted to take their lives back from depression.

Despite the serious subject matter, Lawson’s sense of humor remains intact. Readers will likely shake with laughter at her escapades, such as encountering inept ninjas trying to break into her hotel room in Japan, receiving the skins of three dead cats in the mail, being chased by killer swans, and her cats stealing her voodoo vagina.

But the stories are most effective when Lawson reveals her most vulnerable self, the one full of fear and feeling that her brain is trying to kill her. In “It Might Be Easier. But It Wouldn’t Be Better,” she notes that openly discussing her intense suffering has encouraged others to say, “Me too,” and that 24 people stopped planning their own suicides when they read the comments on her blog posts. Lawson keeps their letters to her in a folder, and while on tour for her previous book, many fans approached her to say they’re number 25.

In the piece entitled “Pretend You’re Good at It,” Lawson tells about one night in New York City when she can’t sleep, is gripped by an anxiety attack, and her foot is bleeding badly from the combination of cold weather and rheumatoid arthritis. When she looks out a window and sees falling snow, she decides to takes a walk in her bare feet and experiences a sense of calm.

On the way back, she notices her footprints: “One side was glistening, small and white. The other was misshapen from my limp and each heel was pooled with spots of bright red blood. It struck me as a metaphor for my life. One side light and magical…. The other side bloodied, stumbling…. It was my life, there in white and red. And I was grateful for it.” It could also be a description for this book—half light and humorous, half dark and raw. And fans will be grateful for it.

This review originally appeared in Shelf Awareness Pro and is reprinted here with permission.

Shock vs. Sensitivity

August 26, 2015 – 9:30 pm | 7 Comments

Like most people, I was shocked by the on-air shooting of WDBJ reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward. As I tried to learn more about what happened after first seeing only a tweet about the …

Book Review: WHAT DOESN’T KILL HER by Carla Norton

August 16, 2015 – 9:43 pm | One Comment
what doesnt kill her

It’s been seven years since Reeve LeClaire, the heroine in Carla Norton’s What Doesn’t Kill Her, was rescued after being held prisoner as a teen by Daryl Wayne Flint, who’s serving time at a psychiatric …

Nerdy Special List August 2015

August 7, 2015 – 1:52 am | 7 Comments
gratitude diaries

I’m traveling right now but the Nerdy Special List must go on. I’m excited every month when the recommendations start coming in from my illustrious contributors, but I think this month the list is especially spectacular. Hope you’ll …

Book Review: HOSTILE TAKEOVER by Shane Kuhn

July 19, 2015 – 5:49 pm | 6 Comments
hostile takeover

Shane Kuhn shot onto the crime fiction scene last year with The Intern’s Handbook (movie rights were snapped up), and now his assassin John Lago is back in Hostile Takeover with more explosive action.
At the …

Nerdy Special List July 2015

July 2, 2015 – 12:08 am | 10 Comments

We have a long weekend ahead! Hope you have fun plans for the Fourth of July, if you celebrate it. After a rough week, I hope to commence Operation Couch Potato.
This month, I’m very excited …

Movie Review: INSIDE OUT

June 21, 2015 – 5:45 pm | 4 Comments
Disney•Pixar's "Inside Out" takes us to the most extraordinary location yet - inside the mind of Riley. Like all of us, Riley is guided by her emotions - Anger (voiced by Lewis Black), Disgust (voiced by Mindy Kaling), Joy (voiced by Amy Poehler), Fear (voiced by Bill Hader) and Sadness (voiced by Phyllis Smith). The emotions live in Headquarters, the control center inside Riley's mind, where they help advise her through everyday life. Directed by Pete Docter and produced by Jonas Rivera, "Inside Out" is in theaters June 19, 2015.

I’m going to start this review by saying if you haven’t seen Inside Out and have any reservations about seeing it, thinking it’s only for kids or girls or whatever, just throw those doubts out …

Book Review: DISCLAIMER by Renée Knight

June 18, 2015 – 6:14 pm | 4 Comments

Imagine reading a thriller and suddenly realizing the much-hated main character is you. And the disclaimer about resemblances to real people being coincidental has been crossed out. This is the premise of first-time novelist Renée …

Guest Book Review: PARADISE SKY by Joe R. Lansdale

June 14, 2015 – 9:35 pm | One Comment

When a copy of this novel first appeared on my doorstep, Mr. PCN, being a big Joe R. Lansdale fan, immediately snatched it up and claimed it for himself. After he tore through it in about two blinks, …

Nerdy Special List June 2015

June 4, 2015 – 7:59 pm | 4 Comments
little paris bookshop

Summer starts in June, so I’m looking forward to more time for pleasure reading. Oh, who am I kidding? I’m self-employed and make myself work every day.
But for those who do get to take summer vacations, here are …

May 2015 Pop Culture Consumption

June 3, 2015 – 9:08 pm | 5 Comments

While I didn’t review everything I read and watched last month, I consumed a lot of pop culture. Much of it was unexceptional, but there were a couple of gems. I’ll write more about some of these in …

Book Review: LUCKIEST GIRL ALIVE by Jessica Knoll

May 26, 2015 – 9:09 pm | 4 Comments
luckiest girl alive

Jessica Knoll, a former Cosmopolitan magazine editor, debuts in book publishing with Luckiest Girl Alive, a novel that adroitly handles timely news topics.
Ani FaNelli is an editor at a women’s magazine in New York City, and engaged …

Big Bear Adventure

May 25, 2015 – 6:11 pm | 7 Comments

Since we had a long weekend, Mr. PCN and I decided to run away from civilization and the noisy neighbors with their chainsaws and leaf blowers and constantly barking dogs.
We rented a cabin in the mountains near Big …