Book Review: Buffering by Hannah Hart 

I first learned about Hannah Hart on her YouTube show, “My Drunk Kitchen,” and I introduced her videos to many of my friends and family. I was hooked by her creativity, funny cooking puns, and life morals after every episode. On film she is a positive force. I didn’t know that from the comedy came a hard and trying life. She is an inspiring person with a story everyone needs to read.

Buffering: Unshared Tales of a Life Fully Loaded is a collection of journal entries, essays, and memories of Hart’s life experiences which lead her to who she is today.

This book is incredibly moving. She talks about growing up with a mother who struggled with mental illness. She talks about her sisters and her slow understanding they weren’t living like others. Her complicated relationship with her father and step-father. How that realization still affects them today. But she also still tries to help others by showing how she has overcome her battles with self-harm and stress. I felt a close connection to Hart’s struggles with depression. And was making mental notes to try some of the exercises she uses to work through tough times.

It wasn’t all doom and gloom. Hart did a great job of mixing the sad with the funny. It was nice to learn the beginnings of “My Drunk Kitchen,” the work that went into creating the business and the content she does today. Also, the meaningful friendships she has developed and the honesty of learning to embrace her sexuality, faith, and self worth.

She is an excellent writer. Her voice is strong and comes through as completely authentic through her writing. It reads as if Hart is sitting with you sharing her story. It takes a lot of courage to open up but by doing so she will help many others.

Thank you to Dey Street Books, HarperCollins, and Edelweiss for the ARC in exchange for this review which had no weight on the outcome of the rating.

Expected publishing date for Buffering: Unshared Tales of a Life Fully Loaded by Hannah Hart is October 18, 2016.

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Upcoming Work

You may see an influx of book reviews. I’m on a reading kick and sometimes get Advance Reader Copies (ARC) from my job. I figure why not turn the love of reading into writing. Plus if I can support/help another author, why not?!

I’ve been struggling. Writing is always a struggle for me. I’m sure for most. And lately I’ve been frustrated with not having a point, purpose, or theme when writing. Fighting is what we writers do. Fight finding time. Finding a comfort. Fighting the mind. Negative or just no thoughts at all. I know I need to sit down at the computer and practice because with practice is improvement.

This hectic schedule I’ve been keeping up has drained me and made me anxious. I have always been one to look and plan too far ahead. That can hinder. I try to think back to Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott. Just take one thing at a time. This is not just with writing. I try to remember to breath. When sitting down at the computer, watching the blinking cursor is emotional. Especially when it only seems to blink. I don’t have the opportunity to write at the same time everyday and I have to fight that need. Just trying to find steps in the right direction. So, hello ARC! Let’s kick start my writing brain.

Maybe everything else weighing on my mind will also shift into place.

Throwback Thursday: Italian Survival Guide by Elizabeth Bingham Book Review

I worked for an online website CelebrityCafe.com back in 2009. I wrote celebrity news, TV recaps, and reviews. Recently I noticed my articles have disappeared off the site so I’m taking some of my favorite work, and posting it on this page. Below is one of my book reviews.

Italian Survival Guide: The Language and Culture You Need to Travel with Confidence in Italy

Elizabeth Bingham Ph.D.

0970373449

World Prospect Press

A crash course for new travelers to Italy. Learn culture and very basic language to help travel with confidence through a foreign country.

“Italian Survival Guide: The Language and Culture You Need to Travel with Confidence in Italy” is Elizabeth Bingham, Ph.D. second published book, the first book being “German Survival Guide.” Bingham’s “Italian Survival Guild” intentions are to help the reader learn the basics of travel, language, and culture in a little amount of time.

This is not a travel guide for landmarks to see or restaurants to eat at. This is a travel guide for language and culture. Bingham’s book is in seven sections each one on an important topic of traveling. The topics are sorted well and in a useful order. Bingham separates the proper vocabulary in the accurate sections.

The vocabulary is bare basics and all of it essentials. Bingham doesn’t riddle the book with “the dog is on the chair” examples. The terminology is what a person would use when traveling. If you are fluent in Italian, you may find this book ineffective. This book doesn’t come with a CD and I don’t think it needs one. Every term comes with the meaning and the phonetics so there is no question on how a word should be pronounce.

The end of every lesson, chapter, and the book is a review test to help keep what was just read in the head. Short on time Bingham says you can skip the quizzes but I feel you can’t really learn and retain the words without proper time on the subject.

It doesn’t look like this book would be hard to use in Italy either. On the front and back covers is a survival summary of all the vocabulary, meaning, and phonetics all neatly characterize in labeled columns. Located in the back of the book it also a small Italian-English and English-Italian dictionary.

I did skim over some of the sections when I felt they didn’t apply to me and I didn’t feel I really missed anything. If there is anything she had mention in an early section Bingham feels you should review she does tell the reader where to refer back.

The Italian culture was also separated into each section under the appropriate terms. Bingham has made the culture sections easy to read throughout the book and made the tips very practical. She talks about the differences that may be experienced between American and Italian culture. She teaches woman not to be shocked at hollering men, differences in coffee, and money. She gives safety tips to help the traveler stay aware of crime. Sometimes I wish she would have elaborated on certain subjects. For me the currency only made me more confused and worried about what I may face in Italy or what attire is suitable for travel since I cannot change what is in my closet. Also I didn’t feel confident on the directions given on church attire.

Bingham’s book set out to give confidence to a new traveler with limited time to learn language and culture of a foreign country. I think you do need at least a month’s time of everyday study to be confident in a foreign language completely. I do feel see taught a different culture with understanding and ease. I do feel a little bit better traveling to Italy with some of the knowledge and words I have grasp from this book.

Spring Cleaning

Yesterday, I cleaned my desk. This was very important because it was my writing desk. I dug out all the papers and notebooks I had stuffed into every shelf and draw. It was rewarding throwing away things I don’t remember why I was keeping but a small stack of papers has found a place on the far corner of my desk. Now I have the task of what to do with all the little scribbles on tiny pieces of papers. What I thought, at the time of writing, were scraps of genus. Should I read through and transcribe them onto a computer in an archive file or should I throw them all out without ever looking? True, I don’t think I could just toss these papers without a peak. They were the sneaked writing I accomplished while at work or the quick scribble on the train. The words meant so much at the time that I had to get it down somewhere, anywhere, no matter the consequence.

The notebooks are another story. More then one story. Stories I started but never finished. One has long scenes written out. A notebook full of writing advice I found over the years and recorded to encourage, give guidance, and inspire me to write. Notebooks full of more random scratches. Pages of one line.

I have always struggled with throwing things I no longer need away. But I’ve been trashing, donating, and organizing more often. Maybe it’s the small space and the overwhelming feeling of too much. Stress, work, and planning. Even the simple pleasure of reading has become immense.

Even with what’s left of the few notebooks and scattered papers I know I already fill better about my space. I remember where I rather spend my energy. Writing.

Talking Undead

I was invited to participate in my first podcast hosted by Ronan Mullin. You should check out this guy, he has good content. Our topic, The Walking Dead TV show, zombie tropes, and revolving themes. This was recorded before the show finished up it’s sixth season so there is no talk about that cliff hanger ending.

Before you give a listen, be aware, we all know each other and our discussion was in good faith. We finished this recording by playing a round of The Walking Dead Board Game which I lost and became a zombie!

Enjoy the listen.

Back to the Farm!

via The Walking Dead — Ronan Mullin

Book Review: Her Fierce Warrior by Paige Tyler

Another ARC from my job and it in no way sways my review.

Her Fierce Warrior by Paige Tyler is the fourth book in the X-OPS Series. It is a paranormal suspense romance if the cover didn’t give some of the genre away.  Kidnapped and experimented on, Minka escapes the laboratory cage from scientist’s who torture. On the run she is found by Special Forces soldier, Angelo. Can she trust Angelo, the only thing that can calm the beast inside, when she’s not even sure she can control herself around him. Angelo recognizes a hybrid when he sees Minka and to help get her to safety he calls his former team leader, Landon. But Minka and the beast inside are only calm when Angelo is near so Angelo’s protective instincts kick in and sticks with Minka, falling for the other each moment together.

I haven’t read any other books in this series and wasn’t confused when placed in this world. The world building was strong. The dialogue and characters were developed. The storyline was fun, and interesting with shady government cover ups, evil corporate dicks, as well as friends that help strengthen Minka’s control.

What I like the most about this book was the growth Minka’s character had through the story. She really gained a believable amount of confidence and strength. It had nice action sequences especially at the end. I like the therapy sessions featuring other shifters (I’m sure from other books) and the small glimpses into their lives.

I would recommend this book to people who like this genre. Can’t wait to read more of the people and shifters in this world.  This title will be published March 1st, 2016 by Sourcebooks Casablanca.

bookcover Tyler

 

 

Story from a Bookstore Employee 2

A man was using a store stool to reach the top shelf of the magazine section.

Me: “Excuse me sir, but you can not use the stool.”

Customer: *Stays on stool looking at magazines* “Why?”

Me: “It’s a safety issue. You could hurt yourself”

Customer: *Still on stool.* “Well, I can’t reach the top shelf of the magazines. I don’t understand how am I to reach them.” *Starts getting really huffy*

Me: “I can get any magazine you need but you can’t be on the stool. It does say on the stool for store use only. *I point to the sign on the stool* You will need to get down.”

Customer: *Still on stool.* “You know what this is discrimination! You’re discriminating against me because I’m short!”

Customer, realizing I’m not going away, steps off the stool and he is taller than me. He was only a few inches taller than me but it was noticeable. This is also where he won’t directly look at me any longer. It took everything I had not to say to this man, “Oh, you’re taller than me!” At least he got off the stool so I tell him he can speak to a manager if he is still upset but he says no he doesn’t want a manager. I had to get away from him. He left soon after that buying the tall people magazines.

I don’t know how much longer I can work in retail.

 

Throwback Thursday: My Interview With John Debney

When I was an intern with The Celebrity Cafe I wrote many stories. I just discovered that all those stories are no longer featured on their webpage but I have saved my work from those years ago and I can still share some of my stories. One of my favorite assignments was an interview with Academy Award-nominated composer John Debney. He is an amazing composer best known for The Passion of the Christ, Sin City, and Iron Man 2. This interview was conducted back in 2010 and he spoke to me about his recent work on the film The Stoning of Soraya M, and his other upcoming projects.

The Stoning of Soraya M is a drama set in 1986 Iran when a journalist, Sahebjam is told the unjust story of Zahra’s niece, Soraya and her tragic ending. What I remember most about this experience was how nice he was and getting a glimpse into his creative process.

Below is the interview with John Debney.

Marjorie Quinn: How did you get involved in the film “The Stoning of Soraya M?”

John Debney: It was kind of cool. I worked with the producer before on a film, “The Passion of The Christ” and his name is Steve McEvetty. And Steve is an old friend of mine and we’ve done a couple of movies together. So when he first called me about the movie he sent me a script and I read the script and I just feel in love with the script and the rest was sort of just, you know, we’ve worked together before and whatever he’s doing I try to do it if he needs me.

MQ: How long did it take you to write the score?

JD: Well, it was interesting. It was a very quick turnaround. I only had about 3 weeks to do it. So we had to put everything together really, really quickly. So I made a lot of phone calls to a lot of incredible performers that I know. People like Sussan Deyhim who is a wonderful singer. And other wonderful players and I just sort of put everybody together and they came and we sort of just started to work on the thing and it turned around very quickly. It was a quick turnaround.

MQ: So you said you were able to work with Sussan Deyhim. What was it like to work with her?

JD: Well she is, I don’t know if your familiar with her but some of your readers will be. Sussan is really a great artist in her light and has done a number of albums and has sung on a number of sound tracks and I knew imminently that I wanted to try and approach her with this because she is very socially active and politically active. She really loved the story about the two Iranian women. She just came and offered to work with me. It was fantastic. She didn’t even bat an eye. She just jumped in and did amazing work on the film.

MQ: You said this wasn’t your first time writing this kind of cultural style. What kind of process did you go through to write this kind of music?

JD:  Well, thank you for asking about that. I really did a lot of research when I did ‘The Passion’ and the Hollywood circles is sort of hearing a score that is influenced by that part of the world and by that great music in the middle east. And one of my pet peeves is hearing it when it’s done sort of not true to life as it were, and needs to be real, is what I guess I’m trying to say. So, I did a lot of research when I did the Passion, I listened and study a lot of this music. So that going back there for this filming, to do this kind of score was a joy because I love this type of music. So it was again just a nice journey for me going back and trying to do it in the most real way possible. And again I was very, very fortunate to bring in people like Sussan Deyhim and other performers to do the real thing. And they lend, I think, a credibility to the score.

MQ: Well your name is now attached to stopping the practices of stoning. How are you doing to do your part?

JD: Well, I think my little part is being involved with this film and I think it is just so very important a subject that hopefully people will see this film or if they can’t see the film there listen to the music and maybe I can help raise the awareness for this horrible barbaric practice that still incurs and we just got to stop it and meaning we as a world community. The point of women in certain parts of the world is still, unfortunately this way and not only women but men too but especially women. So I just think my being a part of a very important film about a very important subject is an honor really.

MQ: Pulling a little bit off the movie. I read that your symphony “The Passion Oratorio” will be performed in Saint Peter’s Square. Can you talk a little about that? It must be exciting.

JD:  Sure, I can. I would love to talk about that. You know, after I had done the film score, about five years ago now, wow I can’t believe it’s been that long. The idea arose that I might create a larger sort of concert work base on the music from the film and so I embarked on that journey and created this large work called “The Passion Oratorio” which we then performed one in Rome about five years ago and performed it a couple of time since for charities. When Katrina accrued we did a big concert for the Katrina victims, which was wonderful. So know we are going to perform this again this June 5th I believe is the date in Rome in Saint Peter’s Square which is completely humbling for me to have it performed there again. It will be a free concert for everyone basically who wants to donate anything it will go to the charity of Rome and for the restoration of Saint Peter’s Square. So it is for a great cause. Its going to be a wonderful, amazing concert with some of the performers of the film like Lisbeth Scott and I just couldn’t be more thrilled. It’s going to be with a huge, about 100 piece orchestra, about 200 piece choir and it’s going to be an amazing thing. There’s a wonderful woman conductor by the name of Candace Wicke. So I can just help with the planning of it and enjoy the concert that evening. So it is going to be a great world event. And it’s meant for people of all faiths, honestly, to just come and enjoy a concert under the stars in Rome with a spiritual base.

MQ: You’ve gone to and won many awards. Are there any pre-award show rituals you go through to insure a win?

JD: Oh my goodness. No. That’s very sweet of you. I’ve been fortunate enough to win a few Emmys and stuff like that. You know I really don’t. I think any kind of accolade like that is a wonderful, wonderful thing. I guess the biggest one would be the Oscar I haven’t gotten yet but have been nominated, which is wonderful.  I’m not very good preparing for those things. I honestly think the accolades are great but for me I learned it’s mostly about the journey and it sounds cliché and it’s about the work. It the work is deemed worthy then I’m delighted but I don’t really live for the awards thing. But it is an honor and it’s fun. When it happens it’s wonderful. Then it gives me the opportunity to thank those that like the work and give advice to those coming up. It’s fun. It’s a great thing but I don’t dwell on it too much.

MQ: Are there any new upcoming projects for you?

JD: There are a couple of great ones. I just finished one called “Valentine’s Day” which is a Garry Marshall film. It’s my fifth film with Garry Marshall and the cast has probably every beautiful actor and actress of Hollywood in it and it just turned out so well. It’s a great film. It’s romantic, funny. What can I say it’s Garry Marshall again at his finest. We just had a ball doing it. Just finished that. And then I’m in the middle of just finishing Iron Man 2, which is huge and fun, and lots of big loud music. And we’re going to be in London, in about 3 weeks to about a month now. So it’s busy and it’s wonderful and I couldn’t be happier working on these films.

MQ: Is it hard for you to switch styles of music between films?

JD: You know it’s actually cathartic for me. It’s actually a great thing to be able to switch gears. I’m just a pretty good multitasker and I’ve learned through the years kind of being able to switch gears is a fun thing for me. It sort of clears my head a little bit. So working on two so different projects is kind of liberating and kind of fun. I think it’s harder if I were doing a couple of one kind of thing back to back. That could be kind of hard. But this is fun. Being able to write a really romantic, pretty melody one moment and then turn around and write some kick ass “Iron Man” music. It makes it a lot of fun.

MQ: Do you know what kind of direction you will go towards when you receive a film?

JD: It’s always a lot experimentation in the beginning.  Always that way. That’s great to be able to do that if there’s time because then I can really experiment with the director and we can figure out what’s the tone of the things going to be. I don’t always have as much time as I like but when there’s a little extra time its really wonderful to do that. And with “Iron Man” and “Valentine’s Day” there was enough time for me to experiment a little bit which was fun.