Sunday, July 7, 2019

Book Reviews - Drama, Drama, Drama. And Some Inspiration.

Y'all, can you believe we're already in the second half of the reading cycle?!? I've read some great stuff so far, and this quartet (mostly) starts the next six months off strong!

Taffy SInclair and the Melanie Makeover by Betsy Haynes was a random 80s paperback I'd picked up awhile ago. This was, um, interesting. This was about Taffy (who is the bully/snob/jerk of the series) taking Melanie under her wing for a new modeling school being held at their local mall. Talk about hilariously dated, y'all. The rest of the Fabulous Five worry Taffy is trying to steal Melanie away from them. Drama ensues from there. This was just odd to read as an adult. The Fabulous Five is a self-improvement club, but really they mostly hope to be popular. At 36, that's just not something I care about, and I wanted the girls to just stop with it all. Also, there were lots of mean girl antics, and it was just. . . a lot. I did dig the eighties fashion featured on the cover though. 

Read this book if - You're looking to revisit the Taffy Sinclair series? I wouldn't recommend if you've never checked it out before.

There's No Such Thing as a Bad Kid by Titus O'Neil (Thaddeus Bullard) was a really interesting and revealing read. I went into this knowing Titus as a pro wrestler, and I learned so much more about him as a person through this honest (really, really honest and emotional) memoir about his growing up. I had no idea how much he had gone through and overcome to get to where he is today. It was incredible to see all the times he could have given up, but didn't, and similarly how others could have given up on him, but also didn't. In addition to being full of him recounting his story, this was also about the lessons he had learned and wanted to share with others. In this, he talks about how he now pays it forward and gives back, and this book was also him dispensing advice and wisdom from where he's been. Y'all, this was such an eye opener. There was a little bit of wrestling here, but really, this is about Titus/Thaddeus the human, and that is the story worth sharing/reading. I understand and appreciate how and why he now uses the platform he's been given. This was some kind of a life story, and I have a deepened respect for Titus' mission to share this story and help others get where they want to go. Thanks to NetGalley and ECW Press for the advanced look at this powerful August release.

Read this book if - You want an inspiring, empowering read. You want to read the story of a sports entertainment superstar who has overcome a great deal to get where he is today.

The Book of Essie by Meghan Maclean Weir is the story of a reality television show called Six for Hicks. The HIcks are a conservative Christian family that are the focus of a reality television show. The story begins with the realization that Essie, one of the daughters, is pregnant. To avoid any bad press, it's decided that she will marry a high school classmate (with his family receiving significant financial compensation), and the baby will then be born "early" to resolve the storyline on the show to align with the values they subscribe to. The story is told from three points of view. First, there is Essie. Then, there is Roarke, the classmate she is set to marry, and he has secrets of his own. Third, there is Liberty, a journalist Essie reaches out to for coverage of the nuptials, who also has her own past she's working through. As the story goes, it is revealed, there is far more to the Hicks' story than what is seen on television. One of Essie's sisters has been away from home/off camera, and Essie works with Liberty to find out the truth, as she wonders if this connects to her own truth. Through the three narratives, you begin to learn the secrets different characters/the family has been keeping and how different family members have chosen to navigate this (actual) reality. As a big fan of reality television, I liked how this was a blend of a life in the public eye, as well as the story of a broken family. As the secrets came to light, it was also definitely an emotional read given the heaviness of the ultimate truth reveal. 

Read this book if - You want something that dabbles in reality television, family drama, and all the secrets.

Ladies Who Punch: The Explosive Inside Story of The View by Ramin Setoodeh is a retrospective of The View. What made it especially great was that the author interviewed all the co-hosts to build this story. It was very much a direct source piece which made it much more interesting and compelling. The book starts with the initial vision for the show from Barbara Walters, then traverses through each of the iterations of the cast. I've been a regular to casual to hardly ever watcher of the show through the years, so I definitely had my own memories of watching many of the casts and moments mentioned. This did a really good job of explaining how certain things actually went down from multiple angles. Were there "villains" in the story? Yes, but there was explanations for why that was the case. The natural drama of the story came from the storytelling and memories of the people that were there, and that's what made it so compelling. 

Read this book if - You want to do a deep dive into the history of The View. You like your nonfiction with quite a lot of drama. You have been/are a viewer of The View.

Onto the next ones!