Disliked

Barf.

A Journey to the Dark Heart of Nameless Unspeakable Evil: Charities, Hollywood, Joseph Kony, and Other Abominations – Jane Bussman

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“I’d run away to Hollywood to write movies. Unfortunately people who were good at writing movies got there first, so instead of writing Casablanca I found myself writing about what a fantastic bloke Ashton Kutcher was. Worse, I was by trade a comedy writer, trained to say the most inappropriate thing possible; now the reflex had mutated into some kind of cultural Tourette’s, and I was scared, because sooner or later I was going to explode all over Paris Hilton.”

“Except, as I’d learned over the years from talking to endless celebrities, fame arrests social development at the exact age it strikes. It’s not the celebrity’s fault; Britney is doing pretty well for an 11-year-old left in the care of pharmaceutical giants and K-Fed’s winkle. Michael Jackson was completely normal for a five-year-old who loved pajama parties. On the reverse side, George Clooney famously slogged through twenty-odd guest roles, including ‘Lip-synching Transvestite’, before hitting it big with ER, so he’ll be a graceful thirty-something for the rest of his days.”

“Museveni, the poor bastard, had his fair share of problems, what with poverty and AIDS-6.4% of Ugandan women were trotting round full of HIV. Luckily Museveni got budget support from Britain and America, probably as a thank you present for not being Robert Mugabe.”

“There were 150 people flopping around and one young doctor walking among them. House had more drugs in his urine than this guy had in his medicine cabinet.”

 

A Journey to the Dark Heart of Nameless Unspeakable Evil is the true story of bitter British comedy writer Jane Bussmann’s departure from her job interviewing celebrities in Hollywood, in order to try her hand as a foreign correspondent (and win the heart of peacemaker John Prendergast) in war torn Uganda. This book was originally published in the UK as The Worst Date Ever, and is now being brought over to us in North America under a different title. Amazon says it will be available to purchase on May 13th of this year.

As she says in her book, it’s Bridget Jones’ Diary meets Private Benjamin meets The Devil Wears Prada meets Out of Africa and The Constant Gardner. I’m not going to lie, it’s a weird genre to wrap your head around. I chose to read this book because I was genuinely curious; with all the initial reviews describing its hilarity, I couldn’t imagine how one could report on Kony and the disgusting atrocities facing Uganda right now, and be funny about it.

While I will admit that yes, I did laugh out loud a few times, it was really only at the beginning of the novel when the author’s focus is on poking fun at celebrities and Hollywood. Even then the laughs were limited as whenever I hear someone whine and complain about an opportunity they should be grateful for, I can’t help but tune them out. After she reaches Uganda I didn’t really laugh at all. Even during the breaks where she wasn’t interviewing abandoned children or rape victims and was instead trying to make light of a lack of toilet paper or her maxed out credit cards, I couldn’t really find the humor. How could I laugh at her complaining about a temporary living situation in a war-torn country, when at the end of it all she is able to hop a British Airways flight home and escape it, leaving behind the people that are forced to live like that without a way out? Cognitive dissonance apparently. It made me feel a little sick to be honest.

I commend Jane Bussmann for wanting to make a difference, and shining a light on several challenges Uganda is trying to overcome in a way that makes it more approachable for the layman than the often heavy and micro-focused articles featured in political publications. Perhaps it is because I am already fairly familiar with Ugandan atrocities that I couldn’t find the humor in this novel, but if you’re still really in the dark about Joseph Kony and the LRA then perhaps this is actually a good way to begin your learning. I think the most upsetting thing about this book is that its British counterpart was originally published in 2009. Here we are five years later and the situation in Uganda has changed so little that the author didn’t need to adjust it at all before its North American publication.

 

While I would have to say I disliked it, I would still recommend it for someone who knows nothing about the current situation in Uganda.

 

Until next time,

OMPP

The Here and Now – Ann Brashares

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“Sometimes I only hear what we don’t say. I only think the things I shouldn’t think and I remember what I should forget.”

” ‘For now people are thrilled about everything digital, endless data forms, your own piece of the cloud and all that. Nobody has much respect for paper at the moment, but I think the excitement kind of dies down after a while,’ I tell him. ‘As time goes on I think people, definitely my father, come back around to respect the power of actual things you can actually touch.’ ”

“Maybe it isn’t corruption or greed that makes you cowardly. Maybe it’s not weakness, suffering or even fear. Maybe it is love.”

 

Once upon a time, I loved the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series. I think most girls of my generation will agree that they were some of the better and more realistic (despite the whole magic pants thing) novels for our age group at the time. The characters were all strong, even in their weaknesses, and they felt very well developed and authentic. It’s because of my nostalgia for the books about sacred jeans that I was especially excited to read The Here and Now, also by Ann Brashares, which is to be released on April 8th.

Prenna James is a seventeen year old immigrant to the United States, except she hasn’t immigrated from another country, she’s come from another time. In the year 2090 we have led our planet into such a place of ruin that its inhabitants can no longer survive, and decide to send 1000 of their best and brightest back in time to recolonize the world in 2010. Of course, in order for the colony to survive they must follow a strict set of rules in order to keep their existence a secret from the ‘natives’, AKA the people that are really from that time period. They can never reveal their true identities, they can never try to change history, and they can never be intimate with anyone outside of their colony of time travelers. Obviously, in true dramatic narrative fashion, all of these rules are broken when Prenna falls in love with another senior named Ethan, and the two set off a timeline domino effect by being together.

While the book started out strong, I’m very sorry to say that it didn’t finish that way… at all. Yikes.

None of the characters felt very well thought out. Prenna and Ethan have this whole love-at-first-sight-based-on-nothing thing going on that I think is awful in young adult books (actually, any book) because it sets up some seriously unrealistic expectations. There are so many holes in the plot I had difficulty following along (from big things like the time travel issues not lining up, to small things like characters using other characters names without having been introduced first; see chapter nineteen), and the motivation behind everything anyone does is convoluted at best. If you only have three (or was it two? or maybe four? I was never quite sure) days to save the world, why are you playing cards for hours on the beach, debating about whether or not to have sex and drinking sangria illegally? This is difficult for me to say, because I had high hopes for this book, but it feels like the author wasn’t sure if she wanted to write a really well thought out time travel piece, or a coming of age story about two star crossed teens. Instead she’s done both, and she’s done both poorly. And the ending? Don’t even get me started on the ending.

All that being said, I did really enjoy the letters scattered throughout the book from Prenna to her deceased brother Julius, describing her perception and understanding of our world today. She has a specific observation I found interesting about how kids today would rather sit inside playing video games than go outside and use their imaginations, which is totally foreign to her as in the future that she is from, the kids dream of being able and allowed to go outdoors. I also found the ‘history’ of how the next 75 years will supposedly play out for humanity to be extremely thought provoking, as most of it is grounded in the truth of issues we are actually dealing with today. Our potential future is terrifying if we don’t start making some necessary changes today.

 

Unfortunately, I would advise against reading this one, as much as I wish I could say otherwise.

 

Until next time,

The OMPP.

Mad Love – Colet Abedi

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“‘I don’t share, little girl,’ he whispers into my ear, his voice cold. Little girl?”

“I’m good with a bottle of champagne from Trader Joe’s. And P.S., they have really good champagne.”

“Do you know what sacred is? Sacred is buying this b*tch tampons at two a.m., because she’s bleeding like a double homicide crime scene and can’t make it to the pharmacy. Sacred is waxing her armpits and bikini line so she wouldn’t look like a beast as the high school graduation beach party. Sacred is driving her ass to Jerry the Fairy’s and waiting down the street, in a goddamn rose bush, with thorns in my ass, by the way, just so that she wouldn’t be alone when she dumped him.”

“‘I don’t want anyone else thinking those thoughts, Sophie,’ he said rather possessively, as his gaze raked my body. ‘You belong to me.’ ‘I’m yours,’ I agreed, nodding my head.”

“‘Talk to me Goose,’ Erik demands as I suck in the night air trying my hardest not to act so obvious…. ‘I don’t mean to take away from what’s obviously a serious situation but Sophie is so not Goose. If anything she’s Maverick and you’re Goose,’ Orie breaks the silence.”

Mad Love by Colet Abedi is a difficult review for me to write. I want to be honest about how I felt about it, but I don’t want anyone to feel as though I am passing judgment on them if they enjoy this kind of story. Now don’t get me wrong, I love a good romance novel, especially to read while relaxing on a sun-drenched beach somewhere. It’s an escape, and that’s awesome. What I don’t like however is a love story where the female protagonist is as naive, insecure, and easily malleable as the main character in this book, Sophie Walker, is. Additionally, I also don’t enjoy when the love interest is possessive, brooding, jealous, and controlling, as is Clayton Sinclair. What’s even more frustrating is that she seems to straddle (no pun intended) a fine line between understanding the way that Clayton order’s her around isn’t okay, and owning up to her knowledge of that, but then going along with it anyway. What I did love about this book is Sophie’s two best friends, Erik and Orie, a fantastically hilarious gay couple whose dialogue and relationship is both witty, yet completely realistic, and what’s even better is that no one, I repeat, NO ONE in the book makes a big deal about the fact that they are gay. In fact, there’s basically zero acknowledgment of it being any different from a hetero relationship at all, from any character, even snotty, entitled teenage boys.

Now Mad Love doesn’t come out until March 10th, so I don’t want to say much more here and possibly spoil anything for anyone. This book ends on a pretty brutal cliffhanger, and includes a snippet of what is sure to be an interesting sequel. However if I had to summarize it, I would say it’s got a similar vibe as Fifty Shades of Grey, except at a beautiful resort in the Maldives, and without a red room of pain.  I could see it being as successful as the Fifty Shades trilogy as well, if it gains the right momentum after its release. That being said, I do have to acknowledge my dislike for love stories where the man is eerily possessive and domineering, and the woman who seems incredibly smart and independent, (I mean, she quits law school, and breaks up with her long term boyfriend at the same time much to her parents dismay, to find out what really makes her happy) so easily throws away her backbone when a good looking guy wants to sleep with her. I find it insulting, and it makes me so desperately wish there were romance novels out there that this wasn’t the popular relationship dynamic. However, some people like this dynamic, and would enjoy reading it. If that’s you then please go out and buy a copy of this as soon as it comes out. It’s a fun and easy read, and Erik and Orie’s interactions will have you laughing your ass off.

One final note, because I feel an obligation to put it out there. Men? Trust me, this is not the way any woman deserves to be treated or spoken to. Please do not become disillusioned that this is in any way “romantic”. Ladies? If he berates you and then gives you the silent treatment because he doesn’t like the dress you’re wearing, leave, and find a man who respects your opinions and independence enough to let you live your life the way you want to, and supports you in that unconditionally.

Happy reading my loves! Until next time,

xo

OMPP

A Beautiful Disaster – Jamie McGuire

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“Adopt a philosphy of ‘approval neither desired nor required.'”

“‘It’s dangerous to need someone that much. You’re trying to save him, and he’s hoping you can. You two are a disaster.'”

“It wasn’t just me, and it wasn’t just him, it was what we were together that was the exception.”

On January 2nd, one of my oldest and dearest friends sent me a text message stating that I had to read A Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire. I received a Kindle Paperwhite for Christmas this year, and considering my goal of a book a week for 2014 I wasted no time in purchasing it and getting started.

This is the summary that can be found on the GoodReads website:

“Abby Abernathy is a good girl. She doesn’t drink or swear, and she has the appropriate number of cardigans in her wardrobe. Abby believes she has enough distance from the darkness of her past, but when she arrives at college with her best friend, her path to a new beginning is quickly challenged by Eastern University’s Walking One-Night Stand.

Travis Maddox, lean, cut, and covered in tattoos, is exactly what Abby wants—and needs—to avoid. He spends his nights winning money in a floating fight ring, and his days as the ultimate college campus charmer. Intrigued by Abby’s resistance to his appeal, Travis tricks her into his daily life with a simple bet. If he loses, he must remain abstinent for a month. If Abby loses, she must live in Travis’s apartment for the same amount of time. Either way, Travis has no idea that he has met his match.”

I will admit, I was immediately hooked. My friend had said that she couldn’t put it down and frankly, for the first 30% of the book neither could I. However, the intrigued dropped off shortly after that.

Abby seems like a smart enough girl, and her and Travis’ relationship starts out innocently enough, however it doesn’t take long for loverboy to go full blown stalker on her by trashing his own apartment after she leaves without saying goodbye, beating the crap out of guys who show any interest in her, and ripping her a new one for letting some guy at a bar buy her a drink. I don’t know why so many girls seem to think that stalker behavior is attractive, but I know for myself that I am more than a little turned off by the idea of someone 1) watching me when I sleep 2) refusing to let me go to my own home for days at a time 3) not letting me hang out with my friends 4) telling me what I can and can’t wear when I leave the house 4) beating up any guy that smiles at me 5) needing me to repeatedly tell him that I’m “his” and that I “need him” and… I could continue but I won’t.

Girls, emotionally abusive guys like Travis are not sexy, or romantic, or even remotely desirable. They are the kind of guys that will sit outside your house for days when you wake up with enough sense to break up with them, and then when they actually realize that it’s over for good they will either try to kill themselves, or kill you. Travis even says at one point, “I’ll end up in prison if I hear you slept with someone else.” Okay, red flag anyone?

Barf.

While I really loved the first part of the book as it was amazing cotton candy for the brain, once Travis feels like he’s made Abby his own, I lost interest. I prefer my protagonists strong, smart, independent, and free to choose where they sleep at night. Just sayin’.

Who knows though – to each their own. As Edmund Wilson once said “no two persons ever read the same book.” If this kind of masochistic, misogynistic and derelict love story appeals to you, I hear it’s the first part of a trilogy.

Despite all this, I will not write off my friends future recommendations. She’s got fantastic taste in every other aspect, and is an absolute gem. Another friend of ours who read this book loved it, but I guess it just wasn’t for me.

On to the next!

xx

OMPP