Tough Sh*t by Kevin Smith

Title: Tough Sh*t
Author: Kevin Smith
Narrator: Kevin Smith
Series: N/A
Publisher: Penguin Audio
Release Date: 3/20/2012
Length: 5 hours, 58 minutes
Format: Unabridged Audio CDs
Genres: Nonfiction, Humor, Memoir
Challenges: 2012 Audiobook Challenge, 2012 Spring/Summer Reading Challenge
Source: Publisher (thank you!)
Purchase: Audio CD | Digital Audiobook
Rating: ★★★★☆

Profane, honest, and totally real advice from comedian and director Kevin Smith – one of America’s most original voices 

Take one look at Kevin Smith: He’s a balding fatty who wears a size XXL hockey jersey, shorts, and slippers year-round. Not a likely source for life advice. But take a second look at Kevin Smith: He changed filmmaking forever when he was twenty-four with the release ofClerks, and since then has gone on to make nine more profitable movies, runs his own production company, wrote a bestselling graphic novel, and has a beautiful wife and kids. So he must be doing something right.

As Kevin’s millions of Twitter followers and millions of podcast listeners know, he’s the first one to admit his flaws and the last one to care about them. In early 2011, he began using his platform to answer big questions from fans-like “What should I do with my life?”- and he discovered that he had a lot to say. Tough Sh*t distills his four decades of breaking all the rules down to direct and brutally honest advice, including:

Why he has accepted Ferris Bueller as his personal savior, and what the Tenets of Buellerism can teach about hiding in plain sight and lip-syncing in the face of danger Why it’s really fun to eat but not so fun to be fat What to do about people who don’t like your policies ( for starters, tell them to pucker up and smooch your big ol’ butt) What Kevin’s idol Wayne Gretzky can teach us about creativity and direction For anyone who’s out of a job, out of luck, or just out of sugary snack foods,Tough Sh*t is an unabashedly honest guide to getting the most out of doing the least.

For someone who was around seven when Clerks premiered, I was very excited when I opened my box from Penguin Audio and saw this book. I didn’t need anyone to tell me who Kevin Smith is, what he looks like, or why he’s famous. I knew all that already thanks to my two older brothers. So I would like to half-heartedly dedicate this review to them. Brian and Blake, without you I would have been as clueless about who Kevin Smith was as all my friends were when I told them about this book. Sometimes I forget that the guys I hang around are younger than me and that my taste in films and music in the 90s was heavily influenced by my teenage brothers.

Even though I saw most of Kevin Smith’s films when I was probably too young to be watching them, I loved them instantly. No matter what the critics said, I found them hilarious. I also have a major soft spot geeky guys of any kind, especially since I’m a pretty geeky girl. It was pretty eye-opening to read all this behind-the-scenes stuff about the movies I enjoyed years ago. Honestly, I was totally oblivious to critic opinions about the films. I just watched them, and enjoyed them. I had no clue how much crap Kevin Smith put up with to make some of his films. There’s some pretty cool insight into the movie business, both indie and big six. I think all of that stuff is interesting enough, but there is a lot more to Smith’s book than film talk and cum jokes (though, there are a lot of those).

This book also offers some really great advice about discovering your passion and going for it. By chronicling his years from making Clerks trough today, he explains how he really got where he is: by not listening to people’s negative crap and following his dream. Of course, it’s not all as simple as that. There is tough shit to be endured, and that’s what I think Smith is trying to say in this book. There will be hardships and probably some failings. You have to take chances, but it will pay off in the end when you can look back and say you’ve accomplished something worthwhile (whether it be art, work, or an awesome family). The awesome part is that this advice is delivered in a voice that a younger generation can relate to. Kevin Smith may be close to twenty years older than me, but he talks like your best friend. He’s full of witty pop-culture references and profanity that color the speech of a lot of people today. He’s relatable, and I think that’s what makes this book work. He’s giving advice, but it doesn’t really feel like it. At least, not in the same way that your parents or teachers (or whoever) give you advice.

Kevin Smith reads this book himself, and it’s perfect. I mean, after all he’s a good speaker and only he can deliver his words just right. Also, he stops reading a couple of times to throw in some quick comments and I found that really entertaining. I also loved his voices for Tarantino and Bruce Willis. They were pretty close. At the end, he includes something his daughter wrote about him, and it has to be the sweetest thing ever. I’m pretty sure she reads it herself, which is also pretty cute.

If you know who Kevin Smith or have seen his films, you should grab this. If you don’t and you enjoy crude but witty humor, you should grab it anyway. There’s always time to watch the films after.


Musicophilia by Oliver Sacks

Title: Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain
Author: Oliver Sacks
Narrator: Simon Prebble
Series: N/A
Publisher: Random House Audio
Release Date: 10/17/2007
Length: 6 hours
Format: Abridged Audio CDs
Genres: Nonfiction, Music, Science
Challenges: 2011 Audiobook Challenge
Source: Library
Purchase: Audio CD
Rating: ★★★★★

Music can move us to the heights or depths of emotion. It can persuade us to buy something, or remind us of our first date. It can lift us out of depression when nothing else can. It can get us dancing to its beat. But the power of music goes much, much further. Indeed, music occupies more areas of our brain than language does—humans are a musical species.

Oliver Sacks’s compassionate, compelling tales of people struggling to adapt to different neurological conditions have fundamentally changed the way we think of our own brains, and of the human experience. In Musicophilia, he examines the powers of music through the individual experiences of patients, musicians, and everyday people—from a man who is struck by lightning and suddenly inspired to become a pianist at the age of forty-two, to an entire group of children with Williams syndrome, who are hypermusical from birth; from people with “amusia,” to whom a symphony sounds like the clattering of pots and pans, to a man whose memory spans only seven seconds—for everything but music.

Our exquisite sensitivity to music can sometimes go wrong: Sacks explores how catchy tunes can subject us to hours of mental replay, and how a surprising number of people acquire nonstop musical hallucinations that assault them night and day. Yet far more frequently, music goes right: Sacks describes how music can animate people with Parkinson’s disease who cannot otherwise move, give words to stroke patients who cannot otherwise speak, and calm and organize people whose memories are ravaged by Alzheimer’s or amnesia.

Music is irresistible, haunting, and unforgettable, and in Musicophilia, Oliver Sacks tells us why.

This book was brilliant! I adored every second of it. Sometimes I forget how much I love to learn new things until I read or listen to educational nonfiction. The way in which Dr. Sacks explores music and its effects on the brain is extremely engaging. I was never bored, as I sometimes get when listening to nonfiction. Most of the time, I sat with my mouth hanging open at some of the incredible stories.

From someone who has always had a place in my heart for music, this book opened my eyes to some possibilities I had never considered. I never realized how therapeutic listening to and playing music really can be. It’s not just about therapy though. Dr. Sacks also explores the subject musical savants and people who suffer from musical hallucinations. Music truly is an amazing thing! This book really

The book is structured to entertain, explain, and educate. Dr. Sacks starts out with the most entertaining and amazing stories. It did its job. It got my attention. I was glued to this audiobook every time I got in my car, much to my mother’s dismay. She wasn’t very partial to Simon Prebble’s narration. But, she’s not much for audiobooks in general. As the book went on, Dr Sacks explained some of what goes on in the brain when we listen to music, and told some stories about people with disorders that impair their listening. I was horrified by the woman who heard all music as noise. I couldn’t imagine a life with no music! How sad! The last portion of the book focuses on music as a sort of therapy for various conditions. It was all very fascinating.

Simon Prebble, according to the back cover of this audiobook, has won many awards for his narrations. I thought he did a perfectly good job. He was perfectly fluent and engaging. His voice is really suited to this kind of material.

I highly recommend this for big music fans/nerds. It’s awesome. I did notice right before I returned this copy to my library that it was abridged. I think I’ll have to buy a print copy and read it to make sure I didn’t miss anything good.

Hatha Yoga Illustrated by Martin Kirk

Title: Hatha Yoga Illustrated
Author: Martin Kirk, Brooke Boon, Daniel DiTuro
Series: N/A
Publisher: Human Kinetics Publishers
Release Date: 11/1/2005
Length: 233 pages
Format: Paperback
Genres: Non-fiction, Fitness, Health, Yoga
Challenges: N/A
Source: Purchased
Purchase: Paperback | Kindle | NOOK
Rating: ★★★★★


Experience the physical benefits and body awareness from hatha yoga-the most popular form of yoga today. Hatha Yoga Illustrated presents nearly 650 full-color photos to visually demonstrate 77 standard poses from hatha yoga that apply to all major hatha styles including Iyengar, Astanga, Anusara, and Bikram.

Individual poses are presented from start to finish, showing you how to achieve proper alignment and breathing to ensure challenging yet safe execution. The result is an increase in the effectiveness, both physically and mentally, you’ll experience with each pose. Several pose variations based on your personal preference, ability, and fitness level are also included.

Eleven sample yoga routines show how to assemble the poses into workouts that meet your specific time, difficulty, and intensity parameters. Colorful and comprehensive, Hatha Yoga Illustrated is organized for your ultimate convenience and use. Use it to guide your muscles, as well as your mind, and increase strength and stamina, reduce stress and anxiety, reduce blood pressure, and increase flexibility.

Perfect. This is exactly what I was looking for when I wandered into the health and fitness section of the bookstore. I’ve been doing yoga on and off for five years or so. It’s one of the only ways I can stand to exercise and probably the most effective in strength building and muscle toning. It takes an intense combination of balance, control, strength, and flexibility. That’s why I love it so much.

When I started yoga, I bought an Ashtanga Yoga DVD and learned the basics. Later, I bought a DVD called Yoga Total Body Makeover. It combines yoga with the concept of exercise reps. Parts of it can be intense. What I really wanted was something to explain what I should be doing in the poses. I already know how to make them. I want to know how to do them to the best of my ability. This book is perfect. It tells you exactly what muscle groups your working. It tells you what you should be doing with your muscles. It tells you when to breathe. There’s even a whole section in the beginning explaining the full yoga breath.

My favorite part is the back of the book where all the sequences are. There are two sun salutations, two moon salutations, sequences that focus on flexibility, sequences that focus on strength building. Each one usually has two variations, an easier one and a more intense one. There’s also a gentle sequence for beginners. Seriously, if you’re into yoga, this book is great.

Tiger, Tiger

Tiger, Tiger
by Margaux Fragoso
Published 2011 by Farrar, Srous, and Giroux
336 pages. Hardcover.
Rating: 4/5

One summer day, Margaux Fragoso swam up to Peter Curran at a public swimming pool and asked him to play. She was seven; he was fifty-one. When Curran invited her and her mom to see his house, the little girl found a child’s dream world, full of odd pets and books and music and magical toys. Margaux’s mother was devoted, but beset by mental illness and frightened of her abusive husband; she was only too ready to take advantage of an escape for the daughter she felt incapable of taking care of on her own. Soon Margaux was spending all her time with Peter.

In time, he insidiously took on the role of Margaux’s playmate, father, lover, and captor. Charming and repulsive, warm and violent, loving and manipulative, Peter burrowed into every aspect of Margaux’s life and transformed her from a girl fizzing with imagination and affection into a deadened, young-old woman on the brink of suicide. But when she was twenty-two, it was Peter—ill, and terrified at the thought of losing her—who killed himself, at the age of sixty-six.

With lyricism and mesmerizing clarity, Margaux Fragoso has unflinchingly explored the darkest episodes of her life, helping us see how pedophiles work hidden away in the open to steal childhood. In writing Tiger, Tiger, she has healed herself of a wound that was fourteen years in the making. This extraordinary memoir is an unprecedented glimpse into the heart and mind of a monster; but more than this, it illustrates the power of memory and truth-telling to mend.

I first heard about this book through NPR. Someone had written a review, I believe. It was incredibly intriguing. There were a couple of quotes (not the ones I’ve used) that made me want to go pick it up. I put it on my TBR and forgot about it for a little while. When I was in the airport Monday, waiting for my delayed flight, I was browsing the shops and saw this book. I decided I’d pick it up. I read quite a few chapters while I was waiting, and devoured the rest of the book when I got home.

You might be thinking, “why would I want to read a book about pedophilia?” I’ll tell you why: because it’s a brilliant book. It’s so well written. I love when I read a book and I can tell that the author has put their soul into it. And could she not put her soul into the story of her turbulent childhood? It’s obvious that she worked hard on this book.

The most interesting thing that I want to point out is how Peter is portrayed. There’s this quote on the back of the book saying something about how she humanizes a pedophile. It’s such a great quote because it’s so true. Don’t hate me for saying this, but it’s really hard to hate Peter. Yes, he did some awful things to Margaux, but I can’t just categorize people into good vs. evil. It’s just not how the world works. Peter had a difficult childhood himself, and it probably had some bearing on who he turned out to be. He also had some mental unbalance, like depression and mood swings. This book forces the reader to look at pedophilia in a why they may not have imagined: as a problem that can be treated when it’s recognized. Peter even says it himself.

     “I don’t understand,” I said, “You used to say it was just me but now you’re saying you did it with other girls before me. I thought I was special. You said you fell in love with me.” Thinking about this, I felt like a power source with too many of its outlets in use, like whole brain was having a blackout.
     “I love you,” Peter said, his voice carrying. “And you are special. I loved my daughters, too, and I only wanted to show them how much. But now I realize that I was as sick as any alcoholic, gampler, or drug user. There’s no rehab for people like me and I feel so isolated from the rest of the world. I feel like I’m an outcast who can never fit in no matter what I do.”
     Peter gripped my hand. “I have to get better somehow. Even if it’s on my own.” He paused and then said, “Will you help me?”,
     “Yes,” I said weakly, though I wasn’t sure what he wanted me to do.

pg. 238-239

Peter was never really a bad person, exactly. He made some really horrible choices, and those choices hurt Margaux, her family, and himself in the end. He wasn’t lacking in guilt, however. There was a particular quote I found interesting when Peter decided that he was responsible for Margaux missing out on a lot of her childhood.

     “I have to tell you about this ladder. It had a bunch of missing rungs. She stood there in her blue glow and looked at me with perfect calm. After a while, I was filled with horror. You see, I’ve been reading these books while you’re at school, about how children interperet sexuality…”
     “What about the ladder?”
     …”It was your life, sweetheart. And the rungs were the years you’d lost because of me.”
     “I don’t understand what you’re talking about.” I felt like my circuits were overload again.
     “Let me explain. Life occurs in stages, like rungs. First, you’re a child playing with dolls. Then you’re a preteen, getting into boys. Then you’re a teenager, dating and such. But for you these stages were skipped. What we have to do is go back and repair the ladder. To do that we have to stop all the sex. Just quit cold turkey. Our love has to be wholly pure and spiritual. I’ll be your father.”

pg. 240

I’m not trying to defend Peter. He was clearly emotionally unbalanced. What he did to Margaux was awful, and it caused some of the same emotional problems in her own life. But Margaux herself points out many factors that might have been part of what happened. Because of the way her mother’s molestation was handled, her mother failed to see the warning signs that were flashing like bright, red lights in front of her. Margaux’s home life was next to terrible, and Peter seemed to be the only person who was ever nice to her. He earned her trust when she was young and naive. He manipulated her, her family, and himself into believing that there was nothing wrong with their relationship. But it all started somewhere. Peter’s own personal problems and experiences were a large part of the person he became and the choices he made. If someone had known, had seen the signs early enough, he might have been able to get help. And I think that’s part of the point Margaux is trying to make. She, a mother now herself, wants children to be safe and brought up in healthy environments.

I was captivated by her story and amazed at her courage in telling it. The writing is exquisite. I recommend this book.

Prude Filter: This book contains pedophilia, profanity, detailed sexual content, violence, and references to drugs, rape, and alcoholism.

Source: Hudson Group
Purchase this book: FSG/Macmillan | Book Depository | IndieBound

Marie Antoinette: The Journey

Marie Antoinette: The Journey
by Antonia Fraser
read by Donada Peters
Published 2006 by Random House Audio
20 hours, 26 minutes. Unabridged.
Rating: 5/5

France’s iconic queen, Marie Antoinette, wrongly accused of uttering the infamous “Let them eat cake”, was alternately revered and reviled during her lifetime. For centuries since, she has been the object of debate, speculation, and the fascination so often accorded illustrious figures in history. Married in mere girlhood, this essentially lighthearted child was thrust onto the royal stage and commanded by circumstance to play a significant role in European history. Antonia Fraser’s lavish and engaging portrait excites compassion and regard for all aspects of the queen, immersing the listener not only in the coming-of-age of a graceful woman, but in the culture of an unparalleled time and place.

Whoa! I feel like my brain is overloaded, and I love it. I picked this book up on a whim. I needed to go by the post office during my lunch break, which is in the opposite direction of the library I usually go to. Since we have a library cooperative, I can use my card at any library in the county so I decided I would just drop by the library down the street from the post office. It was my first time to go to that library, and it was very nice. While I was browsing I saw an audiobook about Marie Antoinette, and I thought “that would be interesting.” Ever since I read Revolution, I’ve been very interested with anything having to do with the French Revolution. So I picked it up, and I’ve spent the past two weeks listening to it. Every time I told someone what I was listening to, they couldn’t understand how on earth I could stay interested in it. Trust me, I had no problem.

The story of Marie Antoinette is tragic, but incredibly interesting. It follows her birth in Vienna, her marriage at the age of fifteen, her ascent to Queen of France at the age of twenty (though she was never crowned, she was considered a queen consort), the birth of her four children, and her mounting unpopularity with the people in the wake of the French Revolution. It paints a picture of a caring (though not entirely faithful) wife, a fiercely loving mother, and a queen who—despite her lack of political influence—repeatedly sought what she thought was best for France. She was unfailingly compassionate, giving to charities for the young mothers and orphaned children. Though French libelles often accused her of affairs, lesbianism, and economic extravagance, Marie Antoinette ignored the rumors and set her mind to more important things (like seducing her husband so that they could finally produce and heir). Antonia Fraser, after much research, dispels the myths from the facts. She shows us a different Marie Antoinette than the one so often linked with that infamous line, “let them eat cake.” She really digs in, explaining how on earth the people came to hate her so much, and how she and Louis XVI ended up at the guillotine. She also gives some info on the revolution, though mostly because it’s a vital part of Marie Antoinette’s later life and death. She does well to name her sources and debate those things that are less concrete. I learned a lot, but I still don’t have my fill on the revolution. I’ve already started another book, focusing specifically on the revolution. So far, in all my study of this period in France, I’ve been completely horrified by some of the things the French people did. It’s astonishing what angry, starving people are capable of.

Donada Peters did a terrific job with this. Her voice is well-suited to this kind of book, and she makes things even more interesting by putting on a pretty good French accent when reading for quotes. I think audio is definitely the way to go when delving into some heavy nonfiction. This one is highly recommended. If you have any interest, this is the book to read.

I’ve seen the Sophia Coppola movie a few times. I never knew it was based on this book. I watched it again after I finished the book, and sure enough, there are words that are taken right off the page. I can understand where the sentence “the book that inspired the movie” came from, but don’t watch this expecting to understand anything about Marie Antoinette. For one thing, in her attempt to make a visually beautiful movie (the costumes are one of the only good things about it), I think she put a little too much emphasis on the extravagance. Yes, the couple were extravagant, but they were no more extravagant than the kings and queens before them, and they were brought up in that kind of decadence. Still, if you want to watch a visually appealing movie with a killer soundtrack (that is, if you like Aphex Twin, Adam & the Ants, &  The Cure, like I do), go for it. Just don’t expect much in the way of acting or direction, and keep in mind that Marie Antoinette was much more devoted to her children than her hair. It also would have been better if they’d used some French accents or something. They mispronounce names and words numerous times, which is a little annoying. Come to think of it, you should probably just read the book. I think what it comes down to is that it’s pretty hard to fit twenty hours of audio into a measly two hours of film (much of which is taken up by montages). Here is a brutal, but pretty accurate review of the movie.

Source: Vestavia Hills Public Library. Birmingham, AL.
Author’s website:
Purchase this book: Random House Audio | Book Depository | IndieBound | Audible

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    Some of the books reviewed on this blog were sent to me by the author or publisher for review. I did not receive any payment in exchange for the review nor was I obligated to write a positive one. All opinions expressed here are entirely my own and may not necessarily agree with those of the author, the book's publisher and publicist or the readers of these reviews. This disclosure is in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255, Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.
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