Review: Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology by Leah Remini

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Book: Trouble Maker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology by Leah Remini [Goodreads | Amazon]
Genre:
 Nonfiction, Memoir
Publisher:
 Ballantine Books/Random House
Format: Audiobook by Audible
Rating:
 5 stars
Cover Rating:
4 stars

The Cover
As with most memoirs, especially celebrity ones, this cover features a picture of Leah Remini’s face. The cover is fine, Remini looks lovely, as always. And because she’s recognizable, it’s a good move to get more interest in the book itself. 

The Review
I listened to this book over a few days during my commute. I have been wanting to read this since it came out, but decided to try listening to it. I enjoy listening to memoirs because I feel like you get a lot more to the story when the person telling the story is actually able to, you know, tell it.

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I really am a fan of Remini. I have always liked her attitude and always enjoy it when she pops up on something I am watching. She was one of my favorite girlfriends to Zack Morris while growing up (a role that she apparently was advised against taking, so I’m glad she went against that and did her own thing). And while I didn’t watch King of Queens often, I always felt she and Kevin James showed great chemistry together.

When Remini decide to leave Scientology, even before this book came out, I read lots of interviews and saw lots of discussion about her and the religion. I know that there are a ton of books and articles that are trying to get out the truth behind the religion, so maybe there isn’t anything special about this book. However, I think that Remini offers a different, good perspective in regards to the religion and what actually went down.

There are parts of the book that are pre-scientology. These parts are limited and are important to explaining how she and her family got on when in the religion. I think Remini did a great job describing the occurrences throughout her part of the religion. She does a good job explaining the intricate parts to the religion. It was interesting to hear about the different levels, what a person has to do, and hearing the differences between being a non-celebrity member vs a celebrity member to the church.

One of the more interesting parts that Remini discusses (and there are quite a few of them), have to do the the Scientology golden boy, Tom Cruise. Even people who are not interested in Scientology know how important he is to the religion, and know bits and pieces to his odd behavior over the past few years (yes, the couch jumping is brought up and in fact the whole marriage to Katie Holmes in general). At first, I thought it was odd how much she discussed him but in retrospect, I realize how big of a part to her story he really is. And I guess he is to any and every one that is part of that religion.

Remini recently did a A&E special, Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath, that I have yet to check out. It’s on my list of shows to check out eventually, though. It will be interesting to see if there will be more information outside of what she has written about.

The Author
Leah Remini can be found online:
Website
Twitter
Facebook

Down the TBR Hole: Week 10

Time for the next installment of my cutting down of the Goodreads TBR list!

For those not in the know, this was started by Lia from Lost in a Story. Here is how the challenge works:

  • Go to your goodreads to-read shelf.
  • Order on ascending date added.
  • Take the first 5 (or 10 if youre feeling adventurous) books. Of course, if you do this weekly, you start where you left off the last time.
  • Read the synopses of the books
  • Decide: keep it or should it go?

 

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The Bookseller by Cynthia Swanson
I knew this book was coming up soon. I bought it from a Kindle book deal sometime last year. I love the concept of it and, in fact, had started reading it at one point, but never really got drawn into it. I do want to give it another shot, though. I’m going to mark this one as a KEEP, but will definitely be kicking it off the list if I’m not able to get into it next time around.

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The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling
I bought this on a whim to try out Rowling’s writing style outside of the Harry Potter universe. I also have the HBO series based on the novel on my Watchlist. Reading the synopsis, this book doesn’t seem interesting to me. However, I do still wish to give this book at least a chance. Maybe it will be better once I actually get into it….

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The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood
I have only read a couple of books by Atwood. The ones I have finished I have enjoyed. However, the ones I’ve started-not-finished (this one included), I’ve never actually wanted to go back and try. I’m going to PASS on this one.

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Hausfrau by Jill Alexander Essbaum
I started this one last year and found it interesting. I put it aside to focus my reading time on some other books. I do intend to pick this one back up. I remember the main character, Anna, to be very interesting. And that cover — I can’t get over it!

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The Water Museum by Luis Alberto Urrea 
Reading the Goodreads description of this, I’m left rather baffled. I do not recall actually hearing of this book and thus have no real recollection as to why it was on my TBR list. I’m going to PASS on this one, just because reading the description does nothing for me.


 

Have you read any of these books? Do you have a case for why I should add some of these back to the TBR list?

Review: I See You by Clare Mackintosh

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Book: I See You by Clare Mackintosh [Goodreads | Amazon]
Genre:
 Fiction, Thriller, Mystery 
Publisher:
Penguin Random House
Format: eBook via NetGalley
Rating:
 4 stars
Cover Rating:
3 stars

The Cover
The colors on this cover are the only thing I find interesting. The bright blue with the pops of yellow, red and orange is a beautiful combination. However, the actual image looks more like a piece of chick lit or something. Knowing the story, I see how the cover works, but I feel like this could have been completed better to be much more compelling and interesting.

The Synopsis
Taken from the Goodreads page:

You do the same thing every day.

You know exactly where you’re going.

You’re not alone.

When Zoe Walker sees her photo in the classifieds section of a London newspaper, she is determined to find out why it’s there. There’s no explanation: just a website, a grainy image and a phone number. She takes it home to her family, who are convinced it’s just someone who looks like Zoe. But the next day the advert shows a photo of a different woman, and another the day after that.

Is it a mistake? A coincidence? Or is someone keeping track of every move they make . . .

I See You is an edge-of-your-seat, page-turning psychological thriller from one of the most exciting and successful British debut talents of 2015.

The Review
Clare Mackintosh has hit it out of the park again! I loved this book. It was an immediate, suck you in thriller with interesting characters, wonderful plot development, and an interesting ending. There is also an extra ending, if you will, that I am not 100% sure is necessary.

I found the writing style to be beautifully written, just as I did with her first novel, I Let You Go. And while this is another psychological thriller, I found her including technology to make this piece stand out a bit for me.

I love the premise – Zoe find herself randomly in an ad for a dating website, and while her husband discourages her from looking more into it (he believes she signed up for the site and is denying it), she can’t seem to drop it. So instead, she looks more into it, checking out past editions and seeing other pictures of women. And soon she realizes that hey…these women look familiar. And why do they look familiar? Because they have been on the news for various reason – having been robbed, stalked, and in some cases, murdered.

Zoe was a very interesting character. I also enjoyed Kelly, the detective that makes sure she stays on this case. They are both well written, developed characters with a good combination of flaws and positive attributes. I also enjoyed Zoe’s children, Katie and Justin. And Zoe’s friend/Justin’s boss, Melissa, could have her own book and I would read it. I, however, was not as interested in Simon, Zoe’s husband, or Matt, the father of Katie and Justin. I felt like they were lacking. Overall, though, I found the characters interesting and I did root for Zoe and Kelly throughout the entirety of the book.

The book is divided up into two perspectives – Zoe’s and Kelly’s. This is a great way to progress the book, as we get parts of the story from Zoe, a victim-turned-investigator, and Kelly, the detective who believes there is more to this story than some of the other officers. And I enjoy that Mackintosh took the time to make Kelly more of a complete character (we meet her family, learn some of her history as to why she became a cop, some of the trouble she got into while on the force, etc) as opposed to “just a cop”.

The plot development is good and I really enjoyed the ending. However, there is a type of epilogue that I am not sure is completely necessary. I feel like the book ends just fine without it. Other than that, I really enjoyed this and look forward to reading it again in the future.

The Author
You can find out more about Clare Mackintosh by checking out her:
Website
Facebook
Twitter


 

Disclosure: I received this eBook from NetGalley.com in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to NetGalley and Penguin Random House for the advanced copy!

Down the TBR Hole: Week 9

Time for the next installment of my cutting down of the Goodreads TBR list!

For those not in the know, this was started by Lia from Lost in a Story. Here is how the challenge works:

  • Go to your goodreads to-read shelf.
  • Order on ascending date added.
  • Take the first 5 (or 10 if youre feeling adventurous) books. Of course, if you do this weekly, you start where you left off the last time.
  • Read the synopses of the books
  • Decide: keep it or should it go?

 


 

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Not My Father’s Son by Alan Cumming
I got this in a Kindle deal a long time ago. I have heard good things about it and look forward to reading it in the future. You guys know I am a sucker for a memoir. KEEP!

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A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett
Growing up, A Little Princess was one of my favorite movies. I, however, have never read the book! Which is just a little bit silly…don’t you think? KEEP!

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Witch Child by Celia Rees
I love a good story about witches. It’s hard for me to turn one down! I will be keeping this, though I will be honest and say I almost talked myself out of it. It’s a series and I am just not looking into getting in a series right now. However, by the time I actually get around to this, I may be interested in starting a new series. KEEP!

 

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Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen
This is another book that I took a second on to decide if I wanted to keep it or not. Reading the synopsis, I’m kinda meh about it today. However, I have heard such great things about SAA and this book in particular. I will go ahead and mark it a KEEP for now.

 

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At Water’s Edge by Sara Gruen
I’ll be honest, I added this to my list just because it was by the author of Water for Elephants, which I loved. Reading the synopsis for this, though, makes me incredibly uninterested. I’m going to PASS on this one.

WWW Wednesday: April 19, 2017


What are you reading? Wednesday: This meme asks us to post about three books:

  1. What are you currently reading?
  2. What did you recently finish?
  3. What do you think you’ll read next?

WWW Wednesday is hosted by Taking on a World of Words


 

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Currently Reading
After my post last week, I picked up Woman No. 17 by Edan Lepucki. I am loving this so far. I regret being so busy with work and life in general, that I haven’t been able to just sit and read the entire thing in one sitting!

Recently Finished
I…still got nothing. I’ve listened to the S-Town podcast twice…does that count at all?

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Reading Next
I am still playing catch up (and probably will be for the next month or so) but one book I cannot wait to read after I am caught up is The Dollhouse by Fiona Davis. My mom recently finished listening to this and couldn’t say enough great things about it.


 

Tell me – what are you currently reading? Do you have any books that you are excited about checking out soon?

Down the TBR Hole: Week 8

Time for the next installment of my cutting down of the Goodreads TBR list!

For those not in the know, this was started by Lia from Lost in a Story. Here is how the challenge works:

  • Go to your goodreads to-read shelf.
  • Order on ascending date added.
  • Take the first 5 (or 10 if youre feeling adventurous) books. Of course, if you do this weekly, you start where you left off the last time.
  • Read the synopses of the books
  • Decide: keep it or should it go?

 

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I have heard and read so many different mixed reviews for The Magicians by Lev Grossman. I have almost picked it up at various bookstores but always put it back. As soon as I saw this on my TBR list, I knew it would be a PASS. There is something about this that sounds interesting, but not enough to actually check it out.

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Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain is a book I have been wanting to read this for SO LONG! It is on my shelf to check out this year and I think once I get back on track, I may have a month of nonfiction reading to tackle all these different nonfiction books I want to read this year. Definite KEEP.

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I have had The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making on my Kindle I think since it came out. I have so many of Catherynne M. Valente’s books on my TBR list. I know I’ve talked about her before but I used to read her blog during my LiveJournal days and have always been fascinated by her but have yet to actually finish one of her books. This is the first in her Fairyland series. KEEP!

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I read The Art Forger by B.A. Shapiro two years ago and LOVED it! When I saw The Muralist in a discount Kindle deal email, I picked it up immediately. I look forward to reading it one day. I would say this year but I feel like I say that with every book I talk about and uh…I doubt that will happen, hah. But yes, this one is one that I am really excited to read. One day. When I actually read books again. KEEP!

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I picked up Broken Monsters randomly at Books-a-Million one day after getting her book The Shining Girls a few months earlier, also at BAM, on sale. I have read either (shocker) but they both sound great! This one is on my shelf for reading this year. So maybe this one will actually get read this year. Maybe…. KEEP!

WWW Wednesday: April 12, 2017


What are you reading? Wednesday: This meme asks us to post about three books:

  1. What are you currently reading?
  2. What did you recently finish?
  3. What do you think you’ll read next?

WWW Wednesday is hosted by Taking on a World of Words


 

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Currently Reading
I am still trying to overcome my reading slump, as well as battling some hardcore allergies, so my reading has been sporadic at best. I am slowly devouring The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley by Hannah Tinti and oh my gosh I am loving it already! I don’t like to gush about a book too much when I’m not that far into it, but this book is so wonderful. I am finding myself reading a chapter at a time, then sitting it aside to contemplate it. The writing is wonderful, the characters are wonderful, the story is incredibly interesting. I would normally assume this book would make me want to sit and devour it in one sitting but…I just want to savor it.

Recently Finished
I…got nothing. I haven’t finished a book since I See You by Clare Mackintosh, which I mentioned in my last WWW Wednesday post. So I’ll just skip right on to….

 

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Reading Next
I received a copy of Woman No. 17 by Edan Lepucki from the Early Reviewers program on Library Thing. With my reading slump, I am thinking that maybe trying to read a physical book instead of solely focusing on the Kindle books I am wanting to finally catch up on. Maybe switching up the format can also assist me in getting back into my groove!

 

TBR: April 2017

I had contemplated not even making a list for April. But I decided that overall, I’d like to have some form of accountability. And I do enjoy a good list!


 

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First, I will copy/paste my plans from March 2017. (* denotes books already started)

  1. Stolen Beauty by Laurie Lico Albanese *
  2. Harmless Like You by Rowan Hisayo Buchanan
  3. The Imperfect Past by Eve Seymour
  4. The Cutaway by Christina Kovac
  5. The Twelves Lives of Samuel Hawley by Hannah Tinti *

I feel like I should just leave it at that, but I will add the books I had planned on reading this month, assuming I had stayed on schedule:

  1. Gone Without a Trace by Mary Torjussen
  2. The Shadow Land by Elizabeth Kostova 

So, seven books total, two of which I have started. Okay, this list isn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be. I think I can get a good chunk of this finished and reviewed before the end of April, especially since we will have a long weekend over Easter. An extra day with no responsibilities is perfect for getting back on track with reading!

What are your plans for the month of April? Which book are you most excited to read?

Monthly Recap: March 2017

I know I already made a post earlier today, discussing my reading slump that was March. I had considered not even doing a recap, but felt that was a silly thing to do. Just because I didn’t end the month as strong as I would have liked, doesn’t mean I didn’t do anything. So, let’s take a look at what March 2017 was really like.


 

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Books Read
I had plans to read 8 books for the month of March; not a completely unreachable goal, but a little more than I can usually do (a bad month for me is 2 books, a good month is 4-5 depending on how many audio books I listen to). This month, I finished 4 books:

  1. The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel
  2. The Bad Beginning (A Series of Unfortunate Events #1) by Lemony Snicket | Goodreads
  3. Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology by Leah Remini | Goodreads
  4. I See You by Clare Mackintosh | Goodreads

Out of the four, only one wasn’t on my TBR plans for March, so out of the 8 books, I finished 3 [and started 2 more] and listened to a bonus book.

At the end of March, I am at 14 out of 35 books read for my Goodreads challenge. This has me at 40% completed while being 6 books ahead of schedule.

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Books Purchased
I picked up a copy of Big Little Lies while at Dollar General a couple of weeks back because it was only $4. I had planned on reading this before watching the series, but my TBR list is so backlogged now, that I decided to wait on reading it. I did start the HBO series this past weekend and it’s good so far! I also impulse bought The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber from the bargain section of Books-a-Million. I loved The Crimson Petal and the White and when I saw that this was the same author, I decided to pick it up and give it a shot. Ya know, eventually.

I did splurge a bit more on some Kindle deals:

  1. In the Company of Women: Inspiration and Advice from over 100 Makers, Artists, and Entrepreneurs
  2. Snowman: A Harry Hole Novel (7) by Jo Nesbo
  3. Sickened: The True Story of a Lost Child by Julie Gregory
  4. Broken Grace by E.C. Diskin
  5. The Dollhouse by Fiona Davis
  6. The Last Girl by Joe Hart
  7. A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

 

Books In vs Books Out
9 books in versus 4 books out isn’t my best, but as I’ve said before: March was hard. And I tend to use buying books as a therapy of sorts, so I guess I should be happy I didn’t do more damage. Hah.

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Favorite Book Read
I think my favorite for this month would have to go to Troublemaker. I really enjoyed listening to that and thought that Leah Remini did a really great job at tackling such a fascinating, odd subject — and it was even more interesting to see it from the perspective of a celebrity.

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Book I Most Want to Read 
A Discovery of Witches has been on my radar for some time now. I am looking forward to hopefully get back on track within the next few weeks so I can start picking out books from my newly aquired stack.

The Blog
I only blogged a handful of times this month. I did some updates to the Down the TBR hole challenge [here, here, here, here], as well as  some What Are You Reading? Wednesdays [here, here]. I posted two reviews, here and here. I also added some new pages. One that shows what books I have read this year and another that is a master list to all of my reviews.


 

So, tell me — how was your March? Do you have a month that tends to be a slag for you? What was your favorite book read during March?

Let’s Chat: Reading Slumps

Around this time every year, I start to feel really blah. I notice that the things that usually bring me joy seem more like a hinderance — a weight I can’t seem to shake, a stress that follows me around like a dutiful puppy.

I can’t pinpoint what it is about this time of year. I assume it’s seasonal depression but it seems like that would have a bigger effect in November/December, maybe even January. But for me, it always seems to be March.

Because of this, I don’t have much to report on in regards to books I’ve finished. My TBR list for this month hangs over me like a rain cloud. I am glad my plans for April only included three books, since I’ll be copy/pasting the March list over into April.

To aid me to getting back on track (because I can definitely see that I am getting over this March slump already), I’m trying to decide what book to read to pique my interest in reading again. So, I’m going to you, reader, with myself laid bare: what do you do to get out of a reading slump?

For me, I usually do one of three things:

  1. Read a book I’ve been wanting to read for a long time.
  2. Re-read a favorite, something that will remind me of just how awesome reading is.
  3. Read something short and quick, something light that is just for fun and not always as heavy as my usual reads are.

I started a book on my March TBR list earlier this week. I’ve read one chapter but it’s wonderfully written and may fit the first item. I have high hopes of being back to my regular self within the week. And maybe I can get these book reviews back on track by end of April, as well!