Duck Duck Book

Book Review kiss me like a stranger

kiss me like a strangerI finally got to Burke’s, the bookstore around the corner from the intern house.  I bought three books and blazed through one in a few days.

Gene Wilder’s memoir, kiss me like a stranger, was an open and honest glimpse into his life.  I’ve always loved Gene Wilder in everything I’ve seen him in (not much as I found out) and I was excited to read about him.

Growing up I first saw Wilder in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, which I was incredibly surprised to learn was considered a flop at the box office.  It only earned $4,000,000, one million more than its budget.  I also discovered that Wilder was a writer having many ideas turned into movies, most well-known to me being Young Frankenstein.

Reading about Gene Wilder’s stage days were particularly interesting because I hadn’t known about them.  He auditioned for and became part of The Actors Studio, here he was mentored by Lee Strasburg.  In those early days Gene had focused on being dramatic instead of playing to his comedic strengths, and Strasburg called him out on it, saying:

“I got news for you: If you don’t know how you’re going to act some part of the script–work on what you do know.  Build up your confidence a little bit.  That will help you find what you don’t know.”

I was struck by this statement.  So often I focus on what I need to be doing and learning and working on that I forget to play to my strengths.  I spend too much of my time and energy worrying about how I’m doing compared to others.  My biggest competition is myself; as long as I’m doing better than I was yesterday that should count as a win.

I loved this book.  The flow was easy and made me want to read way past my bedtime.  I would recommend this book to anyone and everyone, specifically theatre people and those interested in Gene Wilder.

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Book Review #3 Wicked Girls

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A couple of weeks ago I read Wicked Girls by Stephanie Hemphill.  You would think since it’s taken me so long to blog about it that I didn’t actually care for the book, not true!  I really enjoyed this book and zipped through it.  The author utilizes poetry to tell the story, which I found very interesting.

The plot focuses on the Salem Witch Trials, changing a few names and putting a modern girl-group dynamics spin on this popular tale.  I’m not sure what else to say about this book, without giving things away.  If you aren’t familiar with the Trials this is a great way to dive in.  The author takes certain liberties with the characters but many of the events are rooted in historical accuracy.

Get to the library and read away!

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Book Review #2 Bunheads

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On Sunday I read Bunheads by Sophie Flack.  If the title and cover didn’t give it away…the book is about ballet dancers not just any dancers though, New York City ballet dancers.  I really liked that the author spent 9 years as a professional ballet dancer in New York City, this gives more believability to the book.  However, she doesn’t overwhelm the reader with technical ballet terms.

The story follows Hannah Ward through a year of ballet.  Hannah knew she wanted to be a ballet dancer since she was a little girl and hasn’t explored many other options outside that life.   All that changes with a chance meeting of Jacob, a musician and NYU student, at her cousin’s restaurant.  We see Hannah struggle to maintain a relationship with a non-dancer while trying to forward her dancing career.  Throw in other dancers competing for the same parts, another suitor, as well as Hannah’s endearing inability to navigate the “real world” and you have all the components for a wonderful read.

I definitely enjoyed this book and would suggest it to anyone interested in dancers’ lives.

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Book Review #1 The Revenant

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The Revenant by Sonia Gensler is the first book I finished from the library.  Yes, I really did finish it in less than 24 hours.  It was a pretty fast read but still powerful enough to draw you into its world.  This book is Young Adult historical fiction with a bit of paranormal activity thrown in.

The story takes place in 1896/7 Indian Territory (now present-day Oklahoma).  The main character, Willie, has lied about her identity to teach at the Female Seminary School.  Expecting little more than rough, backwoods-y Indians, Willie is very surprised at the sophistication found at every turn in the town.  Living in the room of a murdered student causes Willie to question her belief in spirits and form a rocky friendship with a fellow teacher who is also a budding medium.  Throw in a mysteriously handsome young man from the Male Seminary School and you have the perfect ingredients for romance, intrigue, and adventure.

All in all I thoroughly enjoyed The Revenant and would read it again.    Any book with a main character constantly relying on Shakespeare to get them through tough times is a must read for me.

I’ll bring more book reviews as I read them.  I plan to number each one to see how many books I can read in a year.

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Lauren Mann

Writer of Words, Singer of Songs, Wanderer, Secret Keeper

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