Whenever I write a book review I remind myself an actual human being wrote this book-remember to be empathetic in your review, be fair, be firm.
But when it comes to Cat Marnell’s memoir How To Murder Your Life…well, screw being nice. As the kids say, “I can’t even.”
Now I’m a pretty caring and compassionate person, especially when it comes to someone in a cruel grip of addiction and mental health issues. I’ve read countless books about people dealing with these issues and I know people in real life who have dealt with these issues. And have offered an open-mind and a shoulder to cry on to them.
Knowing a smidge about Marnell due to my interest and experience in both fashion and media I picked up How to Murder Your Life thinking it would be a book about a young woman’s harrowing journey through addiction while trying to make a living in two very challenging industries while also dealing with personal issues like family, education, friends, love and various mundane tasks like paying the bills and making sure the fridge is full.
I thought How To Murder Your Life would convey how Marnell finally realized she had a problem and had a someone or several someones intervene and tell her she needs to get help. I thought it would be a tale of Marnell agreeing to get help, go to rehab and at turns deal with breakthroughs and breakdowns finally arriving on some type of sobriety and doing everything in her power to stay that way. I expected wisdom, clarity, vulnerability and redemption. I was at the very least, hoping for a well-written book.
I got none of these things.
Marnell grew up posh and privileged in the DC area. Her family is both loving and at times infuriating. Marnell, as a child, seems to be silly, fun, creative and like any kid, a bit of a handful. Well, aren’t we all? From a very young age Marnell is interested in the fashion/beauty industry and develops a passion for magazines, going to the point of creating her own ‘zine.
When she reaches her teens she decides to attend boarding school and soon after goes into a tailspin, some of it where she is truly a victim (she loses her virginity to what seems to be date rape), but most of it where she is a willing and enthusiastic participant. Lazy, obnoxious, and fully entitled, Marnell barely graduates high school, can’t quite get into a proper college and gets addicted to various substances thinking it makes her dangerous, edgy and glamorous like she’s the Edie Sedgwick of the modern age.
But despite her lack of education, talent and mastery of anything other than taking an alphabet of any drug she comes across, Marnell gets an enviable gig working for Lucky magazine. Much of her easy entry is due to being privileged, white, thin and spoiled and well-connected. Granted, this isn’t exactly rare in the world of media and fashion.
Thus, Marnell continues to be a complete trainwreck, professionally, personally and romantically. From her early days with Lucky to later on where Marnell is working for the website xoJane under the “legendary” Jane Pratt.
Drugged out her gourd, Marnell’s life is a collection of missed deadlines and missed periods. But instead of being horrified by her life, she seems almost proud. And sadly, she is coddled by nearly everyone in her realm and as How to Murder Your Life reaches its conclusion, Marnell is still a fucking junkie!
Well, isn’t that a trip? Is How to Murder Your Life well-written? No. Marnell’s writing is distraught, callow, unenlightened and so purple Prince would probably say, “Okay, that’s enough.” And the name dropping of celebs, high priced cosmetics and designer duds just made me roll my eyes. Your not only one to apply MAC to your lips, Marnell. It doesn’t make your special (As I type this I’m wearing Chanel no. 5. Yes, you may touch the hem of my ancient Limited sweater).
Fortunately, there are countless on books about drug addiction that are worthy of your time. How to Murder Your Life is clearly not one of them.
If you’re looking for a quick, entertaining read as the days of summer dissolve into fall you can’t go wrong with the novel Caina written by Jersey native Joe Albanese.
Lee and Grant Tolan are identical twins, but apparently in looks only. Whereas, Grant is hugely successful with a thriving career and a finely-tuned Jaguar as his car, Lee is a ne’er do well and over-shadowed by Grant. Lee is mixed up with various gangs and less than savory behavior.
Up to his eyeballs in debt, Lee decides to swallow his pride and crawl back to Grant hoping to reconnect after years of estrangement.
However, Grant dies under mysterious circumstances. And Lee, after making a life of bad decisions, decides to assume Grant’s identity and finally live a life of respectability and success (not to mention, also drive a Jag).
But people aren’t always what they seem and this is true of Lee’s late brother. Posing as Grant, Lee finds himself caught up in a world of mob activity, dealing with the DEA and other malfeasance.
To survive all this Lee enlists the help of his friends and they all get caught up in death with the Irish and Italian mafia, drug dealers from Mexico and quite a few other activities that test their mettle. Lee also begins to realize Grant wasn’t what he seems. And if Grant wasn’t what he seemed, may Lee can isn’t what he seems and can redeem himself. Well, if he doesn’t end up “sleeping with the fishes.”
I found Caina to be fun and fast-paced, with interesting characters and dialogue. I often found myself seeing this as a movie or a TV show. It has elements that made me laugh and made me cringe, and despite Lee and company’s bad decisions, I truly wanted them to win in the end.
Caina is a good read by a very promising young writer.
I first made A.R Geiger’s acquaintance when I joined Twitter. We connected as readers and writers, but I knew I had to follow her because of the inspiring things she writes that urges writers to keep going on no matter what hurdles or challenges they face. So I am very honored to have interviewed Ms. Geiger. She’s an absolute delight.
1. First, give me a brief bio about yourself, where you grew up, education, where you live now, writing jobs, other jobs, like and dislikes, whatever you want to share.
2. When did you you start writing and why?
I have always been coming up with stories and writing many of them down, but I started writing seriously when I turned eighteen. I was on a trip that turned out to be very boring for me, and I needed a distraction! Thus, my novel was born, packed into the notes section of an iPod touch. Once I started, I was hooked, and I haven’t been able to stop since. I have too many stories in my head to let them all wither and die.
3. How does your Christian faith inspire and influence your writing?
4. What do you write and why?
5. What challenges do you face as a writer? Describe a typical writing day.
6. Who are your favorite writers and why?
7. What are your future plans? What do you aspire to?
When it comes to liquor and libations Milwaukee-based food and drink writer Jeanette Hurt knows her stuff. So I was only too delighted to come across her book Drink Like a Woman: Shake, Stir, Conquer, Repeat.
Drink Like a Woman provides over 70 cocktail recipes and so much more. It goes beyond the fruity, sweet, pink and girly drinks like the Cosmopolitan popularized by Sex and the City to provide cocktail recipes for all kinds of palates and tastes.
After a foreward by Ann Tuennerman, founder of Tales of the Cocktail, Hurt share a few words on so-called “girly drinks,” in which she claims there are no “girly drinks.” Women like what they like and we don’t have to apologize for it.
But before we can make a cocktail we need to get our home bar together. Hurt provides a very thorough list of needed accessories like jiggers, muddlers, shakers, strainers, pourers and glasses to make your home bar top notch whether you’re new to the cocktail game or an experienced mixologist. And you don’t have to break the bank. Many of these items can be found at thrift stores, estate sales and rummage sales.
Okay, now we’re onto the fun part-the cocktail recipes, which are inspired by fierce femmes and our herstory, which spans from the 1600s to the modern age.
Chapter One, Witches and Bar Wenches covers the years 1600-1900, which celebrates the Revolutionary War, authors Jane Austen (Jane Austen’s Zombie) and the Bronte Sisters (Bronte’s Brew). You can also make a toast to trailblazers with drinks like Nellie Bly-Tai, Curie Royale and Amelia Takes Flight. That time of month? Ditch that Midol and enjoy a Monthly Medicinal instead.
Chapter Two, Votes for Women, Whiskey for All, covers the years 1900 to 1950. Drinks celebrate flappers with Flapper’s Firewater, Rosie the Riveter with Rosé the Riveter and the iconic artist Frida Kahlo with a Frida Kahlúa. Do you need a virgin cocktail for non-drinkers or those underage? Stir up it up with a Suzy B’s Virgin Voter, which honors Susan B Anthony, famous suffragette and a proponent of the temperance movement.
Chapter Three, Libations for the Liberated, covers the years 1950 to 2000. Pop culture icons like Mary Richards, Princess Leia and Buffy the Vampire Slayer get their own drinks (Bloody Mary Richards, Kissed by a Wookie, and Buffy’s Stake), feminism is in fine form with the Bra Burner, Sister Solidaritea, and the Gloria Stein’em.
Chapter Four, Stirring Up Cocktails and Shaking Up the World, covers the 2000s. You can also make a toast the LBD with The Little Black Dress, denounce manpslaining with Mansplainer Antidote and celebrate friendship with the BFF.
Drink Like a Woman also provides recipes for all kinds of syrup, the rules for creating creamy drinks, and hangover cures in case you indulge too much. And Drink Like a Woman also provides a list and brief bios of the ladies of liquor, the mavens of mixology who shared these cocktail recipes.
Drink Like a Woman is also a fun read for its quotations, lists of music and movies to love while enjoying your cocktails and Paige Clark’s charming illustrations. Drink Like a Woman is a welcome addition to any one’s book shelf whether one imbibes or does not.
Just a quick update before I go to bed. Look for a book review to be published later this week. And I hope to have another book review up, possibly two next week. I’ll have some links to interesting book news. And I’m also going to have a fabulous interview with a very talented writer I follow on Twitter who never fails to inspire me. I also have three novels on my list to read and review. It’s going to be busy book related fall for Bookish Jen and the Book Self.