Monday, February 17, 2014

My Mother Was Nuts by Penny Marshall

I'm not really sure why this memoir stuck out to me. Maybe it's because I've always thought of Penny Marshall as a character and was curious about her real life. I also always liked how laid back she appeared and how out of the media she was/is. Her life seemed like something to really be curious about and her memoir didn't disappoint.

The book opens with the greatest anecdote I've ever heard. Penny is home alone, an adult, and she she's getting robbed. She has a facial masque on so she's covered in green goo and she somehow manages to call security, get the robbers out of her house, and clean her face off without losing her cool. She even gets to know one of the robbers who admits he wouldn't have broken in if he'd known it was her house. It was very attention grabbing and basically sums up the theme of the book, really of Penny's life - she just doesn't lose her cool. She moves through life accepting opportunities as they come, asking for help learning the ropes in Hollywood, and developing an amazing acting/directorial career.

Everything in her life seems to happen organically and she knows everybody! With this casual tone she talks about the parade of celebrities that come in and and our her life, live in her house, and travel the world with her. What's unique is how she humanizes them along the way, really showing that nobody has it all together all the time. She marches to her own beat driven by the relationships she had with all kinds of people. She also manages to circumvent the Hollywood curse of all things being temporary (like fame itself) and keeps lifelong friends.

This was a great book, an easy life story to follow, and especially enjoyable because of the short chapters. I could pick this book up and put it down at will without losing momentum in the narrative. It was a great book to read while sitting around waiting...which I've been doing a lot of lately (freaking slow-moving doctor's appointments!!!!)

Monday, February 10, 2014

The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan

So much happened in this book, but I guess when you're juggling seven story lines it's to be expected. Even though our seven prophecy-chosen demigods are all questing together in this book, there are a lot of moments of fragmentation - small group off-shoots - that end up keeping the overall story moving forward. It honestly got a little confusing who had done what and where at times, but like I said, this was a very busy story.

Finally, the seven demigods meant to save the world have come together: Percy and Annabeth who you know really well by now if you're a Riordan fan, Jason, Piper, Hazel, Frank, and Leo. Their group quest is to travel to Rome and destroy twin giants - Gaea's minions - before they destroy Rome, but a separate quest has been given to Annabeth to find an old statue of Athena that went missing in Rome centuries ago which Athena has been trying to get back ever since, sacrificing her demigod children along the way. Apparently the statue is necessary to ultimately stop Gaea so Annabeth has to succeed on her quest as much as the group as a whole needs to stop the giants.

After traveling across the the U.S. with a few heart-pounding pit stops (because nothing is easy for these guys,) they head out to Rome. As they travel, more pieces of the puzzle of exactly what needs to be done and who can potentially help them fall into place. In the end, they have to find and retrieve the statue, kill the giants, and save their friend Nico (also Hazel's brother) who has been kidnapped and is near death. They face many monsters and immortals we haven't seen yet (surprised there are so many left) from both Greek and Roman origin and enlist the help of a very unlikely God. Any success they find is made bittersweet by the cliffhanger ending that divides the group in a way that makes it uncertain whether they'll ever come back together.

So much happens and it's all very fast-paced with a lot of jumping around that, as I said, gets a little confusing. I also felt like the action took center stage here just as we were getting to know everyone and I was sad that often personality development was set aside so we could watch the characters simply do things. While we do learn a little more about some of our demigods, their motivation for what they do becomes a little muted at times. I also just kept getting Piper and Hazel confused. I couldn't help it and I felt like that was a flaw from the story.

Two more books in the series though with the last one publishing later this  year, so I've almost caught up to the author :) I think it's definitely a series worth finishing. I might even go through Percy Jackson withdraw when it's all over. It's fun to have something exciting and easy-to-read in my book queue though.