The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer

Trigger Warnings: This title contains the following topics that might be difficult for some readers such as: cheating, profanity, sexual assault.

  • Published: August 16, 2016 by Simon & Schuster Audio
  • Genre: Memoir
  • Edition: Audiobook
  • Time length: 8 hours
  • Rating: 3.5 stars

The Emmy Award-winning comedian, actress, writer, and star of Inside Amy Schumer and the acclaimed film Trainwreck has taken the entertainment world by storm with her winning blend of smart, satirical humor. Now, Amy Schumer has written a refreshingly candid and uproariously funny collection of (extremely) personal and observational essays.

In The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo, Amy mines her past for stories about her teenage years, her family, relationships, and sex and shares the experiences that have shaped who she is-a woman with the courage to bare her soul to stand up for what she believes in, all while making us laugh.

Ranging from the raucous to the romantic, the heartfelt to the harrowing, this highly entertaining and universally appealing collection is the literary equivalent of a night out with your best friend-an unforgettable and fun adventure that you wish could last forever. Whether she’s experiencing lust-at-first-sight while in the airport security line, sharing her own views on love and marriage, admitting to being an introvert, or discovering her cross-fit instructor’s secret bad habit, Amy Schumer proves to be a bighearted, brave, and thoughtful storyteller that will leave you nodding your head in recognition, laughing out loud, and sobbing uncontrollably-but only because it’s over.

This year, I have taken it upon myself to read more memoirs, specifically celebrity memoirs. I had originally made the decision to skip this one; I love Amy Schumer, don’t get me wrong, but I just didn’t think that she would write about any topics I would consider important. I can now admit that I couldn’t have been more wrong! Schumer’s writing style reminds me of Gabrielle Union in her memoir: We’re Going to Need More Wine. The author openly discusses her struggles with her readers, openly throws out profanity, and openly gives readers a glimpse into her personality aside from the humor we have grown to adore.

To the outside world, it is easy to picture Amy Schumer as having the perfect life, but that wasn’t always the case for the comedienne. Schumer does not shy away from providing her readers with background information about her rough upbringing; she writes about how her mother’s cheating had consequences beyond her family, about how her family wasn’t wealthy and she had to work several jobs throughout her adolescence in order to cover expenses, about how her father was diagnosed with an illness that made it difficult for them to spend time with one another more often, and more that you won’t want to miss out on.

I don’t know if I’m the only one that feels this way, but I often feel as if celebrities avoid opening themselves up to their readers and connecting on a deeper level; unfortunately, this results in a book filled with content that is already public knowledge and a disappointing read. However, I’m happy to announce that Amy’s book was the opposite; I know that profanity may not be every reader’s cup of tea, but it happens to be mine. I felt like the author’s use of vulgar language made her more relatable and provided me with many opportunities to laugh.

Readers are probably well aware of Schumer’s comedic acts and generally associate her with being funny, but in this book she shines a light on some other important traits she exhibits: authenticity, honesty, empathy, kindness…the list goes on and on, but I’ll let you read the book to discover the rest! The author makes you feel as if you are sharing a table with her and engaging in meaningful conversations; she doesn’t once try to sugarcoat things to make herself appear in a better light. There’s a particular chapter in which she discusses how she gave her bonus from one performance to those that work for her and by donating it to a charity that supported veterans; this made me admire her a little bit more because I feel like more celebrities should make an effort in supporting the less fortunate.

This is a book that I feel will stay with me for many more months to come and I highly recommend this book for those that love listening to audiobooks, for those that love learning more about certain celebrities, or for those that love having a quick, light read.

Down the Rabbit Hole by Holly Madison

  • Published: June 23, 2015 by Dey Street Books
  • Edition: E-book
  • Page length: 355
  • Rating: 3 stars

The shocking, never-before-told story of the bizarre world inside the legendary Playboy Mansion—and, finally, the secret truth about the man who holds the key—from one of the few people who truly knows: Hef’s former #1 girlfriend and star of The Girls Next Door

A spontaneous decision at age twenty-one transformed small-town Oregon girl Holly Sue Cullen into Holly Madison, Hugh Hefner’s #1 girlfriend. But like Alice’s journey into Wonderland, after Holly plunged down the rabbit hole, what seemed like a fairytale life inside the Playboy Mansion—including A-list celebrity parties and her own #1-rated television show for four years—quickly devolved into an oppressive routine of strict rules, manipulation, and battles with ambitious, backstabbing bunnies. Life inside the notorious Mansion wasn’t a dream at all—and quickly became her nightmare. After losing her identity, her sense of self-worth, and her hope for the future, Holly found herself sitting alone in a bathtub contemplating suicide.

But instead of ending her life, Holly chose to take charge of it.

In this shockingly candid and surprisingly moving memoir, this thoughtful and introspective woman opens up about life inside the Mansion, the drugs, the sex, the abuse, the infamous parties, and her real behind-the-scenes life with Bridget, Kendra, and, of course, Mr. Playboy himself.

With great courage, Holly shares the details of her subsequent troubled relationship, landing her own successful television series, and the hard work of healing, including her turn on Dancing with the Stars. A cautionary tale and a celebration of personal empowerment, Down the Rabbit Hole reminds us of the importance of fighting for our dreams—and finding the life we deserve.

Holly Madison is mainly known as being number one girlfriend to Hugh Hefner, but in this book the readers get to see her in a different light. Madison gives inside scoop on the feuds going on with the other females she was living with, her battle with depression, and how she ultimately overcame it and found a new life.

When Holly Madison was given the invitation to live in the Playboy Mansion, she didn’t hesitate to accept; it felt like a dream come true for her, but that quickly changed. Madison describes the rivalry she faced with the other females and how they all seemed to stick around long enough to become the centerfold before deciding to up and run. Luckily, she did befriend one woman: Bridget Marquardt; Marquardt remains one of her closest friends till this day.

If the hostility with the housemates wasn’t enough to deal with when Hef started limited Madison’s independence, she knew she couldn’t stay around that atmosphere for much longer. The decision didn’t come easily to Holly; Hef had taken her under his wing when she was struggling to make it on her own and he had blessed her with some of the greatest luxuries life could provide. When she took all those things into consideration, her thoughts of leaving seemed like the ultimate betrayal; however, she knew that her happiness and well-being was what mattered most and that was confirmation for her to leave.

After she managed to leave Hef and everything with him behind, she found herself in a new relationship with Criss Angel. At first the pair was happy, but Holly quickly noticed Angel to be jealous and possessive over her; it didn’t take long until the couple were fighting constantly and the toll of the relationship caused her to spin into a deep depression. Madison ended up being put on an antidepressant called Effexor, which causes a high dependency rate, and she struggled for years to wean herself off the drug completely after ended the relationship with Criss.

Through all the craziness that was thrown the author’s way, there was light at the end of the tunnel when she found her husband. The two now share a daughter together, Rainbow Aurora.

I’d recommend this book to those that would like to know more about Holly’s life during the Playboy years or those that enjoy celebrity memoirs.

A Serial Killer’s Daughter: My Story of Faith, Love, and Overcoming by Kerri Rawson

  • Published: January 29, 2019 by Thomas Nelson Audio
  • Edition: Audiobook
  • Time length: 9 hours
  • Rating: 2 stars

What is it like to learn that your ordinary, loving father is a serial killer? Kerri Rawson, the daughter of the notorious serial killer known as BTK (Bind, Torture, Kill), tells the nightmarish story of that discovery and of her long journey of faith and healing.

Kerri Rawson was living a happy, normal life until one day when the cops showed up at her front door with news that would destroy the image that she had painted of her father over the years. It would be unveiled that Kerri’s father, Dennis Rader, was the serial killer dubbed BTK, which stood for bind, torture, kill. The news stunned Rawson and in this book, she shares the side of her father that his victims did not get to see while also sharing with readers what the conviction meant for her and her family and how they coped with the aftermath.

The book’s opening begins during the time that Kerri is informed her father is a serial killer and all emotions that immediately hit her: denial, shock, and other emotions appropriate for the occasion. Rawson goes through the book sharing memories that she had created with her father while growing up: a hiking trip she took with him and her brother, a father’s concern when she was doing poorly in college, and other moments meant to bond families together.

However, the more the author uncovers about the crimes committed by her father she starts to connect dots to the timeline of the murders and that of her childhood. Kerri makes no excuses for her father; she openly expresses sadness for the victims and guilt for not realizing that danger was so close to home the entire time. With her dad’s crimes exposed, Rawson and her family had to be there for one another and help pick up the pieces of the mess left behind. Most people would believe they would “cut all ties” with a loved one if they found out they committed such horrid crimes, but the author is only human and at the end of the day Rader is her father. As she felt her way through her emotions, which was difficult to say the least, she begins the process of forgiving her father and slowly begins re-establishing a connection with him while he is behind bars.

Originally, I was excited to finally read this book, as I’m a huge fan of true crime shows and books. However, this book just could not hold my interest for too long and did not leave me with any lingering feelings after I finished it. I would still recommend this book, though, for lovers of crime shows/books and memoirs; it may not have been the book for me, but it could be for you!

*I read this book on Scribd. If you would be interested in ONE FREE MONTH of this book subscription service, be sure to click this link: https://www.scribd.com/g/7ovkvo

This Will Only Hurt A Little by Busy Philipps

  • Published: October 16, 2018 by Gallery Books
  • Edition: E-book
  • Pages: 320
  • Rating: 3 stars

There’s no stopping Busy Philipps. From the time she was two and “aced out in her nudes” to explore the neighborhood (as her mom famously described her toddler jailbreak), Busy has always been headstrong, defiant, and determined not to miss out on all the fun. These qualities led her to leave Scottsdale, Arizona, at the age of nineteen to pursue her passion for acting in Hollywood. But much like her painful and painfully funny teenage years, chasing her dreams wasn’t always easy and sometimes hurt more than a little.

In this stunningly candid memoir, Busy opens up about chafing against a sexist system rife with on-set bullying and body shaming, being there when friends face shattering loss, enduring devastating personal and professional betrayals from those she loved best, and struggling with postpartum anxiety and the challenges of motherhood.

But Busy also brings to the page her sly sense of humor and the unshakeable sense that disappointment shouldn’t stand in her way—even when she’s knocked down both figuratively and literally (from a knee injury at her seventh-grade dance to a violent encounter on the set of Freaks and Geeks). The rough patches in her life are tempered by times of hilarity and joy: leveraging a flawless impression of Cher from Clueless into her first paid acting gig, helping reinvent a genre with cult classic Freaks and Geeks, becoming fast friends with Dawson’s Creek castmate Michelle Williams, staging her own surprise wedding, conquering natural childbirth with the help of a Mad Men–themed hallucination, and more.

Busy is the rare entertainer whose impressive arsenal of talents as an actress is equally matched by her storytelling ability, sense of humor, and sharp observations about life, love, and motherhood. Her conversational writing reminds us what we love about her on screens large and small. From film to television to Instagram and now to the page, Busy delightfully showcases her wry humor and her willingness to bare it all.

I adore Busy and was eager to finally get my hands on this book and read the stories she would include, but was disappointed by most. I applaud her for sharing some heartfelt stories such as: her unexpected pregnancy that led her to a difficult decision, her battle with postpartum depression, and the endless rejections that comes with the entertainment industry. On the other hand, I felt like other stories she was sharing came across as her narrating a script for an upcoming movie. She’d constantly mention going out with friends for drinks or hanging out and smoking endless cigarettes. I just couldn’t find myself always engaged in the book or like I could relate to her as much as I would’ve liked.

*I read this book on Scribd. If you would like to have ONE FREE MONTH of this book subscription service then click this link: https://www.scribd.com/g/7ovkvo

A Stolen Life by Jaycee Dugard

  • Published: July 12, 2011 by Simon & Schuster
  • Genre: Memoir, True Crime
  • Edition: E-book
  • Pages: 304
  • Rating: 3 stars

Jaycee Dugard was a normal eleven year old girl from a rural town in California when the course of her life took an unexpected turn. As Jaycee was walking up the street to catch the morning bus, a couple by the names of Phillip and Nancy Garrido drove up beside her, stunned her, and placed her in the backseat of their vehicle before speeding off. The world would not know the status of her life or the horrors she would ultimately survive for the next eighteen years.

In this memoir, Dugard provides a detailed retelling of her eighteen years in captivity. She documents the first day that Phillip took her into the bathroom inside his home and groomed her private area to his liking before sexually assaulting her for the first time. She documents the moment that she found out she was pregnant with both of her daughters and shares the stories of their births without having proper medical care. Dugard talks about how she established a school system for her daughters despite the fact that she herself only held a fifth grade education. Last, but not least she talks about the moment that she was properly identified as the missing girl from 1991 and how difficult it was to break free from the years of manipulation from her abductors in order to truly be free.

For those that followed Jaycee’s story on the news, this is the perfect read for you. I’d also recommend this book to those that would like to educate themselves more about Dugard’s story or those that love reading about true crime.

This book was the winner of Goodreads Choice Award for Memoir/Autobiography in 2011.

Save Me From Myself by Brian “Head” Welch

Description:

The amazing true story of an out-of-control rock star, his devastating addiction to drugs, and his miraculous redemption through Jesus Christ.

In February 2005, more than ten thousand people in Bakersfield, California, watched as Brian “Head” Welch—the former lead guitarist of the controversial rock band Korn—was saved by Jesus Christ. The event set off a media frenzy as observers from around the world sought to understand what led this rock star out of the darkness and into the light.

Now, in this courageous memoir, Head talks for the first time about his shocking embrace of God and the tumultuous decade that led him into the arms of Jesus Christ. Offering a backstage pass to his time with Korn, Head tells the inside story of his years in the band and explains how his rock star lifestyle resulted in an all-consuming addiction to methamphetamines. Writing openly about the tour bus mayhem of Ozzfest and The Family Values tour, he provides a candid look at how the routine of recording, traveling, and partying placed him in a cycle of addiction that he could not break on his own.

Speaking honestly about his addiction, Head details his struggles with the drug that ultimately led him to seek a higher power. Despite his numerous attempts to free himself from meth, nothing—not even the birth of his daughter—could spur him to kick it for good. Here Head addresses how, with the help of God, he emerged from his dangerous lifestyle and found a path that was not only right for his daughter, it was right for him.

Discussing the chaotic end to his time in Korn and how his newfound faith has influenced his relationship with his daughter, his life, and his music, Head describes the challenging but rewarding events of the last two years, exposing the truth about how his moments of doubt and his hardships have only deepened his faith.

The readers are taken on a journey with the author in Welch’s debut memoir. Welch’s success with Korn did not happen overnight like most would believe. Before the stardom, Brian “Head” Welch was just an ordinary teenager in Bakersfield, California trying to make his dreams of being a musician a reality. He spent hours practicing his guitar skills and starting up several bands that ended after one live show. It seemed like no matter what he did, the dream was not any closer to being within his reach.

Then one night after having recently established a new band that was in need of a lead singer, Welch and another member decided to scout local clubs in hopes of finding the right person for the position. The night was not looking hopeful and they were in the middle of calling it a night when the last band took the stage and the band’s lead singer had not even sung a single note yet and the duo already knew this guy was the man they were looking for. Who would that be you ask? Jonathan Davis.

With their band formed, they started creating beats and writing lyrics. It was not too long afterwards that Korn was deemed the band’s name despite reluctance from their manager about the name not being ideal on landing them a record deal. Welch’s dreams had finally came true, but unknown to him at the time it was to be the beginning of some dark and troubling times.

Welch is very honest with his readers about his addiction to meth, pills, and alcohol. He talks about using drugs with fellow members and while writing, recording, and touring. He tried quitting on his own and with the help of rehab, but to no avail. His last option was to trying placing the situation in God’s hands.

The world was shocked when “Head” announced that he was leaving Korn and had been saved. The decision was a tough one, but ultimately saved his life. With the help of Christ, he was able to become a better father, friend, and son. By finding Christ, he was able to finally ditch the drugs and become sober for good. The decision to walk away from everything was not one made lightly, but Welch is making the most of it and taking it one day at a time.

This memoir is a must read for those that enjoy the band’s music, want insight on why “Head” turned to Christ and has pursued the journey to walk beside Him, or for anyone like me that enjoys a memoir that is personal, honest, and unbiased. I give this book 3 stars.

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Conquering Chaos by Catelynn Lowell & Tyler Baltierra

Millions of people around the world will recognize these two from their Teen Mom franchise, but through their memoir you’ll get to know a side of the couple that does not end up on your television screen.

It’s not a secret that Catelynn and Tyler are one of the most beloved cast members of Teen Mom and appear to be the “goody two shoes” type, but in their book they are quick to educate you on their mischievous past and previous drug use. I know what you’re thinking…but it is true! The duo were picking up some risky habits and exhibiting behaviors that could have landed them in some serious trouble, but once Catelynn found out she was pregnant it all started to change.

Catelynn knew from a young age that she wanted to become a mother one day; she describes herself as very maternal and caring, which is easy to pick up on if you watch the show. However, her home life at the time of the pregnancy was anything but stable. Ultimately, she and her boyfriend decided it would be in their child’s best interest to be placed for adoption. This news did not go over well with their parents, which is captured on the television show.

“Less than one percent of women choose adoption for their babies. Ninety-nine percent of women who parent choose to get pregnant or have an abortion. That’s why it’s so ironic and amazing that Catelynn chose adoption, because for someone who had dreamed about parenthood for so long and had such a strong maternal instinct, it was the ultimate sacrifice. She’s in that one percent of women who made that decision.”

-Tyler commenting on Catelynn’s decision to place their first born child up for adoption.

It was no doubt the toughest decision the couple had faced up to that point in their relationship, but they do not regret it one bit. They now advocate for adoption and keep in touch with their firstborn’s adoptive parents through their counselor, Dawn.

Rating: 3 stars. I hope this review encourages you to add this book to your TBR.

Book Review: A Mother’s Reckoning by Sue Klebold

Published: February 15, 2016 by Broadway Books
Genre: Memoir
Edition: E-book
Pages: 319
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
If viewers have not noticed, I have a thing for memoirs. I personally love memoirs where the author is completely vulnerable with his/her readers and does not seem to lean towards a good or bad only perspective. For those that are unaware of the author, Sue Klebold is the mother of Dylan Klebold; he is one half of the shooting duo responsible for the April 20, 1999 school shooting at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado. In A Mother’s Reckoning, Sue Klebold does an exceptional job at chronicling the events from her son’s childhood up until the events of Columbine that ultimately ended with the suicide of her son. Although she is the perpetrator’s mother, she does not condone the actions of her son that resulted in the loss of thirteen lives or try to make excuses as to what may have caused him to make the decision to commit this heinous act. However, she also showcases the wonderful aspects of her son that have completely come undone due to that one fatal decision.

Sue Klebold has always kept a diary, which is the source for all the recollections she provides throughout this book. Growing up, Dylan was a normal, well-behaved child that presented no warning signs that he would mature into a person that would be capable of any act of violence upon himself or others. He always did his homework, maintained good grades, never argued with his parents, or even used profanity; he gave his parents no reason to worry. It is often that individuals assume that parents are aware that something is going on with their child and refuse to accept the signs being presented, while others seem to feel as if it is the parents who are at fault when their child demonstrates harmful, deadly behavior. Klebold shines light on the errors of this thinking; in her raw and honest style of writing, she lets readers know that it is impossible to truly know everything about your child and that you can do everything right as a parent and at the end of the day still fail.

During the last few months of Dylan’s life, he exhibited no signs of the horror that lied ahead. He maintained his usual, content self; he was partaking in normal senior activities: prom, college applications, as well as even declaring to his parents the college he wanted to attend and they even took him there for a tour! Life in the Klebold household could not have seemed happier and bright, but that quickly came crashing down on that fateful April day. Sue was at work when her husband called to let her know about the school shooting; as would any mother, she immediately thought of Dylan and how to deliver him to safety. It would only be a few hours until everything in her world came crashing down when she discovered her son was one of the members responsible. By the end of the shooting, thirteen lives were loss including Sue’s son, Dylan who ultimately committed suicide in the school’s library by gunshot wound to the left temple. 

In the aftermath of the tragedy, everything for the Klebolds started to fall apart. The community that once welcomed them with open arms now turned their backs in disgust and anguish. The public outrage led to the family’s decision to not have a funeral, but instead a small, private viewing among close family before having the body cremated. The grieving process took a toll on Klebold and her husband, which sadly led to their divorce. This experience has shaped her life into what it is today and she has spent the last two decades sharing her personal story with others in hopes to bring about more awareness towards mental health. 

In conclusion, I must say this read is definitely worth it. I rarely give books a five star rating, but this one absolutely deserves it. I hope by reading this review, you feel encouraged to give the book a chance.

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