March 11, 2016

Book Review: If At Birth You Don’t Succeed

birthI first found out about Zach Anner when he was in the voting to be on a competition show that Oprah was having for her network to win your “OWN” show.  I remember telling my parents that there was a kid who was trying to get votes and he had cerebral palsy too. (Yes, I also have the sexiest of the palsies.) We rooted for him week after week and were so excited when he won (spoiler?) and watched all the episodes of Rollin’ With Zach when they were on OWN as well.  I hadn’t really kept up too much with what he did after that, although now that the book has mentioned a bunch of things I’ll have to go catch up on his YouTube channel soon.

I guess I have a bit of a different perspective reading this book as someone who also has CP.  I always was amazed by the stuff that I’d see Zach do (like surf!?) when his CP is more severe than mine. He has definitely opened up my eyes about how much more I could be doing and that it is probably more fear holding me back than the actual inability to do something.

There was one quote that I had to write down because I say something similar all the time… I wear a leg brace and always get “What did you do to your leg?” My Mom tells me it is rude to reply “Nothing” or “brain damage” so I usually just say “I have cerebral palsy”…

“At this time of night, I don’t have the heart or energy to tell them that there’s actually nothing wrong with my legs; it’s just a symptom of the brain damage I have.”

Zach also has a great sense of humor so reading this book was a lot of fun and you can totally picture what is going on as he is retelling the stories – although there are probably some things that you really don’t want to picture… but you will anyway.

I received a free e-copy of this book in order to write this review. I was not otherwise compensated.

About the Book

“Zach Anner is way more than an inspirational figure for anyone who has ever felt impossibly different: he’s also a great f**king writer. Wise and funny, with unfailing insight into the booby trap known as the human mind, you will hang on every word as you watch him turn his considerable intellectual gifts into a life worth envying. I like that this book has no genre, and neither does this special man.”—Lena Dunham

Comedian Zach Anner opens his frank and devilishly funny book, If at Birth You Don’t Succeed, with an admission: he botched his own birth. Two months early, underweight and under-prepared for life, he entered the world with cerebral palsy and an uncertain future. So how did this hairless mole-rat of a boy blossom into a viral internet sensation who’s hosted two travel shows, impressed Oprah, driven the Mars Rover, and inspired a John Mayer song? (It wasn’t “Your Body is a Wonderland.”)

Zach lives by the mantra: when life gives you wheelchair, make lemonade. Whether recounting a valiant childhood attempt to woo Cindy Crawford, encounters with zealous faith healers, or the time he crapped his pants mere feet from Dr. Phil, Zach shares his fumbles with unflinching honesty and characteristic charm. By his thirtieth birthday, Zach had grown into an adult with a career in entertainment, millions of fans, a loving family, and friends who would literally carry him up mountains.

If at Birth You Don’t Succeed is a hilariously irreverent and heartfelt memoir about finding your passion and your path even when it’s paved with epic misadventure. This is the unlikely but not unlucky story of a man who couldn’t safely open a bag of Skittles, but still became a fitness guru with fans around the world. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll fall in love with the Olive Garden all over again, and learn why cerebral palsy is, definitively, “the sexiest of the palsies.”

Praise for Zach Anner

“Zach makes you want to be a better person, with his humor and his heart and everything he’s had to deal with from the time he was born. I’ve never met anyone like him, and I’ve met a lot of people.” —Oprah Winfrey

“Zach Anner is a truly inspiring and hysterical human being with a warped sense of humor (and body). He’s also an exceptional writer and his memoir is an absolute joy.”—Rainn Wilson

“Zach Anner is the living definition of ‘giving better than he’s gotten.’ Life dealt him a difficult hand but he managed to beat the house with humor, heart, and a fearless punk attitude. Required reading.”—Patton Oswalt

“I love Zach Anner and I love his memoir. If everyone were a little more like Zach, the world may not be a better place, but it would be funnier place, which is a great step forward.”—Alexis Ohanian

“He’s a unique, creative kid with a smart, edgy sense of humor.”—Arsenio Hall

“I think I speak for everybody when I say…I want to see more of Zach.” —John Mayer

“Wonderful. . . Anner’s comedy is the peppy, uplifting sort you’d expect from someone who Oprah says ‘makes [her] want to be a better person,’ such as his elaborate Olive Garden metaphors for the nature of life. . . . Anner remarks wryly that being expected to act as an ambassador for the disabled ‘is a tightrope walk, which is hard on four wheels.’ Maybe so, but with this book, he makes it look easy.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Funny, empowering…An inspirational memoir with a seasoned, infectious sense of humor…[Anner’s book chronicles] his three decades of life (so far) with cerebral palsy, a permanent condition that hasn’t prevented him from living his dream as a comic, a media sensation, and a motivational speaker.”—Kirkus Reviews

Book Review: Playing Hard

playinghardPlaying Hard is a baseball romance, which I usually love.  For some reason I couldn’t get started on this one right away, it took several tries.  I think it as more trying to fit it into my schedule than anything else.  When the galley expired, I had to be quick to finish it before the version on my app expired and I’d lost it forever.

I was glad that I stuck it out and did end up finishing it, as I really enjoyed it! I even was yelling at one or two of the main characters near the end, that’s how you know I was really into it.

The book is about Amelia, an economist living in New York City working on Wall St.  Her “brother”, Finn, has been sent to the New York Saints a major league ball club. He invites Amelia, or Milly, to a party that is being thrown by the team.  When there, Amelia meets Oliver, the Saints first baseman.  Finn thinks that Oliver is a player, but he seems to be interested in Amelia.  Finn ends up pissing Amelia off so she leaves the party and a few people ask Oliver to bring Finn home since he has had too much to drink and they worry if they put him in a cab he will tell the driver to take him to another club.  While heading home they get in a car accident that leaves Ollie pretty beat up.

Amelia feels bad for Oliver and goes to see him in the hospital and brings him some gummy bears. The two end up starting a relationship that Amelia wants to try and keep secret from Finn and his family (her second family).  Finn ends up taking Oliver’s first baseman position for the play offs so there is a bit of tension between the two.

Amelia ends up getting an opportunity at work to go to Hong Kong for 6 months, which is her dream.  She always wanted to work at a different office and then take some time to travel.  Having only been with Oliver for about three weeks she doesn’t want to stay behind just for him but she isn’t sure how to tell him or what she for sure wants to do.  Of course, Finn’s sister and Amelia’s best friend Em, decides to get pissed off at Amelia and spill the beans to Oliver.

Oliver and Amelia break up – and of course I am yelling at them to just try and work things out! And hopefully, in the end, they will.  Or will they? You’ll have to read the book to find out 😉

My biggest pet peeve about this book is when baseball books have partially real teams and partially fake teams. I prefer it to either be all one or all of the other.  The New York (or Staten Island?) Saints are playing against the Red Sox in the playoffs and the winners will play the Yankees.  So now there are 3 N teams, since my Mets are mentioned as well.  Doesn’t make sense. I’m sure there’s a reason for it, but as a baseball fan reading these books it always makes me a bit nuts.

Ignoring that though, I really did love this book!

I received a free e-copy of this book in order to write this review. I was not otherwise compensated.

About the Book

Baseball star Oliver Shields has always lived for the game-and now the New York Saints have finally made the play offs. The season isn’t over yet, but meeting gorgeous Amelia Graham seems like a bonus grand slam-until one night of partying threatens to take Oliver out of the game for good…

UNTIL SHE puts his heart in play
All work and no play has always been Amelia’s motto, earning her a coveted job on Wall Street and the freedom she’s always longed for. Oliver is a real player-in more ways than one-and a distraction she doesn’t need, especially when she’s trying to win a chance at her dream assignment at work . When flirtation turns to attraction so fierce neither one of them can say good-bye, will Oliver and Amelia step up to the plate-and give love a chance?

Book Review: Adulthood is a Myth

adulthoodAdulthood Is a Myth is a pretty hilarious collection of drawings about being an adult – whatever that is.  I found myself laughing out loud and thinking that the drawings were so totally me throughout the book – and I’m sure you can find some you relate with as well.  For instance – shaking your computer and being violent towards it when the wifi is out when you could be reading a book or hanging out outside when it is down.  Not wanting to deal with other people, etc.  Definitely recommended for anyone who isn’t quite sure what being an adult is, and would much rather stay in bed all day doing nothing!

I received a free e-copy of this book in order to write this review. I was not otherwise compensated.

About the Book

Do you love networking to advance your career? Is adulthood an exciting new challenge for which you feel fully prepared? Ugh. Please go away.

These casually drawn, perfectly on-point comics by the hugely popular young Brooklyn-based artist Sarah Andersen are for the rest of us. They document the wasting of entire beautiful weekends on the internet, the unbearable agony of holding hands on the street with a gorgeous guy, and dreaming all day of getting home and back into pajamas. In other words, the horrors and awkwardnesses of young modern life. Oh and they are totally not autobiographical. At all.

Adulthood Is a Myth presents many fan favorites plus dozens of all-new comics exclusive to this book. Like the work of fellow Millennial authors Allie Brosh, Grace Helbig, and Gemma Correll, Sarah’s frankness on personal issues like body image, self-consciousness, introversion, relationships, and the frequency of bra-washing makes her comics highly relatable and deeply hilarious.

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