Wednesday, November 19, 2014

I Don't Know What You Know Me From: Confessions of a Co-Star by Judy Greer

From Goodreads:

You know Judy Greer, right? Maybe from The Wedding Planner, 13 Going on 30, Carrie, Arrested Development, or The Descendants. Yes, you totally recognize her. And, odds are, you already feel like she’s your friend. 

In her first book of essays, I Don’t Know What You Know Me From, Greer writes about everything you would hope to hear from your best friend: how a midnight shopping trip to Walgreens can cure all; what it’s like to wake up one day with stepchildren; and how she really feels about fans telling her that she’s prettier in person. Yes, it’s all here—from the hilarious moments to the
intimate confessions.

But Judy Greer isn’t just a regular friend—she’s a celebrity friend. Want to know which celebs she’s peed next to? Or what the Academy Awards are actually like? Or which hot actor gave her father a Harley-Davidson? Don’t worry; Greer reveals all of that, too. You’ll love her because, besides being laugh-out-loud funny, she makes us genuinely feel like she’s one of us. Because even though she sometimes has a stylist and a makeup artist, she still wears (and hates!) Spanx. Because even after almost twenty years in Hollywood, she still hasn’t figured everything out—except that you should always wash your face before bed. Always.

This was an emergency download. I am incapable of cleaning my house without an audiobook and my house was in dire need of cleaning. This book was immediately available from my library's digital collection and I generally really like Judy Greer so I nabbed it and got scrubbing.

When it comes to this kind of book, audio is really the way to go (especially when it's narrated by the author). Judy has such a distinctive voice and, like the blurb mentions above, she already feels like a friend. I'm not sure I would have enjoyed it nearly so much in print form, but as an audio book? It was lovely. And now my house is clean.

Coroner's Journal: Stalking Death in Louisiana by Louis Cataldie

From Goodreads:

The frank and unvarnished memoir of a life spent stalking death in the Deep South.

Baton Rouge is a little town with big-city problems. Rich with Creole history, colorful locals, and a strong sense of community, it's also the home of Napoleonic codes, stubborn cops, and a sometimes-troubled leadership. Baton Rouge-which literally means "Red Stick"-lives up to its bloody namesake.

And after more than ten years as a deputy coroner and then as its chief coroner, Louis Cataldie has seen his fair share of unusual and disturbing cases. They range from the bizarre to the heartbreaking: an LSU professor killed by a barn door; the bones of a young woman found scattered in a churchyard; and as many as three serial killers loose at one time under Cataldie's watch. He has worked the scene of one of the Malvo/ Muhammad Beltway Sniper shootings and had a hand in bringing to justice serial killer Derrick Todd Lee in a controversial investigation that was featured in an ABC Prime Time special with Diane Sawyer and Patricia Cornwell.

Coroner's Journal is an unflinching look at a world that television dramas such as CSI can only begin to show us.

The stories in this book were fascinating and sometimes heart-wrenching (I bawled any time children were involved). I kept getting hung up on the writing though! Cataldie is a coroner, not an english major and it shows. Where was his editor?? Sometimes when I write a blog post I'll go through and rewrite a sentence here and there- the key, though, is to delete the original version so you don't have two sentences next to each other saying basically the same thing. This is like Editing 101, yes? It was weird coming across those kinds of mistakes in a published work.

Also, Cataldie was needlessly melodramatic and occasionally included details that were clearly for shock factor. His book is chock full of bodies but he declined to detail the process of slicing someone open for autopsy until halfway through, when he described it on a four-year-old boy who had been killed in a fire. I mean, really? That's an emotional sucker punch and totally unnecessary.

All that being said, I came out really liking Cataldie. He seems like a good guy who genuinely cares for the victims that come to him. He played a big part in the post-Katrina cleanup and spent months IDing bodies and returning them to families. Good guy, good stories, should probably change editors (call me!) if he decides to write another book.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith

From Goodreads:

Brothers Ron and Dan Lafferty insist they were commanded to kill by God. Krakauer's investigation is a meticulously researched, bone-chilling narrative of polygamy, savage violence and unyielding faith: an incisive, gripping work of non-fiction that illuminates an otherwise confounding realm of human behaviour.

I've been wanting to read this book for AGES but I'm glad I didn't read it until now. It's mostly about polygamy but also includes some Mormon history that isn't particularly flattering. I don't know that I would have believed some of the history in this book until this year. Some people I'd been taught all my life to revere did some pretty sketchy stuff back in the day (I'm a lot more aware of that now, though).

I hesitate to say that I enjoyed this book- the subject matter is pretty awful- but...I enjoyed it. It was fascinating, especially as someone who comes from Mormon roots and has lived in Utah. I've read a few books about fundamentalism as well, so there were some familiar characters. Overall I thought Krakauer does a great job tying events together in such a way that helped explain people's actions and reactions. He weaves disparate tales about people and events together to create a cohesive narrative on polygamy and the history of violence among the saints (and their offshoot brethren).