ARC Review: The Mystery of Rufford Abbey

Let me tell you about this fever-dream of a book I was lucky enough to receive an ARC for on Netgalley:

The Mystery of Rufford Abbey is creative and ambitious. With multiple points of view and timelines, the book shifts from medieval primary source translation occurring in the academic world to a suspense-ridden police investigation to other plot twists that I didn’t see coming but won’t tell you about because it could ruin the experience if you want to read this novel.

This book may be for you if:

  • You like plot-driven novels;
  • You like alternative timelines;
  • You do not need your story to be believable;
  • You are looking for a story to read and enjoy without thinking about it too much.

I didn’t particularly care for the characters or the writing style, personally. But I did appreciate the creativity and that there are a lot of readers out there who will freakin’ love this book. Looking for a wild ride that doesn’t necessarily add up but enjoys itself as it twists around curves, dives down into the water, and leaves you a little dizzy and slightly dazed when done, as you wonder what exactly you just experienced?

Look no further.

My Reading Year in 2022

Courtesy of Goodreads

In 2022, I read 66 books and 20,460 pages, or an average of 310 pages per book. In comparison to 2021, my reading decreased by 10 books and 3,104 pages, and the average number of pages per book remained exactly the same.

The shortest book I read in 2022 is We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson. I did not enjoy this novel as much as Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House, although it is a well-known and renowned story and is so for a reason. As someone who aspires to writing, myself, I do find it commendable that Jackson is able to accomplish so much through the novella, and think it is can be a lesson for all writers out there that writing shorter works does not mean writing lesser works.

The longest book I read is The Whalebone Theatre by Joanna Quinn. This book featured great writing and good characterization… but I didn’t enjoy it was much as I was hoping. This book is well written, but sad. Read when you’re in the mood for a sad book.

In comparison to 2021, Jackson’s work is 44 pages longer than Hannah Lee Kidder’s Starlight, and Quinn’s work is 48 pages longer than Tana French’s The Witch Elm.

The most popular novel I read is Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. In my opinion, worth the hype. Flynn is a great writer, her characters are fascinating and terrible and purposefully unreliable. I devoured this novel, and would recommend it to anyone and everyone. The movie is also decent – Rosamund Pike is an excellent Amy, Ben Stiller is a meh Nick, but Carrie Coon does an impeccable job as his sister. Plus, Missi Pyle is in it, and y’all know I like Missi Pyle. Like many works, however, the book is better.

The least popular novel I read is The Wake and the Manuscript by Ansgar Allen. This one was an ARC I received through Netgalley, and I think it is well done for what it is, but it’s not for me. It’s very stream-of-consciousness, philosophical, unreliable narrator. If you don’t mind meandering through the inner workings of someone else’s mentally unhinged mind, this one may be for you, though! Of the people who have read it, most who have rated it on Goodreads have enjoyed (this book actually has the highest rating on Goodreads of everything I read in 2022).

My average rating for 2022 is 3.4 stars. So I liked the shit I read this year .1 stars more than last year.

The first book I reviewed in 2022 was Marion Meade’s biography on Dorothy Parker, titled Dorothy Parker: What Fresh Hell is This? I really enjoyed this one.

The last book I reviewed in 2022 is Carrie Adams’ The Godmother. I didn’t much care for it.

Overall, I read a lot more than I should have, wrote a lot less than I wanted to, and feel pretty mediocre about 2022. Let’s hope 2023 is better.

Photo by cottonbro studio on Pexels.com

5-Star Reads in 2022

Honestly, 2022 was not a great reading year for me. There were only five 5-star reads, one of which was a re-read, one of which is considered a classic literary read, and two of which are by well-established authors.

  • Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch – A re-read. Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett’s utterly delightful book about armageddon. The physical book is good. The audiobook is good. If you haven’t read this one yet… you should.
  • Boy: Tales of Childhood: A memoir of Roald Dahl – Roald Dahl, writer of amazing children’s books including James and the Giant Peach, Matilda, The Witches, BFG, The Fantastic Mr. Fox, and, of course, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, has a fascinating background. Did y’all know he was a spy in WWII? This book is before all of that – it details Dahl’s pretty difficult boyhood, including the time he almost got his nose sliced off, the horrors of English schools and their reigns of caning terror, told with a matter-of-factness that displays a pragmatic lens through which to view life that is refreshing and will probably make you feel like you’re at least a little bit of a wimp.
  • The Haunting of Hill House – I don’t know why it took me so long to read Shirley Jackson’s Hill House, but this book was absolutely beautiful. The dialogue does feel a bit dated (which the book is, having been penned in the late fifties), but the story and the writing still shines. The book’s influence on horror is evident and astounding. In short, Jackson was a genius, and thus far, this is the best work of hers that I have read.
  • Autoboyography: This book kind of snuck up on me. The publisher was allowing readers to download e-reader copies around Halloween, and I picked this one on a bit of a whim. And it was sweet and funny and charming and sophisticated, and I loved every single bit of it. It’s a YA, coming-of-age love story set in Salt Lake City. LGBTQ+ elements, parental and religious expectations factor into the storyline, and while I didn’t grow up Mormon, I also had a fairly Midwestern religious background and the feeling of community that can so quickly be taken away was still recognizable.
  • Book of Night: I have enjoyed Black’s work since her debut novel Tithe, which I grabbed a copy of when it first came out. Holly is an amazing writer. This novel is her considered her first “adult” novel, and it. Is. Fantastic. Fantasy is not one of my go-to genres, but when I read it, this novel is the type of fantasy novel I enjoy. The beautiful writing would make it a commendable book no matter what, but on top of that, the book includes a magical world that is quickly and easily graspable, it is peopled with characters who are too cool for me but a shitload of fun to spend time with, and the storyline is bracing. It goes at a quick pace, and keeps that pace throughout the novel, and I truly enjoyed every bit of this novel (except for the last few pages) so very, very much.
Holly Black signs a book for a fan at the National Book Festival, September 3, 2022. Photo by Elaina Finkelstein/Library of Congress.

Those were my five-star reads for 2022 – what were yours? I would desperately like 2023 to be a more enjoyable reading year, so please give me potential additions for my TBR! (I also hope your 5-star list is bigger than mine!)

Drown the Positive

Polly Tremaine has spent 30 years trying to avoid the drama that came from her short stint at childhood stardom, but in a matter of days, forced to do an assignment she doesn’t want, she will realize that it doesn’t matter that she changed her name, changed her career, altered her appearance and moved to another country – once she’s set foot in L.A., she’s once more surrounded by death as something, or someone, seems out to get her. Will Polly be able to Burn the Negative, or is she destined to become a victim herself…?

Josh Winning’s Burn the Negative is campy good fun. Written in homage to the seventies, eighties and nineties horror books and movies that were not always well done but were usually enjoyable to certain stans (you know who you are), this book is for the fans. With a style reminiscent of My Best Friend’s Exorcism, this book is delicious – the beluga caviar of horror novels. It’s rich and full, and you should pay your $27 at the bookstore, and sit back and enjoy the twists and turns Winning throws at you.

If you do not like older horror films, don’t know what a Final Girl is, and are not a fan of gore — this book’s not for you, and I don’t want to go so far as to say that you definitely will not enjoy it, but I also cannot guarantee that you will. This book was written by someone who stared Michael Myers, Freddy Krueger, Jason and his mother in the eyes through a pre-Roku TV, felt a thrill in his heart, and decades later, took that thrill and weaved it into a novel. This book is for those who secretly wondered, just a tiny bit, in the dark recesses of their being, if they were taunting a serial killer by losing their virginity. This book is for the people who understand that of course Alex had to kill all of the kids who thought they were his friends on Prom Night, because he knew what they had done and they didn’t even feel sorry for it.

I truly enjoyed this book, and if you are a fellow retro-horror stan, I highly recommend, as I think you will too.

What it looks like when stream-of-consciousness analyzes an unfinished book

I did not know what I was getting myself into with Samantha Hunt’s The Unwritten Book: An Investigation, but I am so very glad that I was lucky enough to receive a Netgalley ARC. Hunt’s writing is thoughtful, interesting, intelligent, wandering… and in my opinion, well worth the read.

Although Hunt is probably best known for her fiction work, such as Belletriste’s pick The Dark Dark, this book is mostly nonfiction. I say “mostly” because interspersed throughout the book are excerpts of Samantha’s deceased father’s unfinished book. In addition, this book reads more like a collection of loosely related essays/musings than a more traditional narrative non-fiction book where each chapter builds on what came before. Hunt’s book could literally be read in any order, except for the excerpts of her father’s book. This book, which analyzes the writing from the partial book that Papa Hunt left behind, experiences Samantha had with both her father and her own experiences parenting her children, and general musings/information, is interesting. It feels like spending time with a friend — a very educated, empathetic, slightly lost friend. This friend is trying to navigate her way through losing a parent, being a parent, and being a person.

And really… aren’t we all? I highly, highly recommend.

Book Review: Lost Coast Literary

Today, I will be reviewing Ellie Alexander’s Lost Coast Literary, a book that I received an e-galley for from Netgalley. I thought this book was a cozy mystery with a fantasy twist, featuring a literary-loving protagonist named Emily. In actuality, it’s a beach read that’s full of family melodrama. Reading the book synopsis again, this actuality is not even surprising — this is what I get for skimming descriptions:

Book editor Emily Bryant finds herself unexpectedly in the charming town of Cascata on California’s Lost Coast, holding the keys to her grandmother’s rambling Victorian mansion. While sorting through her grandmother’s things, Emily learns that she must edit old manuscripts to inherit the estate. It’s a strange request from a family member who was basically a stranger.

Emily quickly realizes that there’s something different about these manuscripts. Any changes she makes come true. At first, she embraces the gift. She has a chance to help characters find true love or chart a new course for their future. But then things go terribly wrong. Her edits have the opposite effect. The sweet and funky seaside community of Cascata is reeling from the chaos Emily has created. Everything she thought she believed about her family and her past is in jeopardy, and no amount of editing can fix the damage she’s done.

Then she finds one last manuscript. If Emily can get this edit right, maybe she’ll have a chance to create a new narrative for herself and everyone around her.

Suffice to say, I wasn’t a huge fan.

I mean, the writing was… fine. The plot was kind of fun and… fine.

The characters were annoying, not least of all Emily herself.

I should have known this wasn’t my book from the opening scene, in which Emily tries to figure out which phone case she wants to put on her cell – Emma or Jane Eyre. What kind of literary aficionado prefers Bronte to Austen? I mean… seriously, would you rather spend time with someone fun and witty and engaging, or someone who acts like a moody teenager as an adult that wants to be screwed by the inspiration for one of the first written vampire stories?

… Michael Thomas Ford gets it.

Emily is insufferable. For example [disclaimer: quoting from an ARC, with chance that final printing could be updated/different], here, where she’s talking about her aunt, an amazing jazz singer:

I appreciated that she wasn’t jaded or trying to pose as something other than her artistic self.

Emily Bryant, annoying protagonist

This is because her aunt admits she gets butterflies in her stomach before she goes onstage. But… like, it’s a problem if your aunt is awesome and totally owns it? She has to be humble and feel slightly sick to her stomach, or she’s not being honest? Like, it’s okay to not be a nervous mess and to be okay with being awesome. Get over yourself, Emily.

Or let’s talk about the crux of this novel, which is that Emily has no memory of the family she hasn’t seen who live in Cascata, even though she lived with them for at least 8 years. This amount of time is supported by her absolute surprise to find “a recipe for red velvet cake where Gertrude [her grandmother – don’t call her by her freakin’ name, show some damn respect Emily!] had noted: ‘Emily’s 8th birthday. A birthday in red for our little red.'” THEN, only after she has read the notes left by her grandmother, does she remember a birthday party where she’s dressed like Little Red Riding Hood. Like – you were eight, not two. I find it very odd that she has no memory of these people until she reads a note in a cookbook. Also, can we even assume that she’s a reliable narrator? If I thrust a book from the 17th century where I wrote in it that Emily Bryant likes to suck cock, is she suddenly going to remember that she had a past life or is a time traveler who had to whore herself out to make a living in the 1600s? Like, did she even have this birthday party? Maybe her grandma was just hella smart, and left weird gaslighting notes all over her cookbooks to make it seem not-weird that she left this girl who can’t even remember her an entire house instead of the relatives she saw pretty much daily.

… because some granddaughters (*cough cough* Emily *cough cough cough*) deserve it

Another problem with Emily is she only seems to assume people can be “connected” if they both like books. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big reader. But I’m okay with the fact that not everyone reads as much as me. And I don’t think your romantic and personal relationships should be solely based on people who exclusively do the same hobbies that you do. How are you going to grow as a person if you only do the same things? But here is a literal passage from this book:

‘I don’t know.’ I thought back to his first interaction with Sienna. They had much more in common, namely a deep love and appreciation for literature. Did he and Martine share the same passions? ‘They seemed so different. So mismatched,’ I said to Shay. ‘Apparently he wants to write children’s books, and she hasn’t read a book in five years. Can you even imagine?

Emily Bryant, annoying protagonist

So, basically, if someone reads, you approve of them and they deserve love and all good things. But if someone doesn’t read, or doesn’t read enough, they should just feck off and go to the Bay Area? Let’s not forget, these ridiculous opinions are coming from someone who has no memories of the first 8 years of her life and whose literary interpretations fail to appropriately elevate Jane Austen’s work above that of Currer Bell. I’m sorry, Emily, but no dice. Actually, I’m not sorry. Stop being ridiculous. It is appropriate to have friends, lovers, etc., with a variety of interests and backgrounds.

#stophobbyshaming

Keeping in mind that I am a character-reader, and I severely disliked our protagonist, this book was… fine. The cover is cute. The plotline is kind of interesting, although it features a heroine you are definitely supposed to be rooting for who I definitely was not rooting for. The California setting seemed accurate. It has some of that small-town and everyone in it likes books except for Martine because there needs to be some reason her husband is not into a woman who’s fierce and smart and beautiful and well-dressed and driven, which is, apparently, that she finds it difficult to read while she’s out there living her life, vibe.

Overall, I do not recommend. But if you are not a character reader and/or like to read books that are “fine,” then this one may be worth checking out.

5-Star Reads from 2021

While analyzing my 2021 year in reading, I was bummed to realize that I didn’t really have a great year. So on a more positive note, here are the books that I read in 2021 that I really liked in a year that was, overall, fairly mediocre. That’s right, bitches: these are, in my opinion, five-star reads. And since my opinion is the right opinion, if you haven’t read any of these, you should probably add them to your TBR, so that you can have a better reading year in 2022 than I had last year.

  1. The Memory Thief by Jodi Lynn Anderson

2. Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata and translated into English by Ginny Tapley Takemori

3. Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

4. Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson

5. Not Your Average Hot Guy by Gwenda Bond

6. Hidden Bodies by Caroline Kepnes

Thinking about the content structure of these books, I do not really see a lot in common. There are varying genres, intended audiences, etc. I think I just like good writing…

So – what did you read in 2021 or recently that had great writing?

What is “Normal?”

I was lucky enough to receive an ARC of Finding Normal: Sex, Love, and Taboo in Our Hyperconnected World by Alexa Tsoulis-Reay. This non-fiction book analyzes the concept of “Normal,” and how the Internet has helped people with stigmatized desires find community and get answers to their questions without the judgment that others in society often inherently have.

Overall, I enjoyed this book. It was a thoughtful analysis of the concept of normal and bias and what it means to have a supportive community. This analysis included positive and negative results of finding support for non-“normative” concepts. Having a concept of “normal” can sometimes result in people being closed-minded about things they simply do not understand, things that are not hurting other people, such as the first concept that Reay goes into great detail about: people who have open relationships and/or swingers. Reay looks at how people who needed such relationships prior to the internet struggled to find other people who understood them, and how the internet has helped all of them to find a community and engage in the relationship they need. I try to be an open-minded person, but of course, have my own biases, and not having had those particular desires myself, it was very interesting to read about their perspectives and felt a bit fairy-tale esque to read about how they were able to find acceptance through the internet.

However, sometimes, people engage in activity that is not considered “normal” for ethical reasons. Another taboo behavior that is discussed in the book is incest, which, if you are reading my blog, I will assume you agree from a biological and psychological perspective is just not okay. Reay writes about the concept of incestuous desires from a place of curiosity, but ultimately, the fact that there are parents who will act on these desires turns the community that such like-minded individuals have formed a bit darker. How, when you are looking at a parent-child relationship, can there not be a power dynamic at play? Children often want to please their parents, regardless of age, and this desire can be taken advantage of, even if the child sincerely believes he or she is a consenting adult.

There are also some grey areas, such as large age-gap relationships. There is the indisputable statutory rape age difference, for example, which is legally not allowed, since children cannot consent to sexual relationships with adults. But what about a 10-year age difference between a person in his/her/their sixties and his/her/their fifties? What about a 20-year age difference between a person in his/her/their sixties and his/her/their forties?

This blog post is providing just a taste of the thoughtful writing that Reay provides in this book, which includes multiple examples/interviews for each type of non-“normal” activity. If you are interested in the concept, and can read the information with an open mind, I strongly recommend picking up a copy.

My only gripe with this book is that the more taboo concepts are not as fully developed, and it feels like there is more room for analysis. Still, I am not certain that I could have written, or even read, more on those subjects. It is hard to spend time with concepts that are taboo and should remain that way. So this gripe is tiny, and purely from an analytical/editorial viewpoint in which I am trying to remain unbiased. Which basically means I was reading this book correctly, I think, since a lot of the point is to recognize that you have biases, and they may not all be fair, so once you recognize a bias, re-evaluate and figure out if you need to change your stance. I have this crazy theory that, like, if people were more intellectual and empathetic, and thought through how their behavior impacted other people, and tried to be more thoughtful and cool about what they went crazy about, the world might be a better place. As an American citizen, however, it is difficult for me ever seeing that happening, either, so… maybe just read the book and pretend?

My Reading Year in 2021

Courtesy of Goodreads

In 2021, I read 76 books and 23,564 pages, or an average of 310 pages per book. In comparison to 2020, my reading increased by 9 books and 1,078 pages, but the average number of pages per book decreased by 25 pages per book.

The shortest book I read in 2021 is Hannah Lee Kidder’s short story collection Starlight. I did not much care for the collection, which I rated 3 stars and found a bit of a mixed bag. Here is my review:

The longest book I read was Tana French’s The Witch Elm, which had interesting ideas but which I did not much care for. Here is my review:

In comparison to 2020, the short story collection Starlight is 35 pages longer than Gillian Flynn’s short story The Stranger, and The Witch Elm is 95 pages shorter than Plain Bad Heroines.

The most popular novel I read is another Jane Austen (what can I say? Austen’s one of my comfort reads) – this time, Sense & Sensibility. The lease popular novel I read does not have a cover, and Goodreads would not let me upload one, but it is The Fetish Murders by Avon Curry. The Fetish Murders is a pulp fiction thriller from the 1970s that is not very good, but is very fun if you like pulp fiction and are okay with the concept of reading fiction with very outdated cultural norms. The very purpose of The Fetish Murders is to shock and titillate by bringing up the idea of cross-dressing and homosexuality, which a lot of people (myself included) have absolutely no problem with anymore… So if you’re cool with reading it as a sort of historical/anthropological study of Americana, it’s kind of interesting. If you’re looking for legitimately good literature, or something that current educated cultural norms would not consider offensive… I would recommend steering clear.

Here’s the book – please ignore my fat thumb and the silhouette of my jeans.

My average rating for 2021 is 3.3 stars. A bit higher than average, but… not great. Much lower than 2020’s average rating of 3.8.

The first book I reviewed on Goodreads in 2021 was for the ARC Why She Wrote. I also wrote a blog post about this one, so won’t bore you by going into further detail here other than to say that for what it is, I thought it was pretty good.

I have a fascination and enjoyment with reading pulp fiction. At the end of the day, the books are generally all middle-of-the-road, average 3-star reads. But they’re fun and so much occurs in these novels and I derive a sort of comfort from them. I will continue reading them, and giving uninformative, likely one-sentence reviews on Goodreads.

Overall, I had a pretty disappointing reading year in 2021. How about you? Any great reads? I think I desperately need a better year in 2022, so would greatly appreciate any and all recommendations!

I’d be “Lion” if I Said this is a Good Book

I recently snagged a copy of Tippi: A Memoir at Barnes & Noble. I was curious, because of the whole Hitchcock thing and the fact that she’s Melanie Griffith’s mom. The back cover has what is presumably a publicity shot from The Birds that also plays a pivotal moment in the film, along with a titillating quote that makes you think you may be getting something along the lines of a real-life Evelyn Hugo.

But Hedren is no Taylor Jenkins-Reid.

This book is not well-written. Hedren’s memoir focuses the majority of its’ time and energy on the large cats that she devoted much of her life to, glossing over the glamorous, refusing to notice the inconsistencies, and proving without a doubt that Tippi Hedren is one of the craziest bitches you will ever (probably not actually) meet. In a way, the craziness of her book, which seems as poorly edited as Twilight, is kind of fascinating. As is the fact that her book manages to be boring while being filled with one of the most interesting lives I have ever encountered. I present this book as exhibit 1 in my argument that interesting/unique plot alone is not sufficient.

Tippi Hedren has lived a live of immense privilege. Although she writes repeatedly about how self-sufficient she is, and always has been, she was scouted to be a model at, like, 13 years old or something, a career she continued when she left her parents with the intent to support herself. In other words, people paid her enough to live off of for the privilege of looking at her at the beginning of her adult life. Modeling has its’ own unique challenges, I am sure, although the closest I have come to exposure to it is America’s Next Top Model, which is probably not very accurate. But the fact remains that most people are not given enough money to travel the world, and live off of savings in a huge rental in Beverly Hills for several months at their first job. And at 13, Tippi was scouted because her genetics made other people go: “Damn! That girl’s pretty. I want to, like, take care of her and stare at her forever.”

Then, Tippi got older, and men suck, so she entered into a relationship with her first husband Peter Griffith, which she doesn’t talk about much except to say they were way too young to be married and she cannot regret it because her daughter Melanie came out of it. Tippi describes Melanie repeatedly as the “love of her life,” which would probably mean more if the sentences that flow forth from her pen describing her husbands and ex-fiance weren’t quite so bitter. When Tippi is 13, she’s getting offered money by random people she’s never met because she’s so beautiful they want to help her start a career. When Melanie Griffith is 13, her mother’s beginning to become obsessed with lions and letting one live in their house, and asking her what she [i.e., Melanie] did wrong when the lion bites her leg in the middle of the night.

Tippi Hedren can take care of herself, thank you very much, which is why she glances over all the Hitchcock stuff that is probably why, like, 70% or more people buy the book, except to say that she was lucky he and his wife taught her how to become an actress, but yeah, being the object of Hitch’s obsession was super creepy, and also, everyone else saw it and no one did anything about it. One scene that sticks out is one where the very un-self aware Hedren talks about waiting at an elevator when Alma Hitchcock walks up and says she is so sorry Tippi has to go through the craziness that is her husband. Tippi responds that Alma could “stop it. You’re the only one who could.” First of all, Tippi is assuming that the man who is treating her horribly is not also a monster to his wife behind closed doors. Second, Tippi is assuming that Alma can stop a grown man from doing whatever the hell he wants to do when public propriety wasn’t doing shit. Third, if this instance is not Tippi expecting someone else to jump in and save her, I don’t know what is. (To be clear, I am 100% not blaming Tippi for the shit that director put her through. Hitchcock was obviously a creep who was obsessed and thought, like too many men do, that because he was obsessed and willing to do things to prove his obsession, the object of his desires was required to love him. In reality, he didn’t love her, though he probably thought he did. I can also understand why Tippi felt that she had to stay under Hitch’s thumb; she was under contract, she was living in L.A., shit is expensive, and this job was the only way she was aware of that would allow her to pay the bills. I just don’t think it’s fair to assume that Alma was in a position to stop her husband, a husband known for being a master manipulator of cinema, during a time period when women were at a decided disadvantage.)

Also, when the shoe is on the other foot, when Tippi finds out that a man she is working with on a movie is having an intimate relationship with her 15-year-old daughter, she doesn’t feel like she can put her foot down because she’s worried her 15-year-old daughter might never speak to her again. In other words, Tippi doesn’t feel empowered enough to parent her teenage daughter who is in an illegal relationship with an adult creep committing statutory rape, but Alma Hitchcock was supposed to stop a much more powerful adult creep from being a creep. Based on what I know of the Hitchcock stalking, I think Alma and Tippi are both lucky the bastard didn’t kill them and bury their bodies out in the desert.

To recap, Tippi glances past the relevant gross and unacceptable behavior of a famous male director that was widely accepted, barely acknowledges her privilege, and gives enough information about her lack of parenting to make anyone with a heart feel for poor Melanie Griffith. So what does she spend most of her 267 pages on? Lions. Bitch is crazy about the huge, deadly things.

While on set for a movie in Africa, Tippi and the dude she married to try to escape from Hitch or something go on a safari and see a house filled with lions. The majesty and beauty overwhelms them, and since they’re both from Hollywood, they immediately decide they must make a movie about it. They begin doing their due diligence, and all of the trainers they talk to about their idea is like, “Nah. That’s a really bad idea. You should not do that.” But they decide to do it anyway. They begin interacting with lions, asking a trainer to bring an adult lion over to the house so they can get used to it, allowing the huge, deadly beast around their 3 children, because #parenting. They begin to acquire cubs, lions, then some tigers, then more lions, an elephant, kind of anything that is wild that needs a home. Because not only do they want to make a movie, they want to make a movie with at least 40 lions, guys. This ill-advised and deadly part of the dream is very important.

Tippi goes into excruciating detail about the journey they go on with these lions, guys, but long story short, the producers don’t want to fund it, the trainers who work with lions think it’s a bad idea, and the family and cast members once they start shooting the damn thing have to go to the hospital so routinely due to injuries that they pretty much have a doctor on call.

Amusing for all the wrong reasons, I would only recommend Tippi’s memoir if you really, really, really, really, really, really, really like lions.