Monthly Archives: December 2017

Review of Invading Nirvana: a Chicagoan in the City of Angels, by Kevin Theis

I won an audio copy of Kevin TheisInvading Nirvana through Dab of Darkness.

Description from Goodreads:
Chicago theater veteran Kevin Theis, co-author of the cult classic “Confessions of a Transylvanian: a Story of Sex, Drugs and Rocky Horror,” presents: “Invading Nirvana: a Chicagoan in the City of Angels” the story of one actor’s quixotic odyssey into the heart of the entertainment industry: Hollywood, California.

From the early preparations for his trip to La La Land to his search for representation, his encounters with the famous (and soon-to-be famous) as well as his deep-dive exploration of this unique and fascinating city, “Invading Nirvana” is a must-read for anyone considering moving to L.A. to pursue a dream of breaking into show business.

The author is both candid and unsparing in his description of the industry, the city of Los Angeles and the challenges of being a performer in Hollywood looking for work.  Casting agents, pay-to-meet workshops, the comedy club scene, film and TV auditions as well as a peek inside the audiobook world; every aspect of the entertainment industry is thoroughly examined in this hilarious and comprehensive look at life as a professional actor in Hollywood.

This is one of those books I had to look at in my Audible account and wonder how I ended up with it. I mean, I know I won it through a Dab of Darkness blog giveaway. But what was I thinking to even enter? I have almost debilitating stage fright. The thought of becoming an actor is tantamount to hell for me. So, how did I end up listening to the story of a 50-year-old veteran actor’s move to Los Angelous to pursue his acting career? Honestly, I’m not even sure.

But surprisingly enough, I found it interesting. Interesting in a detached, ‘I have NO INTEREST in doing that’ sort of way. But interesting all the same; kind of a ‘how the other half lives’ experience. The other half being people who don’t pee themselves at the thought of standing in front of a crowd.

Theis has a self-deprecating humor that I appreciated and I found myself invested in his journey. I also found myself shocked at how many people he knows. At one point he had a chapter dedicated to how many people took him out to lunch during his 3 months in LA. I’m not being facetious when I say, I literally don’t think I even know that many people!

Not only am I not interested in acting. Prior to listening to this, I’d of told you I’m not remotely interested in LA. Big cities? No thank you. But all the history was fun. Again Theis made it so.

All in all, you might not be surprised to find that I liked this a lot more than I thought I would. Even my hesitancy to listen to an audiobook narrated by the author himself proved unfounded. Theis spoke a bit too fast for my liking, especially in the beginning (which I listened to at .75 speed, which I hate doing), but it eventually slowed down and I enjoyed his banter-like narration. Invading Nirvana was a surprise win for me.

Review of Reflection in the Music, by LeTara Moore

I won a copy of Reflection in the Music, by LeTara Moore, through Goodreads.

Melissa is lost and hasn’t the first clue of where to find herself. Pea can’t let go of her past mistakes, which is suffering her present and future. Sherri thrives on her vanity, but even the most vain finds herself falling short. Jane just wants to start over and make amends, but how does one mend a broken heart? Life has a funny way of connecting the lost and confused. Some mistakes are meant to be made and some wounds aren’t meant to be healed. Some wounds don’t want to heal. Despite the shortcomings and differences, these ladies find themselves all singing the same tune. Beauty, passion, art, fear and love all had their hands in the composition of the ladies’ song—a song that reveals the deepest layer of each one’s being.

This was….well, honestly I don’t know what this was. True to it’s title it contained a lot of music references and the characters used songs to illicit memories. But rather than a story, it’s almost more a series of interconnected vignettes. The problem is that it reads as if this was not what the author intended, but what resulted from poor development and storytelling. Maybe I’m wrong, but that’s what it felt like to me. Further, the book could do with another round of editing. Especially to look at consistency in tense and page numbering.

There are those who will likely enjoy this more than me, especially readers who gravitate toward innocent, slightly religious characterization. But this was bust for me.

Review of The Gifted Storyteller: The Power Is in the Story You Tell, by Gregg Korrol

I won a copy of Gregg Korrol‘s The Gifted Storyteller through Goodreads:

What if a Genie popped out of a bottle and gave you the power to create your life as it happened?

Michael followed “the plan” and did everything he was supposed to for life to be successful; great job, money, dates, yet despite it all, everything wasn’t the dream he expected. One night after work, he meets a beautiful and mysterious woman named Jeannie, who introduces him to the Gifted Storyteller, and changes his life forever.

This isn’t so much a review as documenting I’ve read this book, because I just don’t like this sort of book. I knew that I didn’t like a certain sort of book, but didn’t know this would be a book of the sort I don’t like. By this sort of book, I mean the sort where someone meets a stranger who opts to impart sacred knowledge to some random sap and this is presented to the reader as ultimately enlightening. There’s a quote on page 91 that states, “What she is saying is mind blowing.” and that’s how the reader is meant to feel about the book and it’s lessons. Here’s the thing, I almost never feel that they are. I didn’t here either.

I could take that fact to mean this is a pointless self-help book, but maybe it’s just imparting lessons I don’t need—to be mindful of the reality you build yourself and be careful of the fictions you build in your head (very Deepak Chopra).

Some will likely call this a sexist generalization, but I think men are especially in danger of this. After all, how many women have died because they didn’t live up to the fantasy of some strange man? (Certainly Korrol uses his character’s relationship to the opposite sex to make this point.) So, maybe these are lessons some people actually need, while some of us had to learn them growing up or risk never making it to adulthood.