Tag: Memoirs

Guest Review: As You Wish by Cary Elwes

Posted October 8, 2015 by Jen in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: As You Wish by Cary ElwesReviewer: Jen
As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride
Publication Date: October 14, 2014
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From actor Cary Elwes, who played the iconic role of Westley in The Princess Bride, comes a first-person account and behind-the-scenes look at the making of the cult classic film filled with never-before-told stories, exclusive photographs, and interviews with costars Robin Wright, Wallace Shawn, Billy Crystal, Christopher Guest, and Mandy Patinkin, as well as author and screenwriter William Goldman, producer Norman Lear, and director Rob Reiner.

The Princess Bride has been a family favorite for close to three decades. Ranked by the American Film Institute as one of the top 100 Greatest Love Stories and by the Writers Guild of America as one of the top 100 screenplays of all time, The Princess Bride will continue to resonate with audiences for years to come.

Cary Elwes was inspired to share his memories and give fans an unprecedented look into the creation of the film while participating in the twenty-fifth anniversary cast reunion. In As You Wish he has created an enchanting experience; in addition to never-before seen photos and interviews with his fellow cast mates, there are plenty of set secrets, backstage stories, and answers to lingering questions about off-screen romances that have plagued fans for years!

With a foreword by Rob Reiner and a limited edition original poster by acclaimed artist Shepard Fairey, As You Wish is a must-have for all fans of this beloved film.

Jen’s review of As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of the Princess Bride by Cary Elwes

If you are not a Princess Bride fan or if you haven’t seen it (horror-filled gasp!), move right along. For fans of the movie, though, this book is a fun, sweet diversion.

I would not call myself a massive fan. I don’t know every single line, just the biggies. My viewings probably number under a dozen, not multiple dozen as die-hard fans can brag. But it’s my favorite fairy tale movie, and I still enjoy it every time I see it. I love the sweet, adorable love story between Westley and Buttercup and the way it gently but lovingly satirizes the genre. It shows respect but also a sly sense of humor. This book captures all of that positive vibe and gives a bit of a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the movie.

I actually listened to the audiobook version, which I highly recommend because it’s narrated by the author, Cary Elwes. Even better, it includes passages read by other cast members and those involved in making the film. It is really fun to hear their reminiscences in their own voices. And anyone who has ever heard Cary Elwes’ voice knows it is just plain lovely. I didn’t mind spending time with him in my car, I can tell you! Obviously you can never really know celebrities, but he came off in this book as immensely kind, classy, hard working, and just plain adorable. I think what makes the book work is Elwes’ incredible humility. He is justifiably proud of his accomplishments, but he is open and honest about the insecurities he had and the mistakes he made. He is a trustworthy and likeable narrator, and I can’t see any of the other actors from the film pulling off this memoir quite so pleasantly.

Elwes is so charming, though, that the book lacks some tension, especially in the first half. There are a few sections where there is a little conflict or some “can we overcome this challenge” concerns, but overall Elwes is relentlessly positive and has such faith in his colleagues that we never doubt the outcome. He has nothing but glowing things to say about his co-stars (and they about him, for that matter). He doesn’t gossip or engage in finger pointing. Mostly he just praises everyone involved in the film in a way that appears, at least, very genuine. He reserves his criticisms for himself, especially when relating the story of how he foolishly injured himself off set and jeopardized the movie. Again, he isn’t afraid to admit his stupidity, which is refreshingly forthright for a Hollywood star. Of course, just as in a romance, we all know this story has a happy ending, so the tension never goes very far. 

If you’re looking for a gossipy, tell-all book about the movie, this won’t be it, but I enjoyed hearing more about one of my favorite films. It seems like these people really had a magical time making the movie, and for me it’s only made watching the Princess Bride even more enjoyable.

Grade: 4 out of 5

This book is available from Touchstone. You can purchase it here or here in e-format. 


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Review: Remember the Sweet Things One List, Two Lives and 20 Years of Marriage by Ellen Greene.

Posted February 12, 2009 by Rowena in Reviews | 11 Comments

Grade: 4.5 out of 5

For twenty years, Ellen Greene kept a running list of the thoughtful, funny, touching things that her husband, Marsh, said and did. She wrote them down secretly, then shared those thoughts with him every Valentine’s Day when he would find pages from her “Sweet Things List” tucked inside a card.

Married and divorced at a young age, Greene raised two small children alone. After another failed relationship in her late thirties, she swore she’d never again subject herself or her kids to men who treated them poorly. Then she met Marsh Greene.

In this beautiful tribute to a man and a marriage, Greene intersperses selections from her “Sweet Things List” with recollections from their years together. Written with grace and candor, Remember the Sweet Things captures the kindness, sharing, humor, and affection that defined the Greenes’ marriage, and encourages us to acknowledge the goodness in our own lives and relationships.

I sat down to read this book and finished it all in one night. It reminded me of my grandmother and how when we were younger, my younger brother Pete and I would sit around the kitchen table and listen to her stories of the islands. Now, my grandmother wasn’t exactly colorful with her words but for us, it was still pretty damn cool to listen to Grandma wax on about how she was in her younger years and how she met Grandpa and all of the cool things that they used to get into.

It was pretty cool to read through this book and to see the kinds of relationships that Ellen had before she met Marsh. To see the woman that Ellen was before she met Marsh, the kind of woman that Ellen wanted to be, the kind of Mom that Ellen wanted to be and then to see the confidence that being with Marsh brought her was very poignant and just kind of got you right in your heart. I loved reading about how they met, how they grew from boss and employee to friends and then to everything else. Their courtship was so cute and then the marriage proposal, all of it was just so good.

This book is about a real life happy ending, the ups and the downs that come with it and the strength and beauty of being in love. Marsh was a really great person to read about and Ellen was so lucky to have him. After I read the book, I was in tears because this was such a great tribute to a wonderful husband, from a wife who was thankful to have had him in her life. The way that Marsh made Ellen want to be a better person, the way that he loved her was sweeter than anything I could ever hope for.

I really enjoyed reading this book and am so glad that I gave it a shot. It’s not a fictional romance but it’s romance…at it’s best. I’m thinking that this would be the perfect book for anyone who wants to read about a couple who loved each other and about a wife who loved her husband so much that she kept a list going of the sweet things that he did for her. Whether it was helping her son with his Math homework and then telling him that it was his pleasure to help him or wrapping her handlebars on her bike to fix her grip, if she thought it was sweet, it went onto her list. This one of those books that will make you appreciate the little things in your relationships and make you celebrate them. This is a real gem of a book and I definitely recommend this book to anyone who wants to read something sweet…if you’re that person then leave a comment on this review and I’ll choose a random commenter to win a free copy of this book.

This book is available from Harper Luxe. You can buy it here.

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Review: Moose by Stephanie Klein.

Posted May 27, 2008 by Rowena in Reviews | 14 Comments

Grade: 4 out of 5

With acerbic wit and captivating insight, the author of the wildly popular, Straight Up and Dirty continues her memoirs series with a funny and touching look at adolescence, sharing her memories of a summer at fat camp. Long ebfore she was a glamorous young divorcee and world-famous web personality, Stephanie Klein was an eigth grader with a weight problem; the boys called her “Moose,” and her nighttime beauty routine involved soothing “chub rub” on her inner thighs. Yearning to be thin, Klein unsuccessfully dieted. Sessions with a nutritionist known as “The Fat Doctor of Roslyn Heights” ended in frustration. By summer, Klein was enrolled in fat camp, embarking on a journey that would teach her more than just how to shed pounds. Moose is a raw and remarkably honest account of a woman who realizes at age 12, “I would be fat for the rest of my life, even if I looked thin.” Campfires, cabins, first loves, and summer are the backdrop of this coming of age story that will appeal to anyone who has ever felt like an outsider. Moose is about the universal trials of adolescence that we carry throughout our lives: the struggle to find friends, discover ourselves, and realize that who we are has little to do with our waistlines.

I saw this book on Amazon a while ago and wanted to read it when it came out. I wanted to read this book because I remember reading the author’s blog a few years ago. It was when I was going through that dating phase, where I loved reading all of those dating blogs, and then our romance community blogs and when I spent way too much time on the computer.

When I received a review copy of this in the mail, I was more than a little happy. I was pretty excited. I don’t even know what I was thinking going into this book, I just knew that I was going to enjoy it.

Now, what I liked most about this book is that this is a book about a fat girl who didn’t whine and complain about the state of her weight. This is a book about a girl telling her story, a girl who went through some really tough things growing up and didn’t let it take over her life.

A lot of people will admire Stephanie Klein more because of this book and I’m one of them. She was a worthy heroine for a good book.

She went through life being overweight. She suffered from mindless eating and she went through a lot of things to try to overcome her problem. One of the things that stood out for me while reading this book was something Stephanie said. She said something like, “I knew that I would be fat for the rest of my life, no matter how thin I get.” That stood out to me because it’s true. Holly and I have talked about this before, where “fat” is a mindset and no matter how big or how small you are, if you think you’re fat, no number on a scale is going to convince you otherwise. Stephanie Klein covered this in Moose and I thought it was eloquent because I’ve often thought this very thing.

This book is not a romance, it’s not a chick lit book, it’s a memoir of fat camp. We get to know the friends Stephanie made at fat camp and we got to know just who Stephanie Klein was and what she went through. Being fat is not easy and it’s never any fun, especially if you can’t accept the fact that you’ll never be a size 0, it’s a really good to give you perspective on life and what’s important and what’s not.

I enjoyed this book and would recommend it to anyone who wants to read about what goes through an overweight teenager’s head while she’s growing up. Especially a female teenager who’s overweight. It’s never easy and it’s even worst when your peers are not nice. You won’t find a whiny tale about an overweight kid who is bemoaning her lot in life. It’s just a straight up, in your face story about Stephanie Klein.

I enjoyed it and could relate to a lot of the things that Stephanie thought about and went through. This is an easy read that opened my eyes to things about my childhood that I never really thought about. It made me realize a lot about myself and I’m glad that I read it.

Check back in a couple of weeks, I will be meeting Stephanie Klein here in L.A. and I’m totally looking forward to it. She has a great blog that is straight up in your face what she’s thinking about, holding nothing back. You can check it out, Greek Tragedy.

This book is available from William Morrow. You can buy it here.

**CONTEST ALERT** Leave a comment here to be entered to win a hardback copy of Moose! One lucky winner will be chosen at random from the comments Friday, May 30th, so be sure to comment before midnight Thursday, May 29th!! **CONTEST ALERT**

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