Review: Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling

<a href=”https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30268522-why-not-me&#8221; style=”float: left; padding-right: 20px”><img border=”0″ alt=”Why Not Me?” src=”https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1473956249m/30268522.jpg&#8221; /></a><a href=”https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30268522-why-not-me”>Why Not Me?</a> by <a href=”https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/194416.Mindy_Kaling”>Mindy Kaling</a><br/>
My rating: <a href=”https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1971846458″>5 of 5 stars</a><br /><br />
I’m going to start this review in a similar strain to the beginning of my <a href=”https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/10335308.Is_Everyone_Hanging_Out_Without_Me___And_Other_Concerns_&#8221; title=”Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling” rel=”nofollow”>Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?</a> review: I love Mindy Kaling. She speaks to my heart. She’s funny, she’s smart, she’s someone that people can really admire. She’s not afraid to put herself out there, from working on <i>The Office</i> to creating and producing her own show to going out and doing photo shoots. As someone who is afraid of being photographed, I always admire people who can do it for a living. There is a reason why when I get a book published my photo is going to be the anonymous face from Facebook. <br /><br />Mindy’s like the big sister to my big sister. You know the one that you always secretly wish was closer to you but instead exists in a completely different social sphere? Like she’s in high school and you’re still in elementary school? Or you’re just a nobody from Pittsburgh and she’s a famous actress in LA? In my review of her last book, I made the offer that if she ever came to Pittsburgh, we should totally hang out. That offer still stands. I don’t know where all the cool kids hang out, but that’s what Google is for anyway. I’m sure Siri will find us something entertaining to do. <br /><br />While I loved <a href=”https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/10335308.Is_Everyone_Hanging_Out_Without_Me___And_Other_Concerns_&#8221; title=”Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling” rel=”nofollow”>Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?</a>, <a href=”https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30268522.Why_Not_Me_&#8221; title=”Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling” rel=”nofollow”>Why Not Me?</a> is an improvement. While the last book had complaints about a lack of a unifying theme, the theme to this book lies in the title. Why not me? It’s a question that we should all ask ourselves at some point during our lives, as this self reflection can lead to great things. As she points out in the last chapter, women are expected not to have confidence. I have confidence issues, but Mindy has given me advice on how to be the greatest person I can be. This book has been almost as helpful for my self-esteem as <a href=”https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2898360.Darren_Hardy&#8221; title=”Darren Hardy” rel=”nofollow”>Darren Hardy</a>’s daily mentoring. I don’t want to spoil it for you, because you really need to read the full book to really experience the lesson. There are a number of great parts in here that point to living a more confident life. From looking like a movie star, to handling social rejection, to love that never quite lives up to an active imagination, Mindy teaches us by example how to handle everything with grace and style.<br /><br />A perfect blend of wit and good advice, Mindy Kaling’s <i>Why Not Me?</i> is a perfect addition to any collection. <br /><br />You can check out my review of Mindy Kaling’s freshman book <a href=”https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/372627471&#8243; rel=”nofollow”>here</a>.
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Resident Evil 6: Helena’s Campaign

RESIDENT_EVIL_6_title_logo_NA_bmp_jpgcopy

Resident Evil 6 finally met the price requirements I gave myself for putting up with it.  Let’s face it, even Capcom has realized they might have made a mistake with Resident Evil 6, considering sales dropped off considerably after the first day.  That’s also why we are now getting Revelations for console, so that’s something for all of us to look forward to.  Anyway, Resident Evil 6 finally arrived, so now I can start working on a proper review.

First of all, we had the tutorial, which was kind of annoying.  Granted, not everyone would want to start with the slower pace of Leon’s campaign, so they needed a way to make sure everyone had an equal opportunity to learn the controls.  So, they gave us a starter scenario, with Helena and Leon in China that allows players to learn the basic mechanics of the game.  Unfortunately, where the scenario failed was putting Helena into a position where she needed to literally be supported by Leon.  Once you get to that actual section in game, Helena is perfectly capable of taking care of herself.  However, the game started with Helena in a weakened state, cementing in players’ minds that the secondary character is the weaker character.  Which is a shame, because two out of three secondary characters are female.

This was also where we got the world’s most annoying QTE.  You literally had to hit a button to grab your partner’s hand just so the cutscene would continue.

After the tutorial was over, I decided to go with the recommended gameplay route and started with Leon’s scenario.  I went against the grain, however, because I chose to do my first playthrough with Helena.  Everything in the start of the game advised me against that decision, but I went with it anyway.

Helena HarperThe campaign starts with a shoutout to the original game and Leon shooting the president of the United States who has been zombified.  This is also around the time where he meets new partner, Helena Harper.  Actually, she’s not his partner, she just happens to be there and she also happens to be a government agent.  She tells Leon that she can explain everything that is going on at Tall Oaks, just as soon as they get to the Cathedral, because it will be easier to show him than to tell him.

Leon, against his better judgement, decides to go along with Helena in hopes of getting answers.  The two embark on an escape mission from the college campus, the atmosphere of which evokes earlier, better Resident Evil games.  Once they get into the sewers, however, it all changes.  There’s a lot of action to this game, which for some people might be a good thing.  However, the action has a tendency to happen without rhyme or reason, included because the developers thought it would look cool.  Except it doesn’t look cool, because sometimes there’s just too much going on, and you have to conserve ammo because they limit it, and you’re just surrounded by zombies and you don’t know which way to go.  If the objective had been to kill all enemies, which it was on occasion, it would have been less frustrating.  Unfortunately, the objective was frequently to get out of the area or to find keys, all of which was complicated by the enemies that literally would come out of nowhere at times.  There were times I was simply button mashing and hoping for the best because I had no idea what was going on anymore.  And I don’t think the developers did at times either.

Without spoiling too much of the campaign, not that there’s much to spoil, Leon and Helena get out of Tall Oaks and are forced to go to China where a similar outbreak is underway.  The ending of the campaign was also an ultimate let down.  Leon and Helena ran this guy over with a train, shot him about a million times, knocked him into the river, blew things up in his face, dropped him off a tower, electrocuted him, shot a rocket in his face, and the thing that killed him was being impaled on a stake.  Like, how much do Helena and Leon have to suck if they can’t do the job of one pointy obelisk?

Here’s the thing about this game: I disagree with their decision to call it “Leon”‘s campaign.  You might remember before the game was released, I lamented the lack of strong female characters.  It turns out this wasn’t from a lack of good female characters to be had in the game, it was a direct result of the developers deciding to under utilize them or push them to the side to focus on their men.  Granted, Leon is the established franchise character, so it makes sense to use him in the promotional material.  However, this arc of the game is Helena’s story.  Leon is just a little side note.  And a plot device to get Ada to help them, because we all know Ada bases far too many of her life choices around Leon.

If you would take Leon out of the scenario and replace him with any other character, you could still use the same plot minus the Ada assistance at the end.  Or maybe she would have still assisted.  I haven’t gotten to her scenario yet.   The point is, Helena is the driving force behind the campaign, it’s her struggle.  She’s the one we’re supposed to be rooting for.  Not only that, but her quest has nothing to do with a man.  She’s fighting for her sister, which is something we can all get behind.  And the game itself tries to sweep her under the rug by putting her in a secondary position.

Final Thoughts

Leon’s campaign by itself had the potential to be a great game.  All the ingredients are there.  Unfortunately, they got ignored in favor of bad dialogue, nonsensical boss battles, and a tendency to keep shifting the focus back to Leon instead of where it should have been.

Helena is amazing, and she actually had an active role in the storyline.  Sheva was awesome, but she contributed nothing other than being a help or hindrance to Chris as the plot dictated.  If you would have taken her out of Resident Evil 5 and replaced her with, say, Piers, you could have gotten the exact story.  For the first time in a long time, the story of Resident Evil was dependent upon what the female character was doing.  It’s just a shame they couldn’t recognize that fact themselves.  Also, I just want Helena and Leon to be besties forever, but I know that’s never going to happen, because the franchise is terrible at keeping relationships alive if the characters aren’t actually in the game.  Does Chris even have a sister anymore?  Like, when he told Helena who Chris was, Leon said that he’s been in this almost as long as he has.  Nothing about how he went to hell and back twice with the guy’s sister.  You would think she doesn’t exist anymore or something.  Or maybe that’s just Leon.  Unless your name is Ada, he forgets about you until you show up again.

Stayed tuned for Chris, Jake, and Ada’s campaigns as I get to them.

 

Once Upon a Time: Belle’s Growth in “The Outsider”

EMILIE DE RAVINWhen I first saw this promo picture for Once Upon A Times “The Outsider,” I was worried with the direction they seemed to be taking Belle’s character.  She’s clearly dressed in an adventurer outfit in this image, and I was afraid they were going to take the opportunity to give her an action girl arc.  Like they’ve done with so many of their other female characters.  I even planned an article about how female characters can be strong characters without undergoing an action girl arc (an article which might still be produced) designed directly in response to this episode.  Luckily, I didn’t get the article written before it aired, therefore saving myself a good deal of embarrassment.

Here’s the thing: yes, Belle was dressed like she was ready to wield a sword and be an action hero.  Yes, she did go on a quest.  No, she did not actually undergo an action girl arc as part of her character development.

We find Belle in the tavern sometime after she’s been kicked out by Rumpelstiltskin and after she’s given relationship advice to Dreamy who has come to thank her.  The two of them overhear a group of people talking about a monster they are attempting to hunt down, and Dreamy tells Belle she should go with them.  After little persuasion, she does, meets Mulan, tames the beast, hooks Mulan up with Prince Philip, and decides that she is going to go back to Rumpelstiltskin.  She did it all using her intelligence rather than becoming a true action girl.

Where’s the lesson here?  Belle thought she had to go under an action girl sequence to prove to herself that she was strong.  What she learned was that she can fight for something without actually having a physical confrontation.  Which, of course, leads her to the decision that she’s going to fight for Rumpelstiltskin, but before she can actually get there, she’s captured by Regina, thus answering the question of how Belle became a prisoner in Regina’s tower.

What Once Upon A Time did here was something I wasn’t expecting and fell in love with.  They took the time to have a female character prove that a woman does not have to pick up a weapon and fight in order to be strong.   That is something worth commending and has cemented Belle as my favorite character on the show.

Review: Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?
Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I love Mindy Kaling, and I always wondered why because while Kelly is entertaining, she and I have nothing in common. After reading this book, I’ve discovered Mindy is in reality a girl after my own heart, only Indian and a lot more popular. Oh, she’s also funnier than I could ever hope to be. My humor always, always falls flat when it comes to the written word. In fact, people have a tendency to think I’m being stupid or downright mean when I try to translate to written humor. I could probably learn a lot from her when it comes to wading the murky waters of the social media scene. According to a recent magazine article, so could Steve Carell.

So, this isn’t the best book in the world, and it’s not even the funniest, but I would still give it five stars every time. It makes you feel like Mindy is your best friend, going on a long road trip with you and telling you all these stories. I’ve seen complaints about the lack of a unified theme in this book, which is true. It’s also true of other celebrity books I’ve read. This book reads more like a series of blog entries. Does she have a blog? Because if she does, I feel like I should be reading it.

This book made me feel connected to her in a way I don’t normally get to feel with other television actors. There was a great story towards the end where she was talking about a photoshoot she did for Time. When she got there, the stylist had brought all size zero sample dresses, and Mindy is not a size zero. The only thing that was remotely close was an ugly navy blue shawl thingy. So, she went and had a little cry in the bathroom, balled up, and went back to… Well, I’ll let her tell you the rest of the story. At any rate, having been the victim of crying in the bathroom of work myself, it made me realize how much she is a girl after my own heart.

So, Mindy, if you’re ever in Pittsburgh, call me. We’ll get together and have a nice chat.

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Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)

Review: Mistress of Rome

Mistress of Rome
Mistress of Rome by Kate Quinn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’m going to start with what I really like about this book, because it’s always nice to start your day off with a positive note, and I kind of feel like Kate Quinn and I could be friends. In another lifetime. Maybe. I mean, we have similar interests, similar styles, and oh yes, we work with thematic elements that bear more than a passing resemblance to each other. Yes, I think we could be friends.

First of all, the setting is fantastic. First century Rome? I’m totally there. Seriously, I felt like I should be bossing around my own slave. Or rather, I would probably be the slave and likely would have been thrown in a ditch for impertinence. Now, the dialogue, I’m not going to lie, it threw me off at first. I’m a huge fan of Spartacus, and while the dialogue on the show confused me for the first twenty minutes or so of the first episode, it is what I have come to expect from anything set in the time period. It’s not the fault of anyone, it’s just what my brain expects now. And the dialogue is positively modern, but it works. Another thing that works remarkably well is the shifting perspective. When I first saw that we were not only jumping first person perspectives, we were also throwing in some third person, I gave it a leery eye. No one would be able to convince me that this was a good idea. Well, I’m sorry to say that I’m still not one hundred percent convinced that it’s a good idea, but Kate Quinn managed to make it work remarkably well.

Now, I do want to talk about the characters a bit, considering that two of them were in first person, they really were the driving force behind the novel and how the clashing personalities of all the characters shaped the world. There are two characters in particular I want to focus on, and only one of them is a major character. I have to say, while he only served a minor role in the book, I think I fell in love with Trajan the first time he appeared. If there was a sequel all about him, I’d read it. Do not underestimate the depth of my feelings for this character. It’s like Ferrante, all over again, only, you know, they were two separate historical figures. But seriously, this guy’s thing is that pretty boys are far less trouble than women. Amen. Seriously, if half the women in Rome are anything like the female characters we are introduced to, then quite frankly, he’s the only one in this book that makes any sense.

Next I want to talk about Thea, and warning, this is the only negative thing I have to say about this entire book. Now, I’m not really opposed to the idea of her character, because the idea behind her is actually really great, but I think too much was added on to her. So much so that I actually found her quite annoying, and quite frankly, didn’t care what happened to her. Also bothersome, it seems every time something bad happens to someone around her, it comes around that it was always Lepida’s fault. For a character whose base construct is a person with severe survivor’s guilt, you would think that when something bad happened to someone around her because of something she did, she would, you know, agonize over it a little bit more. Or at all. We spend so much time in her head, but there’s never any guilt about anything later. I mean, I don’t want to read 600 pages of her angsting, but I would have at least liked some acknowledgement. Like, “wow, I just got this guy killed”, not more of the same stuff she’s been angsting over for the past 300 pages. Oh, and my last problem with her is trivial, but I also get annoyed when characters have more than two people in love with them at the same time. Are there no other women any where else on the planet? I mean, I can handle two, sure, that’s your basic love triangle, but anything more than that is just ridiculous. And that goes for any book, not just this one. I mean, I totally would have bought Paulinus helping her because he was a decent guy, not because he banged her back when she was the world’s greatest singer, or whatever.

Don’t get me wrong. I love the book. I read it all, gave it four stars, and will more than likely be reading the sequel (Mostly because Thea’s not in it). A stunning read for anyone who’s looking for good historical fiction.

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Preview Buzz: Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation

E3 brought us the exciting new announcement of Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation, set to hit the shelves for the Playstation Vita on October 21, 2012.  Not only is it the most extensive handheld Assassin’s Creed game to date, it stars a female assassin, a first for the series, who is also of African and French descent.  Hurray!  I have to applaud Ubisoft for not only making a main character in such a major franchise female, but African to boot.  In fact, she’s slightly darker than Resident Evil 5′s Sheva, who we all know was a minor character anyway.

People who have been to my site before know that strong female characters, especially in video games, is a big deal to me.  A very big deal.  So you would think I would be jumping up and down for excitement, and I am. Kind of.  It does make me seriously wish that I had enough additional income to buy a Playstation Vita specifically for this game, much like Kingdom Hearts and Resident Evil Revelations made me lament my lack of a 3Ds.  I think it’s great that such a huge franchise is putting an French-African woman as their main character.  Ubisoft, in my book, just outdid Capcom by spades.  But…. There’s always a “but,” isn’t there?

Aveline is a woman, in practical clothing no less.  Aveline is also black.  Both of these things are absolutely amazing for Ubisoft to hand over to us.   But, she also the star of a spin off game, on a handheld system that nobody is sure is going to take off.   Sure, die-hard Assassin Creed fans might by a Playstation Vita just for this game, but I’m not sure how the Vita is holding up against the PSP, that also had several large franchises adapt titles for it and did not fare so well.  Chances are, they would not have made Aveline the star of a main campaign.  In fact, you can enjoy the Assassin’s Creed storyline without playing her game, much like Bloodlines.  Speaking of Bloodlines, it wasn’t a particularly good spin-off game at that, so I’m hoping they put more effort in Liberation.  From what I can tell, it looks like they did.

But, there’s an even bigger problem, one that’s been prevalent for a few years now.  Look at the in-game image above.  Look at the promotional material at the top.  That’s right, folks, once again a game company is lightening the skin tone of a dark-skinned character for promotional material.  We saw it before in Resident Evil 5, when Sheva, who was barely black to begin with, was lightened for the promotional material so she looked like she just had a nice tan.  We saw it in even greater effect with Isabela in Dragon Age II, who was quite frankly, white in all of the promotional material.

Honestly, I never would have guessed that these two were the same lady if they hadn’t been wearing the exact same clothes.

 

On the other hand, yes, I am very excited that Assassin’s Creed is finally featuring a female assassin.  It’s something fans have been asking for for years.  The game itself looks to be just as good as the main titles in the series, and the only downsides I can see so far are the promotional material and the fact that it’s not a main game, but I’ll be willing to overlook both of those if the game lives up to its promises.  You can be sure that this is one we’re going to be tracking over the next couple of months, along with Assassin’s Creed III, and make sure to check out the trailer below.

Resident Evil 6: It’s Raining Men

Thank you for posing for us, Leon.

In 2005, the classic horror series Resident Evil underwent a reboot with the latest numbered title, Resident Evil 4.  The game, available on PS2, Wii and Gamecube, is considered by many to also be a classic horror game.  It stars Leon S. Kennedy, former star of Resident Evil 2, who now works for the government and is on a top secret mission to rescue the President’s daughter.  Given that the first games were about stopping a zombie outbreak while exploring an old mansion or the overrun Raccoon City, it’s easy to tell that Capcom said “And now for something completely different.”  Not entirely, though.  While Resident Evil 4 is primarily an action-shooter, it still retains some of the horror roots of the series.  Most notably with the Las Plagas that hound Leon’s quest at every turn.  And some of the horror is still there, but while the older games were about surviving an outbreak in progress, the newer ones are much more focused on preventing a world wide outbreak.  Quite frankly, the games grew more popular and so did the scope.  However, while the games were switching from horror to action, another more disturbing trend was developing alongside it.  The strong female characters, a long time staple of the series, are being pushed aside.

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