Books: The Cheapest Vacation You Can Buy

19183736From Goodreads: Comedy superstar Ben Stiller (Zoolander, Tropic Thunder), who directs and stars in the movie, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, here narrates the classic James Thurber short story on which his film adaptation is based.

The mild-mannered Mitty escapes his extremely humdrum and ineffectual existence by leaping into a myriad of fantasies – imaginative daydreams that range from piloting a Navy plane to performing as a brilliant surgeon to coolly leaning against the wall of a firing squad, all while escorting his wife on their regular shopping trip to Danbury, Connecticut.

This well-known and beloved tale has launched its famous protagonist into the cultural lexicon, warranting his inclusion in English-language dictionaries and countless anthologies. Stiller’s imaginative performance as Mitty is the perfect re-introduction to the classic character and is a great preface to the upcoming film, for old fans and new listeners alike.


The audible version of this 30 page short story was a free download, so I picked it up and listened to Ben Stiller read it.  Stiller actually has the perfect voice for this story, and I loved hearing him change his voice as he read, giving readers queues that sometimes don’t transcend in the plain written word.  The story follows Walter Mitty as his wife constantly nags him about errands he needs to run while she gets her hair done.  As a reader, I wanted to strangle her because she came across as an extremely annoying character, but in her defense, her husband, Walter, is always daydreaming, and it becomes obvious that he has a tendency to get so wrapped up in his own world that he disregards, forgets, or otherwise doesn’t hear those around him.  It’s kind of a sad story—Walter’s only means of escape from his mundane world is through the thoughts in his head, where he becomes the hero of every story and does something noteworthy with his life.

While I think this is a very well done audible, and I liked Ben Stiller’s voice, the story didn’t leave me with much in terms of thought.  I neither liked it nor disliked it; it just was.  That being said, I have no desire to actually see the movie, and I’m not really interested in reading any of Thurber’s other works.  Two stars.

2 stars

41899From Goodreads: A copy of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them resides on almost every wizarding household in the country. Now, for a limited period only, Muggles too have the chance to discover where the Quintaped lives, what the Puffskein eats, and why it is best not to leave milk out for a Knarl.

Proceeds from the sale of this book will go to improving and saving the lives of children around the world, which means that the dollars and Galleons you exchange for it will do magic beyond the powers of any wizard. If you feel that this is insufficient reason to part with your money, I can only hope most sincerely that passing wizards feel more charitable if they ever see you being attacked by a Manticore.

-Albus Dumbledore


I think this is a good read for the hardcore fan, and it boggles my mind that Rowling can be this detailed about her world. It’s phenomenal, really, and I must give her kudos for extending her amazing Harry Potter series as far as writing the textbooks as well!  Brilliant! And there are so many interesting beasts in this world… Unfortunately for me, this text also reads very much like a textbook, which is the point, of course, but doesn’t really interest me.  I liked how there are little notes here and there written by Harry, Ron, and Hermione, and I liked learning about the animals and the questions behind whether certain beasts were really beasts, but overall, it was a bit boring, in my opinion.  However, it has sparked my interest in re-reading the wonderful Harry Potter novels, and watching the movies all over again…

Here’s my question, though.  I’m hard-pressed to understand how a movie will be made out this textbook.  I picked up this little novella when I heard the news the Rowling was making another movie, but I just don’t see how it will be a movie as opposed to showing visuals of the encyclopedia like book.  Thoughts?

Two stars.

2 stars

I was given a copy of this novella by a student.

12698350From Goodreads: San Francisco detective Ed Sampas is sitting in his office when Thelonius Noble enters and says he wants to hire Sampas to recover a stolen item. It’s a black statue of a bird, about a foot high, made of lead. “Sounds like the Maltese falcon,” Sampas jokes. “It is,” Noble responds. Turns out, Noble owns the statue from the 1941 film, and it’s worth a million dollars.

Reel Life Crime mirrors the plot of Dashiell Hammett’s novel and John Huston’s film, while being an original mystery in its own right, a tongue-in-cheek hard-boiled detective story, an affectionate tribute to the noir genre, and a commentary on how much movies impact our culture and our everyday lives.


This novel is very dialogue driven, sort of like a play or a movie script, which was very different for me as a reader.  I’m used to vast descriptors in my novels, but a dialogue driven novel is actually quite refreshing.  Unfortunately, on the whole, the novel itself just wasn’t for me for a number of reasons.  I, personally, had a hard time connecting to any of the characters, and I wonder if perhaps I needed to see the movie or be familiar with the story of the Maltese falcon to really “get it,” but I don’t think that’s entirely it. I’m not really a fan of wise-cracking characters, and AJ and Kermit grated my nerves with their “stoner” type attitude and nonchalance, which I found to be present in a majority of the characters, not just these two.  The characters themselves made it difficult for me to focus on the underlying detective story because I found them a tab bit annoying with all their pauses, tangents, and “likes,” and their inability to tell the story straight was jarring, if that makes any kind of sense.

I’ve also noticed over time that I’m just not a “funny” person, and many tongue-in-cheek and dry sense of humors are beyond me, even though I really try to “get” it.  My cognitive thought process just doesn’t wire that way, and it’s no fault of the author’s at all—it’s just a personal thing, I supposed.  I also had a small issue with the constant underlining as opposed to italics used in the dialogue, but that’s, again, a personal preference and has no barring on the story. Truthfully, I think this novel has a good premise and that many people will enjoy it, especially if they’re into old movies, detective stories, flighty characters, and tongue-in-cheek humor (my brother would probably really enjoy it, actually…).  It just wasn’t for me.  Two stars.

2 stars

I received this novel from the author in exchange for an honest review.

et cetera
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