on April 16, 2010
MOUSETRAPPED was in the reading queue behind GOOD OMENS by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. I was about two-thirds of the way through GOOD OMENS when I began Catherine Ryan Howard's memoir of the time she chased a dream from Cork, Ireland, to Orlando, Florida, to work at Disney World (and see a Space Shuttle launch, learn to drive, buy a car, visit Cape Canaveral and Celebration, and many other things). For the record, I very much like GOOD OMENS and am in awe of both Gaiman and Pratchett as writers.
But MOUSETRAPPED was the book I kept reaching for. I wanted to know what happened next. Would those seven roommates from Kazakhstan leave by the 25th the way they were supposed to? (Yes.) She was in tears on a bus. Was she going to shake off her depression? (Also yes.)
MOUSETRAPPED is about what happens when dream meets reality. Although this meeting was more of a collision at times, Catherine Ryan Howard writes with humor and energy about all her experiences. It's fun to hang out with her.
on April 15, 2010
Mousetrapped is the memoir of a twenty-something Irish girl who spends a year and a half living and working in Orlando, Florida. Along the way, Howard reveals her inherent delusions and naivete, with endearing and amusing honesty.
I cringed and laughed by turns reading about what is, in a sense, a tale of growing up and coming of age, coming to terms with reality and developing more realistic dreams.
Catherine Ryan Howard's self-deprecating writing style reminds me very much of Bill Bryson, and I look forward to reading more from her.
on January 22, 2011
Being a fan of Orlando, I was looking forward to reading this book! I could picture myself applying for a position, jumping on a plane, and landing in Orlando and then being hit with the reality of it all! I loved reading the authors highs and lows, and I enjoyed reading about places I hadnt ever thought of visiting. The book grabbed my attention, and I was left wanting to follow the authors next journey :)
on May 7, 2013
I thought this was a very fun read and I finished it in a day and a half being it was just too hard to put down. I have read some of the other reviews and they slam the author for not talking about Disney enough but in reality she talked A LOT about Disney.She also talked about the surrounding parks such as the Kennedy Space Center, Universal Studios, and other attractions around Orlando such as good places to eat and shop. She also talked about the history of the Kennedy Space Center and the Celebration city. The author was very funny as well and I couldn't help but laugh at times. I had read her other book "Backpacked A Reluctant Trip Across Central America" and had loved it and so decided to give "Mousetrapped" a try. I was not disappointed and $2.99 for kindle, what do you really have to lose?
on March 8, 2011
As a fan of the Disney parks, I absolutely love books written by those that worked there. This one is good but not great as it relates stories about the authors time in Orlando, not just her experiences in the parks. The one major beef I had about the book was her discussion of atheism. It felt completely out of place and was almost as if she included it because she had a platform she knew people would read. It did nothing to add or help the overall story.
Overall, I'd recommend the book for the disney parks enthusiast but with the caveat that there is alot of content (atheism, Kennedy Space Center) that are not directly related to Disney but more to her overall experience in Florida.
on February 22, 2011
You would think with a title like Mousetrapped that it would be a scathing, gossip filled memoir (subtitle: "Trapped in the House of Mouse" or "Lost in the Maze of Mickey"). Instead, it is the mundane daily memoirs of a foreign exchange student from Ireland, as she details her poor decision making skills over the course of one year (and a bit). The only thing missing was "Dear Diary, today I chose to wear red.................."
Only a few "Disney" related details crop up... The general personalities of her fellow cast members, the "clique" factor of working for Disney, and one trip to Disney World that she took with her friend at Christmas time... But there are too too TOO many stories about shopping at Starbucks and Target, her preference for staying in bed alone on Christmas day, and the insufferable purchase of her first car (really, that went on and on and on...)
This was like reading an autobiography about an astronaut in which he never writes about his experiences in space! Not a great Disney Cast Member memoir, the focus was directed away from the reason for reading such a book.
I will give you positive and say that at least she seems to have a good, conversational writing ability. Not too remedial, and she has a sense of humor, even if a lot of it seemed to be included to entertain herself.
I feel it necessary to start this review with a simple statement: This book should not be called Mousetrapped.
Instead, it should be called "Unprepared Irish Girl Lives in Orlando for a Year and a Half"...or something along those lines. And just as an FYI, this is coming from a woman who worked for Disney in some capacity or another for about five years and lived in Orlando for a combined total of 15 months (and continues to visit at least once a year, many times more than that).
I'll give the author some credit: Nowhere on the front or back cover does it say that this book is supposed to be mainly about Disney and its inner workings. Unfortunately, the title and the fact that "working in Walt Disney World" is the first thing mentioned in the "what this book is about" blurb on the back cover are a bit misleading. Because first of all, although Ms. Howard worked on Disney property, she worked for an operating participant. And not even in a park. To be specific, she worked for the Swan & Dolphin hotels, and working there didn't even get her free access to the Disney theme parks.
Consequently, it shouldn't be surprising that there is very little about Walt Disney World (and in fact, very little about her job) in this memoir. What few things she does write, she tends to get incorrect--for example, she refers to Walt Disney World as the "happiest place on Earth". Constantly. Disneyland is actually touted as "the happiest place on Earth". Disney World is actually deemed "the most magical place on Earth". And yes, it has always been that way. Another example is when she writes about the Jungle Cruise skippers on page 97, claiming that Disney hires amateur comedians (incorrect: anyone who walks into casting off the street and is hired for attractions could end up at the Jungle Cruise). And just to put a nail in the coffin on this one, Ms. Howard writes about the time she rode Thunder Mountain "while a biblical thunderstorm unleashed hell directly above" her. As this is an outdoor ride, it shuts down during thunderstorms. For the safety of the guests. So.
Of course, Ms. Howard sums up her own memoir in one sentence on page 80. "A cursory glance at my life might lead you to believe that I had arrived in Florida recklessly unprepared and thus found myself in an unfavourable situation designed by my own hand." This is, in fact, exactly what happened. Because who in the world moves across the Atlantic ocean without studying what needs to happen once she gets to the US in order for her to actually have the ability to go to work? Who, with four months to prepare, doesn't get on the internet and look for a place to live? Because had the author done either of these things, a good third--or at least a quarter--of this book would have gone unwritten. Because it wouldn't have happened.
On the same topic of mistakes, this book needs a new editor. Just a few times I noticed spelling, grammar, or general mistakes include at the bottom of page 78, where the word "taunt" is used when I'm pretty sure she meant "taut"; pages 186 and 190, when she spells the last name of the astronaut William Oefelein "Oefelien"; and on page 159 when she names the architect of the Swan and Dolphin hotels and actually calls the hotels by their proper names, despite the fact that throughout the rest of the book she refers to them as the Duck and Tuna. I could go on regarding more issues--mainly spelling and grammar--but I think three examples is plenty at the moment.
Beyond these issues, I was under the impression that even if this isn't a book about Walt Disney World or working there, it is a book about Orlando, but instead of describing places like Universal and Sea World in detail (try extremely brief mentions of them, maybe half a page apiece), Ms. Howard spends approximately 35 pages of her 237 page book writing about the Kennedy Space Center/NASA/the Apollo program/shuttle launches, most of which is information that could be found on Wikipedia. Still, imagine my surprise when she tacks on a chapter about one of those lesser-known Orlando attractions--The Holy Land Experience--and instead of just using those pages to write boring descriptions of what goes on there (a la her chapters on Kennedy Space Center), she uses them for her own atheist diatribe.
To make a point, I am not an atheist. I am a Christian. But I have friends who are atheists and whereas our religious/spiritual views obviously differ, I don't appreciate being lumped into a "people of faith" category that (a) supposedly thinks atheists are all horrible people and (b) is apparently "abnormal" per this gem from page 209: "...they all seemed pretty normal. Outwardly, at least.", which was written about the people who were visiting The Holy Land Experience because they believe in it, not because they think they're some sort of undercover journalist. Ms. Howard, being raised a Catholic--in Ireland, no less-and then coming to the States and watching a few Kirk Cameron specials and Bill O'Reilly shows does not make you an expert on Christianity any more than I am an expert on atheism. I'm not one, and I do not think atheists are horrible people nor am I some abnormal freak of nature simply because I choose to believe in God and Jesus Christ and that there may be something better than the ups and downs of living a few years or decades or more on this Earth.
Ms. Howard writes, "When people of faith discover that you're an atheist, they inevitably adopt a tone of two parts incredulity and three parts condescension..." Pot, meet kettle.
The thing is, I probably could have sucked it up and given this book 2 or even 3 stars were it not for the fourteen pages the author spent haranguing not just The Holy Land Experience (which may or may not be authentic at all; I've never been and therefore wouldn't know) but Christianity and all Christians in general. I honestly can't even rate this book because I can't imagine ever condemning a friend of mine--Christians and atheists alike--to reading it.
My suggestion? Before this book goes into much heavier circulation, Ms. Howard should re-write the whole thing. She is interesting and funny at many points. Her story isn't a completely boring one. But she does need to learn a bit of accountability.
And she can leave the 35 pages on space programs and shuttles and the 14 pages on atheism out of it. Maybe replace them with the story of how she and her brother got to travel to the airport in a stretch limo that we were teased with but not told.