Friday, March 22, 2019

Silver Screen Fiend by Patton Oswalt


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3.5 Stars

Let me begin by saying I was waaaaaaaay not smart enough for this book. I am 100% unapologetically a pop culture aficionado and most certainly not a “sprocket fiend” . . . .



I also have to admit that I have only watched a couple of episodes of The King of Queens (and there’s a WHOLE lot of baggage about the why on that one in the form of “why does the woman in these couple comedies always have to be portrayed as some shrieking bitch harpy even though she’s married to a slug of a dude?” – but that’s a discussion for a different time and place).

That being said, I am a rabid fan of Parks and Rec and Reno 911 Brooklyn 99 and A.P. Bio and Drunk History and Archer and I have come to simply adore this man. He has the most pleasant voice, he’s cute as a dang button and he steals every scene he’s in. It was like having an old friend talk to me in the car this week . . . .



Okay, okay, I’ll dial it back and try not to make it weird. Anyway, what I was trying to say was that it was like having someone you think you know pretty well start telling you stories and then you realize that you had zero clue how smart that person was or how well he could do words. And also that your own encyclopedic knowledge of films is pretty much strictly relegated to that of the toilet humor variety. So while some things definitely went over my head and I had heard/watched about 50% of the films referenced, but I was completely enraptured despite the fact and the tale of this addiction/superstition reaching such epic levels was laugh-out-loud funny when I was able to track WTF he was talking about.

ARC provided by NetGalley FOUR YEARS ago that I still haven’t read because I opted for the audio instead. That is shameful.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

The World Made Straight by Ron Rash


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5 Stars

As Imagine Dragons said . . . . .



If you follow me, you’ll know that earlier this month I read a book that made tears squirt out my own face and how unacceptable that was for me. Miracle of all miracles had this cover pop up right when I needed it most . . . . .



I mean, has there ever been a more perfect creation for a Kelly/Mitchell surefire success? I don’t think so. Between the cover, the fact it was written by Ron Rash and the thumbs up from my literary dream man David Joy, there was zero chance I was going to pass this up. And the plot????? Well, ol’ boy Travis is out fishing for some speckleds in order to cover his gas and insurance after getting fired from the local grocery store when he comes across a potential windfall over on the Toomey property . . . .



And he knows just the fella who can help take it off his hands . . . .

“Where’d you get that?” Leonard asked.

“Found it,” Travis said.

“Found it, did you. And you figured finders keepers.”

“Yeah.”


Resulting in a most unlikely friendship as the story progresses . . . .



As the blurb says, this is a story that is “harrowing yet ultimately hopeful” and it gets all the Starzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

So Close to Being the Shit, Y'all Don't Even Know by Retta


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4 Stars

If you know me you know that I’m not a real big television watcher, but when I go in on something I. GO. IN. I loved Parks and Rec from the second it made it to air. I fell hard for Amy Poehler immediately upon her joining the cast of SNL and watched her in movies like Baby Mama, Deuce Bigalow and Blades of Glory until my DVD player committed suicide. There was no chance her new show wouldn’t be one of my favorite things ever. I was right. What I didn’t realize upon tuning in was that a woman who didn’t even have a speaking part the first season would wind up being my spirit animal.

Donna Meagle had me at the first side-eye she ever gave to her co-workers . . . .



It was her job to break the fourth wall – sans words – and she was GREAT at it. When she was finally allowed to speak? She ended up being pretty much me both professionally . . . .



As well as how she spent her free time . . . . .







And her attitude toward the internet? Samesies . . . .



Before she and Tom Haverford Aziz Ansari received the cult following which was created via “Treat Yo Self” – they had an exchange that somehow still strikes me as hilarious every single time I watch it . . . .

Tom Haverford : You can't say your favorite kind of cake is birthday cake, that's like saying your favorite kind of cereal is breakfast cereal.

Donna Meagle : Mmm. I love breakfast cereal.


https://dubsmash.com/quote/parks-and-...

Why is that so funny????? Because Tom and Donna are television magic, that’s why.

Speaking of magic? I found Retta over on the ‘Gram shortly after joining last year (I know, I know, I’m super late to the party). My favorite part of the day has become watching her make her cup of Dark Magic and singing a rendition of “Good Morning – Good Morning!” to me. And yet I was denied this ARC. Go figure, right?

Anyway, I don’t know if everyone will love this or if you just have to be nuts like me. Good news is, Retta herself is 100% relatable and she is more than happy to share deets regarding things like meeting famous people at various award shows and parties, slamming trolls on the web and becoming a Hamilton superfan . She is hilarious, her delivery is everything a fan could dream of and more and she has a fabulous potty mouth to boot. If you like something light for your daily commute, this might be a winner.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

I Owe You One by Sophie Kinsella


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2 Stars

I just realized that the only Sophie Kinsella book I read before this is My Not So Perfect Life. I think I always have the intention of reading at least the first in the Shopaholic series, but then never get around to it. Nevertheless, as soon as I saw this on NetGalley I wanted to read it. Partially because my one experience with this author was a good one, but mainly because . . . . .



I have a massive girl crush on Isla Fisher and I want to cast her in the lead of every one of this author’s books. And guess what? She’d be perfect for this role too.

The story here is about “Fixie” – daughter, sister, employee extraordinaire, Fixie has spent her life being the “fixer” of other’s problems and always living by the motto “Family First.” Unfortunately for me, Fixie’s personality traits made me want to say . . . .



I could never get on the same page (no pun intended) with poor Fixie. From her childhood crush, to her worthless siblings, this girl was taken advantage of again and again and I just wanted to . . . . .



This was a miss for me, but only due to my own irritation. I’ll definitely still pick up whatever she releases next.

ARC provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Thank you, NetGalley!

Monday, March 18, 2019

The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen


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2 Stars

In an effort not to spoil this one, I’m gonna go ahead and channel my inner Will Smith and just get .giffy wit it . . . . .



Soooooo what can I say about The Wife Between Us? Well, I can start with the fact that this ARC has probably been on my Kindle for a year and a half, but I actively avoided it after seeing more and more mediocre ratings from friends. I decided to finally give it a go after this duo’s second release began inundating my nerd feeds just like this one had. While reading the first 40% I kept thinking I liked it better the first time I read it when it was called The Girl on the Train, which isn’t saying much . . . . .



But then there was a reveal . . . . . .



And then some stuff that was mentioned waaaaaaay early on ended up getting mentioned again and it was pretty clear that at least one of the authors was like . . . . .



And then there was another reveal – and that one made me say . . . . .



For real. I mean I know I was supposed to hate the husband, but at this point I wanted the wife dead too.

And then there was another reveal for the big shock and awe ending . . . . .



I think I have a problem with writing teams when it comes to thrillers. The characters don’t ever seem to get fleshed out, the timeline is consistently wonky, what you are lead to believe are important details either get forgotten for hundreds of pages or thrown by the wayside entirely and the twists and turns become a game of “anything you can do I can do better” which results in a final Kelly and Mitchell reaction of . . . .



ARC provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Thank you, NetGalley!

Thursday, March 14, 2019

We the Animals by Justin Torres


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3 Stars

Since my daily commute is so short and I only listen to audio books in the car Monday-Friday, I’m always struggling to find a selection that works for me. When I saw my friend Matthew’s review of We the Animals, I thought it might be a good fit. I also thought it was a young adult book for some reason, but soon realized . . . . .



While the characters in this story are children, the content most definitely is not and focuses on growing up in a poor, mixed-race, abusive family in Brooklyn. Confession: I still thought it was a YA story until the parents had sex in front of their children, at which point . . . .



And logged onto Goodreads to confirm that this was not a children’s book.

This was a mixed bag for me. I enjoyed the vignette style of storytelling that presented snapshots of time rather than a flowing story – more so probably due to this being such a short book. I appreciate storytellers who don’t pull punches and are as brutal as necessary for the subject matter that they are presenting. But I don’t like writing that doesn’t feel effortless and Justin Torres most certainly was trying VERY HARD here. Almost like it was the last requirement before receiving his Masters in Fine Arts. The timeline also was hard to wrap my brain around. The reader is informed at the beginning that the children are “stair steps” of a sort with the youngest (our narrator) being around 7. By the end of the book (and the couple of big “shock and awe” entries which focus on a completely different subject matter than the first 80-90% of the book), I thought that same child might be around 16. There aren’t really any “in between” sort of selections to indicate age progression – you just make the hop. That was jarring enough, but it would make the older brothers of adult age and yet they are still present in the family home. I didn’t buy that one bit and it made other moments jump back to the forefront of my mind that had rang out as inauthentic as well.

In the end, this falls under . . . . .



And receives a satisfactory 3 Star rating.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Smothered by Autumn Chiklis


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2 Stars

I didn’t officially make a resolution or anything, but I have been trying to make a concerted effort to tackle some of the ollllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllld reader copies that reside on the ol’ Kindle because (at the moment) I am doing a better job of requesting things far in advance of their release and not getting 27 library books at one time. I’ve also been tearing through like one book per day the past week or so (or in the case of this one TWO books in one day – that’s just pathetic) and need to blow the dust off as many of these as I can while I’m still in beast mode when it comes to book reading. So there’s the unnecessary info dump behind me finally diving into Smothered. Unfortunately, it missed the mark for me.

The story here is of Eloise Hansen. Recent Columbia University summa cum laude graduate (with a pretty worthless degree), Lou has to bite the bullet and move back in to her childhood home. That’s okay, though, because she has a firm 9-month plan on how she is going to get a job, get on her own two feet, and get out in the world.

I appreciate what this book was trying to do. Kind of a revamped . . . . .



For the post-college sect. It’s not terribly written, uses “mixed media” of texts/e-mails/internet/etc. that I enjoy, and is over-the-top-silly (on purpose). The problem I had???? The characters . . . . .



First of all, we’re dealing with some real first-world ancillary people here with an “Instagram celebrity” younger sister and a vapid mother who is able to charge tens of thousands of dollars monthly and never really have it catch up to her. But the real problem is Lou. Now I know I’m old and cranky, but I 100% sympathize with youngsters today trying to make it upon graduating. The job market is hard and the housing market is nearly impossible. I’m pretty sure I couldn’t afford to buy my house today – and that sumbitch is pretty much a fucking dump. However, I do not want my reading experience to make me feel even more curmudgeonly than I do on the regular and this one had me seriously channeling my inner John Witherspoon . . . . .







I mean maybe don’t major in Philosophy if you’re planning on immediately being able to obtain a paycheck upon receiving your degree, but at minimum be prepared to apply for jobs! - ANY jobs. Retail, coffee shop, ANYTHING. JFC, who does this girl think she is – Cousin Eddie?



The only likeable character in the whole mix was the boyfriend, but even he was a knock-off of Adrian Grenier’s chef character in The Devil Wears Prada . . . .



And also he should have dumped Lou’s ass for being ashamed to introduce him to her parents.

This one is getting shelved under . . . .



Because it made me feel like a geezer, but I’m not certain it won’t be a big hit for those of you who are (sadly) decades younger than me.

ARC provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Thank you, NetGalley!