Thursday, October 19, 2017

Ugly Girls by Lindsay Hunter


20613663
3 Stars

You want to know what happens when you’re a person of a certain age who started this book about two girls who reside in separate mobile home communities right around the same time Mr. Slim Shady got folks woke with a one-man rap battle against our POS . . . whoops, I mean POTS? You fold laundry and do dishes and cook dinner and copy and collate and draft and format and file for days on end whilst singing . . . .


(By the way, I learned how to add text to .gifs so now the entire interwebs are my oyster)

In what may be the most fitting title in the history of titles, Ugly Girls is about exactly what it says - U.G.L.Y. white trash. Now before anyone gets all up-in-arms about me libeling these poor innocents, allow this househo to explain the term . . . .



It has nothing to do with residing in single or doublewides. I’m from Middle America – I know plenty of people who live or have lived in a trailer. No, Perry and Baby Girl (Dana before she decided to redefine herself and thug out) are morally bankrupt. They spend their free time jacking cars for joyrides before dumping them in the wee hours of the morn. Their friendship is one formed out of convenience rather than an actual liking of the other. And their most recent hobby????



While the book spends time detailing not only each girl, but also their home lives, everything is a build up to when Perry and Baby Girl will meet Jamey, their internet friend.

I’m the first of my friends to have read listened to this, so I’m not really sure how others will like it. I will reiterate that it is U.G.L.Y. If you are thinking there’s some sort of redemption arc for these children, you need to think again ‘cause it’s just not the case. That worked for me here. Some stories just can’t have a happy ending.

I feel like it may have had a bigger impact if I would have read it too. Not only am I a total noob when it comes to audio books, but I can read a book of these size in a few hours and really get wrapped up in it. Listening to it in 30-minute fits and starts increments probably didn’t do it any favors. As this was only my second audio experience, I obviously can’t compare narrators. That being said, Kathleen Early’s delivery just was a little off for me on this one.

ORIGINAL "REVIEW"

My second audio book!!!!

 

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Be Frank With Me by Julia Claiborne Johnson

25817528
5 Stars



“I love that kid,” he said. “Get in line.”


If you would have told me a book about a quirky nine year old kid would end up being one of the best things I’ve ever read, I probably would have assumed you were smoking some wacky tobacky. But then I met Frank.

Frank comes to us via way of Alice – an assistant at a publishing house who has been assigned the potentially daunting task of being live-in help while reclusive author M.M. Banning writes her highly anticipated second novel . . . 30 years after writing her first. It’s a guarantee whatever Mimi churns out will be a bestseller, and that’s a good thing because courtesy of some swindling “investment advisor” she’s flat broke. She just needs to focus 100% of her energy on putting words on paper so someone needs to watch her son Frank.

In today’s world of labels, there are probably a ton of reviews trying to pinpoint exactly where Frank lands on the spectrum. Back in the dark ages when I was growing up, he would have simply been called “precocious” or “eccentric.” Once you spend a little time with Frank you’ll soon realize his personality and character traits are undefinable and there’s absolutely no reason to try and put a label on him.

This is one of those occasions when the book needs to do almost all of the talking so you realize what you’re missing out on by not letting Frank into your world as well . . . .

“What’s wrong with you?”

“The jury’s still out on that one,” Frank said.


Frank spends his days in top hats and tails and is “a devotee of film. Of mathematics, not so much.” You can’t touch his things – or him for that matter – but “that didn’t keep the kid from becoming an honorary citizen of my personal zip code.” He also “loved being bundled up and pressed against things; he was a big fan of tight spaces.” Humor is something that doesn’t come easily to him, so he prefers to be told “knock knock when you’re trying to make a joke” so he knows . . . .

“What else was there to say? His fingernails are dirty? He stumbled into our century through a wormhole in the space-time continuum? I’m worried he’ll julienne me in my sleep?”

Truly, what else is there to say? Let’s just give you a little taste of Frank so you can see for yourself how much you need him in your life . . . .

Like the time he decided to hitchhike home from school . . .

“I know it’s wrong to indulge in criminal activities, but I do like those black-and-white-striped suits and matching caps that convicts wear. They’d make excellent pajamas. Do they let you keep them once your time is served?”

“Convicts wear orange jumpsuits that zip up the front now. The cut is not slimming, and a redhead like you should steer clear of head-to-to orange,” I say.

“I will never hitchhike again.”


Or when the principal decided that Frank’s attire was a distraction that needed to be changed . . .

“Surely no one can want me to go out in public in a shirt meant to be worn as underwear.”

“Lots of kids wear T-shirts out in public and think nothing of it.”

“Lots of kids chase me around the playground, too, but that doesn’t make it right.”


Or when he returned to school after Christmas break with a whole new outlook . . . .

“Where are you going?” Frank asked.

“I’m walking you to class,” I said.

“That won’t be necessary,” he said. “This time I’m prepared for the worst.”

“You’re really brave, Frank,” I said. “I’m proud of you.”

“Thank you,” he said. “It’s easier to be brave when you’re carrying a knife.”

“Get back in the car.”


Of all the gin joints in all the world, I’m so glad Frank walked into mine . . .

“You need to fill the house up with more like him. You need to fill up the world.”



Words cannot express how thankful I am that I follow Margitte. Her review is the reason I ever even heard of this little slice of perfect.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Best Day Ever by Kaira Rouda

34007977
3.5 Stars

Even though I have books that I read SIX STINKING WEEKS AGO and have still not reviewed, I’m bumping this one to the top. Mainly in hopes that I can get Spongebob’s voice out of my brain singing this on a loop . . . .



If you have children whose brains you have allowed to rot in front of the television like me (#motheroftheyear), you should be able to relate. And I’m really sorry for the earworm I’ve just passed on.

Meet Paul. He’s been married to Mia for nearly 10 years now. He’s a hardworking guy who brings home the bacon so the missus can stay home and raise their two boys. He drives a new Ford Flex to show that he “support[s] America while demonstrating that [his] ego does not require a fancy sports car.” He’s pretty old school and might fancy himself to be a bit like this fella . . . .



Paul has decided to whisk Mia away for a weekend alone at their lake house . . . .

“Let’s make today the best day ever.”

He has everything planned. All the way down to the playlist he’ll have going in the background during their car ride featuring some of the most romantic songs ever written. Stuff like this . . . .



And this . . . .



Ummmm, that’s not really a romantic song, bud, but lots of people have made the same mistake.

And this . . . . .



Uhhh, Paul????? You okay there?????

And also this . . . .



Ha! Just kidding. I just threw that one in there for shits and giggles.

Paul and Mia might relate to Taylor Swift’s “The Story of Us” – that’s why they need this most perfect day to reconnect. And if you like sociopaths you might need it too because Paul?????



Best Day Ever gets rounded down for having the nerve to have the disclaimer “A Psychological Thriller” thrown on to the end of its title. If you are looking for something “thrilling” that puts you on the edge of your seat, you need to look elsewhere because this isn’t it. There aren’t any twists and turns you won’t see coming and there are no bells and whistles added on. It doesn’t need all that because Paul is everything a nutcase is supposed to be and Kaira Rouda never allows him to break character. If you’re going to write a guy like Paul, you have to commit or it fails. Rouda has done an exceptional job writing a real trainwreck of a fella that, if you’re like me, you won’t be able to put down until his story is finished.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Without Merit by Colleen Hoover

33280872
4 Stars

“And you wonder why you have no friends.”
“Actually, I don’t wonder that at all.”

You get two reviews today (sorry) because I read this and Turtles All The Way Down both on Saturday and everything went sideways because I thought there was a better chance I wouldn’t dig this one but then I ended up loving it and they were both kinda a little bit about the same thing with 100% different deliveries and I couldn’t put either of them down but the Green one was because I wanted to end my suffering and this one I actually ended up being bummed that I read so fast because I just loved the dang thing and . . . .



Let’s start over. Okay so I was notified it was my turn for both Without Merit and Turtles All The Way Down on Friday afternoon. I even made a status about it because WTF library?!?!?! How can I be like 900,000,000th on the list for each of these and then get them approximately 27 seconds after release date? Crazy. Anyway, both of these had been on my TBR since they were basically just an idea since I am a pretty loyal follower of both authors. Green being Green, I assume you have to donate a kidney or present your first-born for an ARC so I didn’t even bother looking, but I did ask for Hoover’s - if for no other reason than shits and grins to see how quickly Atria could provide me this type of response . . . .



Now don’t get me wrong. I get that there’s like a 50% chance of me 1-Starring her stuff so I don’t really blame them. Buuuuuuuuuut, when the blurb says this one is “different from all her other stuff” – that’s the one that might end up being for me (or maybe not since It Ends With Us said that too and I thought it was a big steaming pile). Buuuuuuuuut, when it seriously is different (like Too Late), that’s the one I’m gonna eat with a spoon.

As was the case here in Without Merit. This one is 100% unlike anything Hoover has ever written before – which is probably why so many of her superfans aren’t feeling it. Let it be known to anyone thinking about reading this – DO NOT GET IT TWISTED THIS IS NOT A ROMANCE. It’s not “NA” or “YA” either. Instead it is the story of the Voss family and all of its dysfunction. It’s contemporary fiction and it’s done remarkably well.

I think this is a story where the less told the better, so I’m just going to give you the basics. Merit is our MC. She’s a high school senior who collects thrift store trophies and has decided she’s going to stop attending school. Honor is her identical twin sister. She’s a little obsessed with dating terminally ill dudes ever since her first boyfriend died unexpectedly. Utah is their brother. There’s a couple of things you’ll find out about him as the book progresses. Barnaby is their dad. He’s married to Victoria who started out as their mother’s in-home nurse when she had brain cancer, but ended up as his new wife when she got knocked up with Moby. Moby is perfection. Mainly because he’s only 4 so the family hasn’t had a chance to really f*&^ him up yet. I can’t forget mom – her name is Victoria too and she lives in the basement while the rest of the Voss family lives upstairs. Oh yeah, let’s talk about the house too. It used to be a church, but when Barnaby got in a feud with the pastor over a dog that barked incessantly he figured out how to buy it. Now they use the marquee out front to pass their own “good words” . . . .



The result is a story that answers the question . . .

“Is it normal for a person to hate their own family this much?”

While presenting the lesson that . . .

“Peace doesn’t come to everyone in the same form.”

It nearly earned 5 Stars from me, but the last 10% got a little “beat you over the head” with the message which is a tad offensive because hopefully Colleen Hoover doesn't really think readers are so stupid that we won’t get it. Obviously being a Hoover, this is a selection that probably earned hundreds of 5 Star ratings upon its announcement. For those fangirls who actually read it, this one will probably bat about .500 (look at me and my post-season speak). The good news is there’s a whole new fanbase full of weirdos like me out there who will end up being totally surprised that she had this in her. To that I say . . . .



Dear Colleen Hoover: If stuff like this and Too Late are the result of writer’s block, I apologize in advance for hoping that you continue to suffer from it.  Sorry not sorry.

Turtles All The Way Down by John Green


15837671
2 Stars

My advance apologies to Alissa for the lack of turtle gifs, but really my feelings on this one can be summed up quite easily with one image alone . . . .



It appears I don’t drink the John Green Kool Aid anymore. And obviously it must be me because this follows the standard Green formula of smarter-than-the-average-bear, straight, white kids navigating puberty with some sort of debilitating disease thrown in for good measure. I’ll take partial blame for having my hopes set on this sort of experience . . . .



But when the blurb tells me this highly anticipated novel centers around a few kids and a missing recluse a la D.B. Cooper, nostalgia can’t help but kick in. What I got instead was 300 pages of being inside of Aza’s head with not much story. Bonus was I got to feel like a huge dickhead the entire time I was reading because I COULD. NOT. STAND. this child. I know I know I’m a heartless bully, but FFS, you have like THE MOST SUPPORTIVE MOTHER IN THE HISTORY OF THE UNIVERSE, a best friend who accepts you with all of your quirks, a potential boyfriend who YOU keep giving mixed messages to so he’s totally confused whether you’re just buds or something more and to top it all off you acknowledge you’re kind of crazy (do not get offended, crazy people are the first to use that term as Aza and everyone around her does here), but you also only kinda sorta take your medicine sometimes. Nope. I ain’t doin’ it.

Here’s the quote everyone should take from this one . . . .

In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life – “it goes on.” And you go on, too, when the current is with you and when it isn’t.

^^^That right there is the truth. The world won’t stop (or even slow down) just because you need it to. Use your support system. Take your medicine. Make it an easier place for you to navigate. You might just find it’s not all bad.

Now let me hightail it on outta here before the superfans find me . . . .




ORIGINAL "REVIEW":

Part of me is a little terrified to read this because I ain't as sweet as I used to be so I'm not sure I'll still drink the John Green Kool Aid ..... but since I've been told I "suck turtles " it's almost like he wrote this just for me!

Speaking of turtles, I found a pic of Shelby's ....

 

Friday, October 13, 2017

Do Not Become Alarmed by Maile Meloy


33155774
2 Stars

I generally don’t read any of my friends’ reviews if I’ve already put my name on the wait list/obtained a book, but I made an exception this time around when it became crystal clear this was not going to be my idea of a good time. I pretty much want to copy and paste what Michelle had to say into this space because we are of one mind when it comes to Do Not Be Alarmed.

Damn my old lady brain to hell, because I know this one popped onto my radar because a famous person I follow was reading it, but eff if I can remember which famous person it was. So, there was some random famous person endorsement, coupled with a pretty perfect title and a “ripped from the headlines” type of synopsis where children go missing from a family vacation. I was all in. And then I started reading it and let me tell you never in the history of ever has this gif been more appropriate . . . .



The strangest thing for me was about a hundred pages in I started thinking how this book was reminding me of some other book that I couldn’t put my finger on (so strange for my brain to not assist me in figuring it out, right?). Then it dawned on me – Bel Canto. The stories aren’t alike at all, but they gave me the same feeling of probably needing a good scrubbing in the shower to get the grimy feeling off myself after finishing reading. Imagine my surprise when I went to remove this from my Kindle homepage and noticed the cover blurb was written by none other than Ann Patchett. If you enjoyed Bel Canto there’s a chance you’ll enjoy this one too, I guess. As for me? I need to go take another shower because all of these people were just awful. Every one of them . . . .

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Sleep Like A Baby by Charlaine Harris


33559163
2 Stars

I thought I was done with Charlaine Harris after finishing the debacle known as . . . .


(You totally heard that in his voice didn’t you? Samesies.)

But then we changed our T.V. provider and got the Hallmark Mystery Channel as part of the new package and I discovered that D.J. Tanner played the part of Aurora and like a crapload of these movies had been made and they often play on Sunday nights which is my most mind-spinny night of the week and I find stuff like this happening quite frequently . . . .



And … well, you get the picture.

Anywho, when I discovered these made-for-television gems of stories I’d read waaaaaaaay back when I just had to take a gander. So I watched . . . .



And watched . . . .



And watched . . . .



And … again, you get the picture. Now I’m kind of addicted to them and keep re-watching them like a pathetic nutcase (shut up, Ron). I even picked up #9 in the series after taking a looooonnnnnng hiatus. Then this one shows up on NetGalley (another addiction which I cannot quit) and well, hell, that’s like waving a baggie of meth in front of ol’ Jesse Pinkman. Especially when I found out ROE AND ROBIN HAD A BABY! and also ANOTHER DEAD BODY IN THE BACKYARD!

I really should know better at this point. These books are the literary equivalent of a meal like this . . . .



They aren’t “good” per se, but you still want to shove them in your face anyway. At this point Roe is like an old friend I don’t see very often and even though her stories of breastfeeding and the most recent color of reading glasses she purchased are going to bore the holy hell out of me, I still want to hear them. 2 Stars because according to Goodreads that means "it was okay" and that's what these are. Perfectly okay and a decent couple hour time suck. I guarantee if the next one gets dangled in front of me for free, I’ll read it too. I mean, really, who wants to eat healthy all the time anyway? Just look what it did to this poor chick . . . .



Woof! Turned her into a real dog!

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