Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The Creeping by Alexandra Strowy

2 Stars
“You wanna know what goes bump in the night? I do. I’m the fucking monster.”

Welllllll . . . . .

Chicago commercial photographers

WARNING: I really channeled my inner Dorothy Zbornak on this one. Don’t bother complaining about the gif usage. If you aren’t a fan of The Golden Girls you probably don’t belong anywhere near my review space to begin with.

The Creeping is the story of Stella – the “one who got away.” While playing with her friend Jeanie as a kid something happened and Jeanie was never seen again. Fast forward 11 years to the discovery of a dead girl who really bears a resemblance to Jeanie. Is it just coincidence or are the two incidents connected. And is it true what they say . . . .

“If you hunt for monsters, you’ll find them.”

So the premise was filled with a lot of awesome. Although unrealistic, I didn’t mind Stella trying to morph herself in to a supersleuth in order to solve the mystery of Jeanie’s disappearance and there were plenty of red herrings thrown about which made solving the puzzle a bit more difficult. What I had a problem with was the execution and the characters. I can’t remember the last time I read such unlikeable characters that I wasn’t supposed to dislike.

Let’s begin with our leads, who upon discovering a corpse and in the wake of the possible reappearance of a murderer decide to take their friendship to a new level . . .

“I wouldn’t need you to pull me in for a kiss. All you’d have to do is say the word and I’d be all over you.”

Chicago commercial photographers

Next we add in the stereotypical mean girl BFF . . .

Chicago commercial photographers

No YA novel is complete without an absentee parent. This time it’s ‘cause dear ol’ Dad is an attorney who has to work like 24 hours a day and can never take a day off – even when his daughter thinks she might end up the next victim of a serial killer . . .

Chicago commercial photographers

And last but most certainly not least an anti-slut shaming message is continually brought up. Because that’s exactly what every good mystery/thriller needs to keep the story moving . . . .

Chicago commercial photographers

If I may, let me just say I. DO. NOT. GET. characters repeatedly pointing out how messing around with a bunch of different dudes doesn’t make them a slut. They’re right. It doesn’t – but NEVER SHUTTING THE F UP about how “okay” they are with their behavior while being super self-conscious of said behavior makes it sound like they really aren’t. Dear Authors, please start writing these girls with a little more gumption and an “it is what it is” type of attitude instead of this apologetic mamby pamby B.S. Thanks in advance.

Bottom line is this one had a lot of potential, but the delivery failed pretty hardcore for me : (

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Beloved by Toni Morrison

2 Stars

Chicago commercial photographers


Chicago commercial photographers

I realize this is a classic and a Pulitzer Prize winner and yada yada yada, but oh my goodness am I glad to be done.

Dear Oprah, what’s going to happen to me since I hated it????

Chicago commercial photographers

That’s what I was afraid of.

Going in to this book I knew nothing about it except for the fact that it was on the Banned Books List and that Oprah said I should read it . . .

Chicago commercial photographers

I did manage to finish, but WHAT. A. SLOG. There are only about 47,000,000 reviews out there and I kind of feel like I sacrificed 1,000 years of my reading this instead of just two days so I’m not going to hash and rehash every detail I didn’t like. Really, let’s face facts. No matter what reason I give for not liking this one there’s a good chance I’ll get trolled for daring to have an unpopular opinion so why bother? I will say that Beloved is the only book I can remember reading where I was in love with the story but hated the way it was told. (Sidenote: Beloved is realllllly strangely fitting if you’re someone still looking for a ghost story to add to your October reading list.) I think Toni Morrison’s writing style is one that you’re either going to love or hate. Obviously I fall in to the hate it category, but I’m glad I can say I finally read her. As for Beloved being touted one of the best books of all time???? Thanks for nothing, Oprah!

Chicago commercial photographers

Nightfall by Jake Halpern and Peter Kujawinski

3 Stars
In the land of Bliss the time of light lasts for 14 years. After that . . .

Chicago commercial photographers

It is during that time the population must follow tradition, leave their homes without scent, and make the long journey via ship to the Desert Lands in order to survive what awakens during the time of darkness . . .

Chicago commercial photographers

But when Marin and Kana discover their friend Line missing when the time to depart the island has arrived, they will risk everything to find him. They better hurry, though, because . . . .

Chicago commercial photographers

Okay, so this book wasn’t really anything like GoT, but since it will probably be another 17 years before The Winds of Winter comes out I figure I might as well gif it up while I have the chance. It also wasn’t at all similar to books written by James Dashner or Neil Gaiman, but that sure didn’t stop anyone in the marketing department from throwing those taglines out there.

That’s not to say Nightfall was a bad book. It was actually pretty good, but I am seriously glad I didn’t see that “Neil Gaiman” line or I probably would have lost my mind a bit. If you are a YA reader who can’t get enough of world building, this is the book for you. The pace of this one was a bit slower in order to provide details of the land of Bliss and to countdown to what was coming once the sun disappeared . . . .

Chicago commercial photographers

After that it was anyone’s guess what might be lurking around the corner . . .

Chicago commercial photographers

While Nightfall didn’t completely knock my socks off, I appreciated a true fantasy world rather the continuing riding of the coattails of the “dystopian society.” I also was such a fan of making the characters a bit younger (14) so the puke factor which is instalove was removed completely and that Marin kicked ass and was never a Mary Sue . . .

“Thank you for rescuing me,” he whispered.

“I haven’t yet,” she whispered back.

ARC DENIED by NetGalley. Poop on you, NetGalley! (Nahhhh, just kidding I still love you even though you make no sense when it comes to what I do and don’t get approved for.)

Monday, September 28, 2015

So You've Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson

4 Stars

Chicago commercial photographers

Most of you are probably already familiar with the concept of public shaming. Heck, we see it on Goodreads all the time. The author who chooses to get spammy or games the ratings system with sockpuppets or trolls reviews when someone dares to bash their “special snowflake” is quickly drawn and quartered by users. If you’re an American you were probably even forced to read about public shamings back in high school . . .

Chicago commercial photographers
(^^^^This version was sooooo much better than the original)

What you may not know is how prevalent public shaming was as a form of punishment back in the olden days. While the practice of slapping a Scarlet A on someone’s clothing went by the wayside hundreds of years ago and public airing of grievances became a practice reserved strictly for Festivus, Al Gore’s invention of the interwebs brought back public shaming in a B.I.G. way.

With today’s handy-dandy technology and the anonymity that the internet provides, the world has become full of Keyboard Commandos . . .

“With social media, we’ve created a stage for constant artificial high drama. Every day a new person emerges as a magnificent hero or a sickening villain. It’s all very sweeping, and not the way we actually are as people. What rush was overpowering us at times like this? What were we getting out of it?”

So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed is a book that covers a handful of “shamings” and the aftershocks the publicly shamed experienced while trying to get their lives back together. It covers everything from plagiarists to stories of those with good intentions gone wrong due to made up facts and studies, but the sections I found most intriguing were those of jokes gone bad. If you have been on the internet more than a nanosecond, you’ve probably seen someone get butthurt. It’s easy to read something the wrong way when tone is absent. Thus was the case with “The Tweet Heard ‘Round the World” . . .

Chicago commercial photographers

and Lindsay Stone . . .

Chicago commercial photographers

While it’s obvious that both of the above were cases of using poor taste, both of these women’s lives were ruined leaving the author to note:

“There must have been among [their] public shamers a lot of people who chose to willfully misunderstand it for some reason.”

I agree. I mean, as distasteful as they may have been I think most people “got” both of the jokes, and while I agree it’s up to these individual’s employers to determine whether or not they want to keep these women on their payroll, I have to ask why it’s not okay for someone with less than 200 social media contacts to post something insensitive without getting flamed by millions, while Trey Parker and Matt Stone have made millions doing the same????

Chicago commercial photographers
(FYI: In case you are Anne live in a cave and are unfamiliar with the program, the correct answer was “NAGGERS.”)

We then flip the script in order to tackle the issue of a shaming which backfired . . .

Chicago commercial photographers

While Justine Sacco and Lindsay Stone clearly put themselves out on display for judgment, the two gentlemen in the previous photo did not. Not only did Adria Richards take it upon herself to publicly shame the two tech convention attendees when she happened to overhear them making a private “dongle” joke which resulted in them losing their jobs, she also ended up losing hers when she unintentionally publicly shamed herself whenever she opened her mouth . . . .

“Have you ever heard that thing, ‘men are afraid that women will laugh at them and women are afraid that men will kill them’?” she asked.

I told Adria that people might consider that an overblown thing to say. She had, after all, been in the middle of a tech conference with EIGHT HUNDRED bystanders.

“Sure,” Adria responded. “And those people would probably be white and they would probably be male.”

Chicago commercial photographers

Which led to something Richards should have really been afraid of – actual threats on her person and a DDoS attack on her company’s servers which resulted in her termination.

And that is where So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed got terrifying. While I believe Richards seriously made a mountain out of a molehill and deserved to be fired for being a public asshat, the nearly immediate response of the internet shamer to threaten a woman shaming victim with some sort of physical harm, up to and including rape, as a form of public degradation while never mentioning the same with respect to a man was nauseating.

The same can be said for the reaction to various sexcapades. A woman who makes a stupid joke (or has a differing opinion on a book) causing her shaming can expect to be called fat or a c*^t or a bad parent or told they should be genitally mutilated, but a public figure who admits to having an affair will most likely be lauded a hero once he buys his wife a fancy vacation to “rebuild their marriage” or helps her get elected as President . . .

Chicago commercial photographers

If you’re looking for a “smart” book that is easy to read, I highly recommend this one. Many thanks to Sam for bringing it to my attention – and for picking something we can FINALLY agree on. Now if you’d just re-read The Martian and admit that you read it wrong the first time I won’t have to gather the masses and shame you ; )

Friday, September 25, 2015

Deal Breakers by Laura Lee

2 Stars

“Okay, here’s the thing. I’m a virgin. And you need to relieve me of that.” Riley sprays beer from his mouth all over the table. “The fuck you say?”


Riley and Devin meet on their second week at Nike U . . .

Chicago commercial photographers

Riley is the resident manwhore, Devyn is the vestal virgin. Riley invites Devyn to the local watering hole. . . .

Chicago commercial photographers

He wants to bang. She’s just looking for a friend. Devyn decides Riley fits the bill because . . .

“Sitting here with him, I feel like I’ve known him forever.”

Chicago commercial photographers

Over the next four years the two become besties until the day before graduation when Devyn asks Riley for a big favor – to deflower her. Fast forward to five years later where we find out that Devyn was left with a little souvenir from their one night of passion . . .

Chicago commercial photographers

Okay. So I didn’t like this one a whole lot, but that doesn’t mean everyone else won’t. Here are several reasons why it didn't work for me.

1. I didn’t like the main characters, but especially Riley. He was a disgusting pig and I don’t believe he would have stopped being so just by getting older. I also can’t get on board with the I had a whoopsie baby and tried to call the dude once and never bothered leaving a message or telling him so now he’s a giant scumbag and I hate him and will forever call him . . . .

Chicago commercial photographers

Seriously? Grow up.

2. Feeding the other dessert, going to the hotel from 50 Shades (barf – if anything would make my underbits dry up like the Sahara that would be it), rose petals, champagne, etc. . . . .

Chicago commercial photographers

3. The sex. Is “one looooong lick down the center” sexy? Am I the only person who pictures this . . .

Chicago commercial photographers

And then wants to vomit?

How about biting the most sensitive bud in a woman’s lady garden? Or sucking on said part until it’s flat against the roof of his mouth?????

Chicago commercial photographers

Just me???

4. A very active wiener. His wang did a lot of “stirring” and “jumping” and . . .

Chicago commercial photographers
(insert dubstep)

5. Pacing . . . .

Chicago commercial photographers

This book goes from a womanizer to friends to baby surprise to the break-up of existing relationship to the make-up of old relationship to engagement in like 14.7 seconds which ends with . . . .

Chicago commercial photographers

Really the only thing that I loved? The kid . . .

Chicago commercial photographers

He was a funny foul-mouthed little bastard.

I also realized I’m even older than I thought because I have no idea what a “Fireball” is. In my head it’s always been something like this . . .

Chicago commercial photographers

but this book kept telling me it was alcohol.

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

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson

3 Stars
Welcome to what was maybe the most epic of all epic buddy reads . . .

Chicago commercial photographers

PICTURED: Kelly (duh), Mitchell the Book Boar, David Hasselmouse, Vixen, Frank Engator, and Pauly Shore. (Not Pictured: Hannibal Lecter and Harvey Dent because they are more fallaparty (new word) and my husband says I was lucky enough to score dead Oryx and Impala skulls the first time and he won’t be re-purchasing similar items just so I can take selfies. He obviously doesn’t understand me very well. The entire point of buying these types of pets is to take selfies with them. Jeesh!)

Anyway, as per the string of crazy which are my “pre-reviews” below, I was super excited about the release of Furiously Happy. And I tried everything within my power to obtain an advanced copy. Why??? Because as Jenny’s father points out in the re-telling of a story about a decomposing giraffe head that Jenny’s husband put his foot down when it came to purchasing, but was later purchased at an auction and brought to Jenny’s taxidermist father for repair . . .

“My God. There’s more of you.”

He’s right. There’s a lot of us. I don’t even remember how I stumbled upon The Bloggess years ago, but it brought serious amounts of happy to my life. The same went for Let’s Pretend This Never Happened. Unfortunately Furiously Happy fell victim (to me, at least – please note this is only MY opinion and I still liked the dang book fine – I just didn’t looooooove it) to “second book syndrome.” It’s hard enough for a best-selling author to write another book, but it has to be infinitely harder for someone to write another non-fiction book about their own life experiences – especially when having to keep providing content on a successful blog. And therein lies the rub. My enjoyment of Furiously Happy was lessened due to the fact that I had already read most of the material. If you’re not a loyal follower of Lawson’s blog, you’ll get some serious belly laughs while reading stories of complex Japanese toilets and inopportune farts. Buuuuut, you’ll also get a lot of “Debbie Downer” moments talking about depression and medications and therapy, etc. in a very not-so-LOLable way.

I’m not interested in sharing my personal story here because TROLLS, so let’s just say I wanted to read Furiously Happy because I thought it would be like my previous experiences with Jenny Lawson which make the dark parts of life seem a little lighter. It didn’t. In fact, parts of it kinda really brought me down.

I’m not going to focus on the negative, though, because there were lots of positives. Especially in the form of The President. You see, Jenny’s idea mimics a conversation I’ve been having recently with my husband, but since she’s made of awesome she trumps me. Jenny’s idea is to adopt a kitten and name him The President so she would be able to tweet things like “I like sleeping with The President, but why do I always wake up with his butt on my face?” MY M.O. when it comes to obtaining new animals (both live and dead) is that once they are named they are officially mine. (So far it’s worked four times over with our living things and to the point where I look like I’m a big-game hunter for dead things.) Which leads us to Grover Cleveland . . .

Chicago commercial photographers

I think he might technically be the neighbor’s kitten, but I don’t think they should let him roam around outside and if he ends up in my yard I’m fairly certain that counts as possession which is 9/10 of the law. But man, why didn’t I think of naming him THE PRESIDENT rather than just after A president????? That’s pure winning right there. Well played, Lawson.

Furiously Happy also provided some great advice that should I ever make any sort of dream board I would probably cut out and pushpin to. Things like potential responses to trolls . . .

“Your opinions are valid and important. Unless it’s some stupid bullshit you’re being shitty about, in which case you can just go fuck yourself.”

and “slut shaming”:

“I don’t get the anti-slut-shaming movement. They’re like, ‘Don’t shame the sluts,’ and I’m like, “YOU’RE the one calling them sluts.’ It’s like having a ‘Lay off the fatties’ campaign.”

And how you should reward yourself for not using words like “supposably” or “flustrated” or “liberry.” (Because really, everyone knows it’s really called the LIBURRY.)

and how to succeed at anything:

“Pretend you’re good at it.” (That advice actually came from Neil Gaiman to Jenny Lawson when she was losing her shit. NEIL MOTHERF*&ING GAIMAN Y’ALL!)

The biggest surprise that came to me while reading this book was that the person I could relate to most was Jenny’s father. He came up with some real gems . . .

“You don’t have to go to some special private school to be an artist. Just look at the intricate beauty of cobwebs. Spiders make them with their butts.”

He also proved he may be my own long-lost father (sorry Dad, still love ya, but you’ve GOTTA admit this guy is way more like me than you are) . . .

“You can make a very convincing taxidermied Sasquatch out of a deer’s ass. They don’t sell well in the taxidermy shop but it’s very entertaining when gullible people get an inch away from a deer’s butthole to stare at it with wonder and skepticism.”

I ask myself: “WHY IN THE F*&^ DON’T THEY SELL?!?!?!?!?” I mean seriously, the assquatch is the greatest taxidermy in all of mankind . . .

Chicago commercial photographers

Wait, maybe this is . . .

Chicago commercial photographers

While we’re on the subject of taxidermy, it’s a long time until Valentine’s Day so someone buy me one of these . . .

Chicago commercial photographers

and also one of these . . .

Chicago commercial photographers

EDIT #427:

Dear Jenny Lawson,

Did you know that today is my birthday? Well, it is. I'm sure you just overlooked it. Much like you overlooked notifying your publisher that I should have been approved to receive an advanced copy of this book. There's still time to rectify the situation. I'd hate to resort to "Ferris Buellering" you until release date . . .

Houston commercial photography

"She'll keep calling me. She'll keep calling me. She'll make me feel guilty. This is uh... This is ridiculous, ok I'll go, I'll go, I'll go, I'll go, I'll go."


I realized today that this is the first time I was ever denied an ARC and actually was bummed out about it. Now, I realize that not everyone is worthy of a freebie, so I've included photographic proof that will forever be known as Exhibit A detailing why I am more worthy than everyone else . . .

Items 1-8: Dead things. Not only do I have a stuffed boar, but I also have a cross-dressing buck, an ORYX skull (also an impala skull - both former museum pieces which = I win), various rodents and a Day of the Dead deer skull.

Item 9: TARDIS mug.

Item 10: The Dude. Every home should have a Dude.

General area of Items 9 & 10: Magical blogosphering environment.

Item 11: Drunkenly Pinterested "Hodor" artwork.

Item 12: Pop Vinyl. (Sidenote: Jenny, do you have any Pop Vinyls? You should get one. They aren't addicting at all and you definitely can quit buying them at any time. I mean, I am living proof that a person would never buy so many of these damn things that she would completely forget about one for a month.)

Item 13: Copy of book which I already own that needs to join the stack of an additional 10 or 12 and will hopefully one day actually get dropped off at the charity thrift store. Not only am I an idiot, but I also do not find it particularly comfortable to leave my house and interact with other humans. Sound familiar?

Item 14: Cat. You can't see him because he's really squished himself up in there, but he exists. He also is not dead.

Item 15: Another cat. I don't know how he manages to squeeze directly behind that big old flower thing, but he does it EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.

(Sidenote #2: MY cats are not evil and will totally wear the yuckoon face mask unlike some other person's cat I know.)

This list should not only prove that I am deserving of a copy of your book, but it should also make you a little bit worried that we might be the same person. Lucky for you I'm only interested in becoming a professional stalker of Jeff Goldblum, so you're safe.


Chicago commercial photographers