Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Seven Days of Us by Francesca Hornak


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4 Stars




I normally throw a little “thank you” disclaimer at the very end of my reviews when I score a freebie in order to cover my tail for the FTC guidelines and not much more. That’s because 99.99999% of the time I am the one begging requesting the ARC myself, and also because by now it should be glaringly obvious that I’m brutally honest in my reviews no matter what manner I obtained about any given book. This time the case is different and, although I’m under no obligation to do so, I want to say thank you to the publisher for being brave enough to poke this old grizzly bear in order to see if I was interested in an advanced copy and risk my wrath should things have not gone well.

Seven Days of Us may have never ended up on my radar if she wouldn’t have contacted me and I would have missed out on meeting my type of people.

The story here goes a little something like this . . .

“By the time you read this, my family and I will be under house arrest. Or, more accurately, Haag arrest. . . . . For exactly one week we are to avoid all contact with the outside world and may only leave the house in an emergency. Should anyone make the mistake of breaking and entering, he or she will be obliged to stay with us, until our quarantine is up.”

What could be better than a week spent surrounded by loved ones in a stately manner home in jolly old England????? Oh, right . . . .

“This whole family is so – so fucking self-absorbed. What’s wrong with you all?”



If you like your characters and plot to be sunshine and unicorn farts and your manor house to be magazine worthy, the Birch family and their dilapidated property probably aren’t where you’d like to spend your holiday season. If you’re like me and enjoy taking a trip to Dysfunction Junction where others’ skeletons might come tumbling out of any opened closet at any moment, this one might be a winner. Although Seven Days of Us doesn’t come out for several months, I’m jumping the gun on posting a review here to get it on your radar if you already know you will find yourself surrounded by loved ones during the holiday season . . . .



I received a free copy of this book. Duh. It didn’t sway me in any way to post a positive review. The blurb was right – I enjoyed The Vacationers and I enjoyed this. Now I’m questioning why I’ve avoided reading The Nest.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Desert Flowers by Paul Pen

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1 Star


“People are almost never what they seem.”

In this case, sadly the book wasn’t quite what it seemed either. Per the placeholder “review” below, you can see proof of why it is important to have good titles, pretty covers and clever synopsis in order to hook readers. Especially a reader like me who doesn’t even bother reading a whole blurb before hitting the request or one-click buttons or running straight to the nearest cash register.

When I glossed over the summary for Desert Flowers the following jumped out at me . . . .



themselves and their five daughters



middle of nowhere



young hiker



must do what they can to protect themselves



And my brain convinced me there would be some of this . . . .







Mixed with a bit of this . . . .







Which would translate into me doing a lot of this . . . .







Without spoiling things, please note this book was about NONE OF THOSE THINGS. Obviously I have to take a portion of the blame for this being such a fail for me. However, when there is absolutely ZERO character development – other than kind of a squicky “farmer’s daughter” type of vibe, no explanation of the why behind the main plot point and a story that could have easily been told as a 50-page novella since it absolutely no depth beyond surface level, I refuse to give more than 1 Star. Bottom line? This thing was . . . .







The only bright side was it was so simplistic I read it in a couple of hours.



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



ORIGINAL “REVIEW”:







This would be one of those books . . . .

Monday, July 17, 2017

Confessions of a Domestic Failure by Bunmi Laditan


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1 Star

I had originally planned on giving this 2 Stars because apparently I’m a nicer version of me in 2017 and I’m not handing out 1 Stars like candy, but simply taking a once-over of my notes and highlights has me looking a little like . . . .



I can’t remember the last time I read a character I despised as much as I did Ashley – and I’m someone who reads about rapists, murders and drug dealers on the regular, so that’s saying something. Ashley is the reason stupid bullshit like “Mommy Wars” exist. She is the epitome of why we can’t have nice things.

Ashley spends her days as an “accidental stay-at-home mom.” She bemoans the fact that she pretty much lives a real-life episode of Hoarders due to her lack of housekeeping abilities and can’t find time to shower or lose the paunch that’s forced her to only be able to wear yoga pants for the past eight months ever since her daughter was born, but somehow manages to make it to Michael’s Michelle’s crafts in order to drop $300 on the latest Pinterest craze or while away the hours on social media . . . .

“What’s Facebook? It’s where moms like me post about how much we love the husbands who annoy the living bejesus out of us, and share expertly edited photos of our kids and generally talk about our lives like we’re living in an enchanted fairy tale blessed by rainbow angel unicorns. In short, it’s for lying. But I’m addicted.”

Sidenote: If you can relate to the above post and are on my friend list, please delete do me a favor and delete me. On the other hand, if you think Facebook is for funny cat videos and memes about how you want to kill your co-workers then please make sure we solidify our best friend status immediately.

When Ashley discovers an online competition being put on by the most successful mommy guru in all of the interwebs, she thinks that will inspire her to get her life together. I thought it would too, but unfortunately the “redemption arc” (if you can even call it that) was done at the eleventh hour and I spent the entire book screaming things at my Kindle such as . . .



Not to mention the mommy blog character reminded me of my arch nemesis . . . .



I’d rather be this lady and hang with the coolest of all faithful sidekicks, thank you very little . . . .



The only thing I had going for me was the hope that her bubble of bullshit would burst. Which OF COURSE it did, because this was the most basic effing storyline in the history of the universe where no one really has their life together and we all just fake it ‘til we make it so we should all support each other as women and kumbaya the fuck out of life and pleasegodgivemecancertosavemefromthisstupidity.

If this one works for you, great. (Don’t forget to see the above note about deleting and/or blocking me first, though). I had never heard of Bunmi Laditan before requesting this from the library (which I did courtesy of the catchy title on the GR spam recommendation pop-up). After taking a quick looksee at a couple of other 1-Star reviews, it appears her blog/Facebook/whatever she did before this book deal is humorous and not insufferable like this book. After reading Confessions of a Domestic Failure I really have no interest in looking into her any further, however. And also, to Jenny Lawson who blurbed . . . .

“Freaking hilarious. This is the novel moms have been waiting for.”

Really????

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Theft By Finding: Diaries 1977-2002 by David Sedaris


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4 Stars

Before I even begin this ramble, I feel I a disclaimer should probably be provided regarding these 4 Stars. If you have not yet had the privilege of experiencing David Sedaris’ essays, you most definitely should not begin with Theft By Finding. Pick up any one of his other collections and read that first. Then repeat. Repeat again until you reach superfan status and you’ve started fantasizing about how delightful it would be to wear him around like a skinsuit as a beck-and-call-boy for your constant amusement. That’s totally normal, right????



Right. When you reach that point of fandom, you’re ready for this.

Theft By Finding: Diaries 1977-2002 is exactly what the title states – various diary entries that span several decades. Sedaris himself said this book should be read in snippets. If you are of the ilk, this would be a perfect selection to have readily available whilst sitting on the throne. Since my gastrointestinal system is of the “all or nothing” variety (TMI??? Naaaaaah!) and wouldn’t dream of defiling my lobster’s work in that manner, I can’t confirm or deny if this is the way to go. I can, however, confirm that the early years are a rough read as you follow Sedaris from his 20s in Raleigh where he more than dabbled in methamphetamines and underemployment as a starving artist while consuming daily feasts at the local IHOP. You LITERALLY read the phone book as well as random recipes and lists of what he got for Christmas and various other nonsense like what happened that day on As the World Turns or the off-color joke a co-worker told him that day.

If you can get through the first 20% or so, it becomes smoother sailing. David puts down the meth pipe and details his initial successes as a playwright in New York City all the way to becoming a best-selling author and residing in Paris. He lets you in on his family history – including his mother’s death and his sister’s battle with mental illness and includes some truly poignant entries . . . . .

“Last night under the stars in a pasture in our sleeping bags, I poured my guts out and said things I was afraid to admit even to myself. And you know, it felt good and not as hopeless as I thought. All that had been inside for so long.”

While I could have lived without the never ending entries regarding his various French classes, unforgettable moments in history are documented within its bindings . . . .

“There is a new cancer that strikes only homosexual men. I heard about it on the radio tonight.”

“Hugh and I awoke to the news that Princess Diana has been killed, literally hounded to death by photographers.”

“Last night on TV I watched people jump from the windows of the World Trade Center.”

As well as monumental moments in his personal history . . . .

“This spring I am, if I’m not mistaken, in love.”

Most importantly, around the 25% mark Amy moves to the same town and made my life complete when her various antics began being included . . . .

“Amy and I went to Hoffritz to find Dad a Father’s Day gift. Our original idea was to buy him a knife, but in the end we spent $72 on a vibrator. It’s a Panasonic with a long stem and a thickish disk on top, designed so you can reach behind yourself and work out the kinks in your back and shoulders. We also figured he’ll use it on his dog. “Our father’s going to love this,” Amy said to the saleswoman as we laid the vibrator on the counter. The woman smiled. “The next time we see him, though, I bet his front teeth are all chipped.” The smile faded.

Amy is the kind of asshole I dream of becoming one day. Hysterical with absolutely no filter. David and I both tend to be more of the “George Constanza” variety . . . . .




There was little to no doubt in my mind when I requested an advanced copy that I would be denied so I immediately put myself on “pre-hold” at the library well before the release date. Words cannot express how happy I am now that I did not read this early, since it allows me to quote the story that caused quite the embarrassing moment at work . . . .

“Lisa told me that the previous day she’d accidentally put a used Kotex through the wash. It went through the dryer as well, and when it came out, Bob held it up, saying, “These aren’t supposed to be laundered on their own, are they?” Lisa said she guessed not, and Bob asked why she’d washed just one of them. “I looked for the other and couldn’t find it anywhere.” “The other?” Lisa said. “Shoulder pad,” Bob said. “Isn’t that what we’ve been talking about?” He handed here the fluffy clean Kotex, still warm, and she put it in her dresser drawer until he left the room.”

I read that during lunch yesterday and while I was trying to muffle my laughter, my supervisor confused the noise for hysterical sobbing. At that point there was no way I was going to be able get myself back under control and, well . . . .



Due a combination of Sedaris’ epic rise in fame here in flyover country along with my crippling phobia of strangers in crowds, I most likely will never be brave enough to attend one of his readings and officially declare us besties for the resties. But we’ll always have our mutual love of America’s best television program as an unbreakable bond . . . .



And he won’t have to bother getting one of those pesky restraining orders against me. Winner winner chicken dinner.

You’ll always be my lobster, though, David. Always . . . .



Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Here and Gone by Haylen Beck


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2.5 Stars


This one is set to disappear from the ol’ Kindle any second now, so I better puke something up real quick.



Here and Gone begins with Audra driving cross-country with her two young children in order to start a new life in California, far away from her controlling ex. When Audra gets pulled over by a local Barney Fife in the middle of BFE, her first concern is that she’s been reported for kidnapping. Her worries are put to rest when the trooper explains he was simply concerned with the way the car was riding due to being overloaded. When he starts helping redistribute the weight and discovers a “good-sized baggie half full of dried green leaves” – leaving Audra stating . . .







The local yokel is having none of that B.S., however, and pulls Audra in for questioning. Once she finally gets released on her own recognizance, Audra’s only concern is comforting her children. But when she asks if she can collect them and go, the response is . . . .



“What children?”







It then becomes a race against time, as well as a battle amongst the court of public opinion led by a reporter who will be familiar to many . . . .







For Audra to find the kids before it’s too late.



So obviously this isn’t a real fresh plot. If you like stories like these, you’ll probably like this just fine. I appreciated knowing who the bad guy is right away and a dual narrative that kept me in the loop of what was happening to all of the main players. “Knife Boy” could be the star in one of the scientific journals I’m sometimes fond of reading and I’d want to make lots of science with him, and the dude in the cameo referenced in Shelby’s review was a delight. Speaking of Shelby – I’m counting down to when she makes her appearance in order to tell me I read this wrong. I’m not scurrrrred, though, because . . . .







The main problem I had with Here and Gone was Audra. She was a real turdburger of a human. Obviously I didn’t want her children to die, but I was pretty much A-Okay with her husband or ex-mother-in-law taking them away from her. 2.5 Stars because in a book like this, it’s pretty much necessary for me to like the MC and not want to punch her in the throat.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

We Are Okay by Nina LaCour


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2 Stars

Over the past week I’ve been bombarded by Goodreaders who are angry I don’t drink the NA Kool-Aid which will force me to 5-Star books that don’t even have a release date yet as well as young humans who can’t understand why a person would ever 1-Star something by their favorite YouTuber. In an attempt to prevent further butthurt (since it appears I kinda sorta read this one wrong as well), allow me to post the following disclaimer:



First things first, this cover is so freaking perfect that it made me hesitate requesting a copy of We Are Okay from the library. Why? Because I assumed it was a graphic novel and my current schedule is pretty much only open to Kindle reading at the moment – proving once again . . . .



Per usual, I didn’t read the synopsis before starting, but even if I had I think I would have had a rough start. At first I thought the “tragedy” being referenced was going to be of the rapey variety and, pardon me, but rape being turned into a tired trope pretty much makes me want to barf. However, I’m no quitter (or more like I am missing the gene that would allow me to quit) so I continued on and basically ended up reading what amounts to be a pretty standard story of a young woman transitioning into adulthood via her first year far away from home. She’s lonely, she doesn’t know what she wants to be when she grows up, she’s having a bit of a hard time making new friends, she misses the high school love interest she left behind but isn’t sure where they stand. The only thing that makes this different from many teens’ transition to college is that she suffered a loss on top of everything else.

The plot is fairly simple without a lot of action. It does the wibbly wobbly between past and present and, for me, the past were the parts that held my interest. I think most people who love this one will love it due to the writing . . . .

“Someone always dies. It’s just a matter fo who, and when. You remember her with songs, with shrines of shells and flowers and beach glass, with an arm around her daughter, and later, daughters of your own named after her.”

For me, though? It was just . . . .

Monday, July 10, 2017

Whiskey Sour by J.A. Konrath

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4 Stars

Ack. I’m really far behind on reviewing. I read this a month and a half ago! I also just discovered this morning that I’m a library failure as well since I’m currently accruing late charges on this and my privileges at the porny library have been suspended until I prove that I still am a resident of the metropolitan area (and yes, I’m getting ready to get the DTs due to the lack of smut readily available to me at the present time).

So this is the charming tale of the neighborhood candy man . . . .



His treats come with an added bonus of things like razorblades and needles and he really would prefer it if everyone called him The Gingerbread Man . . . .



The Gingerbread Man has developed quite the hobby of mutilating women and leaving them in dumpsters for “Jack” Daniels to find. As if Jack wasn’t having a crappy enough time with her boyfriend dumping her, leaving her with an almost empty apartment and an incurable case of insomnia. Things will only get worse if The Gingerbread Man gets his way and adds Jack to his victim list.

I finally broke down and read this after my evil twin told me to about eleventy thousand times. We’re both damn lucky I’m an idiot because if I had realized J.A. Konrath was the same guy as Jack Kilborn, I pretty much would have reacted like . . . .



Much to my surprise, my experience with Whiskey Sour was NOTHING like my experience with Trapped.

Due to the blurb, I was expecting a bit of a “Stephanie Plum” type leading lady – and, while this did deliver some funny ha-ha moments, Jack was not a bumbling idiot and reminded me a bit of this lady who I crush on weekly instead . . . .



Her partner Herb also brought a bit of the ’99 to the story as well . . . .



He wasn’t incompetent like Scully, but he most definitely could have a second career as a professional eater upon retiring from the force.

Add in some fairly gruesome murder descriptions, a sleazy PI with a very not politically correct sense of humor . . . .

“Yuck. Ugly.”

“She’s dead.”

“Then she’d smell bad too.”


As well as a whodunit that I actually wasn’t able to figure out instantly, and you get a winner on the Kelly and Mitchell summertime poolside stabby stabby meter. Just don’t mistake this one for the other “Whiskey Sour” novel like I did. If your leading lady isn’t named Jack Daniels, you got the wrong thang. Not that I would ever be dumb enough to do something like that. It happened to a friend of mine . . . .

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Black Mad Wheel by Josh Malerman


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3.5 Stars


“This is a matter of national security. Not a love story.” 

If you follow me and my (pretty much) daily ramblings, you might have noticed a couple of things. First, I’ve been gone for a bit. I thought I was taking a couple of days off to acquire a lethal dose of skin cancer via way of the local baseball fields, but ended up with nearly a week free of work thanks to a floating holiday that was given to us pee-ons in addition to the 4th of July. ‘MURICA!!!!





Second, you may have been witness to a nearly historic event of me becoming the type of person who annoys me most. Wait, who am I kidding? All people annoy me most. Anyway, I participated in behavior Ms. Manners would frown upon by touting my own shit as worthy of a re-read and giving it a bump. Which I promise to refrain from in the future, but after reading Black Mad Wheel (that I continue to call “Mad Black Wheel”), I realized that Bird Box was kind of the shizzle for rizzle for me and deserved a better rating. Not only because I thought it was really good, but because this one wasn’t as good and I couldn’t allow myself to give them the same amount of Starzzzzzzzzz. 



I requested Black Mad Wheel (and was promptly denied, natch) because Bird Box was such a page turner for me. It’s pretty much a miracle when I recognize a new-to-me author’s name enough to know I want their newest release, but want it I did – and without even reading anything about it. But when I got it from the library I had to put it on the backburner once I discovered it was about a group of bandmates who get sent into the desert to track down a mysterious sound . . . . 







Yes. I have the mentality of a 12 year old boy. 



Once I finally got over my case of the giggles, I was able to give this one a go. Much like Bird Box, not much can be said without ruining the whole thing. As stated above, it’s about a group of men who are hired by the military to go track down a noise in Africa. Then it does the wibbly wobbly with the timey wimey and we discover one of the men is now in Iowa and . . . . . 



“What I’m telling you is that you didn’t just break your wrists and elbows. You broke almost everything.” 



It then flips between the desert and the hospital in order to piece a story that is part suspense, part mystery, part paranormal, part conspiracy theory, part romance and part anti-war narrative. While not as “edge of your seat” as Bird Box, Black Mad Wheel was still quite the page turner and I am now an automatic sell when it comes to whatever Malerman releases next. And not that he’d ever even see what I have to say, let alone listen to it, but I would love if he would continue this “exploration of the senses” as he has done by writing stories about sight (or lack thereof, as it were) and now sound . . . . 



Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Kill the Boy Band by Goldy Moldavsky


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4 Stars

IT’S MY 100TH REVIEW OF THE YEAR!!!!!


I have totally glossed over every single milestone number before this point, so I’m going to celebrate the monumental occasion of my brain not failing me for once with a review of a huge surprise hit for me.

The story here is about four diehard fans of a band called “The Ruperts” (named so because they all have the first name Rupert, natch). Said band “was formed on the reality show So You Think the British Don’t Have Talent?” If you’re now picturing . . . .



You’re not the only one.

When the girls hear about a Thanksgiving concert, they neeeeeeeeeeeed tickets. Unfortunately, they were all gone within 7 seconds or some such so the girls have to come up with a new plan in order to get close to their future husbands: “We’re getting a room!” Once the boys arrive it will be . . . .



Which will undoubtedly lead to each girl receiving her happily-ever-after with the Rupert of her dreams. Or maybe not . . . .

“What is your plan?”

“To kill the boy band.”


If you’re ancient like me and grew up with darkly humorous teenage tales such as Pump Up the Volume, Heathers and Jawbreaker - Kill the Boy Band might end up being the sleeper of the year for you as well. God this thing was a delight. Even this happening . . . .

i>“The obvious way to go would’ve been the Weekend at Bernie’s route. It’s this movie where two guys pretend that this dead guy, Bernie, is still alive by putting him sunglasses and walking him around with them and stuff.”

Ouch. I’m fucking old. Weekend at Bernie’s just got millennialsplained to me . . . .



I also found out how those screaming banshees are able to maintain their position right in front of the stage for hours on end . . . . .



Watch out NKOTB. The next time I haul my geriatric ass to one of your concerts I’ll be prepared!

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

The Edge of Everything by Jeff Giles


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2 Stars

This book was so disappointing it made me want to kick a kitten! Okay, that’s not true. It actually made me want to go adopt a few since it was “kitten weekend” at the local shelter . . . .



But I’m married to Mr. Poopy Butthole and he ixnayed that suggestion pronto.

The Edge of Everything got put on my radar due to my friend Rachel’s review which stated in the first line that it was “one of the more gruesome young adult novels I've ever come across” – a fairly accurate assessment, but unfortunately that didn’t help increase my enjoyment.

Other than reading the aforementioned review, I went in to this blind. The book opened up right before a blizzard was getting ready to set in with our female lead Zoe trapped at home with her little brother. When the snow really starts coming down and little brother is nowhere to be seen, Zoe is forced to venture out to find him. What she doesn’t expect is to run across a former “friend” of her father. At this point in the story I was like . . . .



And when the character “X” appeared stating he was there to take the bad man’s soul back to the Lowlands for eternity???????



A bounty hunter from hell? Double yes to that please. I also wasn’t sure what kind of world this was going to be. But then . . . . .

“She took a photo to put on Instagram later.”



Soooooo, it’s apparently not a different world and I am stupid. No biggie. I can make an adjustment. Until . . . .

“What did she even know apart from the fact that he radiated loneliness? And that she’d been drawn to him.”

At which point I started to ask myself . . . .



Low and behold my suspicions were confirmed when X stated . . . .

“He knew then that he loved her.”

After A MOTHEREFFING DAY. And then . . .



I wish. Noooooooo, I’m a glutton for punishment so I eyerolled my way through the entire thing wishing I would be granted a quick death in order to end my misery since I was forced to acknowledge that it is official . . . . .



As Zoe would say in all of her infinite wisdom, at this point in time I have no more evens to can’t when it comes to instalove and barfable bullshit when a REALLY SOLID STORY IS TAKING THE BACKBURNER AND BEGGING TO BE TOLD. Seriously. Zoe wasn’t even needed in this godblasted thing. X’s backstory was plenty on its own and he had THE BEST sidekicks in the form of Ripper . . . .

“Unfortunately, one’s children grow distant after they’ve seen one bash a servant’s skull with a teakettle.”

As well as Banger . . . . .

“Were you always this disgusting?” she asked him. “Oh, much, much more so.”

Two stars rather than one simply for those two characters. And of course this is the first in a series . . . . .