Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Modern Lovers by Emma Straub

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3.5 Stars

My face the entire time I was reading Modern Lovers . . . .


(Aren’t I adorable?)

Let’s just snag a little quotey quote from the book in order to explain what you’re getting into with this one, shall we?

“The novel will be inspired by the tropes of classic love stories such as Romeo and Juliet and Tristan and Isolde, set in modern-day Ditmas Park, Brooklyn, with two neighboring families falling in and out of love simultaneously.”

The families in question are Elizabeth, Andrew and their son Harry, as well as Zoe, Jane and their daughter Ruby. The now middle-aged adults have been friends since college, when they (along with Lydia, rest her soul) became one-hit wonders with a little diddy called “Mistress of Myself.” Lydia’s membership in the 27 Club finds a Hollywood producer requesting the remaining bandmates to sign off on the story. And that’s where our tale begins. Readers quickly discover the much sought after “life rights” are merely a jumping off point in order for us to get involved in the lives of Zoe and Jane, restaurateurs on the brink of divorce – Elizabeth and Andrew, a successful real estate agent and her manboy husband – and Harry and Ruby, former playmates as toddlers – potential sex partners as teens.

This isn’t anything that’s going to change your life, but much like The Vacationers my reaction upon finishing was . . . . .



I have to say, Straub is a master when it comes to making the location be almost like an additional character. Last year she made me dream of vacationing in Mallorca. This year she has me wanting to rob a bank in order to purchase an old house in Brooklyn . . . .



It appears as though Straub has found a formula for her stories. While sometimes this gets tiring or seems kitschy (*cough Dean Koontz and the god blasted dog cough*), her ensemble casts and detailed settings have made my experience with her books two for two. If you’re looking for a summer read, this one might be a winner – especially if you’re like me and are no long allowed to use the waterslide due to last year’s unfortunate incident . . . .



Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Almost Dead by Assaf Gavron

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4 Stars

Eitan Einoch (or “Croc” to his friends) spends his days counting time (literally) at what just might be the most boring office job in the history of the universe in Tel Aviv. Due to incessant nagging requests from his girlfriend, Croc rides a “Little No. 5” (a/k/a minibus) to and from the office each day, believing that any suicide bomber worth his salt wouldn’t waste his chance on 72 awaiting virgins by only blowing up a handful of victims. But then . . . .



Miraculously Croc survives with only a bit more than a headache. Remembering a conversation with a fellow passenger whose hinky meter was going off right before the big ka-boom, Croc decides to track down said passenger’s girlfriend in order to pass on his last words. On the way his car is caught in the crossfire of another targeted bus. Again, Croc proves that . . . .



(Ha! I have a sneaking suspicion Assaf Gavron never imagined a Destiny’s Child reference popping up in a review of his book, but I do what I do.)

And right when things are looking up . . . . .



Croc’s unheard of ability to beat death makes him a bit of a national hero, and that is how we come to meet Fahmi. Fahmi tells of his rise to want-to-be Palestinian suicide bomber from a hospital bed, where he lies in a coma – which made me keep picturing . . . .



*shudder*

The dual narratives rotate throughout the book, leading up to the inevitable moment when the men’s worlds intertwine.

I need to take a moment and give mad props to the ladies and gentlemen at the big (not to be confused with porny) library . . . .



Obviously not much needs to be done in order to get me to read . . . but dangling free stuff in front of me and presenting a list of recommendations to help me “Push My Shelf” has been quite the eye opener. I not only realized why some books (*cough The Red Tent cough*) should have continued to collect dust on my shelf, but I got to read this little gem I would have probably never even stumbled upon if it had not been for this challenge. It proposed some questions people all around the world should be asking themselves . . . .

“They talk about the Muslims, but who dropped two bombs on Japan and killed three hundred thousand?”

And presented some sage advice . . . .

“We need to be strong, not to be cowed. Everyone should get on with their lives. Get on buses. Drive on roads. Drink coffee! Because if we don’t have a normal life, what do we have left? We have to remain human beings. That’s the most important thing. That’s the only thing, I suppose. Because what are we if we’re not human beings? If we lose ourselves, then . . . well, we’ve lost.”

Somehow it managed to do it with a brilliant wit, as well.

Recommended to anyone else who wants to “push their shelf.” The glass is mine, though . . . .



Book # 5. Challenge complete! THE PINT GLASS IS MIIIIIIIINE.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Drunken Fireworks by Stephen King


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3 Stars

I had every intention of reading this on Independence Day. All hail Goldblum . . . .



But when I found myself about to pass out from heat stroke and 15 minutes to spare before my oldest’s baseball game this past weekend I decided to bump this to the forefront in an attempt to keep my brain occupied before it fried inside my skull. 

King begins this tale with a little anecdote about a golden oldie cruising the local grocery in her Hoveround Scooter who stopped him in order to tell him she’s not a fan of horror stories and seeks out stuff like Shawshank Redemption instead . . . . and then proceeded to tell King “no you didn’t” when he pointed out he wrote that one too. King states . . . . 

“You write some scary stories and you’re like the girl who lives in the trailer park on the edge of town: you get a reputation.” 

Basically, if you’re a sissybaby like the Grocery Store Golden Girl, this might be a King story for you.

When I first saw the title for this (courtesy of my pal, Melki), my mind instantly went to . . . . 



Turns out I was a bit off the mark. 

Ever since a combo of Alden’s Dad dropping dead, leaving a pile of loot insurance and Ma hitting it big on a scratch-off lottery ticket, the two have been living high on the hog, spending their evenings watching the lake and sipping on fineries such as “Dirty Hubcaps” while continually being irritated by the “Eye-talians” who reside in a McMansion across the way. It was bad enough listening the fun and frivolity of their weekly barbecues – mainly in the form of one of the Massimo man-boys who liked to accompany any singing by (literally) tooting his horn . . . 

“Someone ought to dip that trumpet in olive oil and stick it up his ass. He could fart out ‘God Bless America.’” 

(If you read that in Shelby’s voice, you’re not the only one.)

But when those [racial slur redacted] tried to one-up Alden and Ma’s 4th of July celebration of black cats and sparklers, it was on like bing bong and the following year (as well as the year after that and the year after that), the feuding families waged an “arms race” like no other . . . . 



This story is strictly for shits and grins. After reading Melki’s review, I think the paper version was probably lacking quite a bit in comparison to the audio. It was still great fun, though. I mean, who doesn’t want to blow the hell out of stuff in order to show their neighbor up on the 4th?????



If you don’t? Well, you probably ain’t very patriotic . . . . 



God bless ‘Murica!

Thursday, June 15, 2017

We Are Never Meeting In Real Life by Samantha Irby


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4 Stars

Let’s just get things out of the way and address the pink elephant in the room. The title of this one alone almost gave me an out of body experience and most definitely had me saying . . . .



Then she added in a homeless-as-fuck looking kitten for the cover art as a bonus and I was sold.

(Have no fear, Samantha Irby, I am far too lazy to actually leave the comfort of my couch in order to stalk you properly. It shall strictly be via the intertubes.)

Several years ago I had a bit of what you might call an addiction to the blogosphere. It started with The Bloggess and other “mommy blogs” like People I Want To Punch In The Throat and several more I can’t remember the name of now and also Hyperbole and a Half and I Can Has Cheezburger (because DUH) and Shit My Dad Says and Damn You Autocorrect and Texts From Last Night and Texts from Bennett and Parents Shouldn’t Text and one about what a dog’s texts would say and on and on and on.

Now I know this might seem insane to you guys, but I’m actually pretty fucking good at what I do for a living. And if you think I read fast? Well, you should see how quickly I can draft and filing a pleading or create a closing binder. Like a boss, yo. Long story long, with an entire universe of fellow weirdos right at my fingertips and zero desire to interact with actual, real-life humans - like EVER – the rabbit hole became harder and harder to pull myself out of once I got in and I knew I could end up getting fired if I let myself go there at work. Then Jenny Lawson wrote a seriously disappointing second book that made me realize our pretend friendship probably wouldn’t work out so well after all and the entire imaginary bubble burst so I quit blogs pretty much cold turkey (and began to focus on memes and gifs – lucky you). All this is being disclosed to let you know I had never heard of Samanthy Irby before seeing this title so I can provide zero insight as to whether this is fresh material or simply “upcycled” content from Bitches Gotta Eat that has been repackaged with a mangy cat on the front.

As soon as I saw this thing (somewhere at some time ‘cause y’all know my momma must have dropped me on my head a time or twelve since I cannot remember shit), I ran straight to NetGalley in order to get a copy. Then I noticed the publication date had already passed and forced politely requested the porny library order a copy. Which they did (probably because they’re scared of me by now, but whatever it takes, right?). Oh and NetGalley? You can go ahead and decline me. You know you want to and since I managed to land a copy already there’s no need to keep pretending you’re not going to . . . .



Good news is, since this wasn’t an ARC I’m allowed to quote it. And quote it I must because you need to know if your big girl panties are actually large enough to handle what Ms. Irby is about to throw at you – a/k/a I’m pretty sure you probably need to be at least 72% asshole to truly find her relatable. Lucky for me I’m 97.4% asshole so she was my lobster.

Shall we start with the sewer rat looking mah fah with the yellow backdrop? That’s Helen Keller. Irby was forced to take her in as a roommate when a co-worker brought her crusty eyeballed self in to the animal clinic for saving and they couldn’t force her on anyone else with a clear conscience . . . .

“Could you imagine if Helen was your boyfriend? You’d wake up at five thirty in the morning for work, tiptoe around so you don’t wake up His Highness, stub your toe in the dark multiple times while hastily dressing in clothes that you won’t realize don’t go together until you’re out in daylight waiting for the bus, and spend twelve hours slaving under a brutish dictator, only to come home and find that your companion is lying in the exact spot in which you left him. Except now that the sun is up, you see that his stinky body is curled around that sweater so new you haven’t even had a chance to take the tags off yet. And then what does he do? Get up to greet you with a kiss and a shoulder rub? No, that animal yawns in your face before taking a shit with the door open and asking how soon you can get dinner ready.”

And then she wrote literally an experience I have at least weekly with someone I work with . . .

“Joanna . . . asked me the other day to give her the name of a good book I’d read recently, and . . . I stood in front of her for, like, three real minutes cycling through every book I’ve rated on Goodreads in the last three months trying to determine which one would be the most impressive. I just stood there with my ears on fire wondering if I should just say A Little Life because no one would think you were dumb if you made it all the way through a seven-hundred-plus-page book. And I didn’t; I did not make it through that book, because a quarter of the way in, this other book about teenagers in love that I wanted to read came out, so I abandoned the smart shit to spend an afternoon sobbing over a story about children.”

Not to mention how she once had to pay twenty-seven dollars IN ONE DAY to the swear jar her boss put on her desk (please boss, don’t ever do this, I can’t afford it), or how she spent her formative years waiting for the moment Drake would get up out of that wheelchair on Degrassi and come for her, or that she’d rather be dead than hot in the summer, or that she knows not only all of the cast members of The Real Housewives of Atlanta (past and present), but also all of their children, pets and significant others by name, or when buying a garment for the pool she’d like to request to “see your most opaque turtleneckini and your finest ankle-length swim bloomers,” and admits to having things called “outside pajamas” . . . .



And then she told a diarrhea on the side of the road story . . . . .



That was the moment my husband and manchild “shushed” me because I was making it hard for them to concentrate on the ever-so-important MLB draft because apparently we’re getting a cut out of the signing bonuses this year or something?????

Maybe the most amazing thing of all is how Irby was able to mix in some real talk and serious subject matter and still keep it light (excluding one thing which I am TOTALLY going to spoil below so you don’t go in unprepared like me). She didn’t shy away from sharing about her abusive upbringing and a run-in with a pervy weirdo, her sexuality, medical problems, etc., but never in a “please pity me” way. She even offered some real truth big gals need to hear right now in case they think they aren’t allowed to have any self-worth just because they’re fat. Simply put, Samantha Irby wrote something amazing. I’ll definitely be picking up her first book Meaty sometime.

Now for the spoilsies. The goddamn cat died . . . . .



If you’re a fan, this is probably old news, but it wasn’t to me and even though Irby tried to keep it light, I still ended up looking like this at bedtime . . . .



None of y’all need to go through that.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

The Hot Shot by Kristen Callihan


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4 Stars


Good golly, Miss Molly, I am seriously behind in reviewing. I read this sucker nearly a month ago. When I went to check what kind of notes I had left for myself regarding this one I found the following:

“Finn is so perfect he’ll make your crotch catch on fire.”



The eloquence. It just pours right out of me, don’t it?

As you can see from the placeholder “review,” The Hot Shot ended up being a surprise little bonus from the porny librarian even though it wasn’t available in Kindle format. I originally thought I’d finally force my company into fixing the glitch which is the status of my employment by reading it on my computer monitor during my lunch hour . . . . .



But thanks to the kindness of a stranger (who is now my bestie for the restie whether she likes it or not), I was informed . . . .



And I could, in fact, read pornographic ePubs using Overdrive on the Kindle and keep my dirty little secret away from the prying eyes of Big Brother. The only downsides to this feature were the tiny font which made me all up on the screen like a real perv due to old lady eyeballs that don’t see so great and no highlighting available. To make matters worse, although I attempted a game of beat the clock, this sucker disappeared before I had a chance to double-check my bookmarked pages. Long story long, you’re going to have to take my word (*cough expert opinion cough*) on this one.

The story here is about a photographer named Chess(ter) Copper(pot) . . . . .



(Quite possibly the worst of the endless list of terrible character names, but at least it made me chuckle.)

Chess has been hired to take some “artsy” (Ha!) pics of the local football team for a charity calendar where they go the Full Monty . . . .



It’s impossible to deny Finn is quite the male specimen – however, Chess is nothing but a professional and even though her ladygarden is hinting it could use some watering from the ginormous gardenhose Finn is hauling around in his jockstrap, the two wrap up the photo shoot and part ways. But there wouldn’t be a story if it ended there, so of course they run into each other like 47 seconds later at a bar while Chess is on a date with no potential and Finn is channeling his inner Kylie Minogue by whining to his homedog about how he can’t get Chess out of his head . . . .



The only problem? Finn is kind of damaged goods and is not interested in a relationship. Good news is, he’s not interested in a wham bam thanky mam with Chess either so he proposes the two become friends – which they do. When Chess finds herself homeless due to a . . . . .



Finn offers her a place to stay. And eventually the inevitable happens and they make many of the sexuals which had me . . . . .



It was a veritable Seussical romp with these two. They could do it in a bed, but first she might just give him head. They could do it against the wall, and even in the SHOWER STALL. Hygiene is of the most importance, yo.

If you’re like me, you have failed at reading romance after romance complaining about how . . . .



The Hot Shot might be a winner for you. While there is some angst, it’s not crybaby bullshit and best of all WHEN THESE TWO HAVE A PROBLEM THEY TALK ABOUT IT. Like immediately. They don’t run away from things or make a mountain out of a molehill. It was so refreshing. Although the first book in this series wasn’t a big winner for me (because stupid female lead and drama llama), I’m so glad I gave it another shot. If the porny librarian can provide me a hook up, I’ll probably even read another : )

ORIGINAL “REVIEW”:

I just discovered that when a book is only available as an "ePub" (meaning not Kindle friendly) from the library's Overdrive site, there's an option to read it directly on your computer. Today is probably the day I will officially be fired from my job . . . . .

 

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

American Gods by Neil Gaiman

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4 Stars


“Yes, it’s still God’s Own Country. The only question is, which gods?”
All Shadow wanted to do upon his early release from prison was get home to his beloved wife and start his new life working for his best buddy. He didn’t plan for their untimely demise (with bestie's peen in wifey’s mouth, no less) in a gruesome automobile accident. Broke and alone, Shadow accepts a job offer from a mysterious, elderly stranger known as Mr. Wednesday. And then the tale begins.

Gak! I don’t even know where to start with this. I’ve had much success with Gaiman’s work in the past (so much so he’s made it to my pretty limited list of “Favorite Authors”), but I admit to actively avoiding this one for years – mainly due to the fact that just the idea of 652 pages makes my brain bleed unless I’m in the right mood. But then the library dangled free crap in front of me and added this to its recommendation list of books that might “Push Your Shelf” so I bit the bullet.

And what did I find? Well, for a good chunk of time I was reminded a bit of one of my old faves . . . .



After meeting Shadow and Wednesday, a road trip of epic proportions commenced which introduced a bevy of additional characters into the mix. Characters such as a six-and-a-half foot tall leprechaun, a talking raven who refused to say “nevermore,” three strange sisters as well as a pretty decent checkers player who got his kicks betting on the right to bash his opponent's brains out, pagans unfamiliar with the goddess Ēostre, Lucille Ball talking through the television set, bus riders and a hitchhiker, a very Andy Taylor type of constable and one dead wife who just couldn’t seem to go away. American Gods became reminiscent of Seinfeld in the way that it seemed like nothing was really happening, aside from the fact that the reader continually was receiving reminders that . . . .



Or something like that.

I was a little concerned that I wouldn’t be able to let go and enjoy this story, mainly because I didn’t vibe with Shadow right away due to his proclivity for coin tricks which had me picturing . . . .



Blech. I was also a tad apprehensive that I wouldn’t be able to stop comparing American Gods to one of my blasphemous favorites, and since this wasn’t happening on the Starz television program . . . .



My husband wasn’t interested in tuning in on my behalf and telling me whether or not this puppy squisher would be worth my time.

Since I read it in roughly 24 hours, I’d say it was a winner. Now I’m not going to go out on a limb and say this is a book for everyone because it most definitely isn’t. I’m not lying when I say nearly the entire book is all about the build-up as you follow that one main player . . . .



But Gaiman’s words are smooth as butter and he once again works his magic weaving an oh-so-elaborate spider web of characters. That’s how it earns 4 Stars.

I can’t say I’ll be reading the second in this series anytime in the near future, but I have a feeling Norse Mythology will happen sooner rather than later for one simple fact . . . .



Book #4 in the “Push Your Shelf” challenge. Thanks library for making me get off my ass and finally open this one!


Monday, June 12, 2017

The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli

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4 Stars

Usually when I hear word on the street that “such and such book is just the sweetest thing you’ll ever read” my reaction is pretty much . . . .



Lucky for me I didn’t know this was going to be full of such sugary goodness I’d get multiple cavities from it before I attempted (and failed, per usual) to snatch up a NetGalley copy. However, the unavailability of this title didn’t slow me down one bit as I showed the porny library a woman can’t live on smut alone and requested this be purchased (and he/she did because he/she is the best!). And now Mitchell refuses to speak to me because I’m all . . . .



Meet Molly . . . .

“I’ve had crushes on twenty-six people, twenty-five of whom are not Lin-Manuel Miranda. Twenty-three of whom are age-appropriate, real-life, viable crush-objects. Eighteen of whom were definitely single and interested in girls at the time of my crush. And I never even tried. Not even with the ones who talked to me first.”

Molly is like a lot of teenaged girls. Her self-image doesn’t keep her balled up in the fetal position, but she’s never been willing to risk rejection either . . . .

“I guess it’s just this feeling that my body is secretly all wrong. Which means any guy who assumes I’m normal is going to flip his shit if we get to the point of nakedness. Whoa. Nope. Not what I signed up for. It makes me never want to be naked. And it’s not like I could be a Never Nude. I don’t even like jean shorts.”

^^^^And that is when I fell in love, because a Tobias Fünke reference?????



That right there is the key to my heart.

When Molly’s twin sister gets her first girlfriend, Molly comes to the realization that she’s never been rejected because she’s never given anyone the opportunity to reject her – and she has never rejected anyone either. Now if she can only get past “this feeling in my stomach like ribbon curling” and actually, you know, put herself out there a little better than she usually does . . . .

“Hi. Let’s converse about topics.”



I loved every dang page of this book. Molly was a relatable breath of fresh air as a YA voice. Her internal voice was hilarious and had me chuckling out loud multiple times. There was no “insta-love,” but rather a relationship that developed from friendship to more over time. And the message of everyone being allowed to “want whatever you want” was so simple, but oh so true. Anyone who tries to tell you otherwise????



EDIT: BECAUSE OH MY GOD NOW I KNOW WHY I WANTED THIS FROM NETGALLEY!

Okay, this author wrote Simon vs. The Homosapiens Agenda which made me grotesquely happy and unrecognizable to all my friends and family a couple of years ago. I'm officially going to read anything this woman puts out there at this point. Old lady brain sucks, but thank god GR helps fill in (some of) the blanks when I am suffering from a severe case of C.R.S.