Monday, March 27, 2017

Everything For Her by Alexa Riley

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1 Star

If you’re looking forward to a rant to go along with this rating, you’re going to have to look elsewhere. Let me state for the record that I am a firm believer that porn is 100% fantasy and if a certain type of storyline works out for you (or even better for both you and your significant other), well then you should read whatever the hell you want. That being said, now that I’ve read a handful of Alexa Riley novellas as well as this full-length feature I can officially state that AR’s fantasies are not mine.

To begin with, this is about a stalker who gets the girl. Now, I have totally loved a story like that before, but it didn’t make me wanna jizz in my pants. It made me think that I probably should create a GoFundMe page in order to get the psychiatric help I obviously need. Buuuuuuuuuuuut, when the leading dude’s name is Miles and he looks like this . . .



It’s apparently A-Okay to want to bang him even if he’s a creepy mah fah who has been the puppetmaster of your life since you were back in high school. Unfortunately for me, I couldn’t get on board and kept hollering stuff like this at my Kindle . . . .



I don’t want to waste a whole lot more of my life on this book, so let’s run through the tired out tropes that Riley can’t get enough of real quick. Dude’s not only a super creeper, but also a millionaire. This time he owns a company called “Osbourne Corporation” and if that isn’t a clue he’s going to be kind of fucked in the head, than you haven’t watched enough Spiderman movies . . . .



The leading lady has curves in all the right places and enjoys fancy underwears because they give her “the sense of being a superhero.” Ahhhhh yes, much like my underpants do for me . . . .



He has a signature scent. This time it’s “warm amber and honey” . . . .



She’s a virgin, she rarely sits in her own chair because his lap is so readily available and they also conserve water by only eating off one plate/using one fork at any time (which, of course, he feeds her from) which are things that make me go . . . .



Allllllllllllllllllllllll of which led up to the ultimate Kelly and Mitchell dealbreaker with is the “fill me up with you” talk . . . .



If this is your idea of a fantasy, more power to you, but it dried my ladygarden out like the mothereffing Sahara so I think it’s about time I call it quits when it comes to Alexa Riley. To all my friends who love her stories . . . .

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Delicate Monsters by Stephanie Kuehn

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4 Stars

“Nothing’s wrong with being bad. It’s like being honest or crying at the end of a sad movie. Sometimes it just happens.”
I was attempting to avoid human contact yesterday by reading this on the elevator on the way to work when a co-worker (one of the few I don’t want to punch in the throat and one who is an avid reader as well) asked what was I reading. Of course, the title wasn’t enough info for her and I found myself stumped at what Delicate Monsters should be shelved as. I couldn’t really call it anything other than Young Adult, but even uttering those words had me thinking . . . .



The story here claims to be about Sadie Su who has returned to her hometown after being gone for years . . .

“Why are you here?”

“I got kicked out of boarding school. Third one in four years. Only thing left is the public alternative.”

“That’s it?”

“I tried to kill somebody.”


I know what you’re thinking . . . .



That’s what I was thinking too. Especially when I was introduced to Emerson who knew Sadie from when he was a kid and appeared to be more than a bit shell-shocked when he heard she was back in town. But then I got to know Emerson better . . . .



I also got to meet his brother Miles and his mother who had been accused of Munchausen by Proxy and Sadie’s mother and by the time I was done I wanted to call the author on the phone in order to ask . . . .



I’m going on record and saying I recommend this to NO ONE. Wait, that’s a lie. I recommended it to one person already (bet you’ll never guess who). She’s the only exception, though, because . . . . .



This book has everything you’d never want to read about: mean girls and bullying to the point of attempted suicide, actual suicide, mental illness, sexual assault, and on and on and on. I’m not going to be responsible for anyone getting triggered, so don’t read it. As for me and Mitchell? This was our idea of a good time. But we also know how to tackle books like this . . . .



If you're asking yourself "where does she find shit like this?!?!?!?!" the answer this time is the 100 Must-Read Books With Unlikeable Women (or in this case "Unlikeable Everyones"). I've already had much luck with many on that list and I will definitely keep reading more of these in the future.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

That Night by Chevy Stevens


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1.5 Stars

I’m not going to waste much of my time on this, but I want to put something out there so you don’t waste much of your time on this either. My reading experience when it comes to That Night pretty much went a little something like this . . .



I fell victim (once again) to the Goodreads side margin adverts that had me clicking all the buttons required to put Chevy Stevens’ newest release on hold at the library. When That Night popped up as a “currently available” selection, I couldn’t resist the instant gratification of downloading it. I mean, this is America and I do indeed want things now. I scrolled through the ratings and noticed a certain someone on my friend list was the only dissenting opinion, but chalked it up to her having her period or one of her monkey’s experiencing a bad case of diarrhea or whatnot that made her read it wrong. After all, Chevy Stevens wrote one of the best thrillers I’ve ever read. (Apparently all of my friends read it back in the day of reviews that consisted of “dis was guuud” so here’s a generic link to Still Missing. Also note that I may or may not have also read and enjoyed Never Knowing, but I can’t remember since I have a terminal case of Old Lady Brain. The entire reason I joined GR in the first place was to track what I had already read in order to NOT end up checking out something from the library, reading 50 pages and having sever déjà vu since it was a book I had read months or years before so way to fail me once again, brain.)

Anywho, I checked this out since it was readily available and promptly channeled my inner Ron 2.0 which had me asking myself . . . .



Now I know how he feels almost all the time. The story here was about a woman named Toni who was (along with her boyfriend, Ryan) accused of murdering her sister when she was a teenager. The reader then has to follow the back and forth timey wimey between the past and the present where Toni has been released from jail and her attempts to find out what really happened “that night.” And everything about it was terrible. I am not a reader who minds knowing the “whodunit” aspect of a mystery if the story is done well. Unfortunately, that was not the case here. I can’t believe this is the same author who wrote Still Missing. This read like a submission to an unaccredited How to Write a Mystery Book 101 course that someone would pay $99 for on the internet in order to have a real “pro” tell them their snowflake was the speshulist of them all. I HATED Toni and said out loud more than a few times . . . .



And as far as all of the supposed police work?????



If that’s how the criminal justice system actually works in Canada y’all can keep your universal healthcare and I’ll keep my ass here where I’m pretty sure I won’t go to jail for nothing. I’m rounding up to 2 Stars because (i) I’ve read a couple of real stinkers already this year and at least this one could be categorized as a mindless poolside guilty pleasure and (ii) I don’t want anyone throwing the baby out with the bathwater and I think Chevy Stevens aforementioned stuff deserves a look-see.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Dinner: Changing the Game by Melissa Clark

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4 Stars

Confession:  I have a bit of an addiction to cookbooks.  Unfortunately, due to their hefty price tags I (i) have to refrain from purchasing nearly any of them and (ii) am often disappointed when I do shell out $20 or $30 bucks only to find them filled with stuff no one in my house would ever eat.  You see, much like Jim Gaffigan's brood, my clan is comprised of "eaties" rather than foodies.  They like meat.  They like bread.  Sometimes they like potatoes and every once in awhile you can blow dart a green bean down their throat. 

When I saw Dinner was actually about dinners, I was all in . . . but still bracing myself for disappointment.  While we try to eat dinner together every night we can, Springtime brings crazy baseball schedules and a lot of our meals are on the fly.  Until that kicks in, I've been focusing on some seriously QUALITY Sunday dinners.  Ones where everyone in the house will say . . . .




I was amazed by how much Dinner had to offer.  Almost every page contained something I might want to try.  I was also impressed that while the names sometimes sounded fancy, the ingredients were those most people who enjoy to (or are forced to) cook have in their pantries/spice racks. 

But the proof is in the pudding, right?  Here's last night's dinner:

Jalepeno-Honey Steak, Spiced Crab and Corn Cakes, Scalloped Potato Skillet Gratin and Roasted Cauliflower . . . . .




(Why yes, I did totally burn the first batch of crabcakes.  I was busy trying to keep my dog from eating cat vomit.  Yum.  Who wants to come over for dinner????)





I also made a "Dirt Cake" which is most definitely not an item contained in this cookbook, proving that the subliminal messaging contained within my friends'/relatives' Facebook posts are verrrrrrrry powerful . . . .




If you enjoy cookbooks or are maybe looking for a good one to present as a gift to someone starting out on their own - Dinner is definitely a winner.

ARC provided by Crown Publishing in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Zone One by Colson Whitehead

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1 Star

After having my morbidly obese patootey pretty much blown away by The Underground Railroad, I knew Colson Whitehead was an author I wanted to read more of. When attempting (unsuccessfully, natch) to get a library copy of Isaac Marion’s latest, this one popped up on the “sorry we didn’t have the fluffy zombie romance you were hoping for, maybe you would like to read a super smart zombie book instead?????” window.

Zone One is a story many of you have read before. Something happened that caused an event now known only as “Last Night” which created a new population of humans . . . .

“All over the world this was happening: a group of them hears food at the same time and they twist their bodies in unison, that dumb choreography.”

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In turn another new population was created – those known as “sweepers.” This is the story of a sweeper known to his comrades as “Mark Spitz.” Sidenote: Although it took about 14 years, the nickname Mark Spitz eventually was explained. I was highly disappointed when I found out it wasn’t due to him having an awesome pornstache . . . .

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However, to Whitehead’s credit, the actual reason was pretty amusing, despite the reaction it would probably garner from some readers . . . .

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Mark Spitz and his fellow sweepers have been assigned the task of clearing (or sweeping, duh) Manhattan block by block in order to prepare it for re-habitation by the “pheenies” (what survivors of Last Night are now known as – being that they rose from the ashes like a Phoenix and all that jazz). While not battling “skels” (or their more disturbing counterparts, the “stragglers”), the pheenies battle through their PASD (Post-Apocalyptic Stress Disorder). Zone One tells the story of three monumental days, as well as flashbacks of how it all went when “Last Night slammed down.”

I truly feel terrible giving this 1 Star because Whitehead most definitely proves that . . .

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Need an example? Here ya go . . . .

“A beat-up telephone trailed its umbilicus, caught mid-crawl from the premises. The copy machine dominated the back room, buttons grubbed by fingerprints, paper tray sticking out like a fat green tongue.”

That being said, I have never NOT finished a book before, but good godamighty did I want to throw in the towel here. If you think it’s probably because I’m stupid, you’re partially right. There were many a time where I thought to myself . . .

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But the main reaction I had while slogging through Zone One??????

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It’s a G.D. zombie book. Being boring is 100% unacceptable.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Desperation Road by Michael Farris Smith


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3 Stars

In the most monumental of all first round NCAA upsets GR buddy-ups I awoke this morning to notifications pinging of The Review Sloth beating me to the punch when it came to posting his opinings. I should have known better than to offer myself for a buddy read with a frenemy like Ron 2.0. Not only did he start reading the book days before the agreed schedule, but when I checked up on him to see his status he was “hoping he’d have time to finish it.” Since he is the go-to-guru of all things Netflix I figured he’d need another day or two minimum due to his binge-watching and went about my bidness (a/k/a reading and reviewing two other books). And now I find this??????? Ron may have just earned himself a new name . . . .

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I requested a reader copy of Desperation Road last Fall when my better half told me to. Per usual, I immediately forgot about it and proceeded to read alllllllllllll the liburrrrrrry books instead. After a combination of growing tired of not possessing that elusive 80% badge on NetGalley and seeing Ron add it to his TBR I figured it was time to roll the dice.

The story here is two-fold. One follows a recently released inmate named Russell and the other a woman named Maben who is seriously in possession of the shit end of the stick. As with most stories, eventually the two cross paths and you’ll find that a certain someone was 100% correct when he asked “What do we say about coincidences?”

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That’s right. What’s that guy’s name again????? Oh yeah . . . . .

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So there you have it. The story is woven well together, but nothing will probably come as a huge surprise to most readers. The writing is perfectly palatable and not overly done. In fact, I even pulled out the ol’ blue highlighting tool in order to share something with the class . . . .

“Maybe if you told me what was going on I could figure out a way to help.”

“Maybe Jesus will come down from His high horse and cook us supper.”


The pacing was great and the story had little to no filler, but give me a few weeks and I have a feeling this one will fall off my radar so much I’ll have to double-check to even remember what it was about. In my defense Mitchell and I might be a little jaded having recently reading The Weight Of This World which really went balls out when it came to desperation so we would have been more satisfied with a not-quite-so-tidy ending. I also seriously disliked Maben. What a waste of fucking time that bitch was. However, I’m interested to see what else Michael Farris Smith has in the tank and will definitely check his stuff out again.

DISCLAIMER: I’ve not yet read Ron’s review, but did notice we are of one mind when it comes to this rating. The forecast should be calling for swarms of locusts and rivers turning to blood any minute now.

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

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance


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3 Stars

I’m not exactly sure where this ramble is going to go, but if you’re of the sensitive nature it’s probably a good time to back away slowly . . . . .



Let’s get my main bitch out of the way first. While J.D. Vance admits in the introduction that he has not yet accomplished anything in his life, he still turned what could have been a real page-turner of a family history or some sort of socio-economic type of observational study into being all about him. Part of my lack of enjoyment may be blamed on the fact that I work in a law firm so reading the doldrums of the author’s schooling/interviewing/clerking processes were all a massive snoozefest for me and seemed like filler when the author should have just quit while he was ahead. Another reason is I’m flat out tired of famous 20 and 30-somethings writing their “life stories” when they haven’t even lived yet. When non-famous people do the same my reaction can get a little more volatile when it comes to their personal horn tooting . . . .



The main problem with Hillbilly Elegy is that it isn’t quite sure what type of book it’s supposed to be. I wish Vance would have stuck to this being a “memoir” as the title states. He could have followed the direction of Jeanette Walls and written about his childhood – with a particular focus on Mamaw. Mamaw might be my favorite character of all time. I’d say I want to be just like her when I grow up, but I’m almost certain I – along with the people I choose to surround myself with . . . . .

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already are (minus the pistol packing and hoarding of garbage). Mamaw was the glue that held a pretty sprawling family together. Nearly every story involving her had me busting up laughing. She was someone who came from nothing and took no shit when it came to keeping what little she had together . . . .

“Mamaw told Papaw after a particularly violent night of drinking that if he ever came home drunk again, she’d kill him. A week later, he came home drunk again and fell asleep on the couch. Mamaw, never one to tell a lie, calmly retrieved a gasoline canister from the garage, poured it all over her husband, lit a match, and dropped it on his chest. When Papaw burst into flames, their eleven-year-old daughter jumped into action to put out of the fire and save his life. Miraculously, Papaw survived the episode with only mild burns.”

Rather than not trying to fix what wasn’t broken, Vance’s work becomes a bit schizophrenic when it migrates from memoir and attempts to focus on the community as a whole. Although many of the attitudes and mindsets contained within the pages of this book were already well covered with the HBO documentary American Hollow, Hillbilly Elegy does a bit of bait and switch by taking the hillbilly out of the hills and instead following a population who, at some point in their family histories, migrated into towns. Unfortunately, Vance loses focus yet again when he broadens his sights even further and begins talking about working class white men as a whole. I’ll let you choose to read the book for yourself and see if it reads with more cohesion for you than it did for me while stating that the people who should read this are the least likely to. Mainly those who fit this bill . . . .

“There is a cultural movement in the white working class to blame problems on society or the government, and that movement gains adherents by the day.”

That mindset has grown to such epic proportions people are actually offended by women and minorities protesting because “all lives matter” or some other malarkey. Not to mention a twatting ignoramus/washed up reality show star has been elected as President by touting campaign promises like Mexico paying for a wall that will magically eliminate illegal immigration and create millions of jobs. I’ll mimic the book and put it on the record that the only people I’ve ever known who were/are abusing the system have been able-bodied white people, so GTFO with that woe is me bullshit. Although not in Appalachia, I too was raised in a small town (educated in a small town – taught to fear Jesus in a small town ™John Cougar Mellancamp) so I’ve heard about all I can of this type of rhetoric. At some point . . . .

“you have to stop making excuses and take responsibility.”

My family tree has no golden leaves growing from it. We’re poor, most of us aren’t well educated. We’ve been down and out, but thanks to the values instilled on us by our grandparents and great-grandparents and those before them, most of us simply pull ourselves up by our bootstraps when life gets rough. Those who don’t? Well, the longer they remain on this Earth the more glaringly obvious it becomes that they don’t want to do fuckall while they’re here and it won’t matter a diddly dang dong who the damn President is.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty

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2.5 Stars

I arrived late to the Liane Moriarty party, but after reading both What Alice Forgot and Big Little Lies this year I’ve been declaring to anyone who would listen . . . .





Moriarty took the artistform formerly known as “Chick Lit” to a whole new level with likeable bitches as main characters and stories where skeletons fall out of pert near everyone’s closets. I put myself on the waiting list for Truly Madly Guiltyat both libraries as soon as I finished my first Moriarty book, and I’m still 71st in line at the main branch if that is any indication on how popular this author has become. Unfortunately, my reaction upon finishing wasn’t quite on par with the others . . . . . 



From the three books I’ve now read, Moriarty seems to have developed a nearly trademarked formula when it comes to her storytelling. Something bad happened at a certain time/place and the reader must follow the wibbly wobbly timey wimey until said something bad is revealed. This time around????

“This is a story that begins with a barbecue.” 

Over the course of the show and tell which is the plot reveal, we once again find out everything about the characters they might want to keep under wraps. Some of the “a-ha” moments were pretty obvious (Tiffany’s former life, for example) and some I completed missed the mark at first (I initially thought the “proposal” might be of the swinging variety which shows just why books that use dark or pervy sex storylines don’t put me off at all). Unlike the other selections, this one was . . . . 



The superbadawful that was revealed was, although traumatic, a fairly common occurrence and the characters just weren’t up to snuff compared to Moriarty’s others. Bottom line, while I still managed to keep turning pages I didn’t feel invested at all in any of these people’s lives and when the already used “memory lapse” trope was drug out for a second book, I couldn’t help but feel . . . . 



2.5 Stars because it was perfectly mediocre.

Monday, March 13, 2017

What Was She Thinking? (Notes On A Scandal) by Zoe Heller


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4 Stars

If you follow my reviews you’ll know my brain failed me once again as somehow I put myself on the library waiting list for this selection and failed to make any kind of bookmark to remind myself why. I vaguely remember some sort of list about “characters you love to hate,” but I’ll be damned if I can find the sumbitch now. Why wouldn’t I save that????? Those are my favorite characters! The only thing I can think is it must have been a short list and I’d already read the other choices (again, I sorta remember You being on it, but at this point my brain is my worst enemy so it probably just made that up so I’ll spend eternity wondering what other gems I missed). 

Anyway, long story long I ended up getting notified that my turn had come around for What Was She Thinking? (Notes On A Scandal) the day after being denied Alyssa Nutting’s latest contribution to the literary world. Normally I’m quick to shrug moments like those off and chalk it up on my frequent flyer list of denials, but this time my reaction was a bit more dramatic. It started like this . . . . 



And escalated from there . . . 



The timing of What Was She Thinking ended up being pretty amazing since I first fell in love with Nutting thanks to the little trip she took me on to a town called Tampa and maybe the cure to bring me out of my downward spiral of rejection when I discovered the plot for this book appeared to be another teacher/student tryst . . . . 



What I didn’t know was the second half of this book’s title was apropos as we would not be hearing things from Sheba the teacher’s perspective, but rather . . . . 



From a fellow teacher named Barbara. 

If you’re thinking of reading this for the shock and awe that comes with the details of an illicit affair, keep on keeping on (or just go get Tampa) because you will be sorely disappointed. On the other hand, if you enjoy the contributions to the world by an unreliable narrator, Barbara will have you delighted that she chose to ask herself . . . . 

“Who else will help her, if I don’t.” 



Gold star indeed!

Still not convinced you want to waste your precious reading time on this one? Go check out the movie. Apparently it was nominated for allllllllllll the Oscars a few years ago.