Friday, February 28, 2014

Takedown Twenty by Janet Evanovich

2 Stars
Seriously? A synopsis? It’s the 20th book in the series. You know what its about. The only difference is this one has a character we haven’t seen before . . .

Einstein once said insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. After the twentieth edition of Stephanie Plum getting kidnapped, shot at, blown up (for some reason that doesn’t happen this time around), burned up, broken down and busted in one way, shape or form – as well as the twentieth time I sat down and read all of the aforementioned misadventures, I figure we are both insane.

What can I say about book #20. It’s more than a little stale and the laughs came less frequently. Can I really say I expect anything else from a series that has been dragging on for 20 years? (Seriously - One for the Money originally came out TWENTY years ago.) Twenty years of our indecisive little Stephanie bumbling around with skips and bumbling around trying to figure out if Ranger or Joe is the man for her. I have no idea how long Janet E. plans to keep Plum going, but I’m a glutton for punishment, so I’m sure I’ll be right there ready to read them (and at some point start hating them) – however many there are.

Me =

Thursday, February 27, 2014

A Queer and Pleasant Danger - The True Story of a Nice Jewish Boy Who Joins the Church of Scientology and Leaves Twelve Years Later to Become the Lovely Lady She is Today by Kate Bornstein

3.5 Stars

This wins the award for best title that I can ever remember seeing. I actually went to my library page requesting a different book, but when that wasn’t available it offered A Queer and Pleasant Danger as a possible substitute.

On paper I appear to be about the last person on the face of the Earth who should want to read this selection. I’m old not young, I met my husband when I was little more than a fetus and have been married nearly 18 years, I’m a mom (without the “mom jeans”) of a couple of small people who are constantly asking me to give them my hard-earned book buying dollars, I was raised in the Catholic church, etc. According to the experts, I should want to protect the sanctity of my marriage and take away whatever other rights I possibly can from people like Kate Bornstein. Buuuuuuuut, that’s just not gonna happen. I wish the world was populated with more people like Kate (and obviously more people like me).

Scientologists, on the other hand . . .

Admittedly, I am a little obsessed with Scientology. Isn’t everyone? Scientology is the most secret of super secret societies. Scientology is the driving force behind making Tom Cruise bounce on Oprah’s couch and proclaim his weird love – and later on is most likely the cause of said love hightailing it as far away from him as is humanly possible.

Kate not only tells of her experiences living as a Scientologist for 12 years, she also tells of her history as a man, woman, boy, lesbian, sadomasochist, etc., etc., etc. She literally tells all - with such honesty and humor that I sailed through the pages. While I recognize this book definitely isn’t for everyone, if you are looking for a truly memorable memoir (and aren’t easily shocked), Kate Bornstein’s life story is a good selection.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Bad Seed by William March

4 Stars
What would you do if you suspect your child isn’t simply odd, but might just be a serial killer?

If I didn’t already know, there is no way I would have guessed this book to be 60 years old. A chilling thriller about Rhoda Penmark and how she always makes sure to get whatever her little heart desires. If you like tales of the macabre that keep you on the edge of your seat up to the last page, put this classic on your to-read list.

Buddy read with Mitchell the Book Boar, who thought this selection was simply hilarious. He’s one twisted side of bacon . . .


Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Crane Wife by Patrick Ness

4 Stars
Following one of the most bizarro days in my time perusing Goodreads, I find it fitting that I pulled a Patrick Ness book out of the library bag. When so-called “authors” are attempting to cast stones at others who dare to venture out of their assigned genre – I figured it was a perfect time for me to read an author who breaks that boundary each time he puts pen to paper.

I pulled The Crane Wife off the “notable releases” shelf at the library knowing absolutely nothing about it except (i) it shared the name of an old fable; (ii) it was written by Patrick Ness; and (iii) the cover was lovely and inspired by an artist who brings new life to books that would normally be discarded

I’ve had a bit of a miss with Ness’ work (A Monster Calls - don’t shoot me, I know everyone else loved it) and a major hit (More Than This). (FYI – I have had the Chaos Walking trilogy on my TBR for months, but I have been terrified I (once again) won’t looooooove it like all of my friends and I also just hate reading anything that comes in series form.)

Having now read books by Ness from the children’s section, the young adult section, and the adult section of the library/bookstore I can confirm that whether I loved it or just kind of liked it – Ness consistently writes stories that I want to read and his work can’t be pigeonholed.

Ness is an example of how authors should feel about writing. Don’t let yourself be typecast – break down the genre walls. Prove to all of those who say “I would never read young adult” that they will change their mind – just as soon as they read your book. Be a Patrick Ness or J.K. Rowling (or Robert Galbraith, if you must). An author whose name I see on the shelf and immediately pull the book without reading a blurb, synopsis, review, NOTHING. An author whose next release date is marked on my calendar. An author who makes me throw my planned reading list and/or book buying budget out the window because I simply can’t pass up being one of the first people who will read their latest release. I’m not the only crazy person like this – this site (and so many others) are filled with us.

As for The Crane Wife - I have few words. It was beautiful and heartbreaking and real and magical and brilliant and

I think I might be ready to take the plunge and read The Knife of Never Letting Go now.

As for the authors haters out there who are spending so much time and effort belittling other authors or reviewers:

Monday, February 24, 2014

Crash Into You by Katie McGarry

1.5 Stars
Isaiah is from the wrong side of the tracks. Rachel comes from a life of privilege. Isaiah has been a foster kid for the past 10 years and, at 17, has moved in with his best friend rather than living in the system any longer. Rachel is also 17, but lives in a mansion and only has to ask in order to receive whatever material item she wants. Isaiah has a passion for cars – if he can get selected for an internship with a local dealership his future will be bright. Rachel has a passion for cars, as well. She uses driving as an escape from her problems. When Isaiah and Rachel meet on a stretch of road used for street racing, they find themselves in over their heads.

If talk about hemi engines, four on the floor, which is better, the Camaro or the Mustang, etc. really gets your engine overheating – this might be the book for you.

There’s lots of this

and this

and this

and this

There’s also a LOT of teen angst, which left me feeling a bit like this:

Like all YA/NA/Whatever-A books, the cast of characters features a hot chick

(well, actually this one is a blonde, but I wasted enough time on Tumblr already)

and an equally hot dude

Who fall in and out of love with each other enough to give a person whiplash.

At 474 pages – the sad story of Isaiah’s criminal mother, his struggle to not follow in her footsteps and instead be a productive member of society, Rachel’s issues with anxiety and how she was raised to feel like she was just her mother’s replacement child for the daughter who died are hashed and re-hashed. When I pick a romance novel, I want some fluff that only wastes a little bit of my time. I don’t want to look at the clock and realize half my day is gone. I also tend to steer myself toward the YA/NA on purpose because I’m a ginormous prude. I like my fluff with just a little oomph and none of the squick-out factor. However, this dude doesn’t even get to second base. There’s plenty of smoochy-face

but the poor cat remains 100% sexually frustrated to the very last page.

If you’re interested in reading FOUR HUNDRED SEVENTY-FOUR PAGES of driving, pining, and whining – then this is the book for you. Otherwise, I’d recommend moving along to the next.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins

2 Stars
My apologies in advance for what you are about to read. When I find my feelings about a book I’m reading are on the “meh” side, I tend to lose focus easily. I space out and take a lot of reading breaks. Sometimes the result of those distractions is a complete crap gif-filled mess instead of a review.

Sophie was just trying to cast a love spell that would make the quarterback ditch his cheer captain date and take the most unpopular girl at school from zero to hero.

Unfortunately, the spell worked a little too well . . .

That failed attempt at witchcraft is the final straw for Sophie’s (human) mother and absentee (warlock) father. Sophie now has to finish her schooling at Hecate Hall, a reform school for Prodigium who can’t keep their powers under wraps.

Upon her arrival, Sophie meets some mean girls

who want her to join their coven

but she’s not so sure they are the type of girls she wants to be associated with

Rather than joining a clique of bitches witches, Sophie befriends her roommate Jenna – a vampire who is believed to have killed a former student.

Sophie doesn’t believe Jenna could be a murderer, but when additional students start being attacked – with two holes on their neck, no less – it seems there must indeed be a blood drinker of sorts on the loose.

(That image is for all the ladies. You’re welcome.)

The story gets a little convoluted as it jumps from mystery solving to every day teenage witch activity complete with some broomstick riding

and spell learning

to really everyday normal teenage behavior like getting super stoked about the upcoming All Hallows Eve Ball

where the girls’ dream dresses seem to have been inspired by “My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding”

All in all this wasn’t a terrible book, but I’m not a fan of book series in general and I’m really not a fan of reading 323 pages where 200+ probably could have been cut and combined with book #2. I continue to cross my fingers and hope this trend will pass and authors will only be signed to produce one book at a time. Hopefully the result will be books that aren't always soooooooo open ended.

Off topic: In my quest to hunt down what seems to be every witch-related picture/gif on the interwebs, I discovered a couple of things. First, Nicole Kidman has really jacked her face up with surgery/botox/whatever.

Second, I need to watch “The Witches of Eastwick” again (and hot diggity dog was Susan Sarandon smoking hot in that movie).

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Hollow City - The Second Novel of Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

5 Stars
Jacob and the Peculiars may have escaped immediate danger at the end of Book #1, but their adventure is only beginning. Not only will they have to avoid being killed or captured, they also have a limited time in which to save Ms. Peregrine – or else she will never be able to take human form again.

There just aren’t enough words to express how much I loved this book. Thank bird Miss Peregrine’s was popular enough that Riggs was able to continue the story of the Peculiars. I can’t remember the last time I was interested in a series enough to read past book one and I really can’t remember the last time I thought the second book was better than the original.

To all of the shopkeeps and booth owners at the various flea markets and swap meets where Riggs discovered the photos that would become his inspiration for this series – I can’t thank you enough for preserving the past rather than tossing it aside.

If you’re a grown up who has avoided YA books thus far, but love fantasy/action/adventure – now might be the time to change your mind. Although the characters are children, the tale is ageless.

On the other hand, if you do have young readers, this is an EXCELLENT choice for them as well. Each chapter takes you on a new adventure and works as almost a stand alone story. At minimum, they are easy starting/stopping points, but if you’re lucky maybe your young person will find him/herself sucked into the magic and unable to stop themselves from turning more pages.

I couldn’t slow myself down and read this book at a record pace. Once I finished all I could think was

What do I do? How can I move on when there’s obviously more story? What can I read next that even compares?

Luckily the very last page told me that book three will be coming soon. Please hurry, Mr. Riggs

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Ham: Slices of Life by Sam Harris

1 Star
ARC from NetGalley. Thank you NetGalley!!!!

The blurb said ”For fans of David Sedaris and Chelsea Handler, these stories and essays about friendship, celebrity, growing up and getting sober will have you laughing and crying in equal measure."

I knew nothing about Sam Harris before starting this book, but I love me some David Sedaris so I was all in. While I knew Harris would never make me want to throw my #1 funny man to the side, I hoped I would at least get a few chuckles out of this book. I read the first essay “Unwrapped” and indeed found myself a bit amused. Sadly, that laugh was the only one to be had.

Morbid curiosity had me soon Googling “who the heck is Sam Harris???” and I found out his claim to fame was singing “Over the Rainbow” 30 years ago to Ed McMahon on the Star Search stage. I was no longer surprised to find that Harris is not funny. At all.

He is, however, quite full of himself and rambles on and on about awesome tales from 20+ years ago. He also never fails to take a dig at another celebrity in an attempt to shine the spotlight a little brighter on himself. Basically, Harris is insufferable and almost all of his essays got my blood boiling. The worst of the worst include:

1. Pointing out how strange Michael Jackson and Elizabeth Taylor were at Liza Minnelli’s wedding (really? I never would have guessed);

2. How he opened for Aretha Franklin and not only was she a huge bitch (I have always assumed the "divas" earned that title for a reason), but “more than half of the audience” was there specifically to see him and not her (yeah, right);

3. He somehow managed to out-alcoholic Liza while she was in rehab by going to visit her and then declaring he too was an addict;

4. He filled in for a sick Donny Osmond in “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" (the Canada tour, NOT on Broadway) and the producers insisted Osmond still be able to do the curtain call (because duh, people paid to see him, not the winner of Star Search an eon ago), but the crowd was really cheering for Harris and didn’t care about Donny at all (oooooookay).

5. Harris even manages to make the tragedy of 9/11 all about him and living out a superstar fantasy with Oprah.

I’m all for some celebrity gossip, but Harris should have taken a lesson from Kathy Griffin who has made it an art form. She (and her D-List status) have always been just as much a part of the joke as the famous person she is dishing about. Harris is like a J-List celeb, at best, so he should probably just keep his mouth shut about famous people and pray they keep accepting his phone calls.

In a nutshell,

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Good Luck of Right Now by Matthew Quick

3.5 Stars

Bartholomew has spent his entire life with his mother. He has never had a job, never had any friends, never had any responsibilities. When Bartholomew’s mother dies, he finds himself with no idea how to cope. His grief counselor tells him he needs to come to terms with his mother’s death, which he attempts to do by writing letters to her favorite actor, Richard Gere.

What a strange little novel. Although it pales in comparison to the magic that is The Silver Linings Playbook, I once again found myself questioning what exactly is wrong with Quick? Where does he get ideas like “whenever something bad happens to us, something good happens to someone else. And that’s The Good Luck of Right Now” and how can he turn those ideas into books that I want to read? How can he write these emotionally damaged characters so well? How can he make me connect to Bartholomew (and Pat and Leonard) after reading just a few pages? How can he write a character that kind of reminded me of Norman Bates – the severe co-dependent relationship with his mother, and after her death his “friendship” with Richard Gere

thankfully without all the

and make me kind of love him a little?

The answer to all of the above questions? Quick writes about finding the fairy tale. Even when the happy ending is something as simple as having your first drink at a bar with a woman you like. And his characters? As Bartholomew’s mother would say – Bartholomew is “just a little off. Off in the best of ways.” Quick is an author who makes me RUUUUUUUUUUN to the library to pick up his latest work.

He also makes something regrettable happen to me each time I read one of his novels. Sometimes it happens right at the start, or in this case I made it almost all the way to the end, but then . . .

I hate when that happens.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

After Dead by Charlaine Harris

0 Stars
Consider this not a review, but more of a public service announcement. Whatever you do – DO. NOT. SPEND. ONE. PENNY. ON. THIS. PIECE. OF. GARBAGE. If you’ve been married to this series since its inception as I have, you will find yourself tempted. I encourage all to not even waste your time reading it. It is truly that – a waste of time. This book has zero new info – just follow-up blips “Where Are They Now” style of everyone ever associated with Bon Temps. The only new info (and I’m not even going to spoiler this, so cover your eyes if you don’t want to know) – is that Harris says we might hear more from Barry the Flippin' Bellboy (GAH!!!!), which basically means, much like a vampire, this series will NEVER DIE UNLESS WE STAB IT IN THE HEART. Or , to take a more realistic approach, stab Harris in the pocketbook and not spend any more hard earned money on this crap.

To everyone involved who won’t just let Sookie fade into the woodwork, please pardon my French, but I have one thing to say:


Friday, February 14, 2014

Dare Me by Megan Abbott

3 Stars
Beth and Addy rule the school – and their cheer squad – with Beth as captain and Addy as her faithful second. When a new coach gets hired who wants to take their pop-n-locking squad to another level, and not let Beth reign as the H.B.I.C., Beth and Addy find themselves growing apart and each headed down a dangerous path.

Ugh. I feel like I’m being unfair to this book because it was perfectly fine. It just didn’t go the way I thought it was going to and I think my way would have been better. When I go for a dark story I like it dark. Even if it’s about teenagers.

I knew better than to expect something like this

but I was hoping for something more like this
or this

Even with it not being as dark and seedy as I had hoped, it was still a good, quick read. For all of the comparisons of various authors and books to Gillian Flynn, this is the closest I have found. I’ll definitely be checking out more of Megan Abbott’s books in the near future.