Thursday, May 29, 2014

I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence by Amy Sedaris

2 Stars
Boy oh boy this one really left me in a quandary.

I read this book a while ago . . . and it gave me a sad so I didn’t write a review. My love for Amy Sedaris goes back a long time. Before she was all cute on “Elf” or doing guests spots on my new fave T.V. show “Broad City”

I loved her as Jeri Blank. Totally inappropriate, menopausal, high school student, Jeri Blank.

I wasn’t prepared to not love this book. I had to take some time and come to terms with what I was feeling.

I mean, Amy Sedaris is hilarious. Even without a series of her own or roles in movies, she’s always being invited on the late night talk shows. And you know why???? Because she does things like make treats that look like cat s*^t when she’s on Fallon:

or allows Coco to bash her upside the head:

For a solid 15 years of me being a fan, Amy has always been so uproariously funny – never taking herself seriously. Unfortunately her book kind of does. There are intro pages to the various types of dining occasions and some pages of random anecdotes and various craft projects that bring the ha-ha, but for the most part this is just a bad cookbook. A REALLY bad cookbook (and trust me when I say I don’t need any more help being a bad cook *ba-dum ching*). It was all just . . .

So it is with heavy heart I write this review. Amy – please know I still love you (and your brother David). I will gladly wear you as a skin suit grovel at your feet and beg to be your BFF, should we ever meet.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The Martian by Andy Weir

5 Stars
Hmmmmmmm . . . how to best describe what The Martian is about . . .

Naaaaaah, not really. The best way I can think to explain it is if


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had a delightful little mutant baby – you might end up with something along the lines of this novel.

(Sidenote: It was surprisingly difficult to find a RocketMan gif. Apparently the interwebs are full of people who prefer making mini-clips of Harland Williams dressed as a chick or smoking the Mary Jane rather than farting in a space suit. Go figure.)

(Additional sidenote: On the other hand, it was remarkably EASY to find this little rendition of Rocket Man via Google:

Nerds – you complete me).

This is the story of astronaut Mark Watney who, when believed by his fellow crewmates to be dead, was left alone on Mars. Now it appears it will take a village miracle to bring him home alive. Follow mission control as they concoct plan (after plan) to save Mark from the Red Planet.

Follow Mark and his never-say-die attitude as he overcomes one life-threatening obstacle after another. Laugh out loud at his log entries and at the high quality “entertainment” he has at his disposal. Things like disco music

and 1970s television shows – both comedies

and action programs

(Okay, okay – I know this is from the 2005 movie remake and not the original "Dukes of Hazzard" television series, but I believe any excuse to use Burt Reynolds in a review is a valid one.)

I realize with my gif-filled reviews and profanity laced status updates, you probably all believed me to be a Mensa member. I hate to burst the bubble, but sadly that is not the case. I don’t spend my free time brushing up on my ASCII skills. Nope, when I’m not reading I generally choose to vegetate with the “Real Househoes of [Enter City of Choice]” or “Cougartown” re-runs. That being said, I really should have been in over my head upon opening up The Martian. I mean, it’s by a guy who became a programmer for a national laboratory when he was 15 YEARS OLD and chooses things like relativistic physics and orbital mechanics as his hobbies. We are clearly not cut from the same cloth. Yet somehow Weir was able to write a book that maintained just the right level of supergeekery, told by my favorite main character so far this year.

To borrow the immortal words of Jim Lovell (Apollo 13) – “[Mr. Watney] it’s been a privilege flying with you.”

Recommended to: Nerds of all shapes, sizes, color and creed!

One final request before I sign off. Should I ever become trapped in outer space, please do me one solid . . .

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Rum Punch by Elmore Leonard

4.5 Stars

“My ass may be dumb, but I ain’t no dumbass” – Ordell Robbie

Well, call me a dumbass because I had no idea that Rum Punch was the real name for

For the past 17 years I’ve been singing the praises of Tarantino’s film – only to find out Elmore Leonard was actually the mastermind behind this product. (In defense of my undying Tarantino love – casting Pam Grier as “Jackie Brown” rather than some rando white broad as “Jackie Burke” was genius). A Facebook discussion regarding “manly authors who write manly books” was the driving force behind me letting the moths out of my wallet and dropping $15.00 (FIFTEEN MOTHERF*&^%#G DOLLARS?????? HIGHWAY ROBBERY!!!!!) on Rum Punch this weekend. When I discovered one of my favorite films was actually a book by an author I should have been reading a long time ago (due to my Carl Hiassen fangirl status), I had to come off the cash and read it immediately.

What did I find? The movie “Jackie Brown” literally played in my head while reading this book. Leonard’s work is so brilliant that Tarantino didn’t even have to change the dialogue. I love an author who can toss a billion main characters into one big pot and produce something delicious – and that is what happens with Rum Punch.

If you’re one of the few who have never seen “Jackie Brown” but are looking for an action-packed tale of double-crossing with a complex plot that, at times, might leave you asking

– then this is the book for you.

If you’re like me and have read many “Elmore-inspired” authors, once you read the real thing you will know:

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Hyperbole and a Half (Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened) by Allie Brosh

How many stars do I give this one????

Some things I figured out while reading Hyperbole and a Half:

Whooops, sorry – got distracted. Okay, where was I? Oh yeah, stuff I learned.

I think there’s a good chance I adopted clones of Allie Brosh’s dogs . . .

my anti-social behavior is 100% A-Okay . . .

cake IS a f*&^%$g food group and no one is going to tell me otherwise . . .

geese are dangerous psychopaths that become extremely violent for absolutely no reason . . .

and finally, my priorities in life lead me to believe there’s a good chance I’m really a 10-year old. . . .

In the world of blog-to-book authors, Allie Brosh takes the grand prize (sorry Jenny Lawson – I still love you, just not as much).

Not only will she make you laugh ‘til you cry, but she also opens up about what it’s like to battle depression in the most honest and upfront way I’ve seen.

Recommended to???? Everyone with a soul (and most of those without).

Friday, May 23, 2014

One Plus One by JoJo Moyes

4 Stars
First – massive props to the good people over at NetGalley for giving me this ARC. Things could have reached an uncomfortable level of multi-requesting had you turned me down, but you didn’t so . . .

Now, let’s get on with the show.

Jess’ life is not easy. She’s raising not only her 10-year old daughter Tanzie, but also her teenage stepson Nicky. Her husband split two years ago and hasn’t sent a dime to help support the kids. Now Jess works two jobs and still barely makes ends meet. Somehow through all of this she has managed to remain a “glass half full” kind of gal.

Ed’s life was fairly easy – until he let his judgment get clouded by an old college acquaintance who made him feel wanted again after his wife left him. Once Ed figured out he was shagging a real Stage 5 Clinger, he offered her a little bit of financial advice to get her out of his hair – only to find out that is what the pros call insider trading. Now he’s facing exorbitant fines and potential jail time – and he’s anything but optimistic.

A series of unfortunate meet-cutes has Jess and Ed at the same place at the same time – and when Jess’ car breaks down on the way to Tanzie’s Math Olympiad, Ed is the only person who can save the day – making for a road trip unlike any other.

After reading a couple of heavy books (The Goldfinch and We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves), I wanted something light. I was thrilled to see that I had been approved for this ARC, but I was also more than a little leery about starting being that I have a love (Me Before You) hate (The Girl You Left Behind) relationship with JoJo Moyes. However, I’m no coward, so I pulled up my big girl panties and dove in.

Now, this is obviously not Pulitizer material we’re talking about here. It’s most definitely “chick lit,” but I judge a book for the genre in which it is written and for a romance, it was everything that I wanted it to be.

I wanted humor:
“What is this?” He stared at it suspiciously.

“Scotch, triple sec, and orange juice.”

He took a sip. And then a larger one. “This is all right.”

“I knew you’d like it. I made it especially for you. It’s called a Mithering Bastard.”

and likeable characters:
“Where the hell are we, anyway?

“Oh, somewhere on the Yellow Brick Road.”

“Is that the one with the godlike lion that saves everyone?”

“You’re thinking of Narnia. This one is cowardly and useless.”


and romance:
He dropped his head and kissed her. He kissed her and it was a kiss of utter certainty, the kind of kiss during which monarchs die and whole continents fall without your even noticing.

I wanted to feel like the girliest girl girling out over what should be a clich̩ boy meets girl/boy loses girl/boy gets girl back girl meets boy/girl loses boy/girl gets boy back story, but what somehow instead ends up being just the right thing at the right time Рand I did (and you probably will too).

This book officially comes out on July 1st. Summertime. Take a break from the serious, put on your sunscreen, take this little gem poolside and fall in love. In a couple of years I wouldn’t be surprised to see the story played out on the big screen, making “date night” a chance to fall in love all over again – like we’ve done so many times before . . .

Thursday, May 22, 2014

33 Snowfish by Adam Rapp

3.5 Stars
I read 33 Snowfish MONTHS ago and haven’t been able to figure out what to say about it. I still can’t quite figure it out, but the number of books read to books reviewed ratio on my home page is becoming a bit overwhelming so this is what you’re going to get. Sooooooooo . . . how did 33 Snowfish make me feel? Kinda a little something like this:

I read this back in my “it’s cold and winter is never going to end so recommend real bummers for me to read and justify my self-diagnosed Seasonal Affective Disorder” period. Having previously read something by Adam Rapp (Punkzilla), I expected 33 Snowfish to meet my criteria. Rapp is an author who, rather than making adults defend their choice to read a Young Adult novel, instead makes one question if it’s okay for young adults to be reading a Young Adult novel.

The subject matter is bleak (this is the story of runaway children – a pyromaniac, a drug addicted prostitute, a severely abused former kidnap victim and a baby). The prose is gritty, raw, and well, basically makes you just want to throw in the towel on having any sort of faith in humanity until the very end.

Rapp takes the cake when it comes to writing YA that crosses all lines and not being afraid to get really dark to make his books as real as possible. Recommended for only the most mature of young adult readers. Be prepared to openly discuss matters such as drugs, prostitution and sexual abuse while they are reading. And don’t forget the cookies. Make sure you have some cookies to counteract the sad.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler

4.5 Stars
“In everyone’s life there are people who stay and people who go and people who are taken away against their will.”

This is the story of three siblings: Rosemary (who stayed), Lowell (who went), and Fern (who was taken away).

The only reason I even gave this book a chance was because some of my Goodreads friends were reading it and giving it many stars. I mean, the other book I recognized as being written by the author was The Jane Austen Book Club, the title of which alone makes me think I’d choose to take a hot poker to the eye rather than read. It probably goes without saying that upon the start I was prepared for a 2-Star quality selection at best.

Holy crap was I wrong. Sadly, this is one of those books where I really can’t say anything without potentially giving everything away, so you’ll just have to trust me when I say was this close to being rated 5 Stars by me (it loses half a point only for occasionally taking itself a little too serious with the scientific mumbo-jumbo which caused my attention to wane).

I love reading a book that makes me ask: “How in the heck did someone come up with this premise????" Not only does this book do that, but it does it with impeccable timing, an effortless flow between the past and the present, and a narrator with a dry humored delivery that made her so believable. Oh, and dare I forget to mention – I found myself getting a little choked up more than once. Me, the woman with no heart. Imagine what it might do to all of you who aren’t emotionally unavailable . . .

I feel confident in saying that this will go down as one of the best books I read in 2014 and I hope to always remember that “in the phrase human being, the word being is much more important than the word human.

(you’ll have to read the book to figure out the significance of the poker chip)

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Here and Now by Ann Brashares

1.5 Stars
ARC provided by NetGalley. Thank you, NetGalley!!!!

I never read The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (because I’m not into self-harm HA!). Although The Here and Now is by the same author, I held out hope I would like it based on the following blurb:

“An unforgettable epic romantic thriller about a girl from the future who might be able to save the world . . . if she lets go of the one thing she’s found to hold on to.”

Sadly, the following would have been a more realistic description:

“A super dullsville romp about a time traveler who not only hopes to save mankind, but also wants to lose her V-Card.”

I realize complaining about the “romance” will be considered unfair by many since the synopsis flat-out warns it will be there, but the synopsis also said it was about a time traveler (SQUEEEEE – A TIME TRAVELER!!!!)

and that it would be a real “thriller”. Uhhhhhhhh. Notsamuch. The potential was there – Prenna and Ethan are supposed to save the world and that should be exciting, but sadly the duo is no Nancy Drew and Ned Nickerson. The who and the how and the where and the why of the breakdown of society as we know it are all pretty CRYSTAL FREAKING CLEAR, but somehow it takes Prenna and Ethan until they are smacked right in the face to piece the puzzle together.

Oh, and I’m not even going to bother spoiling this so just stop reading right now if you are the sort to get preachy in the commentary – the supposed big scary bad guy that gets the focus as being the cause of what is finally able to nearly wipe out civilization????

Yep. Farking mosquitos. You mean to tell me in a future plagued with global warming, pollution, an unpredictable climate and other whate-have-yous requiring the invention of time travel, no one could figure out a way to make a better citronella candle????? If nothing else, what better excuse to wear this little ensemble for the rest of eternity:

There just aren’t many (any???) positive things I can say about this one, but the final nail in the coffin for me? The damn open ending.

Even though it is not marked as such, it’s pretty clear Brashares could easily be talked into writing book #2 (or 3 or 4 and godjustmakeitstop!). After all, we have to know if Prenna and Ethan will “do it”, right????

Yeah, Prenna, so own it.