Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith

1 Star with a bonus ½ Star for a good cover.

Lucy is super emo because her parents are never around and she’s friendless. (How do you avoid the oft present “we’re dealing with teenagers, where the hell are the parents” question? Well, this book just ships the parents off to Paris, leaving their 16 year old daughter at home in NYC all alone. Problem solved.)

Owen is super emo since his mom recently passed away and his father moved them to New York City. He’s less than thrilled to be completing his senior year in the Big Apple and is counting down the seconds until he can go to college somewhere in the Upper Northwest.

Although they live in the same building, the two have never met. Lucy is more of a penthouse gal and Owen is the building manager’s son, residing in a tiny basement apartment. During a citywide blackout the two find themselves stuck together in an elevator and, when they are eventually freed, decide to explore the city together. New York City. During rush hour. In a blackout. Yeah, that sounds safe. I mean it’s not like there’s a history of people friggin’ LOOTING or anything when these types of situations have occurred in the past.

They end up back on the roof of their building and after one magical night of instalove together, the two don’t cross paths again. Because it would be super awkward to like go up/down the damn stairs to say “Hi”, but it wasn’t awkward at all to spend the night with a stranger.

Instead, Owen’s dad gets canned from the charity-case-job he was given and the two decide to road trip it across ‘Murica, which is totally not a case of bad parenting and is instead cool because Owen already has enough credits to graduate

If dude already has enough credits to graduate, why didn’t he just graduate and start applying to colleges for early admission instead of being miserable in the NYC public school system????? Me = so confuzzled. I guess I’m supposed to leave that one as an “it is what it is” type of situation and let them go ahead on the highway to hell their merry way.

Lucy’s father ends up getting a job in Edinburgh, Scotland and her parents decide they finally give enough of a shit about their daughter to buy the poor girl a plane ticket and allow her to cohabitate with them. There Lucy experiences what I like to call the “Bella Swan Syndrome”. Although friendless, helpless, and hopeless in NYC, Bella Lucy somehow finds herself seated at the popular table once she moves across the pond with a handsome lacrosse player hanging on her every word.

Bet you can see where this is going . . .

Yes, although Lucy and Owen only spent a nanosecond together in real life and now live roughly 14 million light years apart - not to mention the fact that new fella Liam (his name just has to be something dreamy like Liam, right?) is Mr. Righthererightnow - Lucy is overwrought with guilt and knows her heart truly belongs to Owen.

Yada, yada, yada, more boring stuff happens and Lucy and Owen find a way to get together for a couple of magical days by meeting at the top of the Empire State Building in the middle of the Brooklyn Bridge back at their old apartment building. The end. Thank God.

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

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

How to Survive a Sharknado and Other Unnatural Disasters by Andrew Shaffer

5 Stars
This week’s forecast? Increasing heat and a 100% chance of Sharknados. No, seriously – today is Sharknado 2: TheSecond One day!

For decades movies have been describing all the ways terrifying beasts and various forces of nature can kill us. This book fills the populous in on the truth of all the unnatural disasters that could (and most likely will) befall the average human in the near future. Let’s face it, we aren’t all equipped with utility belts that will help us defeat any foe like Batman.

How to Survive a Sharknado and Other Unnatural Disasters reminds us to live by the motto Semper Paratus - “Always Ready”. After all, not all sharks want to be your friend.

Most of them are cold blooded murderers and, let’s face it, not everyone can afford to get a bigger boat.

Don’t think this book has pigeonholed itself to only dealing with the Sharknado problem, though. Oh no no no, this survival guide covers everything from


to Mongolian Death Worms

to Antdemics

to Mega Pythons

to Redneck Gators

to a Beeclipse

to Elektrokraken attacks

(Helpful hint when it comes to surviving an Elektrokraken attack: Wear Crocs. Although they are an eyesore, the rubbery, waterproof Croc will insulate you from electric shock and may just save your life (assuming the Elektrokraken doesn’t opt to just bite your head off). No longer will my Croc wearing be limited to the privacy of my backyard. I shall go forth and prosper in my neon yellow crime against fashion!!!!!)

This book is a must read for anyone who wants to survive when nature finally decides to fight back. I will continue trying to perfect my own personal defense arsenal (frickin’ sharks with frickin’ lasers on their heads)

but for now and up until the day I finally feel 100% safe, I will continue using the one tried and true method of survival:

Sidenote to everyone who will be enjoying Sharknado 2: TheSecond One this evening: I hope it’s just as awful wonderful as the first and when your head hits the pillow tonight you all have visions of Sugar Ray dancing in your head : )

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Submergence by J.M. Ledgard

1 Star
A couple of months ago some dillweed wrote this article attempting to shame adults who read YA books. In said article, she name-dropped a bunch of authors who wrote well-known classics, as well as this selection. She said of Submergence:

"A few months ago I read the very literary novel Submergence, which ends with a death so shattering it’s been rattling around in my head ever since. (If it's actually a death! Adult novels often embrace ambiguity.) But it also offers so much more: Weird facts, astonishing sentences, deeply unfamiliar (to me) characters, and big ideas about time and space and science and love."

I figured if someone was going to be so ballsy as to throw the baby out with the bathwater when it comes to the entire YA genre, completely setting aside the boundaries that have been broken, the millions of copies sold, the movie rights purchased, etc. in order to offer another book as substitute, said book would be gooooooood. I can’t be the only person who read the article and bumped Submergence to the head of my to-read stack, right?

Well, I hope Ms. Graham is getting some serious residuals from J.M. Ledgard, because holy moses is she peddling a pile of turds with her recommendation. Easily the worst book I’ve read in 2014 (and that includes <i>Four</i> which has earned me the never ending wrath of dozens of Roth superfans). So pretentious, soooooo boring, Submergence doesn’t even rate high enough for me to write a real review. Instead, I shall leave you with only this:

Monday, July 28, 2014

Hillary: Tail of the Dog by Angel Gelique

2 Stars
WARNING: This novel contains disturbingly explicit sexual and deviant content that may be considered offensive to some readers, including rape, torture and cannibalism.
They’re not lying, kids.

I read this because Shelby told me to. Well, not really. Actually, I’m pretty certain she tried to do the exact opposite, but I’m a glutton for punishment so I read it anyway. What did I find upon clicking the old Amazon one-click?

“a wire hanger, an empty can of vegetables that had [been] opened and drained into the kitchen sink (just needed the can – or rather, the sharp, jagged lid), several knives of various lengths and blades, a small grater, a corkscrew, a straw, a small container of toothpicks, a bottle of peroxide, blunt-tipped tweezers and a canister of salt . . . several screwdrivers, a pair of scissors and a pack of light bulbs”

Are you all familiar with the term F.U.B.A.R.?

Yep, that about sums it up. This book is completely f-ed up. The only thing I can think to compare it to when it comes to the gross-out factor is:

I’m giving this 2 Stars, because I’m completely befuddled on how to rate this book. I’ve never read anything like it before (and doubt I’ll actively seek out anything like it in the future). On story alone, it might have earned 2.5 or even 3, but with a “meh” title (I would never have even noticed this book were it not for my Goodreads friends reading it), horrible cover art, and enough typos to make me take note it’s lucky to be receiving a 2.

Completely worthy of the Van Der Beek barf gif. Read at your own risk.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Save Yourself by Kelly Braffet

3.5 Stars

"Families were like oceans. You never knew what was under the surface, in the parts you hadn't seen."

The Cusimano family consists of brothers Patrick and Mike (whose greatest claim to fame is having an incarcerated father who was jailed for killing a little boy while driving drunk), and Mike’s live-in girlfriend, Caro. The Elshere family is comprised of sisters Layla and Verna and their “God Warrior” parents. When Layla begins pseudo-stalking Patrick, the two families’ paths will cross in some very twisted ways.

I’m going to blame the blurb for making me drop the rating a bit on this one. Once again, this is not comparable to anything by Gillian Flynn. Flynn makes you buckle up on Page 1 in order to take you on a rollercoaster ride of mindtrips that will leave you reeling months after you’ve finished her stories. This book will not do that.

If I had to choose an author to compare Braffet to, it would be S.E. Hinton. Save Yourself is a book that could potentially have been categorized as a YA and would easily be banned from schools if it were, just like Hinton’s stories. The subject matter was current and relevant and the main characters were people you really wanted to route for, but realized early on they might not be able to be saved.

This book has no mystery to solve and the characters you hate are characters you are supposed to hate. It's just about life . . . No, not even that – it’s just about existing. It’s about being poor and from f*&^%d up families and being bullied (real bullying that makes you contemplate suicide) and probably having a case of some seriously untreated PTSD due to your upbringing and repeating the past and having no future to look forward to. It’s bleak and it’s written with a brutal honesty that hits you like a punch to the gut and makes it hard to regain your breath.

And to top it all off, you won’t really feel better at the end.

"Life shouldn't be so fucking hard, you shouldn't have to give so fucking much up."

At most, you can only hope that the Cusimanos and Elsheres somehow find a way to "stay gold" . . .

This book was provided by Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King

4 Stars
(probably more like 3.5, but it's Stephen King so he automatically gets an extra half star)
When I first saw the cover art for Mr. Mercedes I thought , “Awwwww, how sweet – Stephen King wrote a book about a guy who drives an ice cream truck” ; )

I didn’t bother to read the synopsis. I rarely do – especially when it comes to anything by King. He writes it. I read it. End of story. Then the ratings started coming in, and boy were they polarized. I still didn’t bother reading any blurbs or reviews, I just braced myself and prepared for the worst.

I’m telling all you King superfans right now to repeat the following mantra: “Stephen King did not write this. Stephen King did not write this. Stephen King did not write this.” Did it work? Are you sufficiently brainwashed? It seems strange that I need to even add this disclaimer. With all of the different stuff Stephen King has written in his 40 year career his fans should know to expect the unexpected. If you’re expecting a horror story – you’re going to be seriously disappointed, so just pretend a Lee Child or a Harlan Coben or a Dennis Lehane wrote this book rather than King so you can give it the stars it deserves.

Bill Hodges is a Det-Ret (that’s retired police detective in layman's terms) who let one big fish get away. He’s now dipping his toes in the amateur private investigator arena – kind of a Philip Marlowe, if you will.

Brady Hartsfield is “Mr. Mercedes” – a member of the geek squad turned murderer who is dealing with some serious mommy issues (wink).

He’s a little:

(Hopper with a reading reference? Nerdgasm!)

with some of this:

and a smidge of this:

(read the book, I promise you’ll understand)

“In a don’t-give-a-fuck world, [Brady] is about to become the ultimate don’t-give-a-fucker.”

Can Hodges make the (not-exactly-legal) collar one last time and catch Hartsfield before he strikes again?

After reading approximately eleventy billion mysteries over the years, I've become pretty good at figuring out the “whodunit” part, so I need a book that either takes me on a wild ride to the finish or one that assumes I’m not brain-dead and lets me know who the bad guy is right from the jump. Stephen King did both. Yes, right before the climax everything kind of turns into a giant stew of boiling shit and unbelievable plotline, but really who even gives a flying fart? because it’s STEPHEN KING and even when he’s writing something he doesn’t generally write, he does it better than 99% of the other authors out there.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The End of Everything by Megan Abbott

4 Stars
Megan Abbott – you ain’t right . . .

A blurb by Tom Perrotta on the cover of The End of Everything says the following about Abbott: “Megan Abbott writes with total authority and an almost desperate intensity; her story grabs hold of you and won’t let go.”I can’t think of a better way to describe what makes me love reading Megan Abbott’s books. She writes with such urgency, as if the words are clawing their way out and her tales are told with extreme efficiency – every page is used to its maximum capacity and she doesn’t waste time with filler or fluff. And the subject matter she chooses????

The End of Everything is the story of two BFFs, Lizzie and Evie, and what happened one afternoon when Evie didn’t come home from school. If you’ve read some of the author's YA selections and found them to be a bit lacking in the chills and thrills department, this is the book by Abbott you should read. The limits of taboo are pushed to the extreme by eliminating the YA moniker, but still using not-so-average (I hope) teenage girls as the main characters.

The more of Megan Abbott’s books I read, the more I become a fangirl (if you see signs that I may turn rabid, feel free to put me down Ol’ Yeller style). I love an author who makes me question whether I’m in the right state of mind to delve in to one of their books, and she is one who always has me hovering over the button . . .

Monday, July 21, 2014

Top Secret Twenty-One by Janet Evanovich

3 Stars
♪ ♫ ♪ ♫ ♪ ♫ “Twenty-first verse, same as the first, but a little bit louder and a whole lot worse!

I’m Stephanie Plum, I am
Stephanie Plum, I am, I am,
I’ve been chasing FTAs for over fourscore
They blow up my house and kidnap me just like before” ♪ ♫ ♪ ♫ ♪ ♫
What can I even say when it comes to reviewing the twenty-first book in a series?

This edition follows the patented “Stephanie Plum Format” – Stephanie attempts to capture run-of-the-mill-bad guys (and fails), Stephanie attempts to capture actual-very-bad-bad guys (and fails), Stephanie attempts to keep her apartment and/or car from getting blown up (and fails), Stephanie attempts to have a normal romantic relationship (and fails), Stephanie attempts to keep Grandma in check (and fails), etc., etc.. After all that, at some point Stephanie gets kidnapped, Ranger comes and saves the day (but somehow Stephanie goes home to bang Joe), and we readers wait three to six months for the next installment to be released.

Will I rush to the library for #22? To quote the immortal words of Ranger . . . “Babe”

Friday, July 18, 2014

When Mr. Dog Bites by Brian Conaghan

3.5 Stars

A month or so ago an article appeared that said: “Read whatever you want. But you should feel embarrassed when what you’re reading was written for children.” Upon reading those words, something happened inside of me . . .

Angry Panda got angry . . .

really angry.

The author of the article then proceeded to namedrop several “classics” that grown-ups should read rather than YA, which proved to me that she’s 100% pure asshole. Sure, it’s great to read selections from the “Top 100 Books Before You Cack It” list, but there’s also been some decent stuff written in the last century or that didn’t win a Pulitzer.

WTF difference does it make what a person chooses to read? Unless I’m using your credit card for my Amazon one-clickery-addiction (credit card numbers gladly accepted via private message), it’s nun-ya-damn-bidness. As a parent of a child who is finally getting into reading, there’s nothing like sitting down (with no T.V., or cell phone or video games), and talking about a book we both read.

Grown-ups read YA because the writing is so different from what was available when we were kids. Today’s books for young adults aren’t the Judy Bloom (no offense to the lovely Judy Bloom) stories we grew up reading. Yes, there are the Twilights and Divergents and Mortal Instruments, etc., etc. that haters are going to hate on, but there’s also books with heart and soul that push the envelope of “YA”. Books like When Mr. Dog Bites.

Dylan Mint may be 16, but he’s not your average teenager.

This is the story of what happened in Dylan’s life when he thought he only had a few months to live. How he decided that he was “ready to take no shit.” How he planned on running up to the lovely Michelle Malloy and saying: “Hiya, Michelle. How was your summer, babe?” And how, in reality, he’d probably say something more like “YOU’RE A SLUT NEW-BAG WHORE PEG-LEG, MICHELLE MALLOY” thanks to his Tourette’s. How he deals with attending his school, Drumhill, which is “like the scene from the bar in Star Wars [with] mentalists cutting about, talking bonkerinos to each other or themselves.”

And how, even though he’s just a wee teenager, he already knows the Beatles is the best band ever. (Hear that son? It’s not Kanye West and it never will be.)

Dylan’s story isn’t just for kids. It’s “a-mayonnaise-ing,” and deep, and heartwarming, and hilarious, and most of all it teaches every reader, no matter their age, an important lesson . . .

No matter what I read I’m still probably a fairly shitty person, but at least I’m a shitty person who READS. Grown-ups, young adults, children – don’t EVER let anyone tell you that what you are reading is wrong. If you’re reading at all you’re doing okay.

/end rant