Friday, September 28, 2018

Kill the Farm Boy by Delilah S. Dawson and Kevin Hearne

2 Stars

I’m not even gonna lie and try to say when I first heard of this title, my mind didn’t immediately go . . . .

The book wasn’t afraid to go there as well . . . .

“Worstley is eighteen, white as milk, and tall and strong with wavy blond hair and earnest blue eyes that sparkle with a call to greatness.”

It wasn’t afraid to “kill” him for most of the story either. Which left the remaining ensemble cast to . . . .

And me with a reaction that was more like . . . .

I have to confess that I had to look up Kevin Hearne due to my unfamiliarity with his stuff. I still have no clue who Delilah S. Dawson is. What I do know is this book had some pretty killer swag that I wish I would have been a part of even if the book didn’t end up being a winner for me . . . .

That’s how you do a marketing campaign, kids.

Sadly, though, Kill the Farm Boy ended up being a fail. Not only did it seem to drag on and on without a lot of content to propel it, but apparently I’ve grown too old to endure endless fart and boner jokes. Well, maybe some fart stuff will always be funny . . . .

I wanted Monty Python - I ended up with Van Wilder. And it’s #1 in a series????

Forever... by Judy Blume

1 Star

Okay, this one DID. NOT. stand the test of time. Released in 1975, Forever … topped the Banned Books charts due to its direct approach to teenagers having sexual relationships. Sadly it did not weather well. From the abuse of ellipses (and coming from me you KNOW there were a lot, because I myself am a fan), to the terrible writing, to the leading male that would have modern-day girls declaring #metoo, to the girl who wanted “forever” – only to want to mack on the next available dude the moment her true love was not close by, to the bizarro addition of a suicidal friend storyline – all being presented by characters with absolutely ZERO dimension.

Once upon a time this was a coveted little book that many of us weren’t allowed to read – much like Flowers in the Attic. Shelby and I cracked ourselves up last night talking about how these were verboten . . . and yet we were totally stealing the ongoing saga of Lucky Santangelo off our momma’s nightstands like sneaky bastards every chance we got. Back in the day Young Kelly might have found this super smexy. Old Kelly did not and will just go back to what she’s good at . . . .

Even though I failed at Forever …, this remains my favorite reading week of the entire year . . .


Thursday, September 27, 2018

And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell - Illustrated by Henry Cole

5 Stars

I thought my schedule only allowed time for one banned/challenged book this week, but I guess I should know by now not to underestimate my reading superpower. Especially when the library had this one available as a little 10-minute audio choice. I opted for that version because me likey the listeny stuff sometimes and . . . .

High five to you, NPH.

Boy this little book has something to offend EVERYONE. The PETA people who think penguins shouldn’t be kept in captivity to begin with, the “only straight married couples should be allowed to adopt,” the homophobes generically. Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell obviously subscribe to the go big or go home approach to writing a sure-to-be challenged book!

Okay, so obviously I’m a big tree hugging lib – at least as far as book reading is concerned. My question is, WTF difference does it make if this book is in a school library? You’re a member of the alt-right movement? YOU be the butthole who is willing to label yourself a butthole and send a note to school that says YOUR kid can’t read this book because you don’t approve of the message. YOU. SOLO. ALONE. Don’t take it off the shelves for everyone else. I mean dang, it’s a book about penguins who adopt a baby that would have never had a chance to survive otherwise (the pro-life people should have been all in favor of this one, FFS). Unless you plan on Little Billy only living on the compound with his sisterwives his entire life this is a pretty benign way of showing how not all families look the same but that it always “takes two to make a Tango” . . . .

And if you think you could win parenthood better than Neil Patrick Harris and David Burtka (Spoiler Alert: a GAY couple), I triple-dog dare you to prove it . . . .

#fashionvictim by Amina Akhtar

4 Stars

It appears the marketing blurb has been changed a teensie bit, because I’m positive when I decided I want to read #fashionvictim it was said to be “The Devil Wears Prada meets American Psycho.” Having now read this book, I can only say . . . .

I can’t tell you how refreshing it is to see a comparison that makes sense and not one that just barfs out it’s “the next Gone Girl.”

This may have been a right place/right time read for me but whatever, I’m going with it. From the cover to the hashtaggy title to the one-line seller . . . .

“Bitches get stitches.”

We’re talking pure campy good times as Anya does everything it takes to make her mark on the fashion world and get in Sarah's inner circle. All that's left to say??? Dear Amina Akhtar . . .

All we have to do now
Is take these lies and make them true somehow
All we have to see
Is that I don't belong to you
But if you keep writing like this you might have to belong to me

ARC provided by Crooked Lane in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Meg by Steve Alten

4 Stars

I had never even heard of Meg until I took my kids to see my boyfriend Jeff’s new movie, Jurassic Park 47, and this popped up in the preview . . . .

Um, yes please.

I knew I had to get my hands on a copy. And not just a borrowed copy – I needed to own this and add it to the shark stack. Thanks to (no, I’m not affiliated, I’m just poor and this site enables me to add to my hoard on the cheap) I was able to obtain a copy just in time for Shark Week. I failed at posting a timely review because I’m now insane and post shitty book pics to Instagram (shameless plug for myself – get over it, I do what I do) and knew EXACTLY the right spot to take a photo worthy of this literary masterpiece. My schedule finally cleared up and I was able to make the trek over the weekend resulting in . . . .


But back to the book. The story here is about a dude who everyone thinks went cuckoo for cocoa puffs when he insisted the superbadawful that was responsible for a failed mission into the depths of the Pacific resulting in him being the only survivor was none other than Carcharodon megalodon. Fast-forward to the present and a new mission that will make everyone realize . . . .

They’re gonna need a bigger boat.

If you have ever thought to yourself: “Self, I sure wish Jaws and Sharknado would have a baby” then you need to look no further. Meg is sure to be a winner for you.

Fear: Trump in the White House by Bob Woodward

2 Stars

“Can you come with me up to New York?”
“For what?”
“To see Donald Trump.”
“What about?”
“He’s thinking of running for president.”
“Of what country?”

If you have ever bothered tuning in to the fake news, or read any failing publication or interacted with another human being in the past few years at all, nothing contained within the bindings of Fear will be new to you. I’m not a “let’s talk politics” on social media type of person and I’ve already blurred the lines of my own comfort zone enough by opining on Fire and Fury. I don’t have much more to say about this one . . . . pretty much because they are the same damn thing. Of course Woodward is a “respected” journalist so he claims to present a book full of facts and sources. Yet somehow it seems he just can’t wait to dive in to Pissgate and once again relies on using “deep background,” which although apparently mostly recorded (maybe) still relies a lot on the “I was in the room and heard this guy say this about this” type of telephone game sourcing rather than direct information.

At this point the only thing I’m interested in is what I quoted above. How the hell did we even elect someone like this into office . . . .

Are Americans really so stupid to believe in a snake oil salesman like Trump? Were they just so opposed to the status quo that they were willing to not only rock the boat, but potentially blow the whole motherfucker up in order to be heard? Was he simply the lesser of two evils? I know that’s what Hillary was for me.

As soon as Trump threw his name in the ring I told my husband he never planned on winning. I will stand by that statement until the day I die. Running for President was simply a marketing ploy for Trump. He wanted to revamp his brand and there was no bigger platform in which to do so. His appearances proved it – wheeling steaks, water, etc. onto various stages – revamping a former post office into a luxury Trump hotel within walking distance of the White House. What I want to know is at what point things changed and he decided he wanted the big prize. I never believed the polls – partly because until a few months ago I still had a landline which received 99.99999% polling calls while our cell phones received about .00001% so I knew there was no a diverse section of society was necessarily being reached – but also because were people ever really going to admit they were voting for Trump? That’s what’s great about our election process – anonymity. It appears at least some of the powers that be felt the same – requesting donation money be diverted to Republican Senate campaigns generically and away from Trump. But at some point I think Trump began drinking his own Kool-Aid. I will never believe that on election night he expected to lose. What I do think is he had no idea how government operates or what was ahead. It’s clear he still doesn’t. He simply wanted to win and make everyone admit that he’s “the best.” Eventually Trump will no longer be President and actual sourced information will be divulged. Hopefully I’ll stop taking the bait on these damn books in the interim. Until then my new hope will remain that in addition to being 35 years old and a natural born citizen of this country, we also implement a “must be able to pass an 8th grade civic exam” as a requirement for running for Head of State in order to avoid a debacle like this in the future.

Monday, September 24, 2018

George by Alex Gino

4 Stars

Y’all got your banned book ready? No time like the present. I have been reading at least one banned or challenged book during Banned Books Week for years now. Mainly to make sure my children always know that no one’s voice should ever be silenced. This year I chose George - mainly because it made this list . . . .

The premise behind George is pretty simple . . .

It was such a short, little question, but she couldn’t make her mouth form the sounds. Mom, what if I’m a girl?

George is advertised as a middle-grade book, but really unless you’re one of the buttholes who doesn’t want the thing in schools at all, it would be perfect for older elementary students. It’s not a story that gets preachy with a message, the characters are too young to be interested in boyfriend/girlfriend relationships so there’s no kissing or sex, it doesn’t insist on understanding all of the ABCs regarding gender identity – it simply asks for acknowledgment. I thought it was wonderful and once you got to know George, it was hard not to support her. If everyone took a second to think of the human behind the issue rather than their black and white view of the issue itself, maybe the world wouldn’t be such a crummy place.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Putney by Sofka Zinovieff

5 Stars

I’m not even going to bother with a review. I am going to say the blurb is about a million and a half paragraphs too long. Do yourself a favor and only read the first one and skip all the oversharing that could potentially ruin the entire reading experience. It tells you everything you need to know before deciding whether or not you want to give this book a chance. Putney truly is explosive and thought provoking and it certainly is about an illicit relationship between a grown man and a young girl. My only comment regarding the comparisons to Notes on a Scandal or Mrs. Fletcher are that Lolita was probably too obvious so the “blurbists” chose to mix things up a bit. Truly, though, Lolita is what can’t help but come to mind – only this version follows everyone for the next 40 years.

That’s all you get. This is a love it or hate it novel and, sadly, one that people will choose to judge without even reading a page due to the pearl-clutching type of storyline. There’s no point in wasting my breath . . . or manicure, I guess would be the case here. I have a feeling most discussions with the anti-Putney sect would only result in me looking something like this . . . .

All the Stars.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Snap by Belinda Bauer

4 Stars

On August 20, 1998, Jack’s mother leaves him in charge of his two sisters when their car breaks down on the highway while she goes for help. When she doesn’t return, the children venture out to track her down, but instead find only . . . . .

Fastforward to 2001 – pregnant Catherine wakes in the middle of the night thinking there’s an intruder in her house. She returns to bed where she finds a knife on her pillow along with a note . . . .

“I could have killed you.”

The remainder of the book is how the two characters’ lives intertwine – all while Jack is trying to figure out what ever happened to his mother and simultaneously trying to care for his siblings.

As often happens, I have no clue how I ended up requesting this book. I’m assuming it was from the library recommendation software when I was trying to check out something that was currently unavailable. I will say that I thought this was a young adult novel the entire time I was reading it. Then I discovered it’s on the Booker Prize longlist . . . .

I’m not sure if my rating/reaction would be the same if I had known going in this was supposed to be a smarty-farty novel. Pretend you don’t know either and enjoy it for what it is – a quality thriller with a finely woven storyline featuring quite an unforgettable kid lead and doesn’t throw the kitchen sink at you when it comes to finding out the whodunit.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero

3.5 Stars

“For fans of John Dies at the End and Welcome to Night Vale”
I’ve never experienced Welcome to Night Vale (its fanbase has been pretty hardcore when it comes to deterring readers who aren’t podcast listeners), but when it comes to John Dies at the End?????

Seriously folks, this is the one time where there was a 100% spot-on comparison and it’s pretty much the only reason Meddling Kids even pinged my radar.

Thirteen years ago, Peter Manner, Kerri Hollis, Andrea “Andy” Rodriguez, Nate Rogers and a dog named Sean made the front page:

“Teen Sleuths Unmask Sleepy Lake Monster.” “Uncover Criminal Plot.” “Haunting Debunked.”

You know how it goes . . . . .

But in the present, that little niggling feeling that everything wasn’t on the up-and-up remains . . . .

“What about the house? The pentacle? The empty coffins? The symbols written in blood?!”

You know what happens next right????

“We’re putting the band back together.”

And I was all . . . . .

The end result ended up being a mixed bag. There’s zero chance I’m not giving this a fairly high rating simply for the nostalgia factor. I don’t really give a rip that many of the plot points were knocked-off of “Spooky Island” from the live action film. However, I can’t round up due to the vastly different reactions I had to the writing. Like how can this overwritten nonsense . . . .

She was joyfully drowning in Kerri’s hair, its fragrance and softness pounding on her senses like a cheerful Mongol army banging on the gates of Baghdad.

Possibly be from the same person with such an easy humor???

“So this is a witch’s house?” she said. She checked the spiraling ornaments of the porch lamps and the handrail, the silent wooden wind chime, the withered Christmas wreath on the door. “Looks like the place of an old lady who never got married.”

“That’s Puritan for ‘witch,’ ” Nate said, and he knocked again.

Not to mention the weird formatting where dialogue somehow goes from novel format to script format . . .

“Kerri! Get a foothold!”
KERRI: Tim, don’t fall!
ANDY: Kerri, get a foothold, please!

Or the ridiculous word inventions spattered throughout like “tragichuckled” or “deminodded” as well as all of the mentioning of Kerri’s hair having a personality of its own and the fact that it should have probably been more like a novella size because it seemed to drag on and on. All of that stuff made me want to take off my glasses. And you know what the result of that is . . . .

I'm sticking with 3.5 Stars for the wayback feelz, but I hope the author recognizes this is a one-hit wonder and should definitely not be the beginning of a “A Blyton Summer Detective Club Adventure” series.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

How It Happened by Michael Koryta

4 Stars

I received an ARC of this one about a century ago and promptly put it on the backburner due to my friends’ “meh”-ish ratings and reactions. But then something popped up on my radar that changed my mind . . . .

Uncle Stevie don’t spout off too often and I most certainly drink his blend of Kool-Aid.

The story here starts with a young woman in an interrogation room confessing her part in a pair of murders. She provides every detail regarding the where, when, why and how. The only problem? When searched, it’s discovered the bodies aren’t in the place she swore they would be. Now it’s up to FBI Agent Rob Barrett to figure out truly how it happened.

So I think I know what happened to at least some of the people who didn’t loooooove this one: THEY READ IT WRONG. Ha! I keed, I keeeeed. But seriously, if a reader picks this up expecting . . . .

There’s a very good chance they could be disappointed because this story? It’s 100% . . . .

(That’s code gif for police procedural.)

I dug it.

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

Monday, September 17, 2018

One For The Money by Janet Evanovich

4 Stars

Dear Janet E:

Actually, that’s a boldface lie. I obviously have no desire to ever give up on our one-sided relationship. I mean, I’ve faithfully read about Stephanie Plum, her exploding cars, her gun-toting Granny, her former ho bestie, and her will she-won’t she relationships for over 10 years now. Not to mention all of her other series I’ve dabbled in, as well as some of her romance books, and dare I forget the pretty godawful movie version of this one that I just haaaaaad to watch . . . .

When I saw my friend Beverly was giving this a listen, I thought it might be right up my alley. Since my commute isn’t very long, I prefer shortie shorts that don’t require me to remember a lot of details in order to stay involved in the story. My mind tends to wander when dealing with the spoken rather than written word. You know what I mean . . . .

Twenty-plus books into this series, I forgot how solid this first one was. The slapstick level had not yet appeared, nor had the never-ending love triangle. Lula was still an actual ho and Stephanie had to contend with a pretty rough bad guy instead of the flashers of her future. But the most important thing? Lori Petty’s narration . . . . .

Holy crap she was good. Which means I’ll probably end up falling down this dang rabbit hole and re-experiencing these all over again . . . .

Friday, September 14, 2018

Darius the Great Is Not Okay by Adib Khorram

4 Stars

There are no bells and whistles for this one. Some books don’t need them. Darius the Great Is Not Okay is the story of a young boy who takes a trip to Iran with his family when they discover his grandfather is terminally ill. It’s about finding a place in the world when you feel like you’re nothing but a social outcast. More importantly, it’s about clinical depression. And it is DONE. SO. WELL. You can tell the author struggles/has struggled personally. Someone who has not dealt with the lying liar who lies which is depression might find Darius to be a bit of a pill – overly sensitive and quick to take offense – the kind of boy certain members of society would refer to as a “Snowflake.” I’ll admit there were moments when, despite my best efforts, even I felt that way too and in my head I was screaming “PLEASE JUST TALK!!!” or “THEY DIDN’T MEAN TO HURT YOUR FEELINGS.” But . . . . .

Sometimes making it impossible to break out of the spiral.

My only “complaint” with this story was that Darius was presented as an older teen, complete with job, but he read more like a middle-grader. That’s the age group I’d recommend this book to. My other “complaint” (for lack of a better word) has to do with the shelving of this book as “LGBT.” I’m assuming it stems from the following:

“Did you ever think that you wouldn’t get picked on so much if you weren’t so …”

“So what, Dad?” But he didn’t answer. What could he possibly say.

If readers want to fill in that blank with “gay” it’s certainly their priority, but it could easily be filled in with “nerdy” or “mopey” or “awkward” or “unsocial” or on and on and on. I read plenty of coming of age/first love/what-have-you stories – this wasn’t one.