Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Losing It by Emma Rathbone

3 Stars

Meet Julia . . . .

Okay, maybe not. But she is 26 years old and has never done the deed. When she was a teenager, it was because she had certain ideals and expectations . . . .

By the time she got to college, her attitude was a little different . . . .

But now that she’s on the downhill slide toward 30 with V-card still firmly in place????

Nearly EVERY dude she comes into contact with is a possible contender. The only problem????

Julia kinda has a hard time sealing the deal and not talking herself out of it when opportunities arise. Spending the summer with her spinster aunt in Durham, Julia has a whole new approach to things . . . .

“Scrolling through the stock pictures on the tourism part of the website, I saw one of a man and woman laughing at a candlelit dinner. Another showed a couple wearing bright T-shirts and lounging in each other’s arms and staring at a hot-air balloon in the sky. I thought, This is where I’m going to lose my virginity. It would be like going to another country; I would be completely anonymous.”

And now Imma let the blurb do some of the talking . . .

“For readers of Rainbow Rowell …”

Wait, what? Okay, not really. I think they’re trying to hook lovers of Attachments, but since that is Rowell’s lesser-known story this would probably backfire horribly and wind up horrifying a bunch of Eleanor & Park fans instead.

“… and Maria Semple”

Okay, that’s more like it. Just be forewarned that it’s less of the sheer brilliance that made up Where’d You Go, Bernadette and more of the Today Will Be Different or This One Is Mine vibe/humor.

It truly is “filled with offbeat characters and subtle, wry humor, Losing It is about the primal fear that you just. might. never. meet. anyone. It's about desiring something with the kind of obsessive fervor that almost guarantees you won't get it. It's about the blurry lines between sex and love, and trying to figure out which one you're going for. And it's about the decisions—and non-decisions—we make that can end up shaping a life.”

With the focus on a pretty stereotypical millennial who MANY will find extremely hard to like. I appreciated her irreverent wit, however, so maybe you will too????

P.S. If anyone would like to hire me for an “if you liked this, then you might LOVE this” kind of job, I’m super available and obviously I will name-drop a shit-ton of books in one place : )

Monday, October 29, 2018

The Lido by Libby Page

4.5 Stars

“I have been swimming here for more than eighty years.”

I have zero clue how The Lido ended up on my to-read list. None of my Goodreads friends have read it and I know it wasn’t from the library software because currently that believes I’m studying hard on becoming either a methamphetamine manufacturer or a serial killer. Maybe it was one of those advertisements that appear in the middle of the feed here that make you think your friends have read it? Maybe???? Whatever the case, I think it was the cover that got me because I am nothing if I’m not the cheapest date imaginable. I do know that I have checked this book out . . . only to return it almost instantly two times before now. Why, you may ask? Because the blurb compared it to A Man Called Ove and that was pretty blasphemous to me. Now that I’ve read it? Yeah, it’s kind of like Ove. Only this time our senior citizen is a female and rather than wanting to kill herself she wants to keep everything she loves alive.

On the surface Rosemary’s goal is to stop a condominium development from going up and removing the community pool. But get a few pages in and you get the history of Rosemary and George’s 64-year marriage. It was so very Up. You know what I’m talking about???

And yes this crusty old barnacle even had a couple of moments like these . . . .

While not sheer perfection like Ove, I still called my mother-in-law at the 51% point to tell her she HAS to read this.

“Never be sorry,” she says, a storm in her eyes. “Never be sorry for feeling. Never be sorry for falling in love. I was never sorry. Not for a single day.”

Friday, October 26, 2018

No One Can Know by Lucy Kerr

3 Stars

Crooked Lane was the first publisher who ever believed in my crappy little space fillers enough to send me actual physical reader copies. I tend to hoard these until both the mood and season strikes me. Guess what? It’s finally the right time of year. No One Can Know is what I like to call a “palate cleanser.” A step above a cozy mystery due to the fact that the MC has a job that actually puts her in the middle of the action surrounding the whodunit rather than being some sort of nosey baker/librarian/antique store owner/etc.

The story here is about a pregnant car crash victim who winds up in nurse Frankie Stapleton’s ER at Stillwater General soon after a man who claimed to have hit a deer. The mother dies immediately, the man bolts from the hospital and the questions start flowing.

This was the perfect chilly Saturday afternoon read. I curled up on the oversize comfy chair, got out the blanket, drank coffee until my kidneys told me clear water is an option occasionally too and read this in a couple of hours. Obviously books like these aren’t meant to change your life, but I find them to be a great in-between sort of go-to when I’m not sure what I’m in the mood for next.

Copy provided by Crooked Lane in exchange for my honest review.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

The Real Lolita by Sarah Weinman

2 Stars

“Here’s how I imagine . . .”

Simply put, that’s my whole problem with The Real Lolita. This is a book that doesn’t have much book to it. There are few documents remaining to provide detail and the main players are all deceased. Heck, even the person who this is about is dead by the halfway point and my Kindle copy was wrapped up at 76%. The remainder of the story is full of quotes like the following . . .

“Here’s the point in the narrative where I would like to tell you everything that happened to Sally Horner after Frank La Salle spirited her away from Atlantic City to Baltimore, and the eight months they lived in the city, from August 1948 through April 1949. The trouble is, I didn’t find out all that much.”

As the author herself states . . .

“Inference will have to stand in for confidence. Imagination will have to fill in the rest.”

That just doesn’t cut it for me when it comes to a true crime novel. And the links between Nabokov’s and Horner’s tales are all based on presumptions as well. I mean, excluding the very upfront admission by Nabokov himself that Horner did inspire/breathe new life into the ongoing twenty-year project which was trying to give Humbert Humbert’s voice something to talk about. But the supposed symbolism and such were once again 100% speculation.

Like many other authors or students of literature, Weinman chooses to portray Nabokov as a bigger predator than the actual criminal himself. And like so many others, she has no proof behind any of her theories. I’ll happily admit Nabokov makes my hinky meter ping as well. His writing does tend to gravitate toward the same subject matter. But was he an pedophile or hebephile or ephebophile or simply fascinated with writing about the taboo? Most likely the latter.

It’s also abundantly clear how Weinman feels about Lolita - going so far as to reduce it to a “daring little sex novel.” She chooses to brush over the fact that this is a classic, subject matter notwithstanding - focusing on it selling a lot of copies rather than being a book entire literature courses are dedicated to studying. The baby is also sort of thrown out with the bathwater as fans are labeled as pervy wrongreaders who, for decades, were too stupid to realize Lolita was actually a victim and that in the present should simply keep their (and all other) copies firmly placed on bookshelves rather than encourage others to read at all, to which I say . . . . .

If you want to read about Sally Horner but aren’t lucky enough to have a public library like mine and share a similar beer budget which doesn't allow you to buy allllllll the books, I recommend skipping this one entirely and going for Rust and Stardust instead.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Drama by Raina Telgemeier

4 Stars

Drama was meant to be a Banned Books Week selection, but the wait list at the library was a little longer than anticipated (and hopefully full of children who were taking a stand against censorship and not just old ladies like me). Why it’s banned or challenged? Homosexuality – in the form of first crushes. In all actuality it's about the cast, but mainly crew, of the school play and all the goings on while they try to make it to opening night while battling first crushes, first heartbreak, mean girls, best friends, and all the other goings on of your typical 8th grader.

Dear Other Humans: It shouldn’t be that hard of a choice to make . . .

ANY book that a person wants to read is a book that should be available for reading.

As for any kiddo who might come across this “review?” Do you, little boo. Be true to yourself –you can play sports or be in the band or be in drama or want to kiss a girl or a boy – just be a good person. And now Imma borrow someone else’s much better words than my own do the talking . . . .

♫♪♫ When the sharpest words wanna cut me down
I'm gonna send a flood, gonna drown them out
I am brave, I am bruised I am who I'm meant to be, this is me

Look out 'cause here I come
And I'm marching on to the beat I drum
I'm not scared to be seen I make no apologies


And for my little BoobTube lovin’ buddy – here’s a clip that made me have all the feelings . . .


Tuesday, October 23, 2018

A Simple Favor by Darcey Bell

1 Star


“You’d be amazed by what people will do. Things they’d never admit to anyone—not even to themselves.”

Okay, no one is amaaaaaazed by what people will do anymore. Especially in a myster/thriller. Double especially when that mystery/thriller is actually “the next Gone Girl” and when it was released Gillian Flynn was probably all like . . . .

But I’m getting ahead of myself. The premise here is a friend asks a friend for a simple favor (fitting title is at least fitting) of watching her son (who is also friend’s son’s buddy) until she returns from some meetings around 9:00 p.m. And then she never comes to pick him up because she is Gone. Girl. The why behind the woman’s vanishing is not too terribly hard to predict if you’re a frequent reader of books like this, but everything aside from the kitchen sink is thrown in getting there. Don’t believe me? (This is when it gets spoiley so step away from the monitor/put yo phone down NOW.) By the 35% mark the “friend” is not only banging her bestie’s hubs but has pretty much moved in with him as well. And then!!!! THENNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNN we find out she also used to make a habit of fucking her half brother . . . .

Not to mention the missing chick has some sibling issues as well that conveniently result in matching DNA!

Someone please tell me the movie was better than this.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Beautiful Bad by Annie Ward

5 Stars

Before I even begin, let’s address the newest pink elephant in the room . . . .

“In the most explosive and twisted psychological thriller since The Woman in the Window, a beautiful marriage turns beautifully bad.”

Please note this is coming from a person who looooooooooooooooved The Woman in the Window, but FFS this is like comparing apples and orangutans. These two books are NOTHING alike. Has no one learned from the debacle which was “the next Gone Girl”????

But enough about that. Let’s get on with the book. First, allow me to apologize for not only reading but also falling all over a book that doesn’t come out until Spring 2019. Y’all know I’m normally a failure that reads my ARCs months after they’ve been released. I don’t know why this one was calling to me from the TBR stack, but I picked it up and never put it down until I was finished. And now?????

Oh Lort do I want to vomit all the words and tell everyone everything about this. But I shall refrain and only give you these tidbits instead:

1. It takes place in a fictional southern suburb of Kansas City called Meadowlark (which is the Kansas state bird – so clever girl Annie Ward).

2. There are three timelines: The first takes place in the “now” (2010) where police are responding to a 911 screaming hang up call and have found blood all over the inside of a house. The second is around 9/11 where the two meet (he’s a soldier in Macedonia/she’s a journalist in Bulgaria). The third starts several weeks before the 911 call and works its way forward.

3. There are MANY possibilities when it comes to the potential superbadawful. It could be her, it could be him, it could be her friend, it could be his ex, it could even be the neighbor. The best thing of all, though? By the time the narrative had circled back to the present I was so invested in the story of them meeting and the various things that were making me go hmmmmm surrounding their relationship that I had totally forgotten why there was a cop at the door. For real, it was like . . .

That’s probably all I can safely say about the story before getting a cease and desist letter. I will say that this tops the charts for me when it comes to a domestic suspense/thriller so it’s getting every star.

To prove I’m still a nitpicky asshole, here are my super minor complaints:

(1) I’m not super keen on the title because it is so generic and this cover is ugly. It appears there is another cover option so I hope they go with that.

(2) This takes place where I (and apparently the author) live. All of the locations and descriptions (excluding the town itself) are spot on excluding one reference to a horrible incident at a water park which is said to have happened near the airport. Ummmm, the water park and the airport aren’t even in the same state so I’m not quite sure why creative license was chosen regarding that and nothing else.

But for real. Nitpicky, right? This thing was perfect.

ARC received from Park Row in exchange for an honest review. Thank you so much! I would have never even known what I was potentially missing if it weren’t for your offer.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Watching You by Lisa Jewell

5 Stars

Are you a lover of the neighborhood voyeur type of story who constantly finds themselves being suckered into reading anything about “watching” or “watchers” but generally is left feeling very meh about the whole thing when finished reading – only to immediately repeat the process? If so, look no further . . . .

Because this might be the book you've been waiting for. I’m as surprised as anyone to be giving this (or really ANY) mystery/thriller the full monty of starzzzzzz – especially after recently coming off of my own supermeh Lisa Jewell read (that everyone else loved). But all the Stars it shall receive.

Watching You takes place in a quaint little place known as Melville Heights – and more particularly in a specific neighborhood featuring boldly painted homes. Our story focuses primarily on three households. The Fitzwilliam house features Tom, the headmaster of the local school, his wife Nicola and their son Freddie. Joey and her husband Alfie actually live with her brother Jack and his wife Rebecca. Then there’s Jenna who is the same age as Freddie (but not his classmate, because although she attends Mr. Fitzwilliam’s school, Freddie attends private) who lives with her (literally) paranoid mother. All of these houses have one thing in common . . . .

And that’s all you get.

Dang did I eat this book up! I love a story where you know something superbadawful has happened, but you don’t know exactly what or to whom. I love it even more when I forget all about the “mystery” aspect because I’m so wrapped up in the individual character’s goings on. The closest thing I can think to compare this to is The Casual Vacancy (so if you hated that there’s a chance this one won’t work and you should pick one of Jewell’s eleventy other books to read instead), but the way the mystery becomes ancillary and how each character’s life intertwines with the others and how well developed they are all leaves that as the comparison that I’m going to make. I thought this was brilliant.

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

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty

4.5 Stars

Why haven’t any of you read this yet?!?!?!? I’m the worst at posting timely reviews so you’ve had nearly a month. I can’t wait to see what others think of this. Take note it is different than any of the other Moriarty books I’ve read to date . . . but somehow it’s also the same.

The story here is about exactly what the title states: nine perfect quirky strangers. More specifically, they are: Frances, Jessica and Ben, Heather Napoleon and Zoe, Tony, Carmel and Lars. All with different reasons which have brought them to a place called “Tranquility House” . . . .

And thus begins a new take on the old “getaway at a manor house” story where the guests will work on both their bodies . . . .

As well as their minds . . . .

All while figuring out the answer to the question . . .

As I said above, Nine Perfect Strangers is different than anything Liane Moriarty has written before – and to me it seems like she’s really hit her stride. She is a master of the ensemble cast, filled with fully fleshed out characters who spins such a tightly woven yarn you don’t even know where it’s going until you’re there. I think it’s safe to say that I officially drink her Kool-Aid and if that makes me the chickiest of all chicks then I’m embracing that moniker . . . .


ARC provided by Flatiron Books in exchange for an honest review.
(Hope they don’t regret it!)

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder by Joanne Fluke

2.5 Stars

You know how you know something isn’t good for you, but you’re still all like . . . .

Yeah. That’s pretty much this book. After all, it is the story of the local cookie shop owner who gets recruited by her brother-in-law (who just so happens to be Barney Fife a policeman) to help solve the first murder Eden Lake has ever had. I mean, I haven’t experienced something this ridiculous since . . . . . well, actually just about a week and a half ago . . . .

Anyway. If you’re willing and able to leave reality 100% at the door, Joanne Fluke might have the series for you. These light and cozies are working out great for my commute so I have a feeling I’ll gobble up whatever else the library has to offer . . . .

Monday, October 15, 2018

All Your Perfects by Colleen Hoover

3 Stars

I didn’t even really “like” this book – and yet two hours later . . . . .

Good Christ am I under the CoHo spell. I’m not going to go into much detail (so this will pretty much be exactly like all of my other reviews, I guess) because this is a story about infertility and I was fortunate enough to never have to experience that. I will say that I did not enjoy being in Quinn’s head even one little bit – and if that makes me a uncompassionate monster, so be it. I also didn’t buy into this huuuuuuuuge monumental love affair like no one has ever seen before. For me, the only thing these two had going for them was a hot and horny sex life because it never even really attempted to dig beyond surface level. But that’s just me and everyone else loved it.

I run about 50/50 when it comes to Hoover and since I fawned all over Without Merit, I assumed there was a good chance this one would not be the story for me. I’m not into tragiporn and I am devoid of emotion so there’s zero chance this was going to make me have any feelings. Obviously that didn’t deter me from reading it – just like I’ll be the first in line for the next thing she releases and probably the one after that and the one after that. If you’re looking for an emotional romance, there’s a good chance All Your Perfects will be right up your alley. Looking for something more on the smutty side? I can give you a couple other CoHo recs ; )

Friday, October 12, 2018

Now That You Mention It by Kristan Higgins

4.5 Stars

What’s going on with me, you ask? Oh, you know, the same old same old . . . .

Fifteen years ago Nora Stuart left Scupper Island behind and pretty much never looked back. Winner of a scholarship fairytales are made of, Nora was able to drop the “Troll” moniker that had followed her through high school, graduate from Tufts Medical School and become a successful gastroenterologist in Boston. All that changed, however, when she had a (literal) run-in with a Beantown Bug Killers bus. Broken, bruised, and unfortunately overhearing a conversation she should have never had to experience even if she was in perfect health, Nora decides to nurse her wounds back in the place she never thought she’d return to.

If you haven’t figured it out yet, Now That You Mention it is a “maybe you can go home again” type of story. My reading experience was pretty much the equivalent of this . . . .

I realize that this is not what most people would think of as my norm (and yes, Mitchell is giving me the silent treatment), but . . . . .

Don’t like me getting super chicky? The delete button has been conveniently placed right at the top of my profile page for you : )

I just couldn’t help but fall in love with this dang thing. Let’s just start by acknowledging my dream house would be situated on Mackinac Island so I was automatically into this quaint little island town. And it was impossible not to become invested in all of the characters. From Nora herself whose first thoughts while being ran over by a truck were “how will my dog cope with this?” along with the realization she’d never get to meet Daniel Radcliffe via way of stalking the theater backdoor on Broadway, to her (soooooo realistic) teenage niece Poe, to her “supahMainah” of a mother (complete with one word “ayuh” responses to nearly everything), to her former classmate Xiowen (and her filthy mouth), to (of course) the boy next door. This whole book was like channeling my inner What About Bob and taking a vacation from my problems resulting in a Bookstagram pic of a unicorn sitting on a rainbow. I never wanted it to end. Many thanks to Deanna’s Review which is how this ended up at the top of my TBR stack so soon after finishing my first Higgins book (that I read simply because it was controversial like my usual jackass self).

(4.5 Stars rather than the whole monty because I don’t like seeing a dead horse get beaten and am heartless enough that I grew tired of hearing about Nora’s deadbeat daddy as well as hints about her superbadawful that could have been explained earlier on rather than driving me batty hinting about.)