Friday, November 30, 2018

A Ladder To The Sky by John Boyne

4.5 Stars

“You’ve heard the old proverb about ambition, haven’t you? That it’s like setting a ladder to the sky.”

I most certainly am!

Moment of truth: I am still actively avoiding Boyne’s mega-hit-with-all-my-friends The Heart’s Invisible Furies because I’m afraid I’m going to be the dissenting opinion and I don’t want to be stoned to death in the public square. I also have to confess that despite buddying up with my kid for The Boy In The Striped Pajamas a few years ago when it was a required read for school, I didn’t remember Boyne being the author so it was pretty much like he was brand new to me (and also, the latter was a YA book so my two experiences were truly apples and oranges).

I decided to roll the dice and request this from NetGalley after seeing many comments both here and Instagram regarding what a vile main character it contained. And yes, I was totally prepared to fall in love with him. Upon being approved I did what I do best - sat on it forever instead of reading it. But then it was chosen as a Book of the Month selection so I decided to bite the bullet. So what did I think of Maurice????

Ha! Just kidding. He really was awful. I will say that I immediately knew where the story was going (the first part had just a teensie bit of an Apt Pupil vibe that was impossible for me to ignore). It doesn’t appear that was the case for everyone, however, and some were completely blown away by Maurice and his attitude of . . . .

“I want to be a success. It’s all that matters to me. I’ll do whatever it takes to succeed.”

Luckily it didn’t matter even one iota that this wasn’t full of shock and awe for me. The storytelling was brilliant and the only reason I’m holding out on a full 5 Stars is because I feel like I need to save at least a half for if I ever get brave enough to try The Hearts Invisible Furies.

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

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Pretend I'm Dead by Jen Beagin

4 Stars

Overdue book review #437. I read this IN JUNE. I suck so hard at posting shit this year. Good news is I kind of remember this one – better news is it kind of meanders a little bit of everywhere so there’s no reason to get wrapped up in the details. Basically, if your idea of a good time is reading about a 20-something housekeeper (with a side hobby of taking bizarro selfies in her employers’ homes) who volunteers at the local methadone clinic handing out clean needles (with a side of looking for love in all the wrong places) who moves across country to find herself (with a side of hippie dippie neighbors and a commune in New Mexico) then this might be the book for you. It earns every single one of its Stars from me for being unique (well, maybe an extra one for that title and cover because that's the only reason I picked this up in the first place). Originality is something that has become almost extinct but Jen Beagin delivers it in spades . . . .

How Not To Get Shot by D.L. Hughley

4 Stars

An image of the cover of How Not To Get Shot should be listed under the definition of the word tragicomedy, because this is about the best example I can think of. Hughley is obviously a believer in the “gotta laugh so you don’t cry” mindset as he covers some of the most depressing subjects via laugh-out-loud satire. From police shootings to poverty to protests to current and former administrations – Hughley is not afraid to tackle any topic.

Obviously the people who need to read this in order to “get woke” probably won’t ever even know it exists. Others will instantly 1 Star it or label it “reverse racism” – and I’m not even going to get into that for fear of my brain exploding. Don’t want to read this? Don’t. I’m pretty sure it won’t break D.L. Hughley’s heart. If you do want to give this a go, however, you’ll find not only is it funny, but it’s also well researched and smart. I also highly recommend the audio over the print version. Hughley’s delivery adds so much to the funny. Especially when it comes to our current President’s attributes . . . .

• Gaudy and loud
• Incompetent
• Lazy
• Emotional, flies off the handle
• Angry
• Unintelligent—not bright
• Lots of kids by different people
• Cheats on his wife
• Talks a lot of shit

All the shit you ascribe to black people! He does all of that shit.

(He also says the F-word oh so very well.)

Now you can decide if you’re too much of a snowflake to read this. *wink*

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Last Will by Bryn Greenwood

4 Stars (maybe 4.5???)

“He doesn’t need therapy. He just needs someone to love him.”
Multigajillionaire Pen Raleigh has died, leaving his company, home and entire fortune in the hands of the last in the line of Raleighs - Bernie. Spoiler Alert: I fell in love with him almost immediately . . . .

“My personal policy toward most of humanity resembles the Army’s policy regarding homosexuals. I won’t ask; please, don’t tell me.”

For whatever reason, my brain cast my favorite Drunk Historian as the lead . . . .

Making me hear Allan McLeod’s voice in my head the entire time I was reading which only increased my level of adoration. I’m now officially declaring Bernie as my book boyfriend and I dare any of you to try and take from me because . . . .

I asked the library to buy a copy of Last Will after falling in love with all things Wavy and Kellen with the release of Greenwood’s All the Ugly and Wonderful Things. I don’t know why it took so long for them to purchase this one, but when they finally did I found myself terrified to read it. I mean lightning doesn’t always strike twice, know what I mean? As the days ticked by, the deadline for this selection to go “poof” off my Kindle approached, and a blizzard that happened to match the cover hit like a sign from above, I figured it was time to finally bite the bullet. What I found was my kind of love story . . . but very much NOT your typical romance. Full of quirky, broken people, this is a story about healing and acceptance and finding yourself and making a family. It won’t be for everyone because there’s not a whole lot of action to propel the story along. You truly have to fall in love with these people or it won’t be for you. A dry sense of humor probably wouldn’t hurt either because Greenwood is pretty hilarious in a very understated way. I was lucky enough to be approached for an advanced copy of this author’s next release – which again had me terrified upon receiving the offer. At this point, though? I think it’s pretty safe to say . . . . .

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe by Melissa De La Cruz

3 Stars

According to my profile page I am currently reading TWENTY-FOUR books. That is a boldface lie. I NEVER read more than one book at a time and since I was on vacation all last week I wasn’t even listening to an additional book to count as a plus one. I’m starting to tackle Mount Need To Review with this one because the Hallmark nonstop Christmas movies are my kryptonite and not only did this happen . . . .

But then the EXACT. SAME. DAY. I read it, this happened on the television . . . .

(You probably can’t zoom, but it’s totally the same damn thing.)

Annnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnd to top it all off???? It starred . . . . .

I thought Candace Cameron Bure was my one and only when it came to these effing movies, but I was sorely mistaken.

Anywho(ville), this was exactly what it claimed to be – a gender/bender version of my fave - P&P. If I had watched the film before reading the book I would have declared it a 5 Star Hallmark holiday selection because Darcy was so much more likeable in film format, Luke was an up-and-comer in his own profession, the pacing was waaaaay better and there was no bonus bullshit thrown in at the end that I hate. However, since I did read the book first I was a little bummed that the powers that be decided to “pray the gay away” or whatever the heck they want to call it and made Bingley not only straight, but also a woman . . . .

All in all, though, this was pretty much just what I needed so it gets 3 Stars.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Bang Up: A Filthy Comedic Thriller by Jeff Strand

4 Stars

A very short while back, my friend Bill was reading this selection and I was pretty sure I needed it in my life too. I gave Real Dan a big shove nudge in its direction too. I figured I would keep an eye out for a $.99 sale or until someone rewarded my oh-so-very-good-all-year behavior with an Amazon gift card come Christmastime and then treat myself. Lucky for me . . . .

But it’s more like where the sak√© drowns and the comedy porn chases your blues away because Dan got hammered and drunk-purchased this little beauty that he then kindly lent to me. (Isn’t he the best? Answer is yes he is.)

The story here starts with Ralph and Julie, a married couple. Things were perfectly okay in their relationship, until they brought a friend into their bedroom with them . . . .

Then it seemed Ralph couldn’t do anything without his little buddy guiding him along. When Ralph discovers Julie has been on internet dating sites trying to find some replacement smex, he does what any nutcase rational person would do and approaches a stranger to participate in some bad (emphasis on the BAD) intercourse with his wife in order to prove that old adage the grass isn't always greener . . . . but things don’t go quite as planned.

Jeff Strand has written one of my favorite rom coms of all time, one of my non-reading kid’s favorite books and now a porno . . . .

Ha! Who am I kidding? I love it! This story is exactly what it claims to be on the cover: a filthy comedic thriller. What it has in common with Strand’s other stuff? His signature dialogue-driven narrative. He’s one of the best at people doing the talky talky with each other, for sure. This won’t be for everyone – because it absolutely is porny and OTT, but if you’re brave enough to venture out of the “Strand is a HORROR writer” comfort zone, you might find his best stuff falls into other genres.

Undying gratitude to Dan for the lend. Let me know if I ever need to wear my biggest T-shirt in order to hide a gun in my pants for you!

Thursday, November 15, 2018

FantasticLand by Mike Bockoven

5 Stars

FantasticLand is getting every Star and I ain’t even sorry.

Like the blurb says, this story is a modern-day . . . .

Ha! I keed. It truly is Lord of the Flies meets [insert battle to the death book/film of you choosing here]. More specifically it is about . . . .

“What happened in FantasticLand during the thirty-five days dubbed “The Battle of the Tribes.”

Here’s the deal: In the Fall of 2017 Hurricane Sadie was being tracked off the coast of Florida. It was anticipated she would be a wreaker of havoc, but no one ever anticipated her effects would be felt so far inland and just how powerful she would become. Basically, the only thing that could have been worse is . . . .

While the National Guard, local authorities and all humanitarian efforts were focused on the coastal regions, 326 employees of FantasticLand were left to their own devices. Weeks later, 207 were evacuated. This is the story of what happened, told in interview format by the survivors. It was oh so very . . . .

(If you haven’t seen that movie, you really need to rectify it immediately or there’s a possibility I will defriend you. j/k. *cough* maybe *cough*)

This was everything it should have been. Gory, nauseating, action-packed and a story that didn't miss a beat from the first page to the last. I luuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuurved it.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Okay Fine Whatever by Courtenay Hameister

2 Stars

Yet another selection that I didn’t even manage to mark as currently reading – or listening to, as was the case here. Fail!

This was a recommendation from the library software and, even though it wasn’t great for me, it did pretty much fit what I gravitate toward for my listening pleasure. The problem I have with some of these is my unfamiliarity with the authors. Thus was the case with Okay, Fine, Whatever. I was intrigued by the idea of a middle-aged woman trying things that took her out of her comfort zone because I am a middle-aged woman who is terrified by the idea of being taken out of my comfort zone. I appreciated her willingness to talk about her anxiety and (hopefully) make people understand that while people like me might be assholes, our inability to be the life of the party is not always asshole-based. I also liked that she wasn’t going to do crazy stuff like jumping out of airplanes or climbing a mountain. Buuuuuuut (you knew that was coming, right?) I thought I was going to be getting a little more. I had never heard of Courtenay Hameister before or her radio show Live Wire (they still do radio shows? Whodathunk it.) and from the cover alone I thought I would at least be getting a little . . . . .

Sadly what had a promising start soon devolved into “look, even chubby 40-somethings can get a boyfriend if they try real hard.” There was a LOT of sex stuff in this – fellatio class, going to a sex club, having sex with polyamorous dudes. Obviously I am a lover of both the sexytimes books as well as the funny memoir, but not in this case. Also, dear publishers, be careful when you tell someone a book is “pee your pants funny.” Trust me, at 40+ and after birthing some chillins it ain’t supah hard to get me to take a wee in my drawers – this one didn’t even come close.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

The Perfect Stranger by Megan Miranda

3 Stars

I read this book over the summer and failed to review it. I now remember nothing about it. I even made 21 highlights to serve as reminders to myself . . . . . but nada. I’m telling you folks . . . .

Don’t underestimate the failures of the Old Lady Brain. I’m giving it three stars because I do remember I didn’t hate it and I know I read it in a day. After perusing my friends’ reviews, this appears to have been a mixed bag for them as well with most falling on the fair to middling end of the ratings spectrum. My advice? Pick up All The Missing Girls. I still remember that one two years later and that’s obviously a marvel of modern science. It’s also told in reverse, which is sooooo hard to do and soooooo good when it’s done right.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Goodbye, Paris by Anstey Harris

2 Stars

“Jojo Moyes meets Eleanor Oliphant “ . . . . . 

A note to all publishing houses, blurbists, whoever else lends a hand in writing things like the above hoping it will sell a lot of books/earn high ratings simple due to the namedropping . . . .

I mean, I bought into it enough to request this from NetGalley, sure, but I wouldn’t hand over my hard earn dollars on a comparison like the above ever – mainly because I'm well aware that there is a snowball’s chance in Hades that there could even be something that resulted in a successful JoJo Moyes and Eleanor Oliphant mashup. Making statements like this backfires nearly 100% of the time. Stick with appealing to users via cutesie covers and titles like this one has. You'll find many of us are pretty much whores easy sales.

This one gets a “meh” amount of stars for the simple fact that I am not a music lover and this is a lot about music. Playing music, building instruments, music music music. It also didn’t help that the leading lady was supposed to be . . . .

“A fucking trainwreck of a forty-year-old who reads people’s diaries and shags other women’s husbands.”

Which would normally have me saying . . . .

But in this case only had me feeling annoyed that there was so little keeping my interest. And this was a story that should have really kept my interest. A woman discovers everything about her longtime relationship is not what she thinks, befriends her snarly employee and an elderly patron of her store and finds herself. Sadly, after finding myself lost in all the cello speak there was no hope for me.

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

Friday, November 9, 2018

Monday's Not Coming by Tiffany D. Jackson

2 Stars

Look at that rating! I only have one thing to ask . . . .

I realize I’m a monster for giving this so few stars, but it is what it is.

Before I get ahead of myself let me tell you that . . . .

“This is the story of how my best friend disappeared. How nobody noticed she was gone except me. And how nobody cared until they found her . . . one year later.”

Claudia and Monday were supposed to write letters every week during the summer while Claudia was visiting her grandmother, but Claudia heard zilch. Then Monday never showed up at school and no one seems to be able to answer where she went and HOW CAN A CHILD JUST GO MISSING?!?!?!?!

I think the problem I had with this book was my age. Mind you, I loooooooove some YA, but it doesn’t always work for me. This is an important story and one that needs to be told, but since I’m an old lady it was kind of a slog. I knew what happened to Monday right away, and while I am well aware that children fall through the cracks of the system every day, unfortunately I didn’t really believe the explanation of the big thing that happened here. (I’m really trying not to spoil anything so if you want to discuss, please use the comments section and spoiler tags – and also I will probably forget the details of this within six months so no promises I’ll be able to back up my low rating after that point.) I wasn’t a fan of the many timeline approach (we’re talking the After, the Before, the Year Before the Before, the Two Years Before the Before – it was a lot) and the extra (again, no spoilers) stuff at the end was unnecessary in a book like this (I literally only wrote “rude” for a note which must translate to #hatedit). What else didn’t I like? Ummmmmmm, well heck even the cover if I’m being 100% honest. It probably doesn’t help things that Allegedly completely blew my socks off either. And sophomore novels are haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaard. However, if you have a middle-grader and are pretty liberal when it comes to what they are allowed to read (sex and underage drinking are present here), this is a relevant, contemporary book that they may find fascinating/terrifying/combo of both.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

The Regulars by Georgia Clark

1 Star

“Settle down. This ain’t Oprah.”

I have a hard time believing anything will beat out The Regulars for my worst read of 2018. Not even a cameo by my beloved could turn my frown upside down . . . .

The premise here was a potentially fun one: three average girls are gifted a potion guaranteed to make them “Pretty.” My brain was swimming with visions of horrible comedy film good times from the past . . . .

Unfortunately, this was a complete and total fail for me. I don’t even know this woman, but Lisa Mossie says everything that needs to be said in her review so I’m linking it here. As for me? This gave me an anti-book-hangover – meaning I hated this so hard I think it gave me cancer I wasn’t even able to pick up a new book at all yesterday. I’m still not feeling it today either so I think Imma put up a Christmas tree when I get home and see if that cures what ails me. When the best thing about a story is . . . .

That’s not sayin’ a whole lot. As for what I would like to say to the three ladies in this book? It’s pretty simple . . . .

In case that wasn’t clear up there, I wouldn’t really recommend this to anyone. I know my subtlety is often an issue and leaves a real mixed message.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

You All Grow Up And Leave Me by Piper Weiss

3 Stars

You All Grow Up And Leave Me popped up on the library’s Recommended To You feature due to me reading I’ll Be Gone In The Dark – a book I didn’t much care for at all, if the truth be told . . . .

Save your breath. I get it. I read it wrong and McNamara was not only a genius, but also this close to DNA swabbing the perp herself and solving the whole shebang. Whatever. I didn’t like it. I still downloaded this book, however, because . . . .

The funny thing is, I disliked I’ll Be Gone In the Dark due to it being so indulgent and lacking in content with regard to the subject matter it claimed to be tackling. This one is nothing but indulgent and no real “crime” actually took place . . . .

I know. Same here. Yeah, the intended victim (and her mother) were able to fight the attacker off and then he killed himself. Sorry, spoiler alert. Point being, if you are looking for a true crime story look elsewhere. If you are a firm believer that . . . .

This might be a memoir for you.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Married With Zombies by Jesse Petersen

3 Stars

When this popped up on my feed awhile back I immediately went to the library to see if it was available on audio – while simultaneously wondering how I had missed reading it back in my Zombies4Eva phase. Well, turns out I had read it but since I am a moron I had completely forgotten all about it. So unlike me, right? It also turns out back in the day I was even worse at reviewing than I am now because I straight up compared this to Zombieland. I’m surprised a hoard of townsfolk and their pitchforks didn’t show up on my front yard for that one! I guess it’s because they were both funny approaches to the undead? Or I used to smoke crack and have forgotten all about that too . . . .

Whatever the case, Shady’s back – back again – this time listening to a story I already read years ago. So what is the story, you ask? Sarah and Dave show up for their weekly marital counseling only to discover the “perfect” couple that has the appointment immediately before theirs nom-nomming on the good doctor. The two decide to call it a day and head home to . . . .

Plans change, however, when their neighbor tries to eat them. It’s then they realize that they’re going to have to go from passive aggressive to aggressive aggressive . . . .

And do whatever it takes to make it to their family . . . .

In the process? They might just save their marriage . . . .

This ended up being 3 Star fun the second time around. My only complaint? I HATED the narrator and it turns out she reads a shitton of audiobooks so now I’m sad for eternity.