129 Associates
298 Consiglieres

52 Book Minimum

Dad Is Fat - Jim Gaffigan “Raising kids may be a thankless job with ridiculous hours, but at least the pay sucks.”

While Gaffigan’s comedy specials bring plenty of belly laughs, the book was much more subtle. Maybe I’m just hilarious, or do all pale skinned people who bare fruit resembling Hitler youth experience most of the same things???? I suspect that those without children would have many more guffaws than those whose homes are already filled with the tiny terrorists. That’s not to say the book isn’t enjoyable – it’s just not “wet your pants from laughing” funny (if you’ve had more than one child, you’ll understand the reference).

Highlights for me were all of the opinions Gaffigan and I have in common (these moments probably confirm I am a huge asshole, but having someone else write them down for all eternity took some weight off my soul). These things include the annoyance of the Anne Geddes babies-as-flowers images, the joy of watching a teenager wipe out while on a skateboard, the fear that you will have an ugly baby, chiming in when your child is being bullied and feeling victorious when you’ve made their attacker run away crying, needing someone to hold you back from disciplining someone else’s rotten offspring, the dream of having an option of enrolling your child in a school “for everyone WITHOUT a nut allergy” to make packing a lunch easy again, the necessity of an “8 hour ladies luncheon” every once in awhile with your best friend (after which you come home completely inebriated) and my absolute favorite – if you are complaining about all the things you do with/for your kid – it means you are actually DOING things with/for your kid and therefore probably have every right to complain.
The Silent Wife - A.S.A. Harrison Jodi and Todd take turns telling the story of the final months of their crumbling marriage.

Reasons for the low rating: (1) It was NOT a psychological thriller. A thriller would mean something “thrilling” happens during the book, right?; (2) Stop comparing books to Gone Girl. As always, apples and orangutans.

The book wasn’t completely horrible – I was able to get through it pretty quickly. However, it had some real lulls in the action with page upon page spent describing the most mundane activities and the big “twists and turns” at the end were very “meh”. I found I didn’t care enough about these characters to give a s*^t whether they lived or died. Those are the key ingredients for a 2 star rating.
The Twelve Tribes of Hattie - Ayana Mathis 3.5 Stars - Individual narratives of the lives of Hattie Shepherd’s children that span the course of 55 years.

It had been a looooooooooooooooonnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnngggggggggggggggg time since I read something just because Oprah told me too, but that’s exactly why I read this book. Suffice it to say that Oprah’s Book Club 2.0 is a second verse, same as the first. If you’ve read enough of Oprah’s selections, you’ll know she likes some misery in her book club. Luckily it was a quick read, because I don’t think I had enough wine in the house to drown my sorrows if this one would have taken more than a day. If you want a book with a silver lining, don’t read this. If you don’t mind spending an hour or two going over the pros and cons of sticking your head in an oven due to the overwhelming despair that embody the lives of everyone in the Shepherd family, dive on in.
Half Broke Horses - Jeannette Walls A follow-up to The Glass Castle - Jeannette Walls now writes the story of her maternal grandmother.

This book sucked me in really quickly, but unfortunately only for about half of the novel and then the pace slowed considerably. While very well-written and a solidly GOOD book, it didn't have the power of The Glass Castle and didn't even come close to being as fascinating. In the end, I found myself a little empty and still needing to hear the story from Rosemary's perspective rather than her mother's. What happened to make Rosemary the way she was???? Mental disorder? Horrible mistreatment that she has blocked out? What????????
Damned - Chuck Palahniuk Madison Spencer is 13, dead, in Hell and a basket case. She’s surrounded by a brain, an athlete, a princess and a criminal. Sound familiar? Yeah, it’s the “Damned” version of The Breakfast Club. Written as a series of “Are you there Satan? It’s me, Maddy” diary-type entries, once again I fell hard for the wondrous satire that makes Chuck Palahniuk tick. This one even has a sequel (yay me). If you get Palahniuk, you’ll dig it. If you don’t, it will have you doing rosaries for eternity in attempts to save his soul.
The Book of Joe - Jonathan Tropper Joe Goffman is a self-described asshole. He’s such an asshole that he wrote a scathing “fictitious” novel about his hometown where he completed lambasted nearly everything and everyone contained there. He never dreamed the book would become not only a national sensation, but also an A-List movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kirsten Dunst. He REALLY never dreamed he’d have to go back to said hometown and face the subjects of his novel. However, when his father suffers a stroke, that’s exactly what he has to do.

Boy am I regretting my decision to keep requesting Tropper’s books from the library. I was like a junkie and just couldn’t get enough . . . and now I’ve read them all. “Joe” was Tropper’s sophomore novel, and it is where he came into his own. He hit the mark with the self-deprecating “asshole” lead and his merry band of friends/family. He found that magical balance of quick wit and heart-stabbing emotion and has used it in every novel written from “Joe” on.

Everything Changes - Jonathan Tropper Everything changes for Zack when he wakes up one morning and discovers blood in his urine. While waiting for his biopsy results to come back, Zack deals with his lackluster career, an absentee father who decides to make his re-entry into the family after being gone for 20+ years, his upcoming engagement party, and the fact that he may be in love with his best friend's widow.

Like all Tropper books, Zack is kind of a loveable loser and is surrounded by an unforgettable ensemble cast. While I'm sure this spiel gets stale for some, it never does for me. Tropper has me laughing one minute and crying the next. He never ceases to create a cast that I want to know more about. This one had a couple of lulls in the storyline compared to his others, so it's getting 4 stars instead of 5, but I still absolutely adored it. Once again, Warner Brothers has optioned this book for a movie and I think all of his books will translate to film remarkably well.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane: A Novel - Neil Gaiman 6 Stars? 8? 10???

In modern day England, a man returns to his hometown in order to attend a funeral. Instead of attending the luncheon after the service, he ventures down the lane of his first home and his memories of Lettie Hempstock and their experiences together.

A nickel’s worth of free advice to any who has not yet read this book. Wait for a cold, dreary day – curl up in a giant chair with a soft blanket and a cup of tea and read this in one sitting. Bribe your children to stay away, send your husband to the pub to watch sports, whatever it takes. This book is very short and, trust me, getting interrupted will SERIOUSLY irritate you.

Now on to the review. How do I love Neil Gaiman? Let me count the ways . . . I love that he can write something that COULD be terrifying, yet somehow stays riiiiiiiiight on the edge. I love that all of his stories read like haunting bedtime tales for adults. I love his beautiful imagery. I love that everything that he writes is so SMART. I love that you can read 5 pages and know it’s Neil Gaiman without even seeing the byline. I love that he puts his soul into his work after all this time and doesn’t just produce crap in order to get a paycheck. I love that this book had a unique little kitten as a character.
Ask the Passengers - A.S. King Astrid is a high school senior trying to find an answer to the biggest question imaginable. Is she or isn’t she? While struggling to find the answer of what to do with her love, she opts not to waste it and sends it away to passengers in planes she sees overhead.

I’m so glad there are YA authors like King who are willing to tackle real-life situations teens face in a mature way. Hopefully writing like this helps kids get through difficult times if they have a$$holes like Astrid’s mother and some of her classmates in their life. I also hope anyone who is reading this and sees any sign of potential a$$hole-ishness, be they teen or grown-up, cease said behavior immediately.
Sorta Like a Rock Star - Matthew Quick Amber, her mother and her pup Bobby Big Boy have been living in Hello Yello (a school bus Amber’s mother drives part-time) for months after being kicked out of the latest in a series of her mom’s boyfriend’s apartments. Amber is an eternal optimist – splitting her time between her school friends (the Franks Freak Force Federation), teaching the Korean Divas for Christ English at the local Korean Catholic Church and battling wits with Joan of Old at the Methodist Retirement Home. All that changes, though, when Amber experiences a horrific tragedy.

A week ago I finally got off the list of “one of the only people in America who had not yet read The Silver Linings Playbook”. The library happened to queue Sorta Like a Rock Star up on the same day. I really enjoyed Silver Linings and, like always, had a naggy little voice in the back of my brain saying “you know, that other one is REALLY gonna suck”. Oh little naggy voice, how wrong you were. Sorta Like a Rock Star was actually so much better. The only downside? Reading it through my lunch hour and ugly crying all the make-up off my face for the remainder of the day. Thank you, Matthew Quick, for the reminder that all we can do is keep circling that big flaming ball in the sky (that’s the sun – sucka!).
Betrayed: Days of the Rogue - Nicky Charles I've read all of Nicky Charles' books. The first, because it was a free download - the rest because they are my guilty pleasures. Perfect summertime poolside reads. Little wolfy, little porny = me likey.
Whistling Past the Graveyard - Susan Crandall 3.5 Stars.

Starla has had it up to here with her grandmother, Mamie. She’s sick of being called trash and being on restriction all the time while her daddy tries to make ends meet working on an off-shore oil rig. When she finally blows her top and punches out the neighborhood bully on the 4th of July, she just can’t bear the punishment of being grounded during the big parade. Starla decides to sneak out, and when she is caught is terrified Mamie is going to send her to reform school. She’s so scared, in fact, that she runs away in hopes of finding her estranged momma, who is trying to make it as a singer in Nashville, and reunite her family. On the road in the blistering heat, she is offered a ride by a black woman who is traveling with a white baby. The three then set off on an unforgettable road trip through the 1960’s segregated South.

Let me begin by saying I’m tired of EVERY book about white/black relations in the South during the ‘60s being compared to To Kill a Mockingbird. Apples and orangutans, folks. Same goes with the modern-day classics like The Help and The Secret Life of Bees (quick recommendation – if those two are still on your “to read” list, they should both take priority over this one). If you judge this as a stand-alone book with no comparisons I would say it wasn’t bad. I whipped right through it in a few hours and it kept my attention. However, it also left me a little hollow. The storyline was more than a bit far-fetched and Starla was absolutely insufferable at times. Mamie was built up as such a tyrant with no true examples until the end, but during the course of reading I found myself thinking if Starla was MY grandkid back in the 60s, I’d probably have her cutting her own switch off the tree. She was also EXTREMELY naïve. I understand not knowing the intricacies of the Jim Crow laws at her age, but seeming so shocked by the mistreatment of the black people she came across and not realizing the dangers of getting herself in precarious situations was certainly unbelievable.
The Basic Eight - Daniel Handler Welcome to Flannery Culp’s lovely, black, leather bound journal. On these pages she will capture all the memories of her senior year with her best friends “The Basic Eight”. She’ll share all the good, bad and ugly details – including a little tale of murder.

Absolutely DELICIOUS. I don’t even know how this book made it to my “to read” list*. I’m so thankful Goodreads is here to help prod my senile mind along. I was completely thrown into the way-back machine with this one – it was reminiscent of “Heathers” (including a croquet scene, no less) and absolutely delightful. Dark, edgy, brilliant. So much fun and even adds an extra little twist as the cherry on the sundae.

*Figured it out. Added it to my list when "Why We Broke Up" was recommended to me. Why We Broke UP SUUUUUCCCCCKKKKKKEEEEED, The Basic Eight was fabulous. Go figure.
Why We Broke Up - Daniel Handler, Maira Kalman Min is returning a box of trinkets from her relationship with Ed along with a letter explaining the origin of each memento.

Methinks I was just a little too old/too jaded for this one. I found Min pathetic and whiney, and Ed was obviously a dick. It took me a solid week to get through this (which, pat myself on the back, I did) when I normally take 24 hours or less to read something of so little substance. This actually was recommended to me and I could hardly stomach it, so I put it aside to read "The Basic Eight" which I absolutely adored (not realizing they are by the same author). On those grounds, I won't be throwing the baby out with the bathwater - Handler will get another shot at wooing me with his prose sometime in the future.
The Silver Linings Playbook - Matthew Quick Does anyone even need a synopsis for this one? You do? Okay – here goes . . . Pat has spent some time in a mental health institution and has come back home to live with his parents. He now has to adjust to life back with his parents, life reuniting with old friends and making new ones, life where he is separated from his wife, and life where his therapist is encouraging him to start dating again?????

I’ve owned the movie version of this book for three months and have not watched it (and I srsly lurv me some Bradley Cooper so it’s been a struggle). I was on the library’s waiting list to read the book for six months. Not only have I not yet watched the film, I haven’t allowed my poor husband to watch it either. (Same goes with It’s Kind of a Funny Story and Up in the Air. Just in case you were questioning if I’m mentally unstable – the answer is probably YES.) This was just one that I couldn’t ruin by watching the movie first and, I mean, I did NOTHING to spoil any part of it for myself.. I’m so glad I waited because this was like the first present you open on Christmas morning. What a phenomenal debut novel. I adored Pat, his mother, his brother, Ronnie, Cliff, etc., etc., etc. and it was a nice bonus to get emotionally attached to a book without having the horrible ugly cries to go along with it ; )
Captive in the Dark - C.J. Roberts 3.5 Stars

Caleb has plans to kidnap Livvie and turn her into a pleasure slave in order to finally seek vengeance on the mobster who sold him into slavery as a young boy. He could never predict that he would find himself attracted to her, or even more strange – that Livvie’s feelings for her captor could be torn.

This one made it on my radar screen because a lot of my Goodreads friends were reading it. I opted to finally read it because (1) it was the day after my birthday, (2) I was a little hungover, (3) I was spending the day at the pool (so basically the perfect trifecta to make a great porn-reading day). I am of the “completely grossed out/don’t get at all” set when it comes to the obsession of all things 50 Shades or Bared to You. However, this book had the one thing going for it that the aforementioned did not – A PLOT. A dark, twisted, maybe I’m going to be über creeped out by this erotica kind of plot. Although it had disturbing moments, I was not terribly horrified by Livvie and Caleb’s relationship. C.J. Roberts has done a good job of staying on the right side of the thin line of sexy titillation and didn't venture so far as to traumatize readers (like me) for life. I caved into buying Captive in the Dark because it was on sale for $.99 – I’ll be paying full price for the second one ‘cause I’m hooked.