The Girl In The Road by Monica Byrne (2 out of 5)

•April 21, 2015 • Leave a Comment

images

I received this book for free from Blogging For Books, in exchange for a honest review.

The cover on the left is the hardcover; the one on the right is the paperback version, for those who are keeping track. Radically different covers, so make sure you’re picking up the right book, if you choose to read this book.

Revolution is brewing in a world where global power and agendas collide, and danger is around every corner. Two radically different women are heading in different directions and different journeys, but their fates will collide in the most unexpected of ways. Meena has a near miss with a snake in her bed (not a metaphor for a cheating man, by the way– it’s an actual snake) and has the snakebites on her chest to prove it. Her goal is to make it to The Trail, a bridge that houses runaways and nomads. She gets outs under cover of night and heads toward Ethiopa, her homeland. Mariama, a young girl, leaves her home and takes cover with a caravan of gypsies fleeing toward the Sahara. She forms a strong and lasting attachment to a woman who becomes her protector, as they head toward Addis Abba. The lands are far different than she remembers, and therein lies part of the struggle. The two girls head off into different directions, but both are heading toward a conclusion that ties their alternate realities together in a number of destined, shocking ways that neither they nor the reader expects. This book is written with an astounding amount of creativity, and the worlds that Meena and Mariama inhabit are nothing like what they, nor the reader, could ever begin to completely comprehend. I had a hard time getting my head around them, and that’s part of the problem with my not quite connecting with the book.

Both female leads are strong, emotional, and determined, in their separate ways, but I just stopped having interest halfway through the book. When the final ties are revealed, it does indeed take your breath away, but something was off here. Again, likely it was my inability to completely connect with either of the leads. I felt like there was some long-range goal in mind for both, and to some extent, those goals are realized, but something was missing for me. It felt like there was no end in sight here. I just didn’t really care for the book overall. I do have two coworkers who want to read it, so likely will pass onto them. The surroundings of the book and the females are both written with alacrity, and I think Byrne does a splendid job with setting, but I just stopped really digging it halfway through, so I can’t give it more than I have.

Do Not Disturb (Deanna Madden #2) by AR Torre (4 out of 5)

•April 20, 2015 • Leave a Comment

This is the second book in Torre’s series around Deanna Madden, cam girl with a mission. Deanna’s mission- to not leave her apartment or she’ll kill someone. Say what? I’m telling you, friends, pick up the first book in the series- Girl In 6E– and your questions will be answered. It would also make a lot more sense if you read that one before this one. Did I like this one as much as the first? Well, I tore through it in 3 hours, if that answers any questions. I also loved this book, but it lost a bit of the edge for me. Which I believe was the point of the book. Let me explain more. The first book is learning who Deanna is, what makes her tick, and that book does NOT let up. This book gives you a little bit more breathing room. I have to get used to Deanna in love. Love distorts a lot of things for many, and it doesn’t distort Deanna; in fact, the opposite- it infuses her with LIFE. Which is what she’s trying to live when she ends up with another psychopath on her hands, via the cam business.

Marcus Renza has just been released from jail after being incarcerated for rape and aggravated assault. He’s sentenced to house arrest and prowling for his next victim. He ends up not being very successful, and ends up on Deanna’s cam. He’s instantly captivated, and attempts to get her to fly her to him (offering to pay her, of course). Deanna’s radar is on high alert, and she rebuffs several times, only to finally snap and have his access completely blocked. Marcus doesn’t take this well, and hires a PI who digs up her info. And then Marcus goes to find her…the shit may hit the fan this time, as Deanna really seems to have no idea it’s coming..until it’s too late. While all of this is going down, Deanna and Jeremy are indeed pursuing a relationship- one that frees Deanna from the shackles of her fate. That, while great to read for the further development of a character whose existence is the mainstay of the series, is where they lost me a bit. There’s a lot of soul searching for Deanna in this book, all in regards to Jeremy and where this relationship is going. Or if it should be going anywhere. Deanna is not your usual female character- she kicks ass and takes names- but the love thing really does a number on her. You have your usual suspects present- Jeremy (boyfriend), Simon (the junkie down the hall who locks Deanna in at night, and in this book, tries to hit on her), Derek (sex therapist), and Mike (client and computer professional extraordinaire who keeps Deanna’s information and identity secret). Again, a lot of the book, to me at least, was more about Deanna truly finding herself and just as things are about to be happy for her (the first time since her family tragedy), Marcus finds her and all hell breaks loose. What happens? Read it!

As I said, Deanna Madden is my favorite female character in years. She takes no shit, she doesn’t mince words, but inside, she’s a girl terrified of this love thing. I found that refreshing. She’s got a hell of a guy in Jeremy, who’s lets her do her cam girl thing despite his own misgivings, and stands by her. I liked that Mike was featured more prominently in this book, because I felt like Torre had just scratched the surface with him in the first book; I was glad to see another supporting character get some major face time. Marcus is a sleazeball. My skin crawled reading about him, and I thought the pedophile pig from the first book was bad… Torre has a gift for writing a convincing psychopath, as well. Geesh! The ending is fabulous, the story is fabulous, and you know I love the characters..but the romance in the book offed it for me a little. It really needed to happen for the development of the character and the plot, but it lost me a little. Not to take away from the book. I still LOVED it and will recommend the hell out of it.

I’m Special: And Other Lies We Tell Ourselves by Ryan O’ Connell (5 out of 5)

•April 19, 2015 • Leave a Comment

untitled

First off, let me apologize for my week-long absence from the blog. I had to take my dad (I’m his caregiver) into the ER last Saturday night; he was bleeding internally and it took them a few days to figure out the cause and 3 procedures later, they finally got him to rights. So, although I took the laptop with me to the hospital, the combination of worry, exhaustion, and mind-numbing inertia rendered me blog-less. I simply could not just turn my mind into jelly enough to reach in and pull out a blog, and post. I hope those who do follow forgive me. I also, for the record, only got one book read in those 6 days- and this was the book. The fact that I could laugh wholeheartedly at parts of it and still had plenty to think about in other parts of it, is a testimonial to the power of the book. And it’s hilarious.

Ryan O’Connell has a blog that’s followed by millions, thousands read his works in magazines, his Youtube videos get comments and likes galore, and he’s got a shit ton of followers on Twitter. So- he has a voice that reaches out to all. This book is indeed part biography and part humor. I really enjoyed the humor, and I liked his call to arms on certain areas that twenty-somethings really should address. I really fucking wish I had a book like this to read in my twenties! Shit may have been different (Realistically? Not likely. I have a hard time following rules). Still, it would have provided a sea of thought. Ryan tells us right off the bat that he’s already a little different- he has cerebral palsy that puts him a step or two behind others, and he’s gay, so he’s already, in his mind at least, 0-2. He’s that unique young man who has NO problem telling you what you don’t want to hear, no matter how ugly it is. So in my life, we’ll call him Dylan. (The similarities in how Ryan talks and how one of my best guy friends talks? Eerie!). Ryan hits the treehouse known as the twenties, and things get very odd, indeed. He spends his time doing things that “usual” twenty-somethings do: getting internships trying to get a paid position, only to find out that doesn’t really happen that often in the real world, searched for a partner/fling/soulmate online, claiming to have no money yet thinking nothing of spending hundreds of dollars on things that he never really uses (half of my twenty-something friends are doing this RIGHT NOW), misbehaving with pills, and other set-aside hobbies that seem to litter that generation’s closet floors. What an eye opener. When I was in my twenties, all I carried about was getting married and having babies. When that evaporated quickly, I gave into my baser instincts and spent those years doing- SURPRISE!- what Ryan talks about here. I can’t tell you how many Live (the band) cd’s I spent beaucoup bucks on that had the exact same songlists on them. I was working as a manager at a Little Caesar’s- pay was shit, and whatever I made I spent. Like water. I ate out every other night, I drank a lot of whiskey and vodka, I smoked cigarettes, the only thing I didn’t do was drugs. (Not inclined, never was). I bought every single rare Duran Duran CD I could find at record conventions (NOT online. The interwebs didn’t really exist in my time of twenty-something-ness). I bought awful clothes and wore them to Jewel to buy- get this- more pizza, chips, and booze. Yes, the twenties were glamorous. NOT. But that’s the beauty of his book- he doesn’t shy away from anything he did, nor make excuses, although he does try to figure out why, to a lesser extent. He tries to HELP those who are going through it now. And I have a lot of friends who are guilty of several things he describes in this book. But again- you’re young, you’re wild, and you’re free (hair metal?)…so live it up. Or not… trying growing up. Ryan O’Connell doesn’t place a disclaimer at the beginning of his book that he’ll be able to help you, but as you read further on, you certainly get the feeling that this young man wants to just outgrow his young impulses, settle down, and live- but first, friends, you must get your galoshes out and retire the David Bowie glitter moon boots to the closet of your misbegotten youth.

If there is one thing that I disliked about this book, it’s this- like most things in life, it had to end. Hopefully, Ryan continues to write and inspire others. He has certainly inspired this 42 year old to shake out her dusty housecoat, retire her slippers to the Salvation Army, quit spending money on candles that you will never burn, and just LIVE. Within rhyme, within reason, and with FUN present in your life- it’s possible, and maybe by giving this book a chance, you’ll be inspired as I was. And giggling. For I was. This book is not out until June 2, 2015, on Simon & Schuster. As usual, I thank Wendy for sending me this. I can’t tell you enough that this inspiring bio/humorous essays book took my mind off of real life folding out in front of me. It is a perfect book to take your mind off of serious business. I highly recommend it!

Mike And Dave Need Wedding Dates: And A Thousand Cocktails by Mike and Dave Stangle (5 out of 5)

•April 10, 2015 • Leave a Comment

untitled

Oh, friends…I’m going to say this right off the bat– if you are easily offended, do NOT pick up this book. If you like a good laugh at the expense of others, by all means, pick up this book. Especially if you are a fan of Tucker Max. Mixed with a good dose of Wedding Crashers type shenanigans. Several of my coworkers were stunned that I am reading this “type of book”. Clearly, those coworkers do not remember my reading Tucker Max and trying to sell it to BAM customers years back. Well, here I am again- with a far better gig and I’m going to be pushing this book on people when it comes out on May 19th, via Gallery Books (also known as Simon & Schuster). Thank you to the lovely Wendy for bequeathing me a copy and not asking!

Mike and Dave Stangle need dates for their cousin’s wedding. Family members who know the brothers have warned them to get dates so that they’re not misbehaving more than usual. Obviously, the ironic part of that is that it AMPS up the brothers and their drunken exploits. They turn to the “activity partners” section of Craigslist in an attempt to get dates. They come up with this out-of-this-world ad (featuring the dynamic duo as centaurs and a hilarious written description to boot) that goes viral and the brothers are besieged with all sorts of oddball requests, pictures, and the like. How did the Stangle boys get to this point? They tell us- the good, the bad, the even worse, from childhood to now. There are no stones, boats, drunken sexual exploits, or secrets that are safe here. The brothers both take turns telling the stories of their romantic conquests and busts, and warn you what to watch out for (or more specifically, them!). Do they ever meet the perfect dates? Do they meet anyone that measures up? How bad does this experiment go wrong? Here’s the deal, readers. I like offensive men. Tucker Max? Still one of my favorite authors, despite the fact he’s a priggish lout. No punches pulled, no holds barred, and these brothers, while hilarious, are also lovable (shh…don’t say it too loud, it may damage their street cred). I can’t read enough about how the male psyche thinks of females- good and bad. I can’t learn enough in my quest to ensnare elusive males (well, one, but you get my drift), and what drives them nuts so I don’t do it. (Disclaimer: I’m a female, I’m going to drive a guy crazy, it’s in my DNA). That doesn’t mean that I can’t read this side-splitting account and laugh my ass off. For I did- and you will too. I would highly recommend this as a bachelor party gift, even though if you’re heading to a bachelor party, then it’s too late (See? Those boys got into my head with their rationale) to save the person you’re gifting with the book. I think it would also make a great gag gift. I’d love to talk to these two about how to approach the opposite sex and not make a fool of yourself (all too recently, friends, believe me) with someone you’re interested in. The bon mots of wisdom are closer to tater tots of wisdom here, with a good deal of drinking, some smoking of the grass, and all sorts of sexual hijinks. There is language, sexual situations, the aforementioned drugs and alcohol, but there’s also a lot of fun moments and offbeat humor here, and an adorable bulldog named Frank, who’s something of a wingman (wing dog)? (I hope the boys’ father writes a book. I think I’m in love with their old man!). So- buy carefully for whomever you’re gifting with it, but if they a sense of humor and some perverseness to their nature, this will go over like rover. Or better yet, in like Flynn.

The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. by Adelle Waldman (3 out of 5)

•April 7, 2015 • Leave a Comment

untitled

I got a copy of this directly from the publisher, Henry Holt & Co. (The blog must be on their dashboard, all of a sudden I’ve been deluged with titles. Keep em coming!). I hadn’t asked for it, but it had been a book that I had in my rearview mirror. Mostly due to the fact that it’s a treatise about relationships between men and women, from the viewpoint of the man, one writer named Nate Piven. Nate’s rising career and star attract the attention of a number of women in his immediate circle; Elisa, Juliet, and Hannah, the one who may actually be “The One” (and a friend of Elisa’s, but that’s just a small detail in Nate’s cog). His relationship with Hannah, despite his own protestations, gets progressively more serious, leading Nate to take a memory trip down the long & winding road of his littered emotional past. There’s a lot of conversation with Nate and these women- he doesn’t just silently chase, pounce, and then walk away- he gets to know them, their foibles, their fetishes, and their typical “female mentality”, before he tries to woo them into a relationship. He has a lot of questions, a lot of doubts, and there’s a lot of self-recrimination with Nate- which is why I LOVED him as a character. I loved the male perspective. This isn’t a Springer or a Maury episode, it’s a well thought out treatise on men and women, the attraction, the annihilation, the beginning, middle, and end. Nate begins to mature and move on from his bad habits of love em and leave em for the next brainy professor, and falls in love with Hannah. So of course, the first time you actually fall in a long, long time, and what happens? Life happens. The woman dooms the relationship by freaking the hell out (note to anyone reading it: If you have any doubts, issues, or romantic visions dancing around your silly little head whilst reading this, abandon them. This will NOT help! Take my word on it).

What I really liked about this was how Nate talks his decisions and indecisions through to the reader. So when things do happen and shit gets real, the reader isn’t terribly surprised. The women? Oh yes, they’re surprised, but hey- isn’t that true with life? We’re always surprised, and we should see this shit coming a million yards away! Nate doesn’t pull punches, no excuses are made for his oft piss poor behavior, but when he does get stepped on (and hard), you can’t help but feel bad for the poor guy. I really liked the character. In an unusual twist of fate, I did NOT like the women in the story; Juliet was an overemotional life raft out in the middle of her own drama-filled sea. Elisa was an intelligent, beautiful, overly needy extrovert who realizes too late that her chance (Nate) has passed her by. And Hannah? Hannah pissed me off the most. She enters into this relationship with Nate as somewhat of a “friends with benefits” sort of deal, but Nate is nothing if not charismatic and persuasive, and she gives it a go. Except you can feel her holding back, judging him and the entire thing, and just waiting for her prime moment to dump this poor guy. Yes, reader, I am taking the MAN’s side here! As the relationship with these two grows more serious, the book loses a bit of levity, Nate takes a hit to his believability when he doesn’t see the giant chainsaw coming through the trees for him, and I lost interest. I finished it, and I wasn’t real pleased with what took place toward the end. I wish that Waldman had kept Nate talking at the leisurely, semi-personal way he was through the book, and not had him fallen victim to the Spider Woman. So really, that’s when I lost it with this one. Prior to that, digging this book big time. I have a feeling when you guys see what I am reading now and when I review it, you’ll wonder at where my mind is currently at with my choices of reading.
Truth? No idea! None. I would say this is a good, quick read at the male psyche and the way they look at women, sex, and relationships..but prepare to want to punch the women. Which is NOT a message I want to send, but that’s the message you come away from the book with. No Bueno.

So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson (3 out of 5)

•April 7, 2015 • Leave a Comment

untitled

I’ve read two other books by Jon Ronson before this one. I couldn’t get into the previous two because it felt like they were synopsis, with no read substance there. You got the story, but just the story. There wasn’t a lot of deep thought going on in those first two books that I read. There was thought, but it was as if he gave you the cliffs notes version of the stories. What’s the point of writing a book if you aren’t giving your entire rambling discourse on the subject? This book was better, in terms of giving up more of the subject to the reader, but it still felt like you had a delicious tiramisu in front of you, and you enjoyed the first layer, but then the rest was kind of off limits to you. But that first layer? Out of this world. The rest was just okay. That’s how I felt at the end of this book. Like Ronson has a great objectivity in dealing with the subject matters he retells in the book, but he doesn’t really sink his teeth into the subject. Ouch. That sounds kind of painful, actually. It’s time for a new metaphor, it seems. He skims the surface, but doesn’t deliver us the deep, bone-baring soul study of those being publicly shamed. And that’s, pardon the pun, a shame.

I will say this- Ronson’s psychological and social studies of what shame does to those who are busted are pretty spot-on. My coworker and I, in a universe full of irony these days, had just discussed Jonah Lehrer a week back. And there he is! The first portrait. I hadn’t heard (I live in a rock) of Jessica Sacco, but I certainly know about her now. I hadn’t heard about any of these people, except Lehrer (and that’s because his shaming came from plagiarism that was in a book gracing shelves. I remember the uproar. That was the previous bookstore gig). Ronson’s also a pretty objective dude- if I had to profile Lehrer, I would be nowhere as kind as Ronson was in researching the book. Especially after I read about the multi-million dollar home. He can suck it. It’s fascinating that he found such varied examples of what happens to these people in today’s world of social media and “Twitterstorms” (another term I could have gone the rest of my life without hearing, to be perfectly honest). So this book gave me a great deal of knowledge in ways of others who have been stone cold busted doing something that stretches the boundaries of human decency, and then he delivers a pretty solid background to the person themselves and the fallout. And what it does to the people involved. Fascinating. And it is! I’m not being facetious in any way, shape, or form. It’s truly something to read the histories of these cases, and Ronson’s thoughts as well. It just felt….truncated.

Let me explain further. Ronson goes into such detail with each person he profiles, not only their thumbprint on the blueprint of life, but also their psychological missteps and how they attempt to calm and apply salve to their perfidy. But he does it in such a manner that is short, sweet, and to the point. So you feel like you’ve read a lot, but that there’s more there to the story that he isn’t telling. And that bothered me throughout the book, although, as I said, I enjoyed it far more than his other two titles prior. I’m not sure if anyone else will feel this way, but it just seems like you get the sneak previews, but not the entire episode. Overall, a fascinating idea and one I’m sure will earn him a place on the New York Times bestseller list, but it comes up short for me.

The Poser by Jacob Rubin (4 out of 5)

•April 1, 2015 • Leave a Comment

untitled

I got the ARC from Christopher at Penguin Random House (Thank you, Christopher). He sent several copies; one for me, the other for a member of my staff who hopefully gets off his duff and reads it, because I think he would really like it. I liked the cover right off the bat. I spent the first week of March- when the Internet was down in my house- reading around 13 books. I picked this one up, but had a hard time with it. I think because the character of Maximillan ticked me off. Something about him made me believe he did not have Giovanni, our young hero, or his interests at heart. So I got 40 pages and put it down. Sunday night I couldn’t sleep (Normal for me, that’s when a lot of books get read), and it was staring me down, so I picked it up. Two hours later, it was done. And I was kicking myself because I really ended up liking this book. A lot. I think everyone who’s ever wondered if they’re truly the person they project or try to be, would really identify with this book. I’m constantly trying to change things up, so I would be in that category. I saw a lot of reviews on review sites that expressed dismay that they couldn’t connect with Giovanni. I didn’t have that problem at all. However, I have complete understanding of when you can’t connect with a character and the book doesn’t fly as a result. Happily, not the case here. I would also urge you to ignore the reviews on the top two book review sites, because they are not all good, and this is a book that deserves to be read. I cannot stress it enough; make your own decision and pick a copy up, give it a whirl.

Giovanni Bernini has a rare gift at his young age; an ability to do uncanny impressions of anyone and everyone he meets. It’s just Giovanni and his mom, and she doesn’t discourage him. Max, a talent scout, sees his gift, takes Gio and his mom out to dinner, and woos him so that he can get him on stage doing this to make a living. His talents pay off in a big way, with him courting and finding success on the stage, silver screen, and eventually the root of all evil- politics. Giovanni crafts a persona that allows him to express his true thoughts, and all seems to be going his way. Until HER. Her is Lucy Starlight, a beautiful, enigmatic singer. Giovanni falls and he falls hard. He spends a lot of time trying to figure out what makes her tick. The thread, if you will, that “when pulled by the right hands, will unravel the whole person”. This is probably the part of the book I enjoyed most; the discovery of Lucy and how Giovanni tries to handle his feelings, her mystery, and the feelings threatening to take him and unravel him. Come on, it’s happened to all of us. You’re getting along as you are and you meet that one person that you just cannot figure out, but whom keeps you up late nights questioning what it will take to make them take notice of you and your awesomeness. Oddly enough, this is currently happening to me, and maybe that’s why this book was so much easier to get into when I picked it up again 3 weeks after I first set it down. The fact that such a thing is going on with me suddenly, probably made it easier to connect with Giovanni and the book. Because, honestly, before that, there are parts where it middles down and I had a problem getting back into the swing of the book. That’s the only thing that keeps me from giving it a five star review. Those parts are there, and they are the only downside, in my opinion. But, readers, if you can make it through those areas, Giovanni’s story captures you so completely, about a third of the way in, that you simply want to see how this is going to, well, unravel. Give it a chance.

 
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,034 other followers