Dishwasher: One Man’s Quest To Wash Dishes in Fifty States by Pete Jordan (3 out of 5)

•October 4, 2015 • Leave a Comment


At one time or another, we’ve all been at a crossroads where our occupations/careers/jobs/paychecks are concerned. Or, we just can’t seem to settle in no matter what we do, at least comfortably. This is a fun book to read, especially if you’ve ever been there, or if you’re hitting a milestone and thinking, “Maybe there’s another way”. Not to be a bummer, folks, but often, what you do is what you’re going to be doing years from now. In my line of work, well, who knows if there will be bookstores in 15 years? Or 5? I like to think there are still enough people to make sure bookstores do NOT go away, but the reality paints a grimmer picture. I keep fighting! Anyway, tomorrow is 15 years I’ve been selling books. Anyway, this is where my line of thought has been lining up lately, and I pick up this book. We have a current feature at the store: “Why haven’t you read these awesome books?” (I did NOT think of that name, I had something with alliteration but was voted down by uncomfortable silence). Each of the staff has a shelf with their favorite books of ALL TIME. Mine is a challenge, because I probably could have filled up the whole thing myself, but I had to keep it to one shelf. Andrew had this on his shelf. I had a real shitty week this week, and this was probably one of the only books I was able to finish and enjoy. The one I threw out is tomorrow’s post, worry not!

Pete Jordan sifts from one dishwashing job to another, finally finding one that sticks with him. Then he decides to embark on the adventure of a lifetime- washing dishes in all fifty states! You may be thinking to yourself, “What a strange idea”. I admit, I was a little puzzled. Then I bought it (Andrew has great taste in books. He’s usually the person I trust most on nonfiction titles) and began reading it. And was hooked. And laughing. You would never think that listening to the right kind of music improves your speed, dishwashing method, and mood- but you find out from Pete just how jazz helps that process along. Pete begins a zine (remember those?) called Dishwasher; it begins to build and becomes a cult classic. He continues on his journey through the fifty states, developing a reputation as the ultimate “dish dog”.

OK. Quit laughing and shaking your head. Seriously. This book is not going to bring you a revelation that will change your life. It will, however, give you a different perspective on this strange little journey called life. Pete’s a funny guy and very humble. I’m willing to bet we all know a “Dishwasher Pete”. I’m willing to bet that someone will pick up this book during a time when their own life is a little bit of a not-so-fun tilt-a-whirl ride, and it will liven things up a bit. And that’s exactly what it did for me. Great job, Pete Jordan. I raise my dish to you!

Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things by Jenny Lawson (4 out of 5)

•September 29, 2015 • Leave a Comment


You can fit Jenny Lawson into many categories.
Awesome is one.

This is a little bit different from her first book. That one, you got to know her from upbringing to being a bloggess extraordinaire.

This one is a little bit different in that it’s essays and chapters about various things, many of them surrounding her anxiety and depression issues, and #FuriouslyHappy being her own pseudo war-cry against those mental illnesses taking her over and winning. The note from the author explains it. And is one of my favorite parts of the book.

There’s no taking away from the fact that Jenny Lawson is the best. She is, without question, one of the funniest self-deprecating authors I’ve read. I just, for reasons I can’t quite figure out, didn’t connect as much to this one as I have to her first book. Maybe because that was my first exposure to awesome, and now I’m kind of prepared for it? I don’t know. The essays are great, Victor is still hilarious in his own anal retentive way, Jenny’s dad is still sending the coolest taxidermied (is that the right tense? Is it?) gifts around, and things are pretty much the same. Except this book it feels like Jenny struggled a lot more with her mental illnesses (and sleep disorders) and that as much hilarity as she brings forth to the table, there’s a good deal of sadness lurking underneath. And that makes me, the reader, sad. But in true fashion, I love her #FuriouslyHappy campaign, so I’m climbing on the awesome bus. I have depression, just not the crippling anxiety. I’m pretty sure I have at least one of the sleep disorders she’s diagnosed with at the sleep clinic. At the end of this book, still awesomesauce. At the end of the first book, I wanted to high five her and get drunk. At the end of this one, I just want to give her a giant hug. That comparison will give you an idea how the book felt to me. I still giggled madly at parts, other parts had me quiet and contemplative, still other parts made me wonder how stuffed raccoons would look on my living room shelf and a stuffed bear head on my wall. (Claude? Genius, Victor, Genius). But I felt a lot more aware that under this vibrant, off the wall voice coming off the pages was fighting demons underneath. So true of so many in the world today. I cannot say enough how much I love her honestly in being 100% honest in what she is battling every day. She’s a shining star, this lady. May her light in the literary community never go out. Depression? Not funny. Anxiety? Not funny. But somehow, some way, Jenny finds a way to be furiously happy. And dammit, you can too!

Furiously Happy is out now from the wonderful folks at Flatiron Books (St. Martin). Thank you to Anne for getting me a copy so I can read and review.

Flirting With French by William Alexander (5 out of 5)

•September 28, 2015 • Leave a Comment


Let me be honest. I make fun of the French. A lot. But I love their history. I also love their country. I wouldn’t mind trying their food. But I have never had any inclination toward learning French. But this book wildly appealed to me. The cover, the premise, the font. The sexy, sexy font. Laugh it up, friends. Unless you’re a writer or a reader, you could care less. It’s alright. There’s enough of us fonters (?) to make up for the rest of you. Anyway, I have a lovely friend at Algonquin Books. Her name is Lauren, and she’s dyno-mite in sending me some great ARC’s. This one was sent to me some time ago, but I have plowed through entire shelves in the hulking bookcase in my bedroom, and I found it. And read it. In about two hours. It’s under 300 pages and it’s FUN. And that sexy, sexy font makes it easier to plow through it. Thank you, Lauren of Algonquin, you rule! And this book is out NOW, so go grab a copy from your local bookstore.

William Alexander didn’t have the problem I do.. he WANTED (WANTS) to be French. But you can’t be French if you don’t speak the native tongue. Simple (or not) solution: learn the language. To begin this merry adventure, he travels to France, where his mispronunciations lead to all sorts of fun (for us, not for him!) mayhem, namely in directions while traveling by bike in a country he’s not sure of in the first place. Throw in a class to learn the language in Provence where he begins to regret his mission (that part of the book? One of my favorites). He takes a break from the course, but still ponders the mysteries of France aloud, whether the struggle to keep the language pure really does require all that time, and why he’s having such a hard time learning this language when children are able to do so in a seemingly effortless way. By the end of his adventure, he comes to realize that his exploration of this country and the byways and highways of the language itself, have led him to many realizations that can’t be argued with, nor argued against. He’s changed for the better in so many ways, but has he conquered the language? The country? Or has it conquered him? You have to read to find out.

William’s book is so funny I couldn’t stop laughing. And again, it’s not a very big book, so if you’re laughing through a good portion of it, you have a WINNER. I almost typed WIENER by accident. Maybe I’m messing up my first language? Post-hypnotic immersion course in English? Major fail. But if that means the book influenced me, well, it’s a win. It could influence you as well. It’s as much a treatise on the human heart and what it really wants, as well as a love of France and all of its entities. So go grab a copy and get ready to laugh!

Doctor Who: Deep Time by Trevor Baxendale (4 out of 5)

•September 27, 2015 • Leave a Comment


Yes, I know, I’m reading Doctor Who novelizations again. There is NOTHING wrong with that. In fact, I enjoy them. A quick, light read. Some are better than others. This time around, my friend Dave M. told me this was the best of the lot. So I started with this and am then going to read the others. I’m also going back in time and reading some of the Ninth Doctor ones. Because I miss Christopher Eccleston. So these are a nice side project. I mean, if anyone’s fiending between seasons of Doctor Who, THIS would be a good way to pass the time. Unless you’re me, and then your dumb ass reads them WHILE the new season is on. Anyhow, good fun, these books.

The Phaeron disappeared from the universe millions of years ago. Whispers of “The Glamour” are heard early in the book (makes sense, as this is one of the “Glamour Chronicles”). They had an ancient civilization that was advanced and from the sounds of it, productive (it reminded me a lot of Atlantis, reading the description Baxendale puts forth), and then Poof! Gone! An artifact discovered from that time leads a research team into believing the Phaeron road is still existing and they head out there to explore. Quite a merry bunch of people on this expedition. That made it easier to get into this book. Sort of like a dysfunctional Brady Bunch, but much, much cooler. Who else (get it?) is heading there? The good Doctor and his trusty sidekick, Ms. Whinypants Clara. The research team on its ship is optimistic, but the Doctor is hiding some knowledge of what they may find. He tries to warn them, but in typical Who fashion, they really don’t listen too well. He only knows that it could get ugly, it could get fatal, and he does his best to stop it from getting to that point. He and Clara are doing their best to do their own thing, but the Tardis sort of disappears into a time vortex and they’re stuck on the ship with the research team. Fun times! It isn’t long before certain members of the crew start to show ulterior motives, time vortexes start, the ship disintegrates, and they’re all falling through time and ending up in different climates in different times, and the ghouls and life forms start to, well, take lives. This book never let up, and I had no idea who was going to kick the dust next, and there were a number of surprises. Good fun, really, except for those who died. They didn’t have fun, but what great plot they aided!
Seriously, a very good Doctor Who read. I hope you give it a chance.

Chapter And Verse by Bernard Sumner (5 out of 5)

•September 25, 2015 • Leave a Comment


I love New Order. I also love Joy Division. In true fashion, I got into New Order first, then Joy Division. But they both continue to appeal and inspire me at different points in my life. They also appeal to different mood sets- New Order the lighter, more optimistic side; Joy Division the more introspective, darker side. Having read both of Peter Hook and Bernard Sumner’s books, I’d have to say that same credo applies to the two books; Peter Hook would be the Joy Division, Bernard Sumner would be the New Order. That sentence in itself sounds odd! When I read Hook’s book a year ago, I kept thinking that I would like to hear another side of the Joy Division story. A year later, here’s Bernard’s book. The book, by the way, comes out on November 3, 2015, brought to us by the folks at Thomas Dunne Books (also an imprint of St. Martin Books). I would like to personally thank Karlyn Hixson for sending me not one, but TWO, ARC’s of this title (one for me, one for my lucky bookseller). She didn’t forget about me, even though it was months from when I contacted her and the ARC’s came in.

Bernard has seen the good, the bad, and the ugly. In the history of Joy Division and New Order, there has been a lot of ups and downs. He presents his memories in a clear, objective way. Never once during the reading of his book did I stop and think, “Man, this guy has a bone to pick”. NOT ONCE. I cannot say that for Peter Hook’s book, however. That book was hard to read because Hooky has a way of referring to himself in the third person. What the hell? The entire book. Bernard refers to himself in the correct tense. It’s very disconcerting to read a book about someone in which they use third person narrative all the way through. You hear that, Hooky? Also, calling yourself by that nickname all the way through the book is a little distracting. Bernard does refer to Hook as “Hooky”, but since they were friends as lads growing up and he knew him over thirty years, it’s ok. But he didn’t use it obsessively, where you’re annoyed as all hell reading it. Hook’s book? If you’ve read it, you know what I mean. Here’s what I really enjoyed about Bernard’s book: EVERYTHING. It was a simply told, no apologies, no pissing around the bush, story of a lifetime loving and making music. In the end, it’s all about the music. I finished this book and that’s what transcended to me. This man LOVES and LIVES to make music. Those along for the ride, including the reader, come away from this with that crystal clear. Sumner doesn’t give us a lot of his personal life, but he does mention his family here and there, but it’s mostly about the music. I have mad respect for people who don’t put every little detail in their memoirs. If you don’t feel like putting your family’s business out there, kudos to you! That’s the way it should be. You’ve likely noticed this review has mentioned Bernard and Peter as opposites, and it’s only brought into the review because I believe a good many people are itching to hear the story of what happened between those two that led to Hook’s leaving New Order. Bernard certainly addresses it, but with a modicum of mad respect for all that Hook has given to the stories of Joy Division and New Order. You can also sense his bewilderment at what happened with Hook, and some sadness. That certainly goes a longer way with me than sour grapes do. I’ll happily recommend and hopefully sell the hell out of this book when it’s released in November. It far surpasses my expectations of what it was going to bring to the table, as far as autobiographies go. Well done, Mr. Sumner.

Seriously Wicked by Tina Connolly (4 out of 5)

•September 23, 2015 • Leave a Comment

seriously wicked

A quick little read. Not sure where the hell I got this copy, to be honest. A lot of fun. Camellia’s adopted. Her mom wants her to be more like her- a wicked witch. I’m not joking. Camellia’s stopped her mom’s crazy schemes from coming to fruition more than once, and this time is no different. Well, except it is. Her mom summons a demon- who then takes over the body of Devon, the cute boy at school. Come on, did you expect anything less??? The boy she likes has the demon in him, her friends are being turned into zombies left and right, there’s a dragon hiding in the RV garage, and Devon is turning into a teen boy-ho (yes, I said it. BOY-HO). The night of the Halloween dance draws near, and there’s a hidden threat that may blow things sky high. Can Camellia stop ANY of this madness? Can she figure out how to keep her mom at bay? Can she turn Devon into the sweet, semi- shy boy she liked, instead of the teen kissing machine? Can she stop the zombie infestation from taking all her friends and turning them into less than stellar conversation pieces? What’s all of this leading up to? It’s leading up to a lot of fun.

Don’t pick this up, unless you want a fast, fun read. For it’s both. It’s not a book that’s going to change the world, nor will it make a huge moral impact on Planet Earth. But it will make you laugh, shake your head, change the page, but more importantly- more importantly- it will make you keep reading. And then recommend to someone else. The only reason it’s not 5 stars is that it was too light and there are parts of overwhelming cheesiness that made me cringe- but not so much that I stopped reading. Connolly gets you hooked with fun, and you’ll want it to continue on. I hope she brings this merry bunch back in another book. What a lot of fun!

The Blue by Lucy Clarke (5 out of 5)

•September 22, 2015 • Leave a Comment


I got this one from Wendy at Simon & Schuster. Thank you, Wendy! I liked the description of this one as a novel similar to Alex Garland’s “The Beach”. Some of you who’ve known me since my dawn of time in books fifteen years ago know that this is one of my favorite books of all time. This little novel by Lucy Clarke is easy to get into and keeps you on the edge of your seat throughout much of it. An added bonus is that it’s not a very big book, so it really flies by. I think I got through this one in under three hours. Clarke makes it very easy by imbuing her characters with dialogue that isn’t trite, but realistic and true to not only the situation, but the characters.

A group of friends take a trip around on a yacht for a trip that they think is going to be Paradise and which quickly turns into a nightmare that none of them had counted on(but really, do they ever see it coming?). It all starts with Lana and her friend Kitty being invited onto a yacht going from the Philippines to New Zealand. Both girls are quickly swept up in dreams of ship-board romance that begin to come true. One of their friends gets into an altercation with a crew member, and then disappears. This is the toppermost of the poppermost; all of the secrets of the friends begin to come out and unravel the tenuous bonds of new friendship that have been forged. More importantly, what happened to the missing crew member? I should warn you, the novel goes back and forth between “Then” and “Now”. We go on to find out that Lana left The Blue under mysterious circumstances, the ship has sunk, and all her friends are presumed dead. What the hell happened? There is no let up in this book. A great buildup of suspense throughout, and intricate involvement from those who are involved in the story. There is a definite similarity between this and “The Beach”, except this one takes place on a yacht and there’s the back and forth factor of telling the story. Overall, nary a complaint can I lodge. This was a quick read, a page turner, and chilling in the wrap-up. Didn’t see it coming, and that’s the best of all. Go pick it up, if you want an edge of the seat ride.


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