I’ve Got This Round: More Tales of Debauchery by Mamrie Hart (5 out of 5)

•February 12, 2018 • Leave a Comment

This isn’t Mamrie’s first round. Nor is it her first book. That distinction belongs to You Deserve A Drink, which was also the title of her wildly popular YouTube show. I’ve Got This Round was released in hardcover on February 6th. Anyone who enjoyed her first collection about being coupled, getting into merriment, and drinking wildly inventive cocktails with the girls, will enjoy this one more. With a very different angle.

This time around, Mamrie is recovering from heartbreak. She realizes that her long-term relationship isn’t ringing bells of excitement for her at any level, and she comes into this with an outlook that is begging for change, so she breaks off her relationship, then throws herself into any extracurricular activities that will distract her from regret. In this round, we’re treated to more travel shenanigans, bucket-list goals (Hello, Moulin Rouge!), going on a Backstreet Boys cruise just because, and fighting with an air mattress with its own agenda. Anyone who loved Samantha Irby’s essay collection, We’re Never Meeting In Real Life, will enjoy this. A great gift for that independent gal who loves living one day, multiple drinks, at a time.

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Closer Than You Know by Brad Parks (4 out of 5)

•February 12, 2018 • Leave a Comment

This one is out on March 6, 2018, brought to us by Dutton Books (Penguin Random House). I got an advance from the publisher sometime last fall. And then the holidays. You know what that means in retail. It means no books get read until after January!

Melanie heads to pick up her son from the lady who does daycare for her. She’s in a hurry because the lady is OCD about punctuality, and she is quite late after getting pulled over for a speeding ticket. She gets there, only to have the sitter tell her that the Department of Social Services came and took Alex away, before lambasting her as a bad parent. Melanie is beside herself with grief and worry. She gets home and finds her house torn apart by the cops, and is then told that cocaine-a lot of it- was discovered in the house and she’s going to be arrested. Melanie tries to get ahold of her husband Ben, to no avail. She gets nailed for what she claims is a setup. Right on the heels of her son suddenly being taken by Social Services? Not a coincidence, it turns out. The public defender takes over Melanie’s case, her husband has been hiding stuff from her, and no one seems to care that her infant son has been taken from her. Meanwhile, prosecuter Amy gets pulled into the case against Melanie, whom she is familiar with because Melanie was one of the victims of a cold case serial rapist who has never been caught, and that Amy is still working on. It’s a case of a lot going on at the same time, and when Melanie’s husband Ben enters the picture, you aren’t sure what is going on, with whom, and why. And that is where shit got very interesting with this book. You have to hang in there for a bit and be patient, but the payoff is worth the paint sniffing. This was the first Brad Parks novel I read; it won’t be the last.

The Most Dangerous Man in the World: Timothy Leary, Richard Nixon and the Hunt for the Fugitive King of LSD. By Bill Minutaglio and Steven L. Davis (5 out of 5)

•February 7, 2018 • Leave a Comment

This one goes back to December, too. Blog posts are WAY behind. I am working in too many salt mines to keep ahead as I usually try to. That’s ok. I’m still plugging away at the book(s). I’m still battling some health things, so if I am quiet, you can bet your bippy it is due to work being nuts, caregiving catching up to me, or the like. If you’re lucky, the Martians will come and get me soon. 😀👽

This book was released in November. Currently available in hardcover, it’s a quick read into my favorite kind of history- WEIRD history. I’m sure you’ve heard of weird science. So why not weird history? Originally, I thought it was a true crime book, but after reading the inside cover, I knew I had to read it. I should also add here that I have two entire pages of notes in which I find parallels between Nixon and Trump. Not sure much of that will find its way here, but some of it may. This has nothing to do with current politics. This book is from a time in history fraught with war, riots, assassinations, etc. Let’s hope these are not repeating themes, my friends.

Covering a time period between July, 1971 and January, 1973, this eye-opening look at a year and a half of odd history is fascinating, funny, and at times eerily reminiscent of what power-mad politicians in the Oval Office do when unleashed on the public. Tim Leary is known as the man who popularized the phrase “Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out”, as well as championing the cause of exploring the therapeutic properties of psychedelic drugs under controlled conditions. Under the oft maniacal eye of the regime under Richard M. Nixon, his platforms on the subject came under intense scrutiny, to the point it resembled a witch hunt. In Minutaglio and Davis’ capable hands, that strange time in history is brought to life in entertaining fashion for those of us who weren’t even born yet. Nixon’s time in the White House has been profiled time and time again, but to see his vendetta (it cannot be called anything but) highlighted in such a manner, makes this a book that boggles the mind. How did it get to the point that the peace-loving Leary found himself on the run all over the globe from Nixon’s goon squad? How did Nixon come to calling Leary “the most dangerous man in the world”, in a time where the war in Vietnam should take precedence over this? Truly a book that any historian should read.

Unbelievable: My Front-Row Seat to the Craziest Campaign In American History by Katy Tur (5 out of 5)

•February 7, 2018 • Leave a Comment

I read this book in December. Kind of a funny story, actually. My neighbor wanted the Barack Obama book by White House photographer Pete Souza. That’s the $50 hardcover that many sought at Christmas, and many are still waiting for (New Printings. Get the ball rolling, Hachette Book Group!) in the now second week of February. I told her we didn’t have it. We took a trip to Anderson’s in Lagrange, where we weren’t greeted until we left and I wondered how a bookstore could have that many pairs of socks on wall space that could be housing book posters and the like. Linda told me to just go ahead and get this book instead. She read it, her daughter-in-law read it, and then she passed it on to me. I read it in two days. Katy Tur is a correspondent for NBC News, and against her better wishes, she finds herself being assigned to Donald Trump’s 2016 Presidential campaign. Tur is an ambitious girl who is getting ready to leave for London on vacation to see her boyfriend when a prime opportunity to jump the shark and grab the brass ring presents herself, in the form of interviewing Trump in a lead story. The story takes off from there. Tur is as objective as she is equally puzzled at parts throughout the book. She gives you the behind the scenes, and you can almost sense parts of the book where she is scratching her head with the oft strange and unbalanced behavior of the Donald. And this book is leading UP TO his victory over Hilary Rodham Clinton! The book and the events in it are almost like a Lego KFC accident you can’t look away from, AKA a book you can’t put down. Highly recommended. Out now in hardcover.

The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen (4 out of 5) 

•January 30, 2018 • Leave a Comment

Two authors deserve two photos of the book they co-authored? Or the blogger got media upload happy? Guilty as charged. This book is out now, and as of Sunday, it just hit the NYT bestseller list for fiction. I really did enjoy it, although a few things stuck in my craw like a steel toed boot should have stuck in Prince Charles’ junk. This is a psychological mystery that had moments where it felt like some very strange reboot of “Fatal Attraction”, minus the fatalities. I liked it a lot, but I can understand if people didn’t love certain…shall we say…familial aspects of the story. Overall, I recommend it if you want a twisty pretzel of a story.

Nellie is a young schoolteacher who is engaged to the man of her dreams, Richard. All is well….until it isn’t. Richard’s ex Vanessa won’t let him go. She has it in her head that Richard is going to hurt Nellie the way he hurt her. But is he really dangerous? Or is Vanessa the dangerous one? There are a lot of curve balls in this book, and several big ones really tip the scales of believability. Still, they are imperative to the overall plot and finish of the book itself. Fans of Gillian Flynn’s “Gone Girl” will appreciate this page turner, brought to us by the folks at St. Martin’s Press.

Bonfire by Krysten Ritter(4 out of 5)

•January 10, 2018 • Leave a Comment

Some Hollywood luminaries wrote books last year, and some of them were crap. I am happy to report this was NOT one of them! The star of the popular “Jessica Jones” series proves that she isn’t just a damn good actress; she’s also a damn good writer. One of the better suspense stories I read at the end of 2017. And once you get pulled into the town of Barrens, Indiana, there was no escape until all was said and done.

Abby Williams left the bitter stench of her hometown behind her and moved on to a promising career as an environmental attorney. Her newest case takes her back to her hometown and against a company that did “much” for Barrens after she left, from helping to build community centers to awarding scholarships. The only problem is that the company may be poisoning the residents of Barrens in the process (mysterious, long lasting illnesses, inexplicable rashes, and birth defects among the symptoms). Abby wonders what happened to Kaycee, her former best friend from school, who was very sick their last year of high school. Everywhere she turns, she hits brick walls, from former frenemies who may now work for the company under fire, to former classmates accused of nefarious crimes against other classmates. There’s a lot of curve balls, and this is one story that Abby can’t run from, nor can she choose to just leave Barrens, such is her desire to break open not only what’s going on with the company, but with the shady former schoolmates who suddenly find time to be her best buddy, and what happened to Kaycee. Throw in some family stress, and the reader has no idea where it’s going. Riveting, realistic, and yes, gritty, Ritter does a fantastic job of drawing her characters, coloring them with many different colored pencils, and imbuing the canvas with some sharp splashes to turn a Klimt into a Renoir. I hope there’s another book in her future. This one was pretty fucking great.

My Ex-Life by Stephen McCauley (5 out of 5)

•January 3, 2018 • Leave a Comment

I LOVED this book! It’s not out yet. That’s in May, 2018. It’s being brought you us by the publishing folks at Flatiron Books, an imprint of St. Martin’s Press. If you like light-hearted and funny with a lot of soul, this is a fine place for you to start your spring reading.

David is living a nice life in San Francisco, until he realizes that his best friend and realtor has pulled a Benedict Arnold and is trying to pull his house out from under him. Add to that insult the injury of his broken heart when his ex dumped him, and his growing dissension with his job (helping elite families get their kids into respectable colleges), and it’s clear that David needs a major shake-up of his current situation. Over on the East Coast, his ex-wife Julie has her hands full trying to find a way to make her house payments and keep her ex-husband Harry (Of course his name is Harry. Of course.) from taking the house away, along with trying to convince their daughter Mandy to get serious about college. Julie’s a bit of a closet pothead, starting to believe her decisions made under the influence, are not her best ones. She has an illegal Airbnb operating out of her house, and people are on her tail about it. Her daughter Mandy gets her first summer job, only to be fired, which is kept quiet. Mandy gets an interesting job offer from the shady computer guy who works at the local school. It’s a job she accepts, and it changes her life in ways that can only be seen after the fact. David decides to go visit Julie, and they pick up where they left off- this time around, WITH NO ROMANCE! This is important to note, because a number of authors would have taken the tired (of it) and true (torture) road and written them a new chapter. Not this time! Nothing could make me happier. That terrible 80’s film “When Harry Met Sally” (that annoying Harry name again!) played the world’s smallest violin with the ages old question- can a man and a woman be just friends? Even if they were involved in some physical or matrimonial way at some point? McCauley nailed it on the head, and managed to be legit and not awkward. I read a lot, and I have read many books destroyed by this very dynamic. In McCauley’s capable hands, this is not the case. There’s realism, humor, the undeniable power of nostalgia, and heart. A lot of heart. This novel has relit the fire burning in my little (4’10”. Thanks for asking!) heart. I cannot wait for it to get published in May. It reminded me a lot of Matthew Norman, Tom Perrotta, and early Nick Hornby. Great! Check it out in May when it’s released.