I know today is Thursday and that is usually Throwback Thursday. However, I’ve decided to change Throwback Thursday to monthly feature that will be on the first Thursday of the month. I look forward to reading your Throwback reviews on October 2!
People I Want to Punch in the Throat: Competitive Crafters, Drop-Off Despots, and Other Suburban Scourges by Jen Mann
My rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Release Date: September 9, 2014
Jen Mann doesn’t have a filter, which sometimes gets her in trouble with her neighbors, her fellow PTA moms, and that one woman who tried to sell her sex toys at a home shopping party. Known for her hilariously acerbic observations on her blog, People I Want to Punch in the Throat, Mann now brings her sharp wit to bear on suburban life, marriage, and motherhood in this laugh-out-loud collection of essays. From the politics of joining a play group, to the thrill of mothers’ night out at the gun range, to the rewards of your most meaningful relationship (the one you have with your cleaning lady), nothing is sacred or off-limits. So the next time you find yourself wearing fuzzy bunny pajamas in the school carpool line or accidentally stuck at a co-worker’s swingers party, just think, What would Jen Mann do?
Jen Mann has a popular blog which is also named People I Want to Punch in the Throat. She rails against stuck up suburban super moms on her blog and this book is more of the same. Each chapter is an anecdote about something crazy that has happened to Jen, from how she met her husband online to wearing pajamas to drop her kid off ant school and then unexpectedly having to get out of her car and walk into school. She is very snarky as you might expect from the title of the book. Sometimes I felt she was over the top. I don’t have a problem with swear words but I don’t like it when comedians use them excessively. They don’t always make a joke funnier and can be used as a way of getting cheap laughs. I think she used them to liven up a story but now and then she ended up coming across shrill.
Most of her stories were amusing but not laugh out loud funny. However, I think most moms will find at least one chapter that they can relate to. I chose this book for review because Jen and I live in the same metro area. I hope she doesn’t read this review and then hunt me down to punch ME in the throat!
(I received this book courtesy of the publisher.)
September 18th, 2014 in
Landline by Rainbow Rowell
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Release Date: July 8, 2014
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
When Georgie McCool tells her husband she can’t spare the time away from work to visit his family at Christmas, she never expects him to pack up the kids and go without her. Maybe she should have expected that. Maybe Neal, who’s always a little bit mad at Georgie, has finally had enough. Alone with her memories and unsure of their future, Georgie discovers a way to communicate with Neal in the past. It’s not time travel, not exactly, but it might be her opportunity to fix her marriage before it starts…But what if Georgie and Neal would be better off if they never got married at all?
Oh, how I love Rainbow Rowell. I’m sure if I knew her personally, we would totally be BFFs. Landline is funny and heartwarming at the same time. I could relate to both Georgie and Neal. Georgie is an over-worked, stressed out television writer and Neal is a stay-at-home dad. The story was primarily set in the present day, showing Georgie and Neal’s strained relationship but also flashed back to the back to when they first met so the reader gets a clear idea of how they ended up in the state they’re in today. Even the secondary characters, like Seth and Georgie’s mom and sister are well drawn. And they have the most hilarious lines. I was laughing out loud several times. I love Rainbow’s sense of humor.
Georgie and Neal could have easily been caricatures. I’ve seen the working spouse vs. the stay at home spouse many times in other books and in TV and movies. But this book is a fresh and original take on that storyline. There is not much more I can say about the plot that I can say without spoiling it. There is one device that requires a heavy suspension of belief but it’s worth it and I didn’t have a problem doing that at all.
Call me Rainbow. Anytime. We can hang out.
I’m pleased to be able to givaway one copy of Landline to a lucky reader with a US mailing address. Just fill out the form below. I will take entries until 11:59pm CST on Sept 22, 2014. Good luck!
Other books I’ve reviewed by Rainbow Rowell:
Eleanor and Park
(I received my review copy of Landline courtesy of Amazon Vine and my giveaway copy from the publisher.)
September 16th, 2014 in
Cash: Mommy, next year I want you to be an active member of the PTA instead of checking your email and chatting on Facebook.
West: When I’m 18, I’m going to live with you and say cuss words.
Neve: I know that dog’s a boy because it doesn’t have a shirt on.
Cash: In the olden days, did you have to type in the https when you were typing in a web address?
West: Daddy is not the boss
Me: Daddy and I are co-bosses
West: I know who the real boss is – SANTA!…and God
Cash: No, the president is
September 14th, 2014 in
Insurgent by Veronica Roth
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Release Date: May 1, 2012
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
One choice can transform you—or it can destroy you. But every choice has consequences, and as unrest surges in the factions all around her, Tris Prior must continue trying to save those she loves—and herself—while grappling with haunting questions of grief and forgiveness, identity and loyalty, politics and love.
Tris’s initiation day should have been marked by celebration and victory with her chosen faction; instead, the day ended with unspeakable horrors. War now looms as conflict between the factions and their ideologies grows. And in times of war, sides must be chosen, secrets will emerge, and choices will become even more irrevocable—and even more powerful. Transformed by her own decisions but also by haunting grief and guilt, radical new discoveries, and shifting relationships, Tris must fully embrace her Divergence, even if she does not know what she may lose by doing so.
***This review will have spoilers for the first book, Divergent, but not for this book.***
This book finds Tris dealing with the emotional aftermath of mortally shooting her good friend. It weighs on her conscience so heavily that she can’t even pick up a gun. She’s also processing the grief of losing her parents. The plot picks up right where Divergent left off. Tris, Tobias and what’s left of Dauntless that is still good seek refuge among the different factions while they formulate a plan to find and kill Jeanine Matthews, leader of the traitor Dauntless.
This book was definitely not as good as the first. The story was confusing at times. Tris and her group moved around so much, I kept having to refer back to see where they were. Also, she and Tobias had their mitts on each other all.the.time. Every other page they were hugging, kissing, holding hands. It was too much and too mushy. I know that they are young and in love but they are also on the run for their lives! I kept thinking about what my college psychology professor taught me. No one thinks about sex when his/her life is in danger. My final criticism is why did Tris and Tobias have to lie to each other so much? I know that the purpose was to insert some conflict into their relationship since there is no love triangle. But the reasons they were lying didn’t seem justified.
This book did have some twists and turns that I didn’t see coming and kept the story exciting. In between Tris and Tobias making out it was action packed. And the secret that is revealed in the end is definitely enough to make me read the third and final book in the trilogy, Allegiant.
Classifying Insurgent as a throwback book is dubious but since I’m the last person in the world to read this book, it counts!
Every Thursday I host Throwback Thursdays. If you you’d like to share a post from the past week about a book from “back in the day”, feel free to grab the button for your post and and link up below. Be sure and link directly to your post, not your blog’s home page. Thanks!
September 11th, 2014 in
Stuck in the Middle with You: A Memoir of Parenting in Three Genders by Jennifer Finney Boylan
Publisher: Broadway Books
Paperback Release Date: April 22, 2014
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Stuck in the Middle With You is Jennifer Finney Boylan’s memoir on what her experience was parenting her two boys as a male, while going through transition to a female and then as a female. She has a previous memoir, She’s Not There, that is the detailed story of her life as a transgender person and her transition to female. Since she has that previous book, details on that are not discussed in this book.
Jenny really doesn’t have all that much to say about her parenting experience because it appears her two sons didn’t have much of a problem with her transition and don’t have any trouble with their peer group because of it. I’m sure that their experience is exceptional, most likely because they were quite young when she transitioned. Her younger son doesn’t even have a clear memory of when she was a man.
Also included in this book – probably to fill it out – is interviews with some of Jenny’s friends about their unique experiences either as a parent or a child. And she has some well-known friends! Richard Russo, Augusten Burroughs and Edward Albee are among the interviewees. I really enjoyed the interviews. It was interesting to read how different people’s experiences can be. For instance, two of the interviewees were adopted. One felt disconnected from his adoptive parents and called them “those people” while the other one felt just as close to his as if they were his biological parents.
What I am really interested in is Jenny’s relationship with her wife Deedie, who is heterosexual. It’s clear they have no physical relationship as Jenny writes about an occasion she wanted to kiss Deedie but Deedie said no. I’m not sure what Jenny’s sexual orientation is. She briefly considers having sex with a man who tries to pick her up in a bar. I’d love to hear Deedie’s side of the story and about what it’s like to stay in a non-physical marriage for 25 years. Perhaps that’s addressed more in Jenny’s first book.
I liked this book but since Jenny’s transition went pretty smoothly as far as her parenting goes, there wasn’t much meat to it. It was still very interesting, especially the interviews. I think it’s always good to read about people who have vastly different experiences than you. There’s always something to learn from them.
(I received this book courtesy of the publisher.)
September 10th, 2014 in
You may have noticed that my blog posts were pretty few and far between this summer. I blame that on my children. With them home all day, every day it’s hard to find time to read and thus hard to write reviews. My boys started school last week and my 4-year old starts preschool Wednesday and will go three full days a week. Ah, freedom! I should have more time for reading and writing and my posts should be more regular. I’m shooting for at least three times a week. Throwback Thursdays will be back consistently so be sure to visit on Thursday and link up your throwback reviews from the week. I’ll also have Fashion Friday starting sometime too. More details on that to come!
My sweeties on the boys’ first day of school.
August 30th, 2014 in
Land of Love and Drowning by Tiphanie Yanique
Release Date: July 10, 2014
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
In the early 1900s, the Virgin Islands are transferred from Danish to American rule, and an important ship sinks into the Caribbean Sea. Orphaned by the shipwreck are two sisters and their half brother, now faced with an uncertain identity and future. Each of them is unusually beautiful, and each is in possession of a particular magic that will either sink or save them.
Chronicling three generations of an island family from 1916 to the 1970s, Land of Love and Drowning is a novel of love and magic, set against the emergence of Saint Thomas into the modern world. Uniquely imagined, with echoes of Toni Morrison, Gabriel García Márquez, and the author’s own Caribbean family history, the story is told in a language and rhythm that evoke an entire world and way of life and love. Following the Bradshaw family through sixty years of fathers and daughters, mothers and sons, love affairs, curses, magical gifts, loyalties, births, deaths, and triumphs, Land of Love and Drowning is a gorgeous, vibrant debut by an exciting, prizewinning young writer.
Land of Love and Drowning isn’t a plot driven novel. It’s a character study and a chronicle of the lives of two sisters. Eeona, the older sister, is prim and proper and very concerned with class and her place in society. Anette, the younger sister, is the complete opposite. This book also offers a history of the Virgin Islands from the time it was transferred from Danish to United States possession in the early 20th century up until the 1970s. It was interesting and troubling to read about how the Americans brought racism with them to the Virgin Islands where none had existed before. They also started putting up hotels and resorts and tried to make all the beaches private. The islanders were actually worse off as Americans even though we’re supposedly the greatest country in the world.
There is magical realism present in this novel. Several characters have magical physical attributes or capabilities. While it did require some suspension of disbelief, I thought it all made perfect sense in the context of the story. The islanders seemed like very superstitious people on the whole and a little bit of voodoo here and there seemed natural.
The only criticism I have of this book is that the pacing was slow. I wasn’t riveted when I was reading and therefore, it took me a long time to finish. However, the writing is beautiful and I liked how the narration alternated between several characters. Anette’s way of speaking was a little hard to understand but also charming.
I enjoyed this book and the fact that the setting was a place that I hadn’t read a book set in before. I feel liked a learned a lot. The author’s note at the end explains what is fact and what is fiction as far as the history of the Virgin Islands goes. I’ve heard a lot of buzz about this book and have a feeling it will win awards this year. Better read it so you can be in the know!
(I received this book courtesy of the publisher.)
August 27th, 2014 in
Hi all! Just wanted to let you know that the blog may be quiet for a bit. I’m having surgery today and I’m not sure when I’ll be off of the post-surgery painkillers enough to be able to read and write coherently again. Hopefully, everything turns out way better than last time! This time it’s GI surgery for complications from Crohn’s disease so respiratory failure seems unlikely. Fingers crossed that I’ll be back to reading and posting in no time!
August 13th, 2014 in
I’m getting my Fixes from Stitch Fix every two months now and I am still loving this service. For more info about how it works, see my initial Stitch Fix post.
Here’s what I got in my July Fix:
Emer High Waisted Cropped Trouser
In this photo, I’m trying the the pants on with a blouse that I got in a previous Fix and my own shoes. I love these pants! They are incredibly comfy and fit me like a glove. They are high waisted but not in a mom-jeans way. The waist on these pants is good for holding in a tummy pooch – one of my problem areas. Another plus is that I love green. Here’s the booty shot:
You can see in this shot that the waist is high according to today’s standard but much shorter than the high waist of the 80s.
Bixby Dot Print 3/4 Tab Sleeve Blouse
I like the color and pattern of this shirt but it pretty shapeless. I like tops that taper at the waist. Otherwise, with my aforementioned tummy pooch, it looks like a maternity top. Also, I’m not a big fan of tap sleeves.
Ventura Abstract Chevron Keyhole Tank
I really like this top – I actually got the same top with a pink chevron pattern in a previous Fix. But sadly, that top shrunk in the wash. Stitch Fix customer service was fabulous about that, by the way. I emailed them about it and they sent me a prepaid shipping label to send it back and credited my account. No questions asked.
Adan Geo Printed Shift Dress
I really liked the mod look of this dress but it was WAY too short for an old woman like me. My butt is almost hanging out!
I decided to try the dress on with black jeggings and boots that I already had. I thought that looked really good and gave me adequate butt coverage. I think black tights would work just as well. That’s another great thing about Stitch Fix – since you are trying everything on in the comfort of your own home, you can pull things out of your closet to see how they would coordinate with the items in your Fix.
I would also like to try this dress with a wide belt and a statement necklace but I don’t have either. I am very bad at accessorizing. I have diamond studs, a necklace with my kids’ birthstones and my wedding ring that I wear regularly. And that’s it! So if you want to link to any belts or necklaces that you think would go with this dress in the comments, I’d really appreciate it. I need all the help I can get!
Zoe Open Shape Metal Earrings
I like these earrings but they didn’t blow me away and like I said, I’m just not that into accessories. Probably the only way I’d keep jewelry in one of my Fixes is if I was buying the other four items and needed to buy them to get the 25% discount that you get on your entire order if you buy all five items. That basically works out to one item free! You can put in your style profile that you don’t want any accessories but I checked that I’d like to have necklaces and earrings because I was interested to see what I would get. I may change to no accessories at some point and get five items of clothing instead.
This is the style card that’s included with each Fix. I love it because it helps me think way more creatively about the pieces than I normally would. The card for the dress is why I want to get a statement necklace to go with it. Look at that cute turquoise one that’s suggested! (Click on the picture to make it bigger so you can see it.)
You can probably guess that I kept the dress and the pants from this Fix. I didn’t keep the keyhole tank because I was afraid it would shrink like the other one did. I love both my picks! If you want to sign up for Stitch Fix, I would love it if you used my referral link. (Full disclosure – Stitch Fix gives people a $25 credit for every person they refer.) Then I can feed my habit that much more!
August 9th, 2014 in
Love Life by Rob Lowe
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
Narrator: Rob Lowe
Length: 7.5 hours
Release Date: April 8, 2014
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Love Life is a bit of a misleading title for Rob Lowe’s latest book. It’s not about his romantic love life. It’s about loving life. Rob has written a series of unrelated vignettes about events in his life. Some are very touching, like the one about his son going off to college. Some are funny and some make Rob look like an idiot. I love that he is not afraid to share any story – he doesn’t seem to have an ego problem at all.
He explains why he left the West Wing to do one horrible series after another and why those series were so bad. I love insider Hollywood information like that. My only complaint about this book is that unlike his previous book, Stories I Only Tell My Friends, he does NOT NAME NAMES! for the more scandalous stories – with the exception of Jewel. That story was hilarious. You’ll have to read the book for that one alone. Anyway, he does provide cryptic hints when he describes the person and with some Googling, I probably could have figured out who the people were. But I was listening to this book on a road trip and couldn’t justify pulling over to make notes of who I needed to look up later. However, I’m pretty sure that the girl he took with him to Warren Beatty’s house was Melissa Gilbert. So there’s one mystery solved for you!
I loved listening to Rob narrate this audio book. Obviously, he is the best person to tell his own stories. The book is already written in a very conversational style and having Rob himself read it to me made it that much better. And he is actually a pretty good impressionist for some of the celebrities in the book. Some of his accents were pretty terrible though but I just thought it was funny, not annoying.
The great thing about Rob Lowe is that after a brief downturn in the 90s, his career is stronger than ever and he remains such a downright nice guy. Watch any of his appearances on Ellen and you can totally tell that he is not faking his awesome attitude. Ahem. I may still be crushing on him after all these years. Children of the 80s, this book is for you. Fans of West Wing, Parks and Rec, Californication or Behind the Candelabra, this book is for you too. Rob Lowe fans unite!
(I received this audio book courtesy of the Solid Gold reviewers program at Audiobook Jukebox.)
Other books by Rob Lowe: Stories I Only Tell My Friends
August 7th, 2014 in