sonk’s #CBR5 Reviews #59 – #65

I’m finally done!

#59: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling (5 stars)

#60: Dirty Love by Andre Dubus III (3 stars)

#61: Lost in Shangri-La: A True Story of Survival, Adventure, and the Most Incredible Rescue Mission of World War II by Mitchell Zuckoff (2 stars)

#62: The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. by Adelle Waldman (4 stars)

#63: Lost Girls: An Unsolved American Mystery by Robert Kolker (3 stars)

#64: Yoga: The Spirit and Practice of Moving Into Stillness by Erich Schiffman (4 stars)

#65: The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith (5 stars)

#37: Love Him or Leave Him, But Don’t Get Stuck With the Tab: Hilarious Advice for Real Women by Loni Love

Love Him or Leave HimThis was a really nice way to end 2013.

I discovered Loni Love on Chelsea Lately.  I loved how she doesn’t put up with any of Chelsea’s shit and her stories always make me laugh.  She seems like a hot mess, and yet she totally has it together.  She always comes across as super confident and you can tell that she has too many important things to do than deal with stupid people.  She’s the friend you’d go to when you want to know the truth, not get complimented.

Apparently women approach her all the time like they are BFFs.  There’s something about her that makes people think they know each other.  After standup shows, they wait for her in the bathroom or hang out at the meet and greet and then ask really personal questions.  Lots of TMI.  But they know Love isn’t going to bullshit them, so if they spill the details, she’s going to speak the truth.

When you have this much power, you write a book.

I for real lol’d several times when reading this.  She covers all aspects of dating and love.  First dates to throwing a man out of your house.  Recovering from dating disasters to dealing with his baby momma.  Figuring out how to handle an unexpected hook up to dealing with your man’s stupid friends.  It’s all in here.  The best part is that there are seriously out there questions, like can I sleep with my mom’s ex-husband (No.  Unless you trade her one of your exes.) and then there are things just about all women deal with like what to do when you don’t think you want to get married.  Or do want to get married.

The absolutely best part of this book is that Love has a story for everything.  Either she’s dealt with it herself or has a friend or family member who has been through it.  She details her own disasters and lays everything on the table.  You really do feel like you’re BFFs.  This book feels like you’re hanging out with a hysterical and honest friend.  Yeah, she’s going to tell you to stop fucking around, but she’s going to help you get drunk while you discuss it.  Also, there will probably be pancakes.

If you’re looking for a quick and fun read, grab this book.  If you’re a fan of Loni Love and haven’t read this yet, you will not be disappointed.  Although she had help writing it, it is 100% her voice.  I didn’t need the audio version to feel like she was reading it to me.

I couldn’t be happier with this being the last book I read in 2013!

loveallthis’s reviews #1-26: a roundup post!

loveallthis 2013 reads

I read and reviewed 26 books in 2013. Here they all are.

  1. Leaving the Atocha Station by Ben Lerner – 2 stars
  2. Freedom by Jonathan Franzen – 4 stars
  3. Among Others by Jo Walton – 4 stars
  4. The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling – 2 stars
  5. The Wordy Shipmates by Sarah Vowell – 3 stars
  6. Out of Oz by Gregory Maguire – 2 stars
  7. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald – 5 stars
  8. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green – 5 stars
  9. Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple – 3 stars
  10. Some Things that Meant the World to Me by Joshua Mohr – 2 stars
  11. Consider the Lobster by David Foster Wallace – 5 stars
  12. Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer – 4 stars
  13. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer – 3 stars
  14. Medium Raw by Anthony Bourdain – 3 stars
  15. The Financial Lives of the Poets by Jess Walter – 4 stars
  16. Stonemouth by Iain Banks – 4 stars
  17. Embassytown by China Mieville – 3 stars
  18. The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger – 4 stars
  19. Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld – 3 stars
  20. Shift by Hugh Howey – 4 stars
  21. Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell – 5 stars
  22. Railsea by China Mieville – 2 stars
  23. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell – 4 stars
  24. The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco – 2 stars
  25. Oblivion by David Foster Wallace – 4 stars
  26. The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt – 4 stars

Phew! On to next year. Happy reading, everyone!

pyrajane’s review #35: Self-Inflicted Wounds: Heartwarming Tales of Epic Humiliation by Aisha Tyler

Let’s all join hands and frantically get these last reviews in before noon tomorrow, shall we?

WoundsI like Aisha Tyler.  I liked her onTalk Soup.  I liked when they brought her in to Friends so they could have a black friend.  I like her on Archer, which I don’t watch enough of.  I love love love her podcast, Girl on Guy.  I was super excited when she announced that she’d be hosing the return of Whose Line Is It Anyway?.  She’s super funny, and even better, she’s really smart and geeky.  She’d been talking about her book for a while on Girl on Guy and I was really looking forward to reading it.  I wish I had gotten the audio version though.

Tyler ends Girl on Guy by asking her guest to share a self-inflicted wound.  These are stories of things that are just bad and you have no one to blame but yourself.  Wrecked credit, getting an STD twice from the same girl when you know it’s going to happen the second time, punched in the face by a jealous boyfriend… usually these are super embarrassing stories and the most cringe inducing part is that you can’t blame it on anyone else but yourself.  These are the moments where you look back and wonder “What did I think was going to happen???”  But hopefully they’ve made you a better person.  Or not.  Who cares, as long as it’s a good story.

Tyler turns her question on to herself for this book and creates a memoir of sorts where she retells her own self-inflicted wounds.  Some are hysterical, some are learning experiences, some show her path to success.  It’s a good mix, like anyone’s life should be.  There are some that I sort of flipped through and others that I completely related to and took my time with.  I think most people will find at least one story that they will cringe along with and think “Oh god… me too.  I did this.”

Read more over on my blog, if you so wish.

ABR’s #CBR5 Review #24: The Twelve Tribes of Hattie by Ayana Mathis

12-tribesHistorically, the 12 tribes of Israel are descendants of the patriarch Jacob. In this book, the 12 tribes are descendants of Hattie, a 15-year-old Southern girl who marries, moves from Georgia to Philadelphia, and settles into a life that brings her disappointments and tragedies. Rather than plagues of frogs and locusts, Hattie is plagued by alcoholism, infidelity, doubt and depression.

The book begins with the birth of Hattie’s first children, twins Philadelphia and Jubilee. Had the rest of the book maintained the pace and drama of the first chapter this book would’ve been excellent. I found the first chapter so heartbreaking I had to put the book down. But the remaining chapters, which are told by and about Hattie’s offspring, are often much less impactful.

Floyd is a sexually confused musician traveling through the South in the 1940s. Six is a prodigious but sinful preacher. Alice and Billups are adults traumatized by abuse they suffered as children. Franklin is unfaithful. Cassie is institutionalized. Bell is dying alone. By the end of the book, each of Hattie’s ‘tribes’ has told a story, and each one is more depressing and hopeless.

Many of the chapters exist as singular stories, but I thought the best ones casually mention Hattie and bring her back into the story, even if only peripherally. Ideally the book would end with a fairly complete portrait of Hattie, whether or not we liked what we saw, but many of the stories stop and start abruptly and the fates of many characters is untold.

My biggest issue with the book sounds disrespectful – after all the time period it covers was tumultuous and violent – but I wanted someone, anyone, to be happy, to find happiness. Chapter after chapter the characters struggle with alcoholism, infidelity, abuse, poverty, illness. It’s heaped on so that by the end of the book you’re a little jaded. (Much like Hattie, I suppose.)

There is a passage near the end of the book that summarizes the entire novel for me:

“Fate had plucked Hattie out of Georgia to birth eleven children and establish them in the North, but she was only a child herself, utterly inadequate to the task she’d been given. No one could tell her why things had turned out as they had, not August or the pastor or God himself. Hattie believed in God’s might, but she didn’t believe in his interventions. At best, he was indifferent.”

Jen K’s #CBR5 Reviews #146-148: Final Three

Frostbitten by Kelley Armstrong – 4 stars.  Elena narrated tale involving the Pack in Alaska.  Straightforward story.

The Subjection of Women by John Stuart Mill – 4 stars.  He doesn’t get it perfect but is amazingly progressive for its time, and could probably still teach some more conservative minded people some things today.

Devil’s Brood – 3 stars.  A little too much detail, but otherwise a very well researched historical fiction novel about when it all fell apart for Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine.  Lots of plots and rebellions against a brilliant monarch by his headstrong sons.