Ashlie’s #CBR5 Review #32: Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) By Mindy Kaling

“Mindy Kaling is my spirit animal.” This was my thought as the audiobook drew to a close. (More on that in a minute.)

I had been on the fence about this book for a while. I heard good things, enjoyed her on “The Office” and sporadically see “New Girl” but I wasn’t convinced. As I was packing for a long solo road trip, I found this in my library’s digital collection and figured it would pass the time.

I am SO glad I picked it out! I’m not sure if I would have enjoyed reading it as much as i did listening to it. It was basically like having a funny, interesting, authentic friend in the car for six and a half hours. Highly enjoyable, and a few laugh out loud moments.

Back to the spirit animal observation. I have some great girl friends, but I don’t always fit well in an all female dynamic, so I was surprised at how well I identified with this book, and with Mindy. As a single woman in the south, it’s easy to let that define you (since other people do) but her attitude reminds me to be the sassy, hopeful, independent woman I am.

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reginadelmar’s #CBR5 review #36 I Feel Bad About My Neck by Nora Ephron

If you’re a certain age, birthdays are always days of mixed emotions. Personally, I find it annoying that people often say “consider the alternative.” Sure we’d all rather be alive than dead, assuming that we’re not in severe physical or mental pain. Nevertheless, those words are hardly comforting. Ephron sums it up pretty well:  “There are all sorts of books written for older women. They are, as far as I can tell, uniformly upbeat and full of bromides and homilies about how pleasant life ca be once one is free from all the nagging obligations of children, monthly periods and . . full-time jobs.  . . . Why do people write books that say it’s better to be older than to be younger? It’s not better.”

Fortunately, Ephron was funnier than most folks, so this short little gem covers a lot of middle-late age ground with good humor. It is also a short autobiography in which she covers a number of chapters in her life: interning at the White House, becoming a writer, marriages and parenting and renting in New York. In addition, she covers the challenges of wrinkling skin, bad hair, poor economic decisions, parental advice that was all wrong, the pleasure of a good book, and yes, the frustration of being a certain age when friends are more likely to be passing away than getting married. My favorite chapter was titled “My Life in 3,500 Words or Less.”

Aging takes courage, aging requires humor, it’s not for sissies and Ephron was no sissy. She was a great observer of life. Ephron also recognized the little things that can drive you nuts.  For example this: “Reading is bliss. But my ability to pick something up and read it — which has gone unchecked all my life up until now — is now entirely dependent on the whereabouts of my reading glasses.” Amen to that.

reginadelmar’s #CBR5 review #34 Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

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I’ve not had access to a computer for several weeks, having spent a lot of nights in a tent. The good news is that I have another 8 books under my belt. Lots of reviews to share.

Attachments is the first book I’ve read by Rainbow Rowell and it was such a delight that I plan to read more. Lincoln has spent many years at university and now has a relatively well-paying job as an IT security guy at a Omaha newspaper. His job isn’t to keep the server secure, rather his job is to spy on the but to spy on the paper’s employees by reading their emails. Sounds sleazy, and Lincoln initially meets the creep stereotype. He is 28 and still lives with his mother, he is still hung up on his high school sweetheart and the fact that she dropped him when they went to college together. His social life consists of playing Dungeons and Dragons once a week. In addition his mother is always cooking and feeding him, so he’s gotten rather heavy and inactive.

Lincoln is pretty bored with his job until he starts reading the correspondence between Jennifer and Beth,who spend a good amount of work time talking with each other via email. Even though they know their emails are subject to review, they use email as their primary way to share their personal lives. (No one ever thinks someone is actually going to read their emails do they?)  Jennifer is married, her husband wants children, she’s not ready yet.  Beth lives with her boyfriend of many years, a musician, whose brilliance has only been discovered in small nightclubs around town. The correspondence between the two women is funny, warm and real.

Lincoln is smitten with these women’s lives and in particular Beth, and yet self-aware enough to recognize that what he’s doing is eavesdropping and on the verge of stalking. Nevertheless, he listens in for about a year, as both women go through significant changes in their lives. He even goes to one of the boyfriend’s concerts. At the same time, he too, begins to change. He strikes up a friendship with the woman who fills the vending machines at night, eventually sharing the gourmet feasts his mother sends with him.  So what happens when Beth finds out Lincoln has been spying on her?  Read the book and find out. It’s worth it.

Popcultureboy’s #CBR5 Review #89: The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving by Jonathan Evison

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The book equivalent of a Chinese takeaway meal. Looks super tasty, but it’s quickly devoured, somehow not as satisfying as you’d hoped and then quickly forgotten. The full review is on my blog here.

narfna’s #CBR5 Review #78: Dear Girls Above Me by Charlie McDowell

dear girlsThis was a fun read, but I had some issues with it.

Charlie McDowell* started the popular Dear Girls Above Me Twitter feed on a whim, and he got a book deal out of it. Twitter-to-Book deals always seem sketchy to me, but this one had gotten pretty good reviews, so I picked it up from the library. Like I said, it was fun, but as this is a supposed novelization of the feed, it doesn’t even have the virtue of really being about McDowell’s life, and in parts it seems like he really had to stretch it to make his ‘character’ have a believable arc, so the book wouldn’t entirely read like it was a commercial ploy to exploit these two girls even further.

*He’s the son of Mary Steenburgen and Malcolm McDowell, and to his credit, this isn’t something he highlights in the book, except for the horrifying story of the time he caught one of his friends, er, jerking his sausage, to a blurry sex scene his mother had done in a film before he was even born.

Make no mistake, the things the girls say are ridiculous and hilarious, but shoehorning ‘Charlie’ in there as well just felt forced. The book ends with ‘Charlie’ supposedly having learned something from his interaction with the girls, but I’m sort of at a loss to figure out what that something is. If you just want something funny, you’ll probably love this, though. And the ending was pretty great — I laughed out loud in the coffee shop where I was reading. I won’t spoil it too much, but I will tell you that it involved mice, a broken sewage pipe, and the girls not following directions.

If you’re looking for a quick read you could do worse than this, but don’t go in expecting anything deep.

Popcultureboy’s #CBR5 Review #81: Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls by David Sedaris

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Clearly a popular choice for us Cannonballers, this is the 7th review of Sedaris’s latest collection so far this year. My review can be found here and comes with a bonus comedy dedication from the man himself. Check it out.

Mrs Smith Reads Let’s Pretend This Never Happened (A Mostly True Memoir) by Jenny Lawson, #CBR5, Review #18

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MAKE ME SOME BASKETTI!

I really should have written this review as soon as I finished the book, which was about two weeks ago. I laughed, out loud, several times; mostly in bed, at night, just as my husband was falling asleep. I did read one passage to him, and he laughed too. He remarked that Jenny Lawson sounds exactly like the type of writer who could make me laugh out loud, in bed, at night, and wake up my husband. She is.

Let’s Pretend this Never Happened is a pretty funny and mostly true story of Jenny Lawson’s completely normal and uneventful childhood. Almost none of her childhood was normal and her agent and editor must have thought it was pretty eventful too, since—well, they published her book. Lots of people have read it, and almost everybody loves it. It is quite funny, which I already stated above.

Lawson (AKA The Bloggess) is pretty inspirational to me. I know most days when I’m feeling really miserable about how out of control my life is, I remember that lots of some people with challenging and unfortunate life experiences go on to write inspiring and very well received books about how they navigated adversity with pluck and a sense of humor. And then I feel better.